Do you have to strip cabinets before painting?

How to Repaint Your Cabinets Without Stripping Them

If you’re planning to give your kitchen a makeover, one of the quickest and easiest ways to do so is by painting your cabinets. But if you’re starting with cabinets that already have a coat of paint, you might be wondering if you need to strip them down to bare wood before beginning. The short answer is that, while stripping is ideal, it isn’t always necessary. Keep reading to learn how you can repaint your cabinets without stripping them first.

Step 1: Clean the Cabinets

The first step in repainting your cabinets is to give them a good cleaning. This will help ensure that the new paint adheres properly and lasts for years to come. Use a mild cleaner and a soft cloth to remove any grease or grime from the surface of the cabinets. You can also use trisodium phosphate (TSP) to really get rid of any stubborn dirt or dried-on food. Just be sure to wear gloves and ventilate the area well when using TSP, as it can be harsh on both your skin and your lungs.

Step 2: Sand the Cabinets

Once your cabinets are clean, you’ll need to sand them before applying primer or paint. This will help create a smooth surface for the new paint to adhere to. Use a fine-grit sandpaper and sand in the direction of the grain. If you’re not sure which direction the grain runs, try sanding in different directions until you find the one that feels best. Once you’ve finished sanding, wipe down the cabinets with a damp cloth to remove any dust particles.

Step 3: Apply Primer and Paint

Now for the fun part! Once your cabinets are prepped and ready, it’s time to start painting. Use a primer designed specifically for cabinetry, then follow up with two coats of high-quality paint designed for use on cabinets. When choosing a color, keep in mind that light colors tend to make rooms feel bigger and brighter, while dark colors can make them feel smaller and cozier. You can also use paint glazes or stencils to add extra visual interest to your newly painted cabinets.

Painting your cabinets is an easy and inexpensive way to give your kitchen a whole new look. And thanks to today’s paints and primers, you don’t even need to strip off the old paint first—just sand it lightly, apply primer, and then paint away! Of course, if you’re starting with bare wood or want to be sure that your new paint job lasts for years, stripping off the old finish before painting is always the best option. But if you’re short on time (or patience), repainting without stripping is definitely a viable option.


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