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What to Paint First: Trim or Walls

Painting kitchen cabinets are all the rage right now, and the old style of golden oak cabinets are fading in popularity.

If you are here, it is likely that you are researching how to paint your cabinets and want to find a solid answer to – Should I Sand My Kitchen Cabinets Before Painting, because you want your cabinets to be flawless and durable. 

You may have even seen some products out there that claim you do not have to sand your cabinet doors and boxes before painting. Meanwhile, other experts exclaim that you must not skip scuff sanding the surface! 

I get that this creates so much confusion!

Moreover, all you want is kitchen cabinets doors and drawer fronts that are as durable as they are beautiful. So I am here to give you my expert advice on sanding kitchen cabinets before repainting.

Products That Claim – No Sanding Required

First of all, let’s discuss some of the products that I have heard of the market, “No Sanding Required.”

Chalk Paint. Annie Sloan manufactures Chalk Paint. According to the, sanding doors isn’t necessary before application. Chalk paint isn’t durable enough for cabinets.

Rust-oleum Cabinet Transformation. According to Rust-oleum literature, you can cut the mess of painting by not sanding before priming and painting cabinets if you use Cabinet Transformation. However, there are better products on the market to paint your cabinets.

Painting your kitchen cabinets is a time-consuming and challenging process. Why wouldn’t you want to take the extra precaution and steps to make sure your cabinets look great and stand the abuses of a kitchen.

Why You Need to Sand Your Cabinets Before Painting

It makes it easier for the material to accept the paint. To say it another way, you need to scuff sand your kitchen cabinets before painting because sanding creates a grooved surface for the paint to stick.

Sanding makes the paint stick better!

Sanding gives you a more durable finish!

Do I have you convinced that sanding your cabinets before you paint is a good idea?

How to Sand Kitchen Cabinets

Here I will inform you of what to do before your sand, how to sand, and lastly, what to do after you sand Kitchen Cabinets for Painting.

What to do before you sand cabinets

First, to deep clean your cabinets and remove all dust, grease, and grime that is on the surface. You cannot sand off the dirt. If you don’t clean before sanding, contaminates (like cooking grease) will be pressed down into the wood. Contaminates will keep the soon be applied paint for sticking.  

You can remove the doors here in the process or wait until after you wash them down. It is totally up to you and situational dependent.

With all these products, I would recommend using a dish sponge so that you can thoroughly press down on the thicker grease spots. Also, all these products should be rinsed off of the cabinet doors before sanding. You don’t want any contaminates between the wood and paint. You can use clean water to rinse the cabinets or something like denatured alcohol.

If your finger squeaks when you rub the cabinet doors, you know you have them clean, and you are ready to start sanding.

Note: If you or someone as cleaned your cabinets with furniture polish (Pledge), you will need to remove the polish with a solution that is one part water and one part vinegar. Furniture polish has silicone in it, and the products recommended above are designed to remove dirt and grim. They are not formulated to remove the silicone in furniture polish.

How to sand your cabinets before painting

Always wear a dust mask to protect your lungs from sanding dust and safety glasses to protect your eyes. Do one cabinet door or drawer at a time — sand with the grain using 120-grit sandpaper. The idea is not altogether to remove the finish or old paint, but only to give the surface a light scuff that will give paint ridges to grab. 

Lightly, but thoroughly go over the doors, drawers, and cabinet boxes. Use the sanding sponge for scuffing sand the small details on the cabinet drawers and doors. Once you have lightly sanded a door, put it down and go on to the next one. Continue until you are complete.

You will likely be sanding 20 – 40 or more doors, so I recommend that you set up a workstation where you can either comfortably sit or stand. I usually use a couple of sawhorses and 2×4 to make a table. It makes the job some much more comfortable.

What to do After Sanding Cabinets

If you have followed my instructions so far, you are one step closer to both durable and beautiful cabinetry. 

Next, you are going to want to clean off all of that fine dust off of everything.

There you have it! This is how to sand cabinet doors before painting. I know sanding is an extra step that is messy and time-consuming, but it is one of the most important steps towards achieving a professional paint job.

Are you looking to paint your cabinets? Do you need help painting yours? If you are in the Houston area, give Ainsworth Painting a call for all your kitchen cabinet painting needs!

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