Painting your own cabinets is a big job. It takes time and commitment. But with the right know-how you can do it AND save a lot of money. I hired a pro to do my painting. Then I sat down with him and asked him to share his very best advice so you can paint like a PRO too! Most of these pro painting tips come straight from my amazing painter, Felipe of Emerald City Painting. Not only did he do an amazing job on my home, but he sat down with me to share his very best advice. Here are his top tips to help you paint cabinets (and beyond) like a real professional! Follow these recommendations to ensure that your hard work creates beautiful, lasting results.
This post is sponsored but all opinions are 100% our own.
Want more professional painting advice? Visit our recent blog post detailing my garage door and front door repainting. We reveal insider pro painting tips to create lasting results.
Want to Hire a Pro?
Contact Felipe for your Pacific Northwest painting project at (206) 794-2429. He enjoys a bit of travel, so even if you don’t live in the Seattle area give him a call! He is an amazing painter, and an amazing person! I promise, you will love him and the results of his expertise.
What Pro Painting Tips You’ll Learn in this Post:
- Which products and brands do professional painters use and recommend?
- What color did I paint my cabinets?
- Is it really worth it to invest in the highest quality paint?
- How do I estimate how much I need to buy?
- Do I have to empty my cabinets?
- Should I use a primer?
- How many coats of primer and paint are recommended?
- How much time do I have to allow between coats?
- What are the best tools to use?
Felipe’s Professional Paint Recommendations
The very first conversation I had upon meeting with Felipe of Emerald City Painting we were on our driveway discussing the various paint projects I had in mind. He said, “I always recommend Sherwin-Williams. They make the best paints.” Wow, that was clear. Ok, Felipe, which ones? He said, their high-end line is what I use whenever I can.
I contacted Sherwin-Williams to see if they would sponsor my project. Sherwin-Williams didn’t choose me. We chose them. This is as authentic as it gets. All opinions expressed are our true and reliable opinions.
When to Paint Cabinets
When your cabinets are quality wood and in good shape there is no need to replace them. Painting them gives them a brand new look at a fraction of the cost. When you choose quality paint you actually improve not only their look but also their lasting durability. Both are important reasons to consider painting because you are adding considerable value to your home.
Here is what my kitchen and other spaces looked like before painting began. All the wood is birds-eye maple. I loved it, but as it aged it became more and more orange, which I didn’t like. I felt like the style of the maple was outdated. It was time for a change. Since the cabinets were expertly crafted out of valuable wood they were prime material for repainting.
Peel & Stick Barn Wood
Previous projects I completed in my kitchen include adding real barn wood peel and stick wood planks to my island and peninsula as seen above and below. I completed a blog post answering all questions about using peel and stick barn wood. Read the post HERE.
Peel & Stick Vinyl Wallpaper
Another DIY project I completed was adding peel & stick vinyl wallpaper on top of my dark granite backsplash. The smooth backsplash created an ideal surface for this removable wallpaper. It required no demolishion and can be easily changed out. It is temporary or permanent as desired. I have had it up for about 3 years already, and I love it. It washes easily and stays perfectly put. Most wallpaper companies now offer peel & stick options.
Another benefit is that it is easier to install than regular wallpaper. I wouldn’t attempt regular wall paper, but I can handle putting up the peel & stick. I covered all the backsplash in my kitchen over the span of two days by myself.
Pro Painting Tips: What Paints Should I Use?
Does the paint I choose really matter? Felipe was most adamant about this point. He said it over and over. Paint matters. It is the difference between a beautiful and lasting finish and the opposite.
Felipe has 15 years experience painting. When he cannot convince clients to invest in the high quality paint he says they are usually unhappy in the end. In many of these cases he is called back to fix and repaint because cheaper brands do not last.
He insists it is more cost effective to invest in high quality paint to start.
Exact Paints We Used to Paint Cabinets & Number of Coats Used
Primer: 1 Coat of All Surface Enamel Oil Base Primer
Option 2: If you live in California or other states that restrict the sale of oil based paints and primers you can substitute the above oil based primer for a water based latex primer such as Sherwin-Williams All Surface Enamel Latex Primer.
Paint: 2 Coats of Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel Interior/Exterior
I chose Gloss Finish. My paint color doesn’t have a name because we matched my existing trim paint. I chose the trim paint because there was already a lot of trim paint in the kitchen and about a foot of molding around the entire room.
8648-11106 T/M KM – CCE COLORANT OZ 32 64 128
B1 – Black – 1 1 1
R2 – Maroon – – 1 1
Y3 – Deep Gold – 6 1 –
Base: Extra White
It is quite white, and I love it. It suits the house.
Pro Painting Tips: How To Estimate Paint Needed
You can read on the paint can the estimated coverage. Some cans say for example 100 square feet or 200 square feet. Your estimate will depend on whether your cabinets have been painted before. If you are painting wood for the first time you will need more paint, as it absorbs more.
Visiting a Sherwin-Williams store is a great source for more advice. Each store has dedicated paint professionals ready to help you wit your paint questions. Take pictures of your space, and they will help you estimate. They are so friendly and very knowledgeable. They are well staffed so I never have to wait, which is very appreciated.
Pro Painting Tips:
Always err on the side of over estimating. If you run out mid-project you could run the risk of repainting, as batches can be slightly different. Plus you want to have some left over for touch ups. It is a costly mistake if you run out.
Shop Sherwin-Williams Paints and browse their product and color collections HERE.
I also had Felipe paint my family room mantle and tv cabinet to match.
Here is the before and after of the built-in desk and storage area off the kitchen. The project also included the laundry room which has a fair amount of built-in cabinets. As you can see, it was a big project. It spanned 4 rooms!
Important 1st Step: Prepping
The first thing Felipe did was prep. He spent days prepping and was meticulous in this step, which I appreciate so much. He covered every room with heavy duty painters’ paper to protect all the surfaces, beginning with the floors and then covering the counters. The final step was covering walls and sealing rooms with large clear plastic sheets.
Pro Painting Tips:
Cover everything, edge to edge, corner to corner. Be meticulous in this step to avoid damage. It will save you so much time and aggravation. Don’t be lazy. It is easier to protect than to try to remove paint.
Set-Up To Paint Cabinets
Here is the painting tent Felipe created in our garage. This is where he sprayed the cabinet doors.
Pro Painting Tips:
No matter what the paint says allow at least 24 hours for paint to fully dry between coats for best results.
Pro Painting Tips:
Do not take shortcuts in painting. The best advice from Felipe is: do it right the first time so you have beautiful lasting results.
Do You Need To Empty Your Cupboards?
As you can see, the good news is you do not need to empty your cupboards. As long as there is a little room between your items and the edge. This is the case assuming you aren’t painting the insides.
You will need to empty the drawers. This was a big enough project. On the positive side, I cleaned out my drawers!
Pro Painting Tips: When Should I Roll, Brush or Spray?
When to Roll
Roll when you have a textured, imperfect surface. The roller pushes the paint into the surface, creating better coverage. A paint brush or spray may not cover well enough. It is faster for larger areas as well.
When to Use a Paint Brush
Use a quality brush for detail work and smooth surfaces. A paint brush gives you control in areas where spraying is undesirable and a roller is too big. Every job will require some paint brush work.
When to Spray
Obviously this professional’s tool is useful, especially for larger jobs. It can save a lot of time and arm fatigue. Pro recommendation is to use a high quality paint for the best finish. Remember that your prep work needs to be extra meticulous if you are spraying inside.
Create a spray tent (as Felipe did in our garage) to facilitate spraying. Temperature can’t be too cold or too hot. Oil based paints need temperatures between 40 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Latex paints require 50 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Do You Need to Leave Your House?
See the open door? That’s for ventilation. It’s very important, especially if you use the heavy duty paint oil-based primer which Felipe recommends! If you have decided to go with a water-based primer instead you can skip this section. You won’t have the same problem with fumes and won’t have to leave your home unless you simply want to avoid the inconvenience of not having access to your kitchen.
If you can have doors and windows open airing out the house you might be able to stay in your home. It also depends on personal sensitivity and how far your bedrooms are from the actual painting.
Felipe says that about 50% of his clients find it necessary to stay a couple nights in a hotel as the primer dries. Luckily I was out of town. My husband stuck it out. My son stayed over at a friend’s house because he was more sensitive than my husband. It is something to consider and prepare for.
Pro Painting Tips: Tool Recommendations
Felipe highly recommends Purdy paint brushes. He says he has Purdy paint brushes that are 10 years old! If you use inexpensive brushes you’ll end up buying new ones for nearly every job. Purdy are made by Sherwin-Williams. I joked with Felipe that he is a walking advertisement for Sherwin-Williams and he giggled his cute giggle, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “When this is your life’s work, you need to use the best!” See what I mean? Shop Purdy brushes HERE.
Take a look at more of the Photo Gallery AFTER pics below:
Pro Painting Tips: The Key Points
Oh the power of paint! I feel like I have a new house. It’s amazing. It is a magical transformation. I have communicated with many people regarding their cabinet repainting projects. Everyone says they wish they had done it sooner. I feel the same way. It was so worth it.
Having had many conversations with my pro painter there was one over-riding theme that came up again and again. The main thing I learned from Felipe is that if you want quality lasting results you can’t compromise. You can’t skip steps or cut corners. Attention to detail is key. And you need to invest in quality paint if you want the finish to be smooth and you want your paint to stand the test of time.