Transforming your kitchen with a fresh coat of paint on the cabinets can make a dramatic impact. But how long does this DIY project actually take from start to finish? Knowing what to expect timeline-wise allows you to plan accordingly.
We’ll provide a realistic overview so you can budget your schedule and achieve beautiful results.
Choosing the Right Paint
The type of paint you choose can significantly affect the project duration. Water-based latex or acrylic paints offer easier cleanup and faster drying than oil-based options. But enamel and oil-based paints provide a more durable finish. Here are a few factors to consider:
- Oil-based paints take up to 24 hours to dry and a few weeks to fully cure. The fumes are strong as well.
- Latex paints dry quickly within 2-4 hours but may require an additional primer. Lower odor and fewer fumes.
- Enamel paints are most common for cabinets because of their hard, glossy finish. Drying time is around 4-6 hours.
Choosing quality paint engineered for cabinet use can shorten drying times. Opt for popular brands like Benjamin Moore Advance or Sherwin-Williams ProClassic. Buy enough for at least two topcoats to ensure adequate coverage.
Assessing Cabinet Condition
The condition of your existing cabinets is a pivotal factor. Any repairs or extra preparation will extend your timeline. Here’s what to check for:
Old clear finishes or sealants like polyurethane can cause paint adhesion issues. You’ll need to sand thoroughly or use a chemical deglosser first. If the doors have a laminate surface, apply a dedicated bonding primer.
For stained or damaged cabinets, fill any holes and sand to smooth rough areas. Priming helps paint adhere to slick or glossy surfaces. Allow a day or two for this additional prep as needed.
Considering Kitchen Size
The overall size of your kitchen will influence how long the painting process takes. Having more cabinets equals more surface area to cover. Here are some general time estimates:
- Small kitchen (up to 10 cabinets): 1-2 days to paint
- Medium kitchen (10-20 cabinets): 2-3 days to paint
- Large kitchen (20+ cabinets): 4 or more days to paint
For larger kitchens, you may need a helper to efficiently coat all the cabinet surfaces. And don’t forget that extra coats add time as well.
Preparation – The Most Crucial and Time-Consuming Step
Thorough preparation is what ensures a smooth, durable finish. It’s imperative not to rush through this step. Expect to spend about 5-7 days prepping your cabinets for painting. Here are the key tasks:
- Remove doors, drawers, and hardware using screwdrivers
- Clean cabinet boxes, sides, frames with degreasing cleanser
- Sand surfaces thoroughly to rough up the finish
- Fill any holes, cracks, dents with wood filler and let dry overnight
- Sand and degloss doors to remove glossy coating
Working methodically to prep each cabinet box and door is time-consuming but well worth it. Proper sanding helps the new paint properly adhere.
Priming the Cabinets
Before painting, it’s highly recommended to apply a quality primer designed for cabinets. The right primer enhances adhesion and prevents uneven absorption. Oil-based are best for stained wood. Allow at least 24 hours drying time before painting.
Using an angled brush, prime the frames, sides, faces, and doors. Then use a roller for any wider flat areas. One coat is usually sufficient. Expect this priming process to take approximately 2 days from start to finish.
Painting Cabinet Boxes and Doors
Now comes the satisfying step of finally applying the new paint color. Use a combination of trim brushes for cutting in edges and mini rollers for large surfaces. Here are a few tips:
- Paint the cabinet frames before the doors for an easier workflow
- Brush paint vertically with the wood grain for an even coat
- Allow each coat to dry for at least 24 hours before adding another
- Sand lightly between coats for maximum adhesion
- Apply at least 2 topcoats for best coverage and durability
Painting all the cabinet boxes and doors could take 2-3 full days depending on kitchen size. Remember to budget ample drying time between each coat.
Reinstalling Doors and Hardware
Once the final coat has dried for a full 24 hours, the doors and drawers can be reattached. Use a drill or screwdriver to carefully realign the hinges and hardware in their original placements. This reassembly step takes about 1-2 days.
However, it’s best to wait at least a week before using the cabinets to allow the paint to fully cure. Though dry to the touch, the paint still needs time to harden completely. Opening and closing doors too soon could damage the finish.
To recap, a start-to-finish timeline for painting kitchen cabinets is approximately 2 weeks:
- 5-7 days for preparing and priming
- 2-3 days for painting
- 1 week for curing before use
Keep in mind that larger kitchens, extra coats, and any repairs can all extend the duration by a few days. Remember to budget ample drying and curing time in between steps for the highest quality finish. With proper planning and preparation, you can revitalize your kitchen with painted cabinets in about two weeks!