Dear Angie: I am looking to have my kitchen cabinets painted. My neighbor had terrible results with peeling paint, leaving me a bit nervous. My cabinets are in good shape with a tough factory finish. I have heard that surface preparation is critical with these finishes for the paint to adhere properly and take the beating and wiping that cabinets must take. What do you recommend? — Robin W., Pittsburgh.
Dear Robin: Experts I've spoken with don't recommend painting your cabinets with a traditional paint, just as they don't recommend painting a car the same way.
Here's the problem: Most cabinets today have laminate fronts, so sanding and painting those probably will end up with less-than-ideal results.
Technically, you could lightly sand and paint over a solid wood cabinet, but wood cabinets can still be susceptible to warping and peeling; plus putting the wrong type of paint on could lead to poor results.
If you're serious about painting and have solid wood cabinets, I recommend consulting a reputable interior painter to ensure you prepare the area properly and use the correct type of paint.
You do have other — and I think, better — options to give your cabinets a new, updated look for significantly less than what it would cost to replace them.
Because you're interested in painting them, talk to a highly rated cabinet company that offers refinishing, or reglazing, work. Reglazing your cabinets can save you up to 80 percent of the cost of replacement, plus you can choose from a variety of colors, so you can customize its appearance to your taste.
Reglazing, or refinishing, is similar to painting a car rather than a house. Cabinets are cleaned, sanded and taped off. The surface is primed and sprayed with an industrial topcoat, giving the cabinets a smooth surface and durable finish. The process typically takes less than a day, and the cabinets can be used almost immediately after.
The condition of your cabinets can play a role in whether it's worth reglazing them; talk to a professional to get his or her advice on your best option.
If reglazing isn't in the cards, another option is to reface your cabinets. Refacing can save 30 percent to 50 percent of the cost of replacement.
With refacing, you can change the type of wood, finish and door design of your cabinets. You keep the cabinet boxes in place, replacing only the doors and drawer fronts with a matching wood or laminate veneer, as well as the handles, hinges and hardware. The process typically takes a few days, and you're able to use the cabinets in the interim. When the job is complete, the cabinets have the same appearance as a new cabinet would.
Instead of painting, I recommend pursuing one of these options to achieve a high-end, customized look for not a lot of money.
Angie Hicks compiles the best advice from the most highly rated service pros on Angieslist.com to answer your questions. Ask Angie your question at firstname.lastname@example.org.