To Paint or Not to Paint: That is the Question (for the kitchen cabinets)

The trend in kitchen cabinets has been to white for a couple of years now.  Some people have gone to the expense of completely removing the old cabinets and purchasing new white maple cabinets.  My wife and I had that priced out for our kitchen and between new IKEA cabinets, appliances and site prep ($38,000) the total came to just over $60,000.  We are still thinking about it. 

However, a number of people have chosen to paint their old wooden cabinets white, to good effect.  I was recently showing this couple some houses in Mission and out of 6 homes, 5 had painted the old cabinets white.  You can tell they were painted because of the style of the cabinet.  With new brushed nickel hardware, they looked good and certainly brightened up the kitchen. 

Should you decide to go this route, you have a couple of options.  There are companies and painters out there that will take over the project and do it for you, or, you can do it yourself.  Personally, I would need to hire someone.  However, for those do it yourselfers out there (DIY’s) I have included a couple of articles I found on the subject.  The first is about what is the best kind of paint to use and the second article is about the best kind of primer.  Having never tried either product, this is NOT a personal endorsement, so do your homework.

I checked out both the Benjamin Moore Advance Paint and the INSL-X Prime Lock (primer) and both are available locally. 

Mark Stevens, July 2019

The Best Kind of Paint for Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Lisa Freedman

Feb 27, 2018

Walk down a paint aisle in even the smallest hardware store and the number of options is overwhelming. Do you want oil-based paint? What kind of finish? What is it that makes this paint by X company different than this other paint by the same company? Which can is the best?

Of course, the answers depend on the job. If you’re painting wooden kitchen cabinets, there’s one can that many pros swear by: Benjamin Moore Advance

“For starters, it’s an alkyd paint,” say professional painters Chris and Lexi Dowding, of SwatchOut in Michigan. “Which means it dries very hard and can stand up to lots of abuse without chipping or scratching.” They also love this particular paint because it levels out well (no weird bumps or ripples!), covers dark wood with just two (or sometimes three) coats, is low VOC (a fancy way of saying it won’t stink up the room), and is almost $20 cheaper per can compared to competitive brands. Plus, they say other professionals swear by the same stuff — a claim our reporters were able to back up.

Chris and Lexi prefer to use the satin finish, saying, “It usually goes well with other trims, and anything shinier would show scratches and imperfections too easily.” It also has a nice glow, they add.

We watched them use Benjamin Moore Advance in a real-life kitchen and can confirm everything they’ve said. It goes on like an oil paint (smooth and leveling), and cleans up like a latex paint (with just soap and water — or even just water — instead of paint thinner or mineral spirits).

We went with the basic can right off the shelf — because who doesn’t love a crisp, white paint job?

The Best Primer for Painting Your Kitchen Cabinets

Ayn-Monique Klahre

Sep 6, 2017

Painting your kitchen cabinets is easy — it’s all the prep that goes into it that’s hard. Removing the doors (and getting everything labeled so you can put them back up!), taping off your edges, covering the floors, cleaning the wood, filling in the random scratches … by the time you’re ready to start painting, you’ve done hours of work. So much work that you may be tempted to skip the primer and go straight to the paint — but definitely don’t do that!

Professional painters Chris and Lexi Dowding, of SwatchOut in Michigan, say that primer is key. You need it to create a full barrier between the previous surface and your new one, so that the old color doesn’t show or seep through. Primer also provides a surface that your new paint can stick to, so it stays right where you’ve put it for years to come.

Which primer should you use, though?

According to the Dowdings, the best primer is INSL-X Prime Lock.

“This resin-based primer is a sealer as well, so nothing bleeds through. Plus, it’s easy to handle, and it’s a good bonding primer for paint to go onto,” says Chris. “I consider it our insurance policy — I go heavy-duty on the primer so I don’t run into something later on that I’m regretting.”

While priming can add a day to the process, because you have to wait for it to dry before you can paint, the step is totally necessary. “Skipping primer is not an option,” says Lexi. After priming, they typically sand the primer layer before painting the wood in order rough up the surface even more so that the new coat has something to really grip onto. And even when they’re panting first or second coat of paint, if any dark spots in the wood start to show through during the drying process, they’ll use a little paint brush and dab the spot with a little more primer before the next coat. “It’s all about the prep work!” says Chris.