Q. I am looking to have my kitchen cabinets painted. My neighbor had terrible results with peeling paint, leaving me a bit nervous. My current cabinets are in good shape with a tough factory finish. I have heard that surface preparation is critical with these finishes in order for the paint to properly adhere and take the beating and wiping that cabinets must take. What do you recommend?
Robin W., Pittsburgh
Experts I’ve spoken with don’t recommend painting your cabinets with a traditional paint, just as they don’t recommend painting a car the same way.
Here’s the problem: Most cabinets today have laminate fronts, so sanding and painting those will likely end up with less-than-ideal results. Technically, you could lightly sand and paint over a solid wood cabinet, but wood cabinets can still be susceptible to warping and peeling, aand using the wrong type of paint could still lead to poor results.
If you’re serious about painting and have solid wood cabinets, I recommend consulting with a reputable interior painter to ensure you properly prepare the area and use the correct type of paint.
You do have other — and I believe, better — options, though, to give your cabinets a new, updated look for significantly less than what it would cost to replace them. Because you’re interested in painting them, I recommend talking to a highly rated cabinet company that offers refinishing, or reglazing, work. Reglazing your cabinets can save you up to 80 percent of the cost of replacement, plus you can choose from a variety of colors, so you can customize their appearance to your taste.
Reglazing, or refinishing, is similar to painting a car rather than a house. Cabinets are cleaned, sanded and taped off. The surface is primed and sprayed with an industrial topcoat, giving the cabinets a smooth surface and durable finish. The process typically takes less than a day and the cabinets can be used almost immediately after. The condition of your cabinets can play a role in whether or not it’s worth reglazing them, so get advice from a professional on your best option.
If reglazing isn’t in the cards, another option is to reface your cabinets. Refacing can save between 30 and 50 percent of the cost of replacement. With refacing, you can change the type of wood, finish and door design of your cabinets. You keep the existing cabinet boxes in place, replacing only the doors and drawer fronts with a matching wood or laminate veneer, as well as the handles, hinges and hardware. The process typically takes a few days and you’re still able to use the cabinets in the interim. When the job is complete, the cabinets have the same appearance as new cabinets would.
Instead of painting, I recommend pursuing one of these options to achieve a high-end, customized look for not a lot of money.