How to Refinish Kitchen Cabinets Though the handyman often will not hesitate when faced with the job of repainting walls and ceiling, many are reluctant to tackle the job of repainting kitchen cabinets. Contrary to popular opinion, a smooth professional looking job can be achieved by the home decorator providing the right materials are used and techniques are followed.
Since the kitchen cabinet doors are the most prominent part of any kitchen cabinet, these should obviously get the most attention. Most professionals agree that the best way to get a smooth, uniform finish is to take the doors down and remove all hardware before refinishing them. If the paint is to be applied by brush, then the doors can be laid flat so that the paint will flow out to a ripple-free coating. If the doors are to be sprayed, they can be propped up in the garage and then allowed to dry hard before rehanging.
How to Refinish Kitchen Cabinets
By removing all hardware first the handyman will also find it simpler to sand the surface smooth, and he will be able to apply the new paint more easily with full length strokes. The extra time and effort required will be more than repaid in work saved when trying to cut in around hinges and knobs???and in wiping off paint smears.
If the existing finish is in fairly good condition, and if the new paint is approximately the same color as the old paint, than one coat of enamel will often be sufficient. However, if the old finish is badly worn or nicked, or if a considerable change of color is contemplated, then two coats will probably be required In this case, the handyman will find it best to apply a base coat of enamel undercoat ; sometimes called underbody) followed by a top coat of quick drying enamel. Though a high gloss enamel finish is usually preferred, a semi-gloss enamel can also be used??? if a less glossy finish is desired.
To apply the paint, either a brush, a spray gun, a small mohair roller, or a mohair-faced applicator can be used. Rollers work well with the undercoat, and with the semi-gloss enamels. However, they will not give as smooth a finish when used with a high gloss enamel. Spray guns which do not require excessive thinning of the paint will give excellent results with all finishes???but some practice may be required to get a really good finish.
A soft bristled, fully stocked paint brush (2 or 3 inches wide is a good size) will give excellent results with all finishes, if properly handled. The brush should be dipped into the paint no more than one-third its bristle length, then tapped lightly against the inside rim of the can to remove the excess (never wipe off the excess by drawing the brush across the rim). Flow the paint on with light, parallel strokes, avoiding any tendency to scrub it on the kitchen cabinets. Brush across the width of the door while keeping the brush fully loaded at all times.
As each kitchen cabinet door is covered, the paint is cross-stroked without dipping the brush any more. The bristle tips are dragged lightly along the length of the door at right angles to the original strokes. These cross-strokes should be made in one motion, from one end of the cabinet door to the other while holding the brush at a forty-five degree angle to the surface. This tends to level out all brush marks left by the original strokes, and helps to smooth out any irregularities in the finish.
Mohair-faced applicator pads also do a remarkably effective job of spreading on a smooth coat of enamel. If handled with reasonable care, they will spread the paint on in a smooth uniform coating, and in less time than would normally be required by a conventional paint brush when refinishing kitchen cabinets.
Since no paint job can be any smoother than the surface beneath it, it is particularly important that the old surface be prepared properly before the first can of paint is opened. Paint cannot adhere satisfactorily over a surface which is dirty or greasy, so the first step is to scrub the cabinets thor-oughly with a powerful detergent solution. Allow this to dry completely, then sand with fine grit paper to smooth off scratches and nicks, and to dull down any gloss which remains. If preferred, a liquid sandpaper or surface preparer solution can be used. This liquid is simply wiped on to remove old wax, grease and dirt, and to dull down the gloss.
Bad nicks and deep scratches will require more vigorous sand??ing with a coarser grit (medium) sandpaper first. A finer grit is then used to remove scratches left by the coarser paper. In extreme cases where the old finish is very rough or badly marred, complete removal of the old finish may be the best solution. Deep gouges, cracks or other depressions should be filled in with water-mixed wood putty, or with a ready-mixed wood plastic compound.
After the doors have been taken down and hardware re??moved, and after all surfaces have been prepared as described above, the first coat of under- body is applied. This is allowed to dry for at least twenty-four hours, then sanded lightly with fine grit paper. Dust thoroughly to remove all grit left by the sanding in your kitchen cabinets, then apply the finish coat of enamel. If this finish coat is to be a definite color, then the handyman will find it easier to tint the undercoat (which only comes in white) before it is applied.