How to Get a Smooth Finish When Painting Kitchen Cabinets
Achieving a smooth, professional-looking finish when painting kitchen cabinets can transform the entire look of your kitchen. Old, worn cabinets get upgraded to look like new with a flawless painted finish. The key is taking the time to properly prepare your cabinets and apply the paint using the right techniques.
With some patience and the right steps, you can paint your cabinets to look like they were professionally sprayed. This article will walk you through the entire process of prepping, choosing paint and tools, application techniques and protecting the finish so you can get stunning results.
Thorough Prep Work Lets the Paint Shine
Putting in the prep work is crucial for getting cabinets ultra-smooth. Taking shortcuts here can lead to drips, brush marks and other imperfections in the finish.
Remove All Grease and Grime
Thoroughly cleaning cabinets prior to painting is a must. All grease and dirt need to be removed for the paint to properly adhere. Use a degreaser like TSP substitute to deep clean and remove any oily residue. Pay special attention to areas near the stove and countertops.
If any grease remains, it can cause inconsistencies in paint application and lead to an uneven finish. The cleaner the surface, the smoother the completed paint job will be.
Lightly Sand for Optimal Adhesion
After cleaning, lightly sanding the cabinets smooths the surface for painting. Use 220 grit sandpaper and focus on any damaged or peeling areas. Sand inside the cabinet boxes and doors as well.
Sanding eliminates imperfections that could show through the paint. It also scuffs the surface so the paint can properly adhere. Proper prep work results in a flawless painted finish.
Apply Primer for a Uniform Base
Priming is a crucial step that leads to a smooth finish. Use a high quality primer specifically made for painting kitchen cabinets. Enamel underbody and bonding primers work very well.
Primer creates a uniform surface for the paint to stick to. This prevents any stains, wood grain, or other imperfections from showing through your topcoat of paint. The result is a flawless, glass-smooth finish.
Choosing Paint Products for a Seamless Finish
With your cabinets prepped, now you can focus on selecting quality paint and tools. The products you choose impact the end result.
Types of Paint for Smooth, Professional Results
Three of the most popular options for painting cabinets are:
- Oil-based enamel paint – Very durable and hard finish
- Latex acrylic paint – Fast drying and easy to apply
- Lacquer paint – Self-leveling and ultra smooth finish
Consider sheens as well – semi-gloss and high gloss add shine and are easier to clean. Regardless of paint type, apply in multiple thin coats to avoid brush strokes.
Rollers, Brushes and Sprayers for Flawless Finishes
Using quality tools is just as crucial as the paint itself. Here are some top options:
- Synthetic bristle brushes – Prevent brush marks
- Mini foam rollers – For flat areas like doors and drawer fronts
- HVLP sprayer – Provides the smoothest finish
- Airless sprayer – For larger projects with faster coverage
We’ll go over techniques for brushes, rollers and sprayers next to get a seamless painted finish.
Application Techniques for a Professional Look
Your prep work and product selection provide the foundation for success. Now it’s time to apply the paint. Follow these tips and tricks to paint cabinets like an expert.
Prevent Brush Marks with Proper Technique
When brushing and rolling paint, use these techniques to avoid unsightly brush marks:
- Always maintain a “wet edge” – avoid letting paint dry between sections
- Apply paint in thin, even coats using light pressure
- Keep your brush strokes all going in the same direction
Applying thin coats is key. Thick coats tend to leave visible brush strokes once dry.
Avoid Drips and Sags
Drips and sags in the paint leave uneven surfaces and an unprofessional finish. To prevent drips:
- Don’t overload your brush or roller with too much paint
- Maintain steady strokes without stopping mid-section
- Allow proper drying time between coats
Rushing through the job leads to drips. Take your time and keep your application smooth and steady.
Achieve a Spray-Like Finish
For the smoothest results, consider using an HVLP paint sprayer. To spray paint like a pro:
- Keep sprayer nozzle about 6-8 inches from surface
- Apply multiple thin coats, allowing proper dry time between
- Lightly sand and clean between coats
Spraying creates a seamless, glass-like painted finish. It takes some practice but delivers stunning results.
Seal and Protect the Finish
The final step is applying a clear protective topcoat over the painted cabinets. This helps the finish last longer by preventing scratches and marks. Consider:
- Clear acrylic lacquer
Choose a semi-gloss or high gloss sheen for extra shine and protection. Apply using thin, even coats as you did with the cabinet paint.
Following this comprehensive guide will help you achieve a smooth, professional-looking finish on your kitchen cabinets. Prepping properly, using quality paint and tools and applying with care leads to amazing results. Take your time and don’t cut corners. Your refinished cabinets will look brand new!