One of the most economical and environmentally friendly ways of remodeling a kitchen is to paint your existing cabinets. And yes, you can achieve professional looking results yourself if you take the time to do it right.
1. Clean the cabinets. Preparation is the most important step in the process of painting your cabinets, and it is very important to make sure that all of the surfaces you are going to paint are completely free of all grease, grime, food residue and whatever else may be stuck to them.When doing this remove the doors and hardware and lay them out flat. Use an all purpose cleaner and a rag and then allow them to dry thoroughly.
2. Sand the cabinets. Once dry, use a piece of fine grit sandpaper - 150 or finer - and make a few passes over all the flat surfaces of the doors. Don't forget to do the thin facing pieces on the cabinet boxes themselves. The slightly sanded surface will allow the primer to better hold onto the surface and greatly increase longevity of the paint job.
3. Apply primer. After sanding, it's time to prime the cabinets. Primer forms a better bond with the surface than paint alone would. If your cabinets are already painted and you are re-painting them the same color, it is OK to skip this step and go ahead and apply the paint. If, however, your cabinets are stained and you are trying to cover up the natural wood grain with paint, you must prime them first. The paint will not stick to the varnished surface and the color of the stain will most likely bleed right through your paint.
There are several types of primer that you can use, and which one you choose is largely based on what kind of paint you want to use over the top. If you are using an oil-based paint, an interior oil based primer is recommended. These products tend to have a very strong odor and they are best used when you can properly ventilate the room.
If you are planning to use a latex paint for your top coat, then a shellac based primer is recommended. This product tends to dry fairly quickly, so make sure that you are ready to go before you begin applying it. The shellac based primers, just like the oil based, carry a very strong odor and caution should be used.
4. Paint the cabinets. There are a couple of ways to apply the paint. A pneumatic sprayer is the best way to get a smooth and glossy finish. If you don't have access to one, however, you can still get a great finish by using a high quality paint brush - 2 1/2" to 3" would be ideal.
The key to achieving a professional finish with a brush is to use very thin coats. It may be tempting to try to coat the paint on as thick as possible just so you can be finished, but DON'T. The best and most durable paint jobs are built up by consecutive thin layers of paint.
5. Sand and add additional coats. In between coats, take some 320 grit sandpaper and very lightly sand the flat surfaces again so that you have the smoothest possible surface for your next coat. Use a tack cloth to wipe away all the dust, and go on to your next coat. You will likely need 2-4 coats.
Let dry 24 hours and then hang the doors and install the hardware. Viola- new kitchen without consuming new materials.