How to Prevent a Painted Kitchen Cabinet From Chipping

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No kitchen cabinet coating is going to be as durable as the baked-on factory paint on painted cabinets, and poor preparation or poor quality paint will result in chipping. Preventing paint from chipping off of cabinets isn't easy if the problem is poor adhesion to the cabinet surface. If the problem is poor quality or very old paint, a good sanding followed by primer and two coats of good paint will prevent further chipping.

Things You'll Need

  • Cabinet door bumpers
  • Sandpaper
  • Electric sander
  • Liquid sandpaper
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Buy cabinet door bumper pads and stick them to the corners of doors and drawers to prevent paint chipping when the doors bump onto the frames. These are small cork, vinyl or felt pads and available at hardware stores.

  • Sand the areas where paint is chipping down to the wood using 100-grit sandpaper. Once they're sanded smooth and feathered out, prime them with two coats of tinted shellac primer. Allow the primer to dry for at least one hour, then touch up with the paint.

  • Sand entire doors and cabinet boxes if the paint chipping is widespread. Use 80- and 100-grit sandpaper and expect quite a bit of the paint to come off. Use an electric palm sander to make the job go faster. Sand them until the remaining paint is feathered out and smooth.

  • Clean the surface with a "liquid sander" or deglosser to remove any remaining oils and dirt.

  • Prime the entire sanded area with oil-based or tinted shellac bonding primer.

  • Repaint with two coats of high-quality latex or oil-based paint. Use a higher gloss, such as semi-gloss or high-gloss, for maximum durability. The higher the gloss, the harder the paint.

Tips & Warnings

  • Water-based paint takes up to a month to cure. Avoid cleaning, scrubbing or rough handling of freshly painted cabinets for at least 30 days.
  • Cheap paint will never dry as hard as good paint. High-quality latex paints are as durable as oil-based paints, but expect to pay up to $50 per gallon for very good paint---it's worth it.

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