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Do I Need to Sand Cabinets Before Painting?

November 02, 20224 min read

Cabinet painting projects provide the perfect opportunity to change your current cabinets' style, design, and color. But, before diving head first into DIY cabinet painting, consider the proper methods for painting, sanding, and recoating your cabinets. Do you need to apply multiple coats of paint to cabinets? Does sanding help paint bond to wooden cabinets?

When sanding your cabinets before painting, think about your current cabinets' age, style, and location. Sanding provides clean surfaces for paint binding but may prove unnecessary for newer, undamaged cabinets. Continue reading to learn when and when not to sand cabinets before painting.

When Should You Sand Cabinets Before Painting?

Sanding cabinets provide an even surface to apply paint and varnish. Older cabinet doors containing chips, worn paint, and minor damage greatly benefit from sanding to remove deficiencies before applying new coats of paint. The main reasons to consider sanding cabinets include the following:

  • Creates a stronger bond between wood grain and paint

  • Smooths out uneven wooden textures

  • Eliminates the need for chemical deglossers

  • Eliminates unsightly deficiencies of wooden cabinets

Before endlessly sanding cabinets, consider the age of your cabinets, the type of paint and primer you plan to use, and how much wood grain you'd like to show through. No matter how much sanding you do, wood grain will most likely show through by the end of the painting project. To ensure the best results for your cabinet painting project, utilize the following tips:

Type of Sandpaper

Not all sandpaper achieves the same results. The six main sandpaper grits range from 40 grit to 440 grit. Painted cabinets require 120-grit sandpaper or higher to remove older coats of paint while removing stains from cabinets requires 220-grit sandpaper.

Cleaning Procedures

Using sandpaper creates tremendous amounts of wood shavings, dust, and debris. Before adding wet paint to cabinets, ensure your work area remains free of the remnants of your sandpaper usage. Dirt and residue on wooden surfaces prevent paint from binding properly and may result in unsightly bumps on painted surfaces. Avoid using harsh cleaning agents on wooden surfaces to prevent fish-eye problems after completing painting projects.

Sand Cabinets Between Coats of Paint

Sanding cabinets before the first coat of paint provides an even surface for color. After each coat of paint, consider using 220-grit sandpaper in between coats to give an even surface for painting cabinets. Flat surfaces prove easier to paint and remain less prone to dirt accumulation.

Apply Wood Filler Before Paint

Wood filler helps to repair damaged wood from nail holes, wear and tear, and heavy usage. Apply wood filler atop the cleaned wooden surface and finish by sanding the wood using low-grit sandpaper. Wood filler effectively fills gaps in the worn wood and provides an even texture for successful painting projects.

When Shouldn't You Sand Cabinets Before Painting

If you plan on repainting newer cabinets to update your kitchen or bathroom style, sanding may not be necessary. Sanding primarily functions as a method for evening out wooden surfaces that are warped and damaged over time. Newly installed cabinets do not require the same treatments as older, more fragile cabinets.

Wooden surfaces remain highly susceptible to moisture. Steam and high levels of humidity force wood to warp over time. Sanding removes protective layers from wood and makes the wood more prone to moisture damage. In steamy kitchens and moist bathrooms, overly-sanded cabinets degrade more quickly.

Paint stores commonly sell degreasers and wooden cleaning agents capable of providing adequate wooden painting surfaces. To learn more about the best ways to prepare cabinets for painting, consult your local cabinet coating experts for expert advice.

Alternatives to sanding cabinets include the use of scrubbing pads. Scrubbing pads do not remove layers of wood from surfaces and provide the ability to deep clean wood before using primer and paint. Resin-based primers fill small gaps in the wood and provide a valuable alternative to sanding cabinets.

Choosing to sand cabinets depends entirely on the condition of the wood, personal preference, and the type of primer and paints used. To keep your cabinets in working condition for years to come, always inspect your cabinets for signs of damage, moisture, and chipped paint.

Trust Chameleon Cabinet Coatings for All Your Cabinet Needs

Chameleon Cabinet Coatings proudly serves South Central & South East Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey communities. Our professionals provide high-quality cabinet coating services at an affordable price. To learn more about our services and the best ways to sand cabinets, contact us at Chameleon Cabinet Coatings at 610-897-7931 or 610-343-1504 to receive your free consultation today!

cabinet restoration, cabinet coatings

Dave Fisher

Founder & CEO of Chameleon Cabinet Coatings

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