Planning to paint kitchen cabinets as part of your home renovation? You must know how to get a smooth finish when painting kitchen cabinets because an uneven finish can look tacky.

Although it can be slightly difficult to get a smooth finish, it’s not impossible. As a DIYer, you can do a couple of things to ensure your kitchen looks flawless. And that’s why we have some tried and tested tips on how to get a smooth finish when painting kitchen cabinets. Let’s begin with the first step.

Be prepared for some prep work

Preparing your wall for the paint job is the most essential part of the home improvement project. Keep in mind that the end result will only be as good as the prep work. You need to do your due diligence to ensure that the coat of paint looks fantastic on your cabinetry. Fortunately, there are certain ways of going about it.  

Remove the cabinet hardware, shelves, and doors

cabinet installation

Although this step can be quite tedious, it’s an important one. Painting around hardware and doors will result in a shoddy paint job. Therefore, you need to remove all the doors and shelves from your cabinets by unfastening the hinges and handles.

It’s always a good idea to label every piece of hardware so that you’ll know how to replace them at the end of the painting project.

Clean the kitchen cabinet thoroughly

A supposedly clean kitchen may also collect grime, grease, dust, smoke, and stray food particles. If the cabinets are not cleaned properly, the dirt will prevent the paint and primer from adhering to the surface.

Make use of a strong degreaser on every inch of your cabinets that need painting. Once you’re done, wipe off the cleaner and let it dry completely.

Fill all the holes and cracks

If you notice any holes or scratches on your cabinet, you should fill the area with high-quality filler. A smooth cabinet surface will result in a smooth finish and vice versa.

Sand the cabinetry well

Once the imperfections are covered with a wood filler, you’ll need to sand the surface with 100-150 grit sandpaper to make it smoother and even.

Another purpose of sanding is to break through the original cabinet finish and remove any slick varnish or glaze. Sanding it down will also help the new coat of paint stick to the cabinetry properly – ensuring a long-lasting finish. 

Dust off the wooden particles 

Since sanding will leave behind a layer of fine wood particles, you’ll have to clean it off with a dry brush. Do not forget to clean the corners or else they will retain some of the stubborn sanding dust.  

Apply a good-quality primer

painting kitchen cabinets

A high-quality primer acts as a bonder – strongly gripping the paint onto the cabinets. A good primer will help block the existing color so that you’ll require fewer coats of paint. Also, coats of primer help in getting a smooth and durable finish for your cabinetry. 

Keep in mind that primers are selected based on the type of paint used. You can choose from an oil-based primer or a latex paint primer. 

As you apply the primer, again sand the cabinet surface – this time lightly with 220-grit sandpaper. Wipe the cabinets clean.

Make use of a paint sprayer

If you’re looking for a smooth, professional finish, it’s a good idea to spray your cabinets instead of using a paintbrush or rollers. This painting technique eliminates brush marks – providing an even coat of paint. And, the paint application is easier too. You may be able to rent a paint sprayer from your local home improvement store. 

However, you’ll need to be very careful lest there’s overspray. Getting the right amount of paint, covering every inch, and the perfect coating will require some practice. 

Choose a lacquer paint for your sprayer

Lacquer paint is known to give the smoothest, most durable finish. The only downside is that the drying time is a little too fast. This type of paint dries quickly. That’s why applying lacquer with a brush or paint roller is not a good idea. 

Buy a paintbrush and foam paint roller

For a good paint job, you’ll require high-quality painting tools. After all, you don’t want sub-par results right? If you are using a brush and roller, it’s better to go for a narrower brush as well as an angled brush to reach every corner of the cabinet. When buying a foam roller, get one that has high ratings and is specially designed for a smoother finish. 

Use the brush and the roller 

Utilize the paintbrush and roller as a team for a smooth, flawless finish on your cabinets. Always apply the paint in even strokes for an even coat. Finish off with a mini foam roller to further smooth out the paint. This step will help remove the brushstrokes or paint streaks completely.

Keep in mind that before starting the paint application, you should never moisten your paintbrush. In fact, doing so might seriously harm your paintwork. A moist roller may produce runny, watered-down paint if you’re using water-based paint. And if it’s an oil-based paint, the water and oil will never mix together. And it will ruin your cabinet’s appearance. 

Apply another coat of paint

kitchen cabinet paint

Apply thin, even coats to achieve the consistency you want. Always allow the cabinet to dry completely between each coat. Or else, you’ll get noticeable brush strokes, a tacky uneven finish, or wrinkled, peeling paint. 

Also, applying too much paint at once will result in a poor-quality paint job. The excess paint may drip and not dry properly. 

Sand lightly between every coat of paint

Once you’ve applied the paint in a smooth manner, repeat a light sanding with 220-grit sandpaper to remove any imperfections. You’ll be surprised to notice flaws you’d earlier missed as more paint is applied to the surface. Remember to wait for the paint to dry before sanding it. Wipe the area and apply the next coat. 

Keep in mind that sanding between coats is specifically for smooth finishes. If you’re going for a textured finish, skip the sanding altogether.

Read more: How to remove old paint from walls

Last thoughts

If you’re planning a kitchen upgrade and want to paint your wooden cabinets, knowing how to get a smooth finish when painting kitchen cabinets is extremely important. 

Painting the kitchen cabinets is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to give your kitchen a makeover. A good coat of paint can enhance the appearance of your cabinets. And, your entire cooking space. 

We hope the above steps will help you achieve a smooth, professional paint job. 

How to get a smooth finish when painting kitchen cabinets? was last modified: September 27th, 2023 by Ramona Sinha
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