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Painted Cabinets: How to Protect Them (and When to Repaint)

calander Nov 28 , 2020 user-icon Nash Painting

Painted cabinets can transform an interior and give your home a competitive edge on the market. That said, cabinet painting is no small task -- it requires plenty of preparation and coordination. Still, this process is less of a hassle than a complete kitchen renovation, and the results can last you a long time if you take good care of your work. Indeed, in order to get the most out of your painted cabinets, you must do your best to guard them against harm (i.e. impact, scuffs, moisture, dirt, peeling paint, etc.). Otherwise, you might find yourself repainting your cabinets much sooner than expected.

Here’s how to protect your painted cabinets so you don’t have to think about repainting them for many years to come.

How to Protect Painted Cabinets

Put in the Proper Prep Work

Your cabinets will hold up much longer and require less maintenance over time if you put in the necessary prep work prior to painting them. These steps include:

  • Removing the cabinets, drawers, and shelves from the frames/boxes
  • Cleaning all surfaces
  • Repairing any holes or cracks
  • Sanding all surfaces
  • Priming with the proper product (usually oil-based primer)
  • Caulking seams and gaps

Following these steps will make for a smoother, more adhesive, and ultimately a more protective coat of paint.

Use a High-Quality Paint

Of course, the most protective coatings come from the highest quality paint products. After you’ve completed the required prep work, then, you or your local painters should select the proper type of paint for your cabinets. Both oil-based and latex paints can be used for cabinet painting purposes, though the former often yields visible brush marks and takes longer to dry while the latter (latex) offers a more even coating and shorter dry time. Whichever type of paint you choose, you’ll also have to select the best paint finish for cabinets. Glossier finishes are more protective and easiest to clean, so most experts recommend going with semi-gloss or high-gloss paints (at least for the cabinet doors and drawers).

Complete the Job by Sealing Your Cabinets

While it’s common to call it quits after following the proper steps to painting cabinets, you might take an additional step to keep your cabinets well-protected. After all, even the highest-quality paints will fade and deteriorate over time. To prolong the lifespan of your cabinet paint job, then, finish the job by sealing your cabinets with a transparent top-coat. These sealing options include varnishes composed of polyurethane, polycrylic, spar urethane, nitrocellulose, waterborne acrylic, and more. When properly applied, these top-coats essentially create an additional, plastic-like layer that shields your paint job. Make sure the sealer you use is meant to be applied over painted surfaces. Also, note that some of these varnishes can alter the color of white cabinets, potentially yellowing them. So, if you’ve chosen white paint for cabinets and don’t want to sacrifice their pure tone, be cautious.

Keep Those Cabinets Clean

By properly preparing, painting, and sealing your cabinets, you increase the longevity of your cabinets and the paint job itself. However, even after this work is done, you must still play an active role in protecting your cabinets. More specifically, you must keep your cabinets clean. Whenever you notice scuff marks, dirt, dust accumulation, etc., address the issue by lightly scrubbing your cabinets with a cloth or sponge soaked in water and detergent (just make sure the detergent will not remove your varnish or paint). Taking the time to clean your cabinets this way on a regular basis (i.e. once a week or once a month) will keep them looking their best and reduce the risk of deterioration. Fortunately, high-gloss finishes and quality sealants offer easy-to-clean surfaces, so this routine maintenance won’t be arduous.

Diminish Dirt, Dust, and Moisture

You can make your life even easier and further protect your cabinets by optimizing your internal environment through proper ventilation. Kitchen and bathroom cabinets, for instance, reside in humid areas -- the moisture produced by sinks, stovetops, showers, etc. can gradually deteriorate your cabinets’ paint job. Additionally, dust can accumulate in your home if it’s not well-ventilated, negatively affecting your home interior painting. By maintaining, repairing, and/or replacing your home’s HVAC system, you can keep moisture, dust, and dirt from building up on your walls, ceilings, and cabinets. As a result, you won’t need to clean as often or as thoroughly, and your interior paint will last much longer.

How Often Should You Repaint Your Cabinets?

If you follow the advice given here, your cabinets might not need a fresh coat of paint for as long as two decades. Of course, every scenario is different. If something significant happens to your cabinets, (like a major spill that leaves a permanent stain), you might need to hire interior painting contractors to repaint some or all of your cabinets long before the 15-20-year mark. And even if you do a great job of protecting your painted cabinets, you might come across little issues here and there, such as a chipped corner, bubbling underside, scuff mark, and so on. These minor problems can typically be addressed by a simple touch-up. In other words, a complete cabinet makeover can usually be avoided for a long, long time if you simply stay on top of the little things before they grow into larger concerns.

Need Help Painting and/or Protecting Your Cabinets?

If an interior room is lacking a certain appeal, your cabinets might be the culprit. At the very least, coating your cabinets can have a major impact on your room’s overall aesthetic. This isn’t to say you need to paint your cabinets. On the contrary, if you adore the natural look of your wooden cabinetry, you might opt to refinish them via staining and sealing instead. Doing so will also protect your cabinets and enhance their beauty for years to come. Whatever you decide on, work with a Nashville painting company that specializes in cabinet painting (among many other things).

Here at Nash Painting, we’ve helped hundreds of homeowners in Nashville, Brentwood, and Franklin, TN improve their cabinets and interiors via painting and staining. To learn more about us, our services, and our values, call us at 615-829-6858 today!