Painting the cabinets is a quick and inexpensive way to give your kitchen a face-lift. Years of daily use, coupled with the grease and grime that accumulates from cooking, can make your cabinets look dull and worn, but a good coat of paint will have them looking like new again in no time.
Before painting, it's important to know what kind of material you're working with. If you don't know what your cabinets are made of, take one of the doors to your local hardware store. The salespeople there can help you select the right primer and paint for the job to ensure that the finished product looks just right. If you don't have a brush or roller, paint tray or painter's tape on hand, pick those up as well.
When you're ready to start, take off all the cabinet doors and remove drawers. Carefully remove all hardware including pulls, knobs and hinges. Make sure that you keep each piece of hardware and its screws together for easy reassembly later. Then, using a cleaner that's safe for your cabinet surfaces, clean off all the dirt, grease and grime. This gives you a fresh start for your paint and primer. If you discover any dings or scratches, fill these in with putty. Once everything is dry, use a medium- to fine-grit sandpaper to smooth out all the surfaces and use a damp cloth to remove the dust.
Take your painter's tape and tape off all edges and surfaces that you want to avoid getting paint on. Apply primer to the cabinet doors, drawers and boxes using a foam roller or paint brush. Use even strokes and follow the grain of the wood for a smooth finish. Don't forget the cabinet edges as you work and don't worry about cabinet interiors unless they look particularly worn. Refrain from priming or painting the outsides of drawers as well; this will interfere with the way the hardware works.
Once the primer is dry, it's time to paint. Start with the doors, using the same even strokes that you did when applying primer. Paint in thin coats and make sure not to let paint accumulate inside crevices or curves. Use as few brush strokes as possible to minimize bubbling and keep the strokes from being too visible. Allow the first coat to dry thoroughly before applying a second one. Depending on the color and thickness of the paint, you may find that you want to do a third coat to finish the look.
Once everything is completely dry, you can put your cabinets back together. Some paint may take a day or two to dry all the way, so be sure that everything is really ready before replacing the hardware and reattaching cabinet doors. Be careful during this step to avoid marring your new paint job. When you're done, take a minute to admire the beautiful results of your hard work.