How to Paint Brown Kitchen Cabinets White

Written by glenda taylor Google
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How to Paint Brown Kitchen Cabinets White
Brighten your kitchen with white cabinets. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

White cabinets can brighten your kitchen and impart a feeling of openness. However, if your existing cabinets are a dark colour, turning them into pristine white requires more than a coat of paint. Plan your project for a time when you can move all the contents out of your cabinets for at least a few days. Between the cleaning, priming and painting, your cabinets will have to dry completely.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Screwdriver
  • Trisodium phosphate (TSP)
  • Sandpaper (various grits)
  • Foam sanding blocks (optional)
  • Tack cloth
  • Wood primer
  • White kitchen paint or enamel
  • Quality paintbrush
  • Rubber gloves

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  1. 1

    Remove the cabinet doors and drawers, using a screwdriver, and remove the hinges and the pulls.

  2. 2

    Wash all painted surfaces with a mixture of trisodium phosphate (TSP) and water. TSP is available in hardware stores and do-it-yourself centres. Mix as directed on the package, and rub the solution vigorously on the cabinets to remove all traces of grease and grime. Let the cabinets dry completely.

  3. 3

    Sand the cabinet base, doors and drawers with 100-grit sandpaper or a foam sanding block to remove the gloss-coat of the brown paint. For the new paint to adhere correctly, it's imperative that you knock the sheen off the surface.

  4. 4

    Switch to a fine, or 220-grit, sandpaper or foam sanding block to smooth the cabinet base, doors and drawer fronts for painting. Sand only in the direction of the wood grain. If you can't tell how the grain runs, sand up and down on cabinet doors and on the cabinet base, and sand from side to side on the drawer fronts.

  1. 1

    Prepare a dust-free zone. Sweep, vacuum, close windows and doors and use tack cloth to wipe down all cabinet surfaces to remove any residual dust.

  2. 2

    Apply a thin coat of light-base, stain-blocking wood primer to all the cabinet surfaces. Use a quality paintbrush, and feather out your brush strokes by drawing the tip of the bristles very lightly over the wet primer to even out the surface and remove runs.

  3. 3

    Let the primer coat dry and sand lightly over the primed surface with very fine 400-grit sandpaper to remove tiny imperfections, such as dust that settled on the wet primer and stuck. Apply another thin coat of primer, let it dry and sand once more, if necessary.

  4. 4

    Brush on the first coat of quality white kitchen paint or enamel. Apply a thin coat to reduce the risk of globs or runs. Once you start painting one section, such as a drawer front or a door, complete that entire section before taking a break. Starting again after the paint dries may produce visible lap marks.

  5. 5

    Sand with the 400-grit sandpaper before applying at least one more thin coat of finish paint. Let the final paint coat dry completely before you put the doors and drawers back.

Tips and warnings

  • Choose an easy-to-wash paint for kitchen cabinets.
  • Wear rubber gloves while using TSP.
  • Don't skip steps. The old brown paint may show through, dulling the look of your new white cabinets, if you don't properly prepare the cabinets and seal them before painting.

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