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How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Paint cabinets to brighten a shabby kitchen. Choose an oil-based paint or a water-borne acrylic enamel. Both create tough, durable surfaces that'll take hard wear.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Paint options for cabinets

If you want to give new life to old wooden kitchen cabinets, painting is a great choice. You have several good paint options. For the best adhesion and a harder, more durable finish, an oil-based (alkyd) paint is tough to beat. But you must be willing to put up with the strong odor and solvent cleanup, along with a longer drying and curing time than you’d get if you used an ordinary water-based paint. Plus, the color may yellow over time.

The best solution to avoid the hassle of oil-based paint is a new-technology waterborne acrylic enamel paint (such as Satin Impervo by Benjamin Moore) that delivers the good flow, leveling and hardening characteristics of an oil-based paint without the odor and long drying time. These new paints dry fast and clean up with soap and water. The main challenge is a smooth finish, but pros say that if the waterborne acrylic enamel is applied heavily enough and worked in small sections, it will flatten out nicely. Avoid a dry brush and going over sections already starting to dry.

Don’t forget other keys to success when painting cabinets—surface preparation (degreasing, cleaning and sanding), priming (use a top-quality primer), brushing (use the best-quality brush for the type of paint) and drying (follow label directions).

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How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

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