Saturday, October 27, 2012

How To Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part Two: Sanding, Priming and Painting

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part Two

Thanks for coming back to check out Part Two of this tutorial!  If you're just tuning in, go back and check out Part One to get up to speed!  Today, I'll take you through the steps of prepping your laminate cabinets for primer and then actually priming them.

Just a quick reminder of why you started this whole project in the first place.  Look at the huge difference it'll make!  You can do this!

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Before & After

For the sanding, you will need:

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Supplies:  vacuum, sander, lacquer thinner, sand paper

  • Sand paper or an orbital sander (HIGHLY recommend an orbital if your doors are completely flat like mine)
  • Sanding discs for your sander (80, 100, and 120 grit)
  • A shop vac to collect the dust from your sanding or some kind of mask
  • Tack cloth
  • Lacquer thinner (optional)
All of the tutorials I read on painting laminate suggested using a fine grain sandpaper.  I did; and to be honest, it sucked.  It felt like the sand paper was doing nothing!  About halfway through the doors, we switched to an 80 grit paper I happened to have on hand and that did the trick.  It felt like we were really digging into the laminate and cutting it up enough that the primer would actually stick.

Looking back, the fine grain sandpaper was fine because we used a bonding primer; but the 80 grit didn't hinder us in any way.  I couldn't tell the difference either way once the primer was on.

Dad sanding laminate cabinet doors for primer
 
Anyhow, all you have to do here is sand like crazy.  Get every surface you are going to paint and make sure not to sand over your door labeling!  Don't forget to sand the cabinet frames and the undersides of the frames if you're painting them.   


Notice how the orbital sander is hooked up to a shop vac.  I cannot recommend this enough.  I don't know a lot about toxic chemicals, but I can only imagine inhaling little bits of plastic and grease and other garbage is not good for you.  Hooking the sander up to the vacuum eliminated that issue completely.  If you are sanding by hand or don't have a shop vac, please use a mask or make one out of an old t-shirt like this guy.

Here is where having helpers comes in handy.  While my Dad was sanding, my Mom and I started wiping down the already sanded doors.

sanded laminate cabinets being wiped down with tack cloth

We used a combination of a tack cloth and lacquer thinner.  I bought brand new tack cloths for this project and they left a weird kind of waxy film on the cabinets (Can you see it in the picture above?).  I didn't think it would be an issue, but to be safe we used the lacquer thinner as well.

If you use the thinner, do it outside, in a well-ventilated area.  This stuff STINKS!  Not safe for kids or pets, for sure.

Alright, so cabinets are sanded and wiped down, that means it's time to prime and then paint!

For the priming and painting, you will need:

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part Two - Supplies: bonding primer, paint, rollers, tray

  • Painting tape, I used frog tape, but any kind will do
  • Bonding primer (this is essential for laminate cabinets)
  • Foam paint rollers in 6", 4" and 2" sizes
  • Paint brushes
  • Paint pain
  • Aluminum foil
  • Sandpaper (optional)
  • Painters pyramids/thumbtacks/etc (optional)

First things first, tape off your cabinet frame - next to the walls, around appliances and around your hood vent if you have one like mine.  I made the mistake of not doing this when I first started and I spent some time scraping paint off my stove and dishwasher.


Now, to save yourself the hassle later, cover your entire paint tray with aluminum foil.  This way, when you're done, you won't have to clean out the stinking thing.  I'm all about cleaning short cuts here, people.

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - paint tray covered with aluminum foil


Mix up your primer, pour it into the pan and get painting!  This stuff dries to the touch really quickly, so make sure to cover the paint can when you're done pouring it out.

I went through and primed one side of each door first; and my Mom stood by with a paint brush to clean up any dips along the sides of each door.  Make sure you don't paint over your door labels!  Once I finished one side, I (carefully!) picked up the door like a serving tray and painted each side, watching the top for drips or globby bits.  Take it from me, the last thing you want on your fresh new cabinet doors is globby bits.

laminate cabinets being rolled with white bonding primer

I doubt this is kosher and the primer people would probably cry if they read this, but once I did a single coat on one side of each door, I went back and did another coat.  The primer was dry to the touch, but easily scratch-able, so instead of taking the chance and flipping them, I decided to go back and do another coat, in the hopes of saving a little time down the road.

laminate cabinet doors and drawers with one coat of white bonding primer

This ended up working out perfectly, but if you're using painters pyramids or thumbtacks to paint both sides at once you may want to just flip them and paint the other side.

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part Two - End of Day One
Here's my kitchen at the end of day one, with one coat of primer.
How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part Two - End of Day One
Up close view of the cabinet frame with one coat of primer

Helpful hint - instead of rinsing out your paint tray, brushes, and rollers, cover everything with plastic wrap or a plastic grocery bag.  Everything will stay fresh for a couple of days and you won't wash everything out 100 times before the project is over!

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part Two - End of Day One: covered roller
How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part Two - End of Day One, covered paint tray and roller

Per the instructions on the primer can, let the first coat of primer dry for 4 hours before flipping your doors over to paint the other side or to paint your next coat.  This will vary depending on the heat and humidity while you're painting.

When you're ready, unwrap all your painting stuff and put a second coat on everything you can.  I kept the same side of the doors facing up at this point and put a second coat on just one side.  After I was done with the doors, I went inside and primed the frame and undersides of the cabinets.

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part Two - doors with second Coat of Primer

 Wait 4 hours, flip your doors and do it all again, twice. 

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part Two - primer on opposite side of doors

Alright, at this point, you should have two coats of primer on everything - doors, frame, your clothes, your dog...  And you know what that means, time to PAINT!  FINALLY!

Rinse everything out, put new foil in your paint tray and new rollers on your brushes and get painting!  Put one solid coat on everything you can.  Let it dry for 4 hours before moving on to your second coat.  If you get any globby bits, sand them off before repainting.  If you have dogs, keep them away from where you're painting or you will be sanding dog hairs out of your cabinets as well.  Not that I would know! :)

Like I said before, I did 3 coats of paint, but that will vary depending on how dark your original cabinets are.  And to be fair, my third coat was really just touch ups.

Once you're done painting, all that's left is to reattach the doors and put your hardware back on or put on your new hardware!  Check out Part Three for the final steps in this tutorial. 

Or if you'd rather, here's the whole series:

1 comment:

  1. Great tutorial! What a difference! I'm living with the same awful cabinets, and looking to paint them hopefully. In the mean time, I am going to paint the walls first. What paint color and brand is on your walls? That color even looks nice against the awful, dark cabinets. :)

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