Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Cabinet painting hacks: take the pain out of painting

by Karl Fendelander
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

"Easier said than done" is a classic problem for do-it-yourselfers. The word 'sanding', for example, cannot begin to convey the hours and hours of dusty, painstaking work required for even average projects. Painting can be just as onerous a task -- but it doesn't have to be. Check out these hacks for taking the pain out of painting cabinetry:

  • The doors: Take them off. Completely. Painting cabinet doors while they're still in place is difficult and is likely to not only be messy but also a great way to get them stuck closed. Do everyone in your home a favor: take off the doors, and paint them somewhere else, like the garage. Also, a kitchen with doorless cabinets still functions as a kitchen. Painting the doors separately gives you extra time to complete the project without sacrificing your kitchen for weeks while you literally stand there watching paint dry.
  • The nuts and bolts: When you're taking out screws and removing hinges and other hardware, put everything that goes together in a little bag and label appropriately. It'll slow you down a little at the outset, but when you're exhausted and trying to put everything back together, you'll thank yourself for not throwing everything into the same coffee can.
  • The smell: Painting can stink up the whole house if you let it. Take the smell down a few notches by adding a tablespoon of vanilla extract to each gallon of paint you use, no matter the kind. Be sure to stir well. And don't worry, it doesn't change the color of the paint.
  • On metal: Having trouble getting paint to stick on metal cabinets? Step one: clean thoroughly. Step two: wipe down with white vinegar, and let it dry completely. Step three: paint. Step four: smile because the paint is actually sticking now.
  • On plastic: You probably don't have plastic cabinetry, but if you're painting something to match and the paint isn't sticking, it's time to get out the dryer sheets. After cleaning thoroughly and drying, wipe the surface down with a fabric softener sheet -- and voila!
  • On the carpet: Unfortunately, getting paint to stick to the carpet isn't the problem - removing it is. Keep some extra paper towels around to get as much out as you can initially, and then cover the spot with white flour. Once it's dry, it should vacuum right up and take the paint with it.
  • On the brush: Cleaning your brush of the seemingly infinite amount of paint stuck in there when you finish for the day is not fun and takes forever. Instead, stick it in a zip-lock bag and refrigerate. It'll be ready to pick up where you left off the next day.

There are many other little tricks and hacks for saving time, money, and headaches while painting, but with these bits of knowledge, you're on your way to painting smarter.

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