How to Paint Plywood Cabinets

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Painted kitchen cabinets brighten up a room.
Painted kitchen cabinets brighten up a room. (Image: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Spruce up your kitchen by painting your plywood kitchen cabinets. Your plywood cabinets may have a wood-finish veneer, or they may have a tired-looking coat of paint -- either way, it takes just a few steps to make them over. Look for stain-resistant primers and paints, and use a paint with a glossy finish for easy wipe-down cleaning. Use either oil or water-based paint, but keep in mind that oil-based paint will take longer to dry and must be cleaned with solvents, not water.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdrivers
  • Drop cloth
  • Medium-grain sandpaper
  • Power sander
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Small paint roller
  • Paint roller tray
  • Paint brushes
  • Paint stirrer
  • Primer
  • Paint

Remove cabinet doors with a screwdriver. Remove any drawers and empty them. Remove all fixtures such as handles and drawer pulls. Set all of the doors and drawers on the drop cloth.

Degloss the surfaces of the cabinets, doors and drawers by sanding them thoroughly and evenly. Use a power sander if you have one, or sand by hand. Sand any detail areas or crevices by hand.

Wipe down all of the cabinets, doors and drawers with a lightly dampened microfiber cloth, removing all of the dust. Allow any moisture from the cloth to dry completely.

Mix primer with a paint-mixing stick and pour it into a roller pan. Roll paint roller into the primer, coating it completely. Roll off any excess primer on the pan's textured flat surface. Roll primer over all of the surfaces of the cabinet, doors and drawers. Use a brush to paint molded areas.

Allow the primed cabinets to dry overnight, or as directed by the primer manufacturer. Clean the roller, roller pan and brushes thoroughly.

Pour stirred paint into the roller pan and apply a coat of paint to the cabinets, doors and drawers in the same way you applied the primer. Allow the paint to dry completely. Paint another coat on all surfaces, if necessary. Dry overnight before putting the cabinets back together.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use a light primer for white or light-colored paints, and a dark primer if you're using dark paint.
  • To paint a two-tone or multicolored cabinet doors, use painter's tape to mask the dried base color and paint the other color(s) on top, creating the desired design.
  • Breathing paint fumes can make you sick. Ventilate the kitchen by opening windows and running the exhaust fan, and paint doors and drawers outdoors, if possible.

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