Painting your plywood cabinets is a great way to spruce up your kitchen. It does take time to do it right, but with a bit of patience and a few coats of paint, you can achieve a smooth, even finish and transform your kitchen without spending money on a full renovation.
Prepare the Plywood
Before you start painting plywood cabinets, it is best to remove the hardware rather than trying to paint around it. Make sure to label the cabinets and hardware so that you can easily put them back in the correct position when you finish. Then, clean all of the cabinet doors with a trisodium phosphate cleaner to remove all the grease and grime.
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Examine the plywood and use a wood filler to fill in any gaps and holes. Once the filler is completely dry, sand the cabinets. Don't worry about sanding away all of the old paint or stain; you just want to make sure the surface is smooth.
Now, it is time to prime the cabinets to prepare them for painting. Use a damp cloth to wipe away any dust that may have settled on the plywood from the sandpaper. Use a foam roller or paintbrush to apply the primer to the plywood. If you are using plywood that hasn't been painted before, consider a primer for bare wood. Allow the primer to dry completely before applying the paint.
Painting Plywood Cabinets
Select the best paint for your cabinets. While latex paint will work on plywood, consider opting for an alkyd paint that is less likely to chip. Keep in mind that the higher the gloss, the more imperfections will show, while a matte paint finish won't highlight these flaws.
Use a foam roller or high-quality paintbrush to apply the first coat of paint. If you opt to use a foam roller, as soon as you are finished, lightly run a quality paintbrush over the wet surface of the paint. This ensures a smooth finish when the paint dries. Use a foam brush to wipe up extra paint on the edges and corners of the plywood.
Wait for the first coat of paint to dry and then lightly sand the plywood. Wipe the plywood with a damp cloth to remove any dust before adding the second coat of paint. You can apply a third coat of paint if desired. Make sure the final coat of paint is completely dry before you put the hardware back on your cabinets and reinstall them in your kitchen.
Painting Plywood Edges
For a professional look, make sure you paint the edges of your plywood. If your cabinets have already been painted, you can easily do this by following the other steps for painting your plywood cabinets. However, if the edges of your plywood are unsealed, there are a few things to do first to ensure you don't wind up with an uneven finish.
Apply a wood filler to the edges to seal the plywood. Use a scraper or putty knife to smooth the filler. Once the filler is dry, sand the edges until they are smooth. Apply a coat of primer and allow it to dry. In many cases, this is enough, and you can move on to painting the plywood, but sometimes, you will need to apply a second layer of wood filler and primer.