How to Paint Over Lacquered Cabinets

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Prime lacquered cabinets properly to receive new paint for the best result.
Prime lacquered cabinets properly to receive new paint for the best result. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Lacquered cabinets' glossy finish requires special preparation in order to help the slick surface accept fresh paint. Proper sanding and priming helps new paint to adhere well and last for years to come. Primer is essential for lacquered cabinets--new paint will not coat well or last on a lacquered surface that has not received a coat of primer, even if it was sanded.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Rag
  • Trisodium phosphate solution
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Orbital sander
  • Drop cloths
  • Newspaper
  • Painter's masking tape
  • General-purpose primer
  • Sponge brush
  • Semi-gloss or gloss oil paint

Remove the handles and any other hardware from your cabinets, using a screwdriver.

Remove the cabinet doors from the cabinets, also using a screwdriver.

Clean the cabinets using a rag and a trisodium phosphate, or TSP, cleanser. Allow the cabinets to dry.

Sand the laquered cabinets with 220-grit sandpaper and an orbital sander. Wipe away dust with a damp rag.

Lay drop cloths or newspapers over nearby counter tops to protect against paint spatters. Lay cabinet doors on newspapers.

Apply painter's masking tape to wall surfaces or trim that border the cabinets. Also apply masking tape to surfaces on the interior of the cabinets that you do not intend to paint.

Apply an even, thorough coat of general-purpose primer to the cabinets using a sponge brush. Apply primer to the interior faces of the cabinet doors if you are planning to paint both sides. Wait 8 hours or overnight for the doors to dry, then flip over and prime the exterior side. Wait 8 hours for the cabinet frames to dry before proceeding.

Brush a coat of oil-based paint onto the cabinets using a sponge brush. Use long, steady strokes. Paint over any drips immediately to spread the paint and keep it from drying in a clump.

Wait for the first coat of paint to dry thoroughly--at least 8 hours or overnight--then add a second coat, being sure to cover any thin spots in the first coat.

Remove the painter's tape and reattach the cabinet doors and hardware after 48 hours.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consider painting your cabinets with semi-gloss or gloss paints--popular choices for kitchen cabinetry because they are easy to keep clean.
  • Oil-based paints adhere the best to lacquered surfaces. If you prefer using a latex-based paint, be aware that it may take extra coats to achieve adequate coverage.

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References

  • “Room for Improvement”; Barbara Kavovit; 2005
  • “Complete Painting”; Larry Johnson; 2007
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