Design Dilemma: To Paint or Not to Paint Wood Cabinets | Home Design Find

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Design Dilemma: To Paint or Not to Paint Wood Cabinets

There comes a time when just about anyone with standard builder’s kitchen cabinets from one of those ubiquitous big box stores starts to hear a little nagging voice in the head. “Should I paint those kitchen cabinets?”

The arguments for painting are many: a fresh coat of paint has a way of hiding the standard-ness of many cheap cabinets. Instantly, a bright white or creme, or a funky color like lime or aqua can lend a standard builder’s kitchen a bit of panache. Instant drama in a paint can. And yet, painting natural wood is never an easy step to take. Some wood purists feel a coat of paint defiles what otherwise would be all that natural beauty shining through.

You can see right here what a coat of paint can do. In the before photo, we have the standard boring builder’s cabinets in an oak finish. Good enough but nothing special. Then, joila!, good enough is transformed into pretty darn snazzy, thanks to a jazzy color scheme and new door hardware. What a difference. In fact, the owners were able to enjoy the best of both worlds, by letting some of the natural wood show through on some doors.

kitchenpaint1 how to tips advice

kitchenpaint2 how to tips advice

So if you’re having the “painting the cabinets” debate in your own head right now, here’s what you should keep in mind:

1) Do you like how your cabinets look? Sounds like a silly question, but sometimes we realize over time that our plain wooden cabinets aren’t that bad. But if you cringe everytime you enter the kitchen, that’s probably a sign in favor of painting.

2) Is your wood low-quality? All wood is not made equal. Cherry cabinets, for example, are not in the same league as plywood. If the wood on your cabinets is obviously of low quality, don’t hesitate to get out the paint brush.

3) Do your cabinets have structural flaws? Even a new paint job can’t fix sagging shelves and peeling laminate.

4) Can you handle the job? Painting kitchen cabinets is nothing to approach lightly. It must be done in a step-by-step methodical manner if you hope to have chip-resistant cabinets that won’t stick and peel. You will need to know how to sand (and what kind of sandpaper to use),you will need to  fill all cracks, and you’ll have to use primer. You’ll also have to know what kind of brushes to use (foam) to get into corners and to use several coats of paint. You must remove all doors to do a good job, and you’ll probably need some large space to keep the doors while they dry. (Prep work is 75 percent of the job!) While you can opt for oil or latex paint, pros often swear on oil, which they say is more durable and levels out to a smoother finish. And speaking of smooth, paint applied by spray will look smoother and more professional than using a brush. For more details and tips on the painting project you see here, click here.


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2 Comments so far to “Design Dilemma: To Paint or Not to Paint Wood Cabinets”
  1. jesus Says:

    in this case the question is not "To Paint or Not to Paint Wood Cabinets"
    but where am i going to get a decent kitchen after i burned this one?!

    vade in peace!

  2. sandra de charo Says:

    I always prefer to natural color of would but have to agree with mydivabydesign. Painting *after* some time cab really bring a refreshing look!

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