How to Get a Really Smooth Finish on Cabinets

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Cabinets get worn and damaged over time due to constant use. In some cases, you might think of replacing them during a kitchen remodel, but you don't have to go to those extremes. You can save some money and get a nice, smooth finish similar to a professionally finished cabinet by doing the project yourself. The process is not difficult but does require a bit of manual labor and time.

Things You'll Need

  • Trisodium phosphate cleaner
  • Clean rags
  • Drill or screwdriver
  • Painter's tape
  • Drop cloth
  • Paintbrushes
  • Oil-based primer
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Acrylic paint
  • 280-grit sandpaper
  • Clean the kitchen cabinets, using a mixture of trisodium phosphate cleaner and water and rag. Prepare the mixture according to the manufacturer's directions. Let the cabinets fully dry.

  • Use a drill or screwdriver to remove the hardware from the cabinets. Lay the cabinet doors down flat to finish them. Since the doors are the most visible part of cabinets, you want to make sure they don't have any drip trails. Keeping them flat during painting will prevent paint drips.

  • Tape the walls around the cabinets with painter's tape to keep paint from spilling on them. Place a drop cloth on the floor and on the countertop.

  • Paint the cabinets with an oil-based primer. This type of primer cures hard, starting the process for a smooth finish. Brush the primer on the cabinets, following the grain of the wood. Allow the surface to dry for 24 hours. If you have an open-grain wood, use a brushing putty instead.

  • Sand the primer with 220-grit paper. Follow the grain of wood. Wipe off the surfaces when you are done to remove the sanding dust.

  • Paint the cabinets and doors with acrylic paint. Follow the grain of the wood with the brush. Once you're done, allow it to dry. The acrylic dries hard, but it takes several days to fully cure. Allow it to dry for 24 hours, and then sand it with 280-grit paper.

  • Wipe down the surfaces to remove dust, and then apply a second coat. Allow this to coat to dry for 24 hours before you reinstall the doors. The surfaces will fully harden in about a week. Try not to overuse them until they've completely cured.

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