Since several of you are interested, here is a quick run-down of how cabinets are painted at Casa de Daisy. This is by no means advice from a professional, just what works for me.
A good cleaner/ degreaser
Scotch Brite Pad and/or fine grit sandpaper
Edge painting tool or a paint brush to get in corners and edges
A foam roller made for painting smooth surfaces. Buy several covers, you'll need a new one for each coat.
Primer- I used Kilz
Paint- look at the can to determine how much you will need. I started with a quart and had to go back several times. If you are doing a small area like a bathroom, a quart should be plenty, for a kitchen, you may want to go ahead and get a gallon. I used semi-gloss oil based paint because I like the finish it gives. It is a big pain to work with. It takes forever to dry and is a mess to clean up, but it dries to a very hard durable finish and shows less brush strokes than latex. I think it's well worth the extra work involved. It's stinky though, so be sure your area is well ventilated.
Oil based paint doesn't clean up with soap and water. You'll need something like mineral spirits or acetone to clean your brushes. To clean the paint off your hands, pour a little cooking oil in your palm and rub hands together like you're washing them. Once the paint is loosened up, you can wash with soap and water.
If you use oil based paint allow at least three or four days for this project. You have to let the paint dry 24 hours between coats and it will take more than one coat.
Now for the fun stuff.
- Remove doors and drawers and the hardware. Depending on the type of hinges you have, you may want to remove those too. My hinges don't show, so I left them on the doors.
- Clean, clean, then clean some more. Especially important in a kitchen. I used TSP. It's available at Lowes and WalMart. Just mix it in some water, put on some rubber gloves and wipe everything down. After cleaning with the TSP you will need to go back with a clean sponge to remove any residue.
- If your cabinets have a heavy coat of varnish you may want to sand with a fine grit sandpaper to remove the shine and make a rougher surface for the paint to stick to. I didn't have much shine to worry about so I just scuffed everything up with a scotch brite pad. Wipe everything off again to remove any dust.
- If you have a very steady hand and can paint the cabinets without getting paint on the walls and counter tops you can skip taping. If you're like me, get out the painters tape and carefully tape the areas around the cabinets you would like to protect from paint. Extra time spent taping will be well worth it in the end.
- Once everything is taped you can start priming. I use Kilz. It comes in a low odor formula, but somehow I ended up with the stinky stuff. It is really strong, so open some windows and turn on a fan.
- Primer dries pretty fast so by the time you are finished with the last cabinet, the first one will likely be dry and ready for the first coat of paint.
- If you've never painted with oil paint, be warned that even though it dries slowly, it gets tacky fast. You don't want to go back over it with your brush or roller more than necessary. Try to get a nice smooth coat on and keep moving.
- My cabinets needed one coat of primer and two coats of paint. Don't be tempted to lay on a super heavy coat to save time, it will never dry.
- For the doors and drawers, I was fortunate enough to have access to a paint gun- (the kind cars are painted with) and a paint gun operator (Mitch). He sprayed the doors and drawer fronts for me. It still took two coats of paint and had to dry 24 hours between coats and in the end, the cabinets painted with a roller looked as smooth as the sprayed doors. I don't think it saved that much time in the long run, so don't feel like you can't get the same results because you don't have access to a paint sprayer.
- I removed my tape between paint coats, just out of fear I would pull paint off with the tape if I waited too long.
- Once you are satisfied with the coverage, you'll want to let it dry at least 24 hours before replacing the doors and drawers so you don't mess up all your hard work. Also in the first week or so after painting try to be very careful, the paint will be soft to begin with, but trust me, once it has time to fully cure, the finish will be quite durable.