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Tips for a painted kitchen

If you are thinking about painting your kitchen cupboards, take a look at a painted kitchen... and 5 years on.

Ashley at domestic imperfection painted her kitchen cupboards and replaced the countertops with wooden tops for a brand new look. The kitchen was originally painted 5 years ago, and Ashley gives and update on how the cupboards have fared over the years and what she could have done to ensure a lasting project. 

Painting kitchen cupboards is an extremely affordable way to give a wooden kitchen (or melamine kitchen) an instant update. However, you have to be prepared to put in the time to ensure a professional-looking finish, and one that's going to last.


There's no denying the improvement between the 'before' and 'after' pictures shown here. Without replacing a single cupboard, or cupboard door, the newly painted kitchen looks amazing. But how long can you expect it to stay looking that good?

Replacing the plain Formica countertop with a wooden countertop also adds more to the finished look. Wooden countertops add warmth and texture that is hard to beat.

After receiving advice from her local paint store, Ashley sanded, primed and painted the cabinets, but left off the sealer top coats. Five years of wear and tear have taken a toll on the painted finish, especially with a toddler in the home. Most of the removed paint was as a result of baby-proof latches, but this could have been prevented by applying a sealer top coat.


Ashley offers the following tips for painting kitchen cupboards and cabinets:

Sand down to bare wood

 It is better to sand down cupboards to bare wood if these have been previously painted, sealed or varnished. You may also need to use a paint stripper if you have lots of paint or detail on the cupboards.

GOOD TO KNOW: For sanding away layers of paint or varnish, start with 60- or 80-grit sandpaper and then move up to 120-grit, and finish off with 240-grit.

Don't forget to prime

It is very important to use a quality primer, especially or wood cabinets, as these have a tendency to bleed through paint. The newer water-based primers are excellent, such as Prominent Paint UltraPrime. It might be seem a bit pricey, but if you consider what you are saving on replacing cupboards, it's worth spending on a quality primer that will extend the life of your hard work.

Use the best tools

It doesn't pay to skimp on good paintbrushes and/or paint rollers for this type of project. You don't want paintbrushes to shed hair on your newly painted cupboards. Have a selection of paintbrushes in different sizes, foam roller, paint trays and assorted sandpaper or sanding pads for your sander.

Apply a quality paint

If you are applying a primer and a sealer, you can use a matt paint for the cupboards. Using a matt paint allows you to sand between coats for a super-smooth finish. Apply two to three coats of paint, let this dry and then sand with 400-grit sandpaper before wiping clean to prepare for the sealer coats.

Apply the paint with a combination of paintbrush and foam roller. Use the brush to get into corners and detail and then go over this with the roller.

Paint perfect

Apply the perfect paint finish to your kitchen cabinets with a Bosch PFS Spray System. The Bosch PFS 2000 retails at around R1200 and is perfect for all your painting projects, including kitchen cupboards. Find advice and tips for using the spray system in our Decorating section.

Always finish with sealer

A sealer coat is going to offer protection on your painted cabinets. A clear, acrylic sealer applied over the painted finish offers additional protection and is what will extend the life of your painting project. A sealer is applied using a combination paintbrush and foam roller and it's a good idea to apply 2 to 3 coats over the painted finish.

Prominent Paints have a water-based clear acrylic sealer that is easy to apply and dries fast - it's not on their website but you can ask for it as named. Alternatively, you can use a water-based glaze coat, or polyurethane sealer. However, do bear in mind that most poly sealers tend to go yellow with age, and this will affect the finish on your cupboards.

Editor's Note: Ashley used different products from the ones mentioned in this article - ones that are not available locally. We have included products that are the nearest substitute.


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