Over the years I’ve read/watched a lot of tutorials on this – the first time I painted kitchen cabinets was about 9 years ago. I’ve painted cabinets using a variety of brushes, rollers and sprayers and I’m pretty sure I’ve fine tuned my process down to a very comfortable, predictable, easy, straightforward and quality process that produces a near factory finish. Now, I’m not saying it’s perfect – because I am a firm believer that everything can be tweaked or improved, but I am saying it’s pretty darn close. Here is a list of everything that I use to get the job done (if it links to something on Amazon it’s an affiliate link). If you want just a checklist for you to take to the store you can get it here.
The products I use:
Liquid Deglosser: Klean Strip Liquid Sander – I’ve used all three different bottle labels (red, orange-ish brown, blue) they all work the same. One bottle goes a long way and should cover an average kitchen.
Goo Gone: I use this for any sticky residue that needs to come off before I paint. An example on the kitchen cabinets were the silicone pads on the corners of the doors that I replaced. When I removed them they left a very sticky residue. The sticky residue would have repelled the paint. This stuff should be in every home. It works great to get those pesky stickers off of photo frames – I never understand why they don’t put the price sticker on the back of the frame. You can often find it in the dollar bin at Target. A very small bottle will last you years.
Dawn Dish soap: I used to use TSP to clean before painting. But it’s hard to find with the new environmental laws and dawn dish soap works really well.
A good sponge for cleaning. The blue one with an abrasive side. These are great because they don’t come a part.
Tack cloths: I like the yellow and blue ones you get from the big box store that come in packs of 10. I don’t even wash these – I just toss them after I use them. But you can wash and re-use them if you like – Mike does.
Sandpaper: When painting I don’t use my orbital sander – it takes off too much product. I know it seems like a lot of work but honestly it’s best to use plain old sandpaper sheets. I will often buy a 220 grit sanding block and wrap the sheets around it – but I rarely use the block. I buy 150 grit and 220 grit paper. I’ve heard some people will use synthetic steel wool at the very end – the #0000 grade. I might start trying this too.
N-95 or other respirator. Even if the paint says low VOC’s or no VOC’s just wear it. You will be atomizing paint particles. You don’t want to breath those in – you shouldn’t get paint in your lungs even if there aren’t VOC’s.
Small hand mixer or a mixing attachment for your drill.
HVLP sprayer: Mine is a HomeRight Finish Max hvlp (high volume low pressure) sprayer I really like it. It was $70 on Amazon. We have an air compressor and air hose – I’m thinking of trying out one that attaches to that so I can just dunk the whole thing in a bucket of water between coats. Mine right now has the motor attached to the sprayer so I can’t. But that may be the next thing I tweak in my set up. We have a large sprayer that we used to paint the walls in the house and all of the trim in mass quantities…this is not that type of sprayer – this is strictly for small projects that are just a little to big to use spray cans for.
Brushes: I use a high quality trim brush – 1″ for small details and 2″ for everything else. I like the brushes with angled tips. My favorite brand is Purdy but I also use Wooster. The important part is using the one for trim – it’s very soft – so you can use a light hand and just tip the paint to barely leave brush strokes with your final stroke.
Primer: Zinsser BIN Alkyd White Stain Blocker Primer. I used this primer when I am going to put it in my sprayer – it cleans up with water but it’s base is a synthetic oil so it dries and acts like an oil. It’s also made by Rustoleum. If I’m doing a small project I use KILZ Original interior oil primer in a spray can. This one is my favorite – it dries hard and sands so smooth – but I don’t always brush or roll it on because I like to toss the brushes/rollers after.
Paint: Ben Moore. I’m a Ben Moore and a Rustoleum brand snob. Chances are if it’s made by either of these I’m going to endorse it – and I do this without any sort of benefits – except for the “feel goods” from the results they give. For cabinets I used Ben Moore Advanced. Like the primer it is an alkyd – so it works like an oil based paint but cleans up like a latex paint.
Floetrol: paint thinner/conditioner. Very necessary in the hot, dry climate I live in.
Styrofoam cups: or any cup for you environmentally conscious people – I use mine over and over – so I’m not adding to the landfill. I bought mine at the dollar store along with tons of $1 shower curtains for drop cloths and furniture covers.
Shower curtains: I hang these from my easy up to create walls and make my “spray booth”. You need the thicker heavy duty vinyl ones.
Duct tape: To hold my shower curtains together and attach to my easy up. I like guerrilla tape because it doesn’t leave the residue that duct tape does.
Turn table or lazy susan: We have a milk crate that is attached to an old chair base with screws and plywood. I use this to lay my doors/drawers on and spin it so that I only spray towards one wall of my spray booth but evenly coat all surfaces of my product.
Old towel: to lay on your turn table to protect the backsides of your product
Wax paper: I cut small squares of this out and place them on my cups – to keep them from sticking to the painted surface while they cure.
Easy up: mine is a 10×10 pop up. It’s some off brand but works the same and was cheaper. You may also want a box fan with a filter for ventilation. I keep mine open on one side and open the garage door to just passively vent my area.
Folding tables: I used two rectangle ones to put everything on while it dries. Mine fit in my easy up, but you can really dry your stuff anywhere as long as it will be clean, undisturbed and horizontal.
Rubber gloves – like the kind you clean the toilet with
Bucket – mine is 2.5 gallons to give you an idea of size. I use this for my cleaning solution and then as a buck to just throw my sprayer parts in so I can re-use them without cleaning them between coats.
Minwax wood filler. I buy mine by tub. It works great to fill the old hardware holes and as a grain filler if needed. If you aren’t covering old holes then don’t worry about this one.
Gladware – large sizes to mix your paint and store it. You want to keep your thinned paint separate – so you have it dialed in for your next spray coat or project. I like this stuff because it’s disposable.
Last – but not least – a stretchy headband and a hair tie to hold back my hair and some painting clothes.
Phew! What a list.
Next I’ll post the how to part in actually painting your kitchen cabinets.