Shannon (shashafrash) wrote in do_it_yourself,

Painting kitchen cabinets

My kitchen cabinets need a fresh coat of paint. They are currently painted a high gloss white, and it is very possible the original paint is oil based. (previous homeowner)
My questions revolve around how to prep the cabinets for painting. I was planning on cleaning them with vinegar, but do I need to sand them?

I would much prefer to repaint them with latex paint, but will it adhere to the oil based paint properly? (assuming it is oil based?)

Also, the hardware is a very ugly (and dirty) copper color. I plan on spray painting them black as a cheap alterntive to new hardware. I've never spray-painted before, but it looks so easy on TV. :) Any tips or tricks?

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You need to degloss the paint, regardless of its it oil or latex. Run by your local hardware store and pick up a bottle of TSP, get some good gloves as well. There might be directions on the bottle for diluting it, but I've always used it straight from the bottle. Removes grease, as well as slightly roughs up the surface to be painted to the new paint sticks better.

After wiping EVERYTHING down, you might want to prime it first, especially if you're using cheap paint.
oh and you might want to do the same thing to your hardware, hit it w/ the TSP to help paint adhere. As for spray painting them, try and mount them on long screws or something so you can pick them up, spray and rotate the hardware, and set it down again w/o getting paint on your hands, or laying the hardware bits down on something and marring the paint.

Basic spray painting instructions, shake the can really good!

Do it outside, on a warm, sunny, NOT TOO HUMID (screws up the paint) day.

Spray from a distance of 8-12 inches away, start spraying to the SIDE of the item, them move the sprat across the item, stop spraying when you're past the item.

Short quick sprays, are better than one long spray. Do multiple thin coats vs. trying to just cover it all at once.
Ideally, strip or sand off the oil paint. Latex doesn't like sticking to oil paint unless it is specifically formulated to do so. Consult your friendly neighborhood hardware store employee for suggestions on all of the above.
God only knows how many layers of paint are on those cabinets, the house was built in 1928. I'll definitely consult with some professionals to make sure I do a decent job.


I would not sand the paint unless I was sure it was lead free.

IME, TSP (trisodium phosphate) is usually sold as a powder. Any liquid form is going to be 90% (or more) water.

Eh~ Lead paint hazard is overblown for adults, if you've got little kids, sure, avoid sanding. A mask and good cleanup as an adult and you'll be fine for working around your house on small projects. People who work around lead every day, dealing w/ lead from old paint, etc. they need to worry, not so much the individual home owner who does one small renovation job every couple of years.

If you're really worried about it, lead test kits are 25? o3 30$ at the stores. its an Easy at-home test.
If you do have little kids what should be done?

Well the big risk is paint chips and paint dust. Mostly from little kids tendency to pick anything up and put it in their mouths, or for them trying to chew on things like windowsills. Seriously, little teething kids, they're like freakin beavers for chewing on stuff. Anyway.

First things first, go get a lead paint test kit. I don't know whats in the common test kits now, but basically the ones I used to use were a swab you wipe on a surface, you squirt the swab w/ a checmical and if it changes color, you've got lead. Follow the directions on the box, its a REALLY simple test. You need to test EACH COLOR you're going to be painting over. So if you're doing a wall, test that, test the window sills (if any), door frames, trim, etc.

If t doesn't change color, you're good. TSP it, paint it, and forget about it.

If it DOES change color, now you've got some work to do. Any loose paint chips, dust, grit, its all got to go. You have to get down to a CLEAN solid surface. It can still have the lead paint on it, but you want to get it down to a solid, tightly bonded layer of paint. Scrape up a section (DO NOT SAND), clean a section. And work in SMALL sections. You don't want to spread dust around. Its also a good idea to cover everything in the room so no dust gets on your furniture and such.

Wear a GOOD lead rated double filtered dust mask, your exposure to lead will "Probably" be low doing all this, but no point in exposing yourself unnecessarily right?

Double filter masks are about 25-30$ And and excellent investment for any kind of project. And they're surprisingly comfortable even for guys w/ goatees. Just make sure the filters you buy are rated for lead.

OK so you've got your mask, you've covered your furniture w/ plastic, you've scraped everything down and so there's no loose paint, no chips, no dust. Now we're back to TSP again to make sure everything is a good paint-able surface.

Get a Quality Coverall Primer, Kilz, or something similar. Prime the SHITE out of the wall. You want a nice thick cover, so no color from the old paint shows through. (If you're painting white on white, there are color changing primers out there that go on kinda blue/purplish and as they dry turn white. Makes it easy to spot areas you miss while its wet.)

Once its primed, Paint it as you like. And you're done!

The big thing to worry about with Lead paint, is generating dust from whats called a friable surface. Places that get lots of contact from other objects. Door jambs get this all the time, windowsills from people opening the windows. Cabinet doors, that kind thing. Generally people down rub up against the wall much, so you don't have to worry there. If you see spots where the paint gets a lot of wear, chips from contact, just clean it, prime it again, paint it again. Make sure the old paint is well covered and you should be fine.
Generally "Don't" rub up against the wall much
So a test kit can be used multiple times? I'm totally getting one...!

Thanks for the detailed description-- even if I hire it out I'll know the sort of thing they should be doing.

Does primer do anything other than make it easier for color to not show through? Because we've painted rooms without it but it was a pain in the neck.

I do have some friable surfaces due to furniture rubbing against walls (sigh). I need to find out the best way to clean the wall/floor near there.
So far as I know, it SHOULD have multiple applicators. I don't know for sure whats in a commercially available kit. I used to do lead and asbestos testing about 15? 20 yrs ago and the kits we had were full of swabs and such. I can't imagine they're selling ONE test in those boxes for 30$.

If you've got a certain spot that you keep getting chairs rubbing against, put up a chair rail. Basically you can get as simple or as fancy as you like, just shaped board that the chair will bump up against. I've got to go get one for my living room, the kids keep rubbing a groove in the wall w/ one of the dining room chairs. Maybe 10$ in wood, and just paint it when you do your trim.
that is a good point about the lead paint, thank you! We know the previous owner so I'll make sure to ask him before I sand anything. :)
Do NOT sand lead paint. Use a solid scraper to get up any loose paint, wash it and make sure you get up any loose dust and grit. NO SANDING.
Also, with the priming you'll need to use an oil based primer. Kilz will work just fine. If it's oil based paint then latex primers wont stick as well, and after you prime you can simply paint over whatever you like. Though for cabinets I will say you may want to go back with oil base, it's got a lovely finish and its considerably more durable than latex, just a bit different to work with.