In the ‘70s and ‘80s, I sold a lot of Sherwin-Williams paint. Back then spray-paint machines were expensive, temperamental and definitely for professional use only. A lot has changed since then. Now the mystique and complexity of spray-painting has been vastly simplified. DIYers can easily purchase and operate an entry-level ($89 home-owner grade spray gun and compressor from Wagner Home Decor) for their difficult painting projects. OK, full disclosure, I have never used the Wagner Home Decor HVLP Stationary Sprayer I’m recommending here, but I’m very impressed by its videos. I strongly advise practicing on a small project before you tackle the large job of painting all your kitchen cabinets.
When you want a smooth finish, especially when using high-gloss paint, a sprayed-on finish is absolutely the best way to go. You’ll get a far more even, uniform surface by spraying than by brushing and rolling. Why? Because a high-gloss paint will literally highlight and accentuate every single one of your roller and brush mark imperfections in the finish coat.
Before spraying, the surface you are painting should appear as smooth as glass. That means 90% of any spray-paint job is time you’ll spend in preparation, with just 10% percent in actual painting. You might be surprised, but that amount of prep time for spray work isn’t much longer than prep time for brush or roller painting. However, what you gain by spraying is a huge savings in the amount of time spent painting.
So, what does the 90% prep work involve? First, remove all the hardware and take the doors off their hinges. Put up plastic and lay drop cloths to keep sanding dust and paint overspray from adjacent surfaces. Use a degreaser to clean throughly and to completely remove dirt, oils, grease and grime. Fill in all dents and scratches and sand smooth. Using a sanding sponge or sandpaper, lightly go over all the cabinet parts to ensure every surface has an even consistency – sanding with the grain of the wood to prevent any surface damage – and remove all sanding dust with a tack cloth or clean sponge.
If your cabinets have been painted many times, you can skip the cleaning part above, but you will need to apply a stripping agent to remove those previous coats of paint.
Depending on how dark your cabinets are and how opaque your primer is, plan on applying at minimum two to three coats of paint, the first of which should be a fast-drying primer. A quality primer will (1) help conceal imperfections, (2) block past cooking stains from bleeding through the finishes and (3) make it easy for paint to adhere to your cabinets. Let your base coat dry, use your sanding sponge again – just not too aggressively this time – and remove any sanding dust.
Let each additional coat of paint dry thoroughly (about 24 hours) before lightly sanding and applying another coat. Let the paint fully cure for about 48 hours before reattaching the doors,