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How to seal paint on kitchen cabinets

Updated November 21, 2016

Painting your kitchen cabinets can save you a great deal of money over replacing the cabinets, but failing to seal and protect your paint job could leave you with less than desirable results soon after your kitchen makeover. Paint may peel, crack or become stained if it is exposed to moisture or cooking grease, which are common elements in most kitchens. In addition to protecting the paint, a coat of polyurethane will provide a smooth surface on your cabinets so you can easily wipe away any food spills or splatters without any scrubbing.

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  1. Wait for the paint on your kitchen cabinets to dry completely, which could take several days. If the paint still feels gummy or tacky, it is not yet ready to seal.

  2. Wipe all of the painted surfaces clean with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or dust. If your cabinets have grease splatters, dampen the cloth with vinegar and gently rub the cabinet to remove the grease. Let the cabinets dry when you finish cleaning.

  3. Paint one coat of oil-based polyurethane onto the kitchen cabinets with a paint roller or paintbrush.

  4. Let the polyurethane dry for at least eight hours or overnight.

  5. Wet the dry, sealed kitchen cabinets lightly with water from a spray bottle.

  6. Sand your kitchen cabinets with an extra fine or fine sanding sponge until the surface feels smooth to the touch.

  7. Dry the cabinets with a clean towel to remove all of the water.

  8. Repeat steps 3 to 7 to add a second coat of polyurethane to your kitchen cabinets.

  9. Wait approximately two weeks for the polyurethane to cure on your kitchen cabinets. The finish will become harder and more durable during this curing time.

  10. Apply a dime sized amount of paste wax to a clean cloth and gently rub the wax onto your kitchen cabinets. Continue to rub the wax in a circular motion and apply more wax as necessary to coat all of your cabinets with a thin layer.

  11. Buff the cabinets firmly with a clean cloth to give them a slight shine.

  12. Tip

    If you are sealing white cabinets, choose a water-based polyurethane instead of an oil-based variety. Oil-based polyurethanes may yellow over time, which should not be a problem on dark cabinets but could detract from white cabinets.

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Things You'll Need

  • Damp cloth
  • Vinegar
  • Oil-based polyurethane
  • Paint roller
  • Paintbrush
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Sanding sponge
  • Towel
  • Paste wax
  • Cloths

About the Author

Kittie McCoy

Kittie McCoy has been a freelance writer since 2008. She is also a part-time personal trainer and licensed entertainer in Las Vegas. She enjoys sharing her love of physical fitness and experience in the entertainment industry via her writing.

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