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Homes: Try painting the kitchen cabinets

Whether your cabinets are currently stained or painted, you can make a great transformation for a minimal financial investment.
Ron Molema says the key to painting your kitchen cabinets is preparation.

Spring is a time for renewal, and if your kitchen needs a new look – and if you don’t have the budget for a big renovation, try a little paint to freshen things up.

Paint is a serious look-changer for any kitchen, particularly when it comes to the cabinets. Whether your cabinets are currently stained or painted, you can make a great transformation for a minimal financial investment.

Certainly you’ll have to invest some sweat equity. But if you have more time than money, painting your cupboards is just the ticket.

To get you started, Ron Molema, branch manager for the Maple Ridge Cloverdale Paint store, has some thoughts on how best to tackle the project.

As with most do-it-yourself projects, says Ron, the key is good preparation. If you do things properly, and in the right order, the project should go smoothly – and your blood pressure should stay relatively level.

The first step is to determine what kind of cabinets you have, and what colour you want to paint them. If your cabinets and doors are made of wood, stain is certainly an option, depending on what’s currently on them. If they’re made from other kinds of materials, your options will likely be more limited. Get some advice from a paint expert like Ron, or if you happen to know a painter or cabinetmaker, ask away.

“One thing to keep in mind with stain is that you won’t be able to go lighter; you will always have to go darker,” says Ron. “With paint, it’s not such a big deal.”

Once you’ve sorted out the kind of materials you’re dealing with, and the colour, the next step is cabinet and door preparation. After removing all hardware, Ron recommends you start by giving the materials a good cleaning with trisodium phosphate (TSP); use according to the instructions to remove dirt, grime and grease, and let the materials dry thoroughly. Be careful, he adds, about using other products because some of them will leave a film that inhibits the ability of the paint and primer to adhere to the cabinet materials.

If you’re staining – and possibly if you’re painting – you’ll want to remove the old stain or paint. For this you’ll need lots of elbow grease and some good paint stripper. Again, use it according to the instructions and things should go smoothly. Yes, it’s a messy job, but it will make the end result so much better.

After you’ve cleaned and stripped, says Ron, a light sanding followed by a quick wipe down to remove any leftover dust or moisture is in order. Now you’re reading to paint.

Ron suggests you get yourself a good primer as an undercoat to ensure the paint goes on smoothly afterwards. He recommends using something like Bullseye 1-2-3 because it offers terrific adhesion properties, and because it is mold and mildew resistant.

With the primer applied, the next step is the painting. You’ll want to use a latex paint or stain. Ron says your best bet for getting a professional-looking finish is a waterborne latex paint with a semi-gloss finish, which wears better than eggshell and eggshell finish, and is more washable.

For equipment Ron recommends a paint sprayer – if you can get your hands on one – to get the best possible finish. Just make sure you do a good job of taping and masking off everything you don’t want painted. If you can’t get a sprayer, a non-foam roller is the next best option; if the doors have nooks and crannies then a thicker roller to get into those hard-to-reach places is a good idea. You could also use a poly-blend bristle brush, but stay away from natural bristle, as it tends to soak up paint and make things more difficult.

Once the latex paint is applied let it dry for 24 hours before you re-attach the hardware and put everything back together. It takes about 30 days to fully cure, so go easy on your “new” cabinets for a while to avoid marring the finish.


Robert Prince is a freelance writer who lives in Maple Ridge.


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