Looking to do a kitchen makeover ?
If painting your kitchen cabinets is on your list, you have come to the right place.
One of the most asked question by homeowners looking to revamp their kitchen is “How many coats of paint for kitchen cabinets?
In this article, I will talk about everything you need to know.
Once you are done reading you will know how many coats are needed, basics of painting and step by step process you need to know. I added a tips and tricks section too.
Let’s get started….
How Many Coats of Paint For Kitchen Cabinets?
The short and sweet answer is typically two to three.
However, the specifics can vary depending on various factors which I will explain in this article.
Understanding the Basics of Painting
If you are a DIYer and looking to do this project on your own, its important to understand the basics of painting kitchen cabinets.
The process involves cleaning, sanding and priming.
Don’t worry, I have the step by step process a little bit later.
Selecting the right paint is a very important part of your project.
Importance of choosing the right paint
Here is why its important to choose the right kind of paint.
All the different types of paint have different features.
The oil-based paint covers more area in a single coat whereas water based paints might require multiple coats.
Depending on what kind of paint you use, it’s sheen , brand and color, the number of coats may differ.
Oil based paint give a smooth finish while chalk paints have a matte finish.
water-based (latex paint) are quick drying and provide easy clean up.
Types of paint suitable for cabinets
Here are the different types of paints available.
Oil-Based Paint: If you have a high traffic kitchen, it would be a good idea to use oil based paints. They offer a super smooth and durable finish.
Latex (Water-Based) Paint: You will love water based paints as they dry very fast.
These paints are flexible so they are a good choice for wooden cabinets that move a bit when temperature changes.
Acrylic Enamel Paint: If you are looking for a shiny finish, acrylic enamel is the paint for the job.
Chalk Paint: I love the matte finish of chalk paints.
If you decided on this one, just remember you might need a protective top coat with this one.
Chalk paint is the perfect choice for a vintage or farmhouse look.
Milk Paint: These paints are eco-friendly and give a rustic charm to the cabinets.
If vintage vibe is your thing, this one is for you.
Hybrid Enamel Paint: If you want best of both worlds, this is a combination of oil and water-based paint.
How does paint color effect the number of coats ?
Coverage: The color you decide for painting cabinets does effect the number of coats you will need.
Some paint colors have better coverage like dark colors.
However if you are using a light color paint, it will require more coats specially if you are painting over a darker color paint.
Pigment Density: Its the same concept.
The darker paint have more pigments that makes them opaque.
Because of this, you will need less coats.
however if you are going from dark to lighter paint, you will need more numbers of coats of paint as the dark color might show through.
SAVE IT FOR LATER – PIN IT 📌 NOW
Primers play an important role in painting projects.
Primers make sure that the surface is ready for accepting paint.
By using primer you can fill in minor imperfections, cover up stains and get the uniform base that is needed for applying the paint the proper way.
Primer coat help paint to stick to the cabinet by making the bond between surface and paint stronger.
And if you are changing the paint from dark to light, primer will help you cover the old paint so that it does not show through.
So How many coats of primer should you use ?
The first coat is a must. Adding the first coat helps you lay the foundation for your paint.
The number of coats needed for primer will depend on the condition of the surface you are painting.
If you have a highly porous surface with a lot of stains, you might need to do more than one coat.
You want to make sure you have an even non-bleeding finish.
Factors Influencing the Number of Coats
There are several factors that can make you do more or less coats than normal.
Type of Cabinet Material:
Cabinets are made from different materials like laminate or solid wood cabinets.
Depending on what kind of material it is, the paint absorption will vary.
Climate and Humidity:
Believe it or not, weather conditions can play a role in how the paint sets!
Condition of Your cabinets:
cabinet painting also depends on the condition of the surface of the cabinets, you might need more or additional coats, if your cabinets are in poor condition.
Determining the Ideal Number of Paint Coats
After priming, the general rule of thumb is to apply at least two coats of paint.
However, depending on the color and type of paint used, you might need an additional third coat for an even and long-lasting finish.
Here are a few pointers:
Dark Cabinets to Light Paint:
When painting the cabinets a lighter color, more coats may be needed to cover the dark color.
Type of Paint:
High-quality paint typically give better coverage.
So if you are using the best paint, you might get your desired opacity and smoothness in just two coats.
Why Single Coat is not enough ?
In the perfect world, a single coat sound so enticing.
All you need to do it swipe the brush or roll the roller once and you are done…..
well not really. Here is why …
Uneven Paint Application:
Paint is not always self leveling.
If you did one coat, you might end up with some areas perfect and some areas not so good. this will give your cabinets a patchy look.
If you have done painting before, you know what happens with the first coat of paint with brush strokes.
Brush or roller streaks are always there when you do the first coat.
with a second or third you are able to get a smooth, flawless finish.
Kitchen cabinets will get spills, splatters or finger prints.
if you didn’t have enough coat over the old paint, you might see stains bleed through.
A paint job with single coat does not provide the protection kitchen cabinets need.
With all the cooking, grease, moisture, over time areas with only one coat of new paint will start showing chipping, peeling, or wearing out.
Two coats are standard
Two coats are the gold standard when it comes to painting the cabinets.
Let me tell you why…
Here is the magic that happens when you do the second coat.
Better Color Uniformity:
The first coat is always done to provide the ground layer.
When you do the second coat, that where the colors pop.
This makes sure the entire surface has an even tone and removes any patchiness.
In other words, the color you carefully selected actually does show off as you wanted it to be.
Improved Durability and Protection:
Consider the first coat as the base layer, the second layer is the protection shield.
When you have two layers, together they form a strong barrier that protects the cabinets from wear and tear, chipping and weather changes.
Enhanced Aesthetic Finish:
One coat might have streaks or roller marks.
when you do the second coat, it hides all the imperfections.
the result is a consistent surface with the perfect finish. It could be matte, semi glass or glassy finish.
When to consider the third coat
Even though two coats are mostly enough, there are times you might need the third one.
Making a Dramatic Color Change:
If you are going from dark to light or light to dark paint, you may need an extra coat.
Working with Porous Wood or Grainy Surfaces:
Some wood types are more porous and can soak more paint. This might cause uneven finish. To cover that, you will need to do the third coat.
Ensuring Long-Term Wear in High-Traffic Kitchens:
If you want an added security against wear and tear, it would be a good idea to do the third coat.
Step-by-Step Guide to Painting Kitchen Cabinets
Here is a step by step guide.
It’s always better to do the prep work the right way.
It is an important step.
Believe me it will reward you.
Cleaning the Surface:
You need to clean the surface of the cabinets really well.
This essential step makes sure the primer and paint stick to the cabinet very well.
Remove the doors & hardware: Remove all cabinet doors and hardware.
Sanding gives the paint something to grip onto, like adding grooves to a slippery floor.
A smooth surface means better paint application.
Apply the right primer based on the material of the cabinets.
Make sure and I repeat make sure you let it dry completely.
First Paint Coat:
Once the primer is dry, apply the first paint coat using either a brush or a foam roller for a smoother finish.
Sand Between Coats:
Once the first coat is dry, you can do light sanding to the surface using fine-grit sandpaper. This will make sure the second coat adheres better and looks smoother.
Apply Subsequent Coats:
Apply second and third coat until you get the desired look.
Make sure you let every coat dry completely before to paint on it again.
Reassemble: Once satisfied with the paint job and it’s fully dried, reattach the cabinet doors and hardware.
Pro Tip : If you up for it, get new knobs or pulls. this will add another notch to your kitchen transformation.
Watch this video where Megan shows How she painted her cabinets:
Final Top Coat or Sealant
You did everything right.
Choose the right paint, color and finish.
Worked so hard to paint the cabinets.
They look amazing.
It’s a good idea to do a final coat or sealant to maintain and protect your new cabinets.
Troubleshooting Common Issues
Dealing with Streaks or Brush Marks:
Sanding is Your Friend: Once the paint is fully dry, lightly sand the streaky or brush-marked areas with a fine-grit sandpaper.
This smoothens the imperfections.
Follow it up with a thin coat of paint, using a high-quality brush or roller.
Quality Matters: Always use high-quality brushes and rollers.
Cheap brushes tend to leave marks and lose bristles.
For smooth surfaces, foam rollers can give an even, mark-free finish.
Technique Adjustment: Always paint in the direction of the wood grain on cabinets.
Don’t overload your brush or roller, as this can lead to thick, uneven strokes.
Fixing Chips and Scratches Post-Painting:
Touch-up Kits: Most paint brands offer touch-up kits in their color ranges.
These are excellent for minor chips and scratches.
Simply dab on the affected area, ensuring you feather out the edges for a smooth transition.
Sanding and Repainting: For larger chips, sand the affected area lightly and repaint.
It might require more than one coat to match the surrounding areas.
Post painting steps: How to take care of imperfections
Patience Pays: Allow the paint to dry fully before inspecting for imperfections.
Sometimes, issues that are visible when the paint is wet disappear upon drying.
Spot Prime: For areas that absorbed the paint unevenly or where stains bleed through, consider spot priming. Just prime the spot and let it dry.
This will let you get the rid of the uneven surface.
Maintenance Tips for Painted Cabinets
Once you’ve done the hard work, it’s time to maintain the beauty.
I would recommend gentle cleaning and avoiding harsh chemicals.
If you take care of it, it will last you a long time.
Expert Tips and Tricks:
Anyone can pick up a brush and paint but getting the flawless look needs the right tools, techniques and insider secrets.
Whether you’re a seasoned DIY enthusiast or taking on your first painting project, these expert tips will help you paint like a pro and get professional-looking finish.
Tools of the Trade for a Perfect Finish:
Invest in Quality Brushes:
The difference between a cheap brush and a quality one is immediately visible in the finish.
A good brush will give a smoother coat and won’t shed bristles onto your work.
Foam Rollers for the Win:
For larger surfaces, foam rollers offer an even application without the stippling effect that some traditional rollers can leave.
Angled Brushes: This paint brush is perfect for cutting in edges or working around fixtures.
They allow for precision where you need it most.
Painter’s Tape: Opt for a good quality painter’s tape to ensure clean edges.
Remove the tape when the paint is still slightly tacky to prevent peeling.
Extension Poles: For high cabinets or hard-to-reach areas, an extension pole can be a game-changer.
It ensures even pressure and a consistent finish.
Insider Secrets for a Professional Look:
The ‘W’ Technique:
When using a roller, start by painting a ‘W’ on the wall or cabinet, then fill it in without lifting the roller.
This gives a consistent coat without visible start and stop marks.
Tinted Primer: If you’re making a drastic color change, consider tinting your primer closer to the new paint color.
This can help reduce the number of top coats required.
Sand Between Coats: Using a fine-grit sandpaper between coats (once the paint is completely dry) can result in an ultra-smooth finish.
Always remember to remove the sanding dust with a tack cloth before applying the next coat.
Maintain a Wet Edge: Always maintain a “wet edge” by overlapping your last stroke with the next.
This helps to avoid visible lines or streaks.
Clean as You Go: If you spot a drip or mistake, don’t wait for it to dry. Address it immediately.
This ensures a smoother final product and less backtracking.
Primer: Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer for all surfaces.
Paint: Benjamin Moore Advance – specifically designed for cabinets, it offers a durable, smooth finish.
Sandpaper: 3M 220 Grit Fine Advanced Sandpaper for the perfect sanding between coats.
Can you put too many coats of paint on cabinets?
Yes, you can put too many coats of paint on cabinets, its not recommended.
Over-painting can lead to a thick, uneven finish and can obscure the fine details of the cabinet’s design.
Excessive paint layers might also take longer to dry and can be more prone to chipping over time.
Can kitchen cabinets be painted in one day?
It’s technically possible to paint kitchen cabinets in a single day, but here’s a breakdown of time needed for each step:
- Cleaning: 1-2 hours, depending on the state of the cabinets.
- Sanding: 2-3 hours, depending on the size and number of cabinets.
- Priming: Applying primer can take 2-3 hours. Most primers will need at least 1-4 hours to dry, but it’s best to refer to the product’s instructions.
- Painting Process : Applying the first coat can take another 2-3 hours. Depending on the type of paint, you might need 2-4 hours of drying time before applying a second coat.
- Second Coat (if needed): Another 2-3 hours of painting, followed by drying time.
Given these estimates, while you can get through many steps in one day, you’d be pushing against the clock, especially when accounting for drying times.
It’s more realistic to spread the process over at least two days to ensure each coat dries adequately and to achieve a quality finish.
Is 3 coats of paint too much?
Not necessarily. The number of coats you need depends on the color you’re covering and the new color you’re applying.
Some shades may require more coats for full opacity.
However, three coats can be excessive if proper coverage and opacity are achieved in two.
It’s important to evaluate after each coat.
Do you sand between coats when painting kitchen cabinets?
Yes, it’s a good practice to lightly sand between coats.
Sanding helps achieve a smoother finish by removing any imperfections and ensures better adhesion of the subsequent coat.
After sanding, it’s essential to wipe away any dust before painting.
Is 3 coats of paint better than 2 on cabinets?
It depends on the situation. If two coats provide complete, even coverage, then a third coat might be unnecessary.
However, if you’re making a significant color change or working with a paint that offers a thinner consistency, a third coat might be beneficial for achieving the desired finish.
How many hours does it take to paint kitchen cabinets?
The total time can vary widely based on the number of cabinets, the type of paint, drying time, and the experience level of the painter.
On average, it can take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours to paint the cabinets themselves, not including drying time between coats or the prep work.
However, with prep and all processes included, it can span over several days to ensure the best results.
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