Are You Delaying the Inevitable?

Should I Paint My Kitchen Cabinets? When It’s Okay To—And When It’s Absolutely Not

Painting may seem like a simple task for beginning DIYers to tackle.

reprinted aricle By Melissa Graham

Q: My kitchen cabinets look worse for wear, but they’re original to the house, and I don’t want to replace them. Should I paint my kitchen cabinets?

A: Painting kitchen cabinets may not seem like an intimidating task, but it’s a project that can quickly become overwhelming once you’re already midway through. Unlike painting a wall, painting kitchen cabinets requires a long list of materials and equipment that can quickly add up, and doing it yourself can cost just as much as hiring a professional. If you find yourself thinking, “Should I paint my kitchen cabinets?” the answer depends on your experience level as well as the state of your cabinets. Beginner to intermediate DIYers should leave this job to the pros, especially if the condition of the cabinets calls for more prep work beforehand.

If you don’t know what your current cabinets are made of, it’s time to do some investigative work. The best paint for kitchen cabinets will depend on the cabinets’ material. Wood is more porous and will absorb some of the cabinet paint. On the other hand, the paint will have a harder time sticking to something nonporous like laminate. Plus, your specific cabinets may need certain cleaning materials or repairs to prep them for color. These materials will only add to the project’s bottom line.

If you have wooden cabinets, know what finish is already on them.

Wooden cabinets likely already have a stain or glaze on them, which can be difficult or ineffective to paint over. Knowing what finish is already on the cabinets will determine the level of prep work needed. In most cases, the existing finish will need to be stripped or sanded away. Both can be time-intensive, and stripping with chemicals can be potentially hazardous.

Painting cabinets is time-consuming and requires special gear.

Painting a wall usually requires minimal materials and experience—just some prep work, patience, and arm strength. When it comes to painting kitchen cabinets, you may not think there’s anything you need to learn. While it may seem more manageable because individual cabinets are smaller than a wall, it’s definitely a more demanding task.

Inspect your cabinets to see whether they’re in good condition or if it’s better to replace them.

Depending on the cabinets’ age, they could have been subjected to serious wear and tear over time from constant use and accumulated layers of grease and grime. Before making any aesthetic decisions, take a close look at your cabinets to see whether paint can improve their appearance or if they will need to be replaced altogether. Multiple areas of damage might indicate that you’re better off replacing the cabinets but consult a professional to see if repair is possible before heading off to the kitchen showroom. While paint can freshen up a kitchen’s appearance, it won’t do anything to enhance the cabinets structurally—you may just be delaying the inevitable.


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