How to Paint a Kitchen
If your kitchen is looking a little drab and dated, you may be thinking about remodeling. But even a partial kitchen remodel is expensive – not to mention disruptive. Fortunately, there is a relatively quick and easy way to update the heart of your home at modest expense! A fresh coat of paint can work wonders in giving your kitchen a new look that makes it more bright, inviting and even trendy – if that’s your style!
One advantage of painting your kitchen is that unlike other rooms, the paintable areas are smaller. Compared to a living room, bedroom or hallway, a kitchen may have only one uninterrupted wall. Most of the kitchen space is covered with cabinets, backsplashes, a sink and appliances. However, the limited paintable areas do require more prep work and cleaning to achieve the desired smooth, professional-looking result.
You may notice that we’re leaving cabinets out of this blog post. Painting kitchen cabinets involves a completely different skill set, equipment and time requirements. Our blog post – “Should You Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets Yourself or Hire a Pro?” – covers this project in detail. Spoiler alert: We strongly recommend hiring a pro! As you’ll learn in the blog post, painting cabinets is much more complex than most homeowners assume, and it’s too easy to end up with cabinet doors that show drips and brush marks – or begin to blister and peel a few months later due to poor prep work.
Whether you decide to tackle painting the kitchen yourself or call a professional painter, this project gives you the opportunity to get creative and bring out a new side to your kitchen’s personality! That all starts with the paint color you choose! Before you get to the fun part, first determine the square footage of the walls that you need to paint. This will give you an idea of the quantity of paint that you need to buy.
Choosing the Right Color and Type of Paint for Your Kitchen
Your kitchen should look and feel good to make you want to cook. Moreover, your kitchen space gets a lot of attention, which is why it is important to choose your paint color wisely.
Whether you select a modern neutral, a nature-inspired color or a bright, cheerful color, your kitchen space should reflect your love of cooking, and be an inviting place where family and friends gather. The best kitchen paint colors will blend effortlessly with your kitchen flooring and cabinets. If you want a welcoming kitchen feel, opt for yellows or warm reds. However, if you want a breezy and sleek kitchen look, opt for neutrals and whites. Neutrals can work with other decor elements of your home well and give a more airy feel. HGTV offers great color ideas for kitchens in its blog post, which we invite you to read!
Choosing the right type of paint is more important when it comes to your kitchen space. Always opt for sheen or gloss-finish paint, as they are easy to clean and long-lasting. Choose the gradations of gloss wisely, as complete matte won’t be ideal for a kitchen. Wall areas without a backsplash can be stained by red sauce that bubbles up in the pot while cooking – as well as coated by grease and oil. Choose something in the middle – such as semi-gloss, sheens, or satin. Often people opt for high-glossy and lacquer finishes, as these are easy to clean and offer great kitchen visuals. But be careful. According to HGTV, “Glossier finishes tend to highlight imperfections in the wall, so this isn’t the best option if your walls have a few dents and dings.”
Prepping the Kitchen
While the kitchen can be more difficult to paint than open spaces with fewer cabinets/obstacles to work around, in reality, it is easy to paint if done right. If you’re painting your kitchen walls as part of a complete kitchen remodeling project, Dengarden recommends painting the ceiling and walls before your countertops and cabinets are installed. After installation, you can go back and touch-up the walls where needed. Sequencing the work that way reduces the amount of prep work and cutting-in.
Assuming that painting is the only project that will be done, however, your focus will be on preparing the kitchen walls to ensure a clean, even surface. Home improvement expert Lee Wallender provides the following instructions in his article for The Spruce:
“Kitchens can build up grease in certain areas, so it’s best to thoroughly clean the walls with a degreaser prior to priming. Assume that areas above and around the stove, oven, and counters need to be cleaned with warm water and TSP (trisodium phosphate). Door trim usually can benefit from the TSP cleaning, too. Remove dust and cobwebs from the tops of baseboards and other trim with a vacuum and a damp cloth or tack cloth.”
If the walls have gloss paint, Dengarden advises mixing a stronger solution of TSP to dull glossy walls and improve adhesion of the new paint. Scrub the walls with a sponge, then rise with clean water. Mildew stains and mold can be eliminated with TSP, vinegar or bleach diluted with water. Do not mix vinegar with bleach. If your walls do have such stains, be sure the source of the mildew/mold has been eliminated, as both are serious health issues and will recur if the damage behind the wall that caused them isn’t repaired. Whether or not you need to remove mildew or mold, allow the walls to dry thoroughly before painting.
You may or may not choose to paint the ceiling. If the ceiling has a water stain from a roof or pipe leak, confirm that the source of the leak has been repaired before proceeding. Apply a stain-blocking primer, but don’t use latex, as it won’t cover water stains.
If necessary, patch and/or sand the walls. Nail pops and nail holes can be easily repaired using a good patching compound. Sand the walls using a drywall sanding sponge to eliminate imperfections and smooth the surface to enable the new paint to adhere better. If the kitchen walls are too glossy, sand them and use a bonding primer.
Apply painter’s tape to the trim and all other areas that will not be painted. Press firmly on the tape with your fingers to prevent bleed-through. Finally, cover your cabinets and countertops with 99-inch masking film. The plastic is long enough to cover most cabinets almost all the way to the floor. Cover the floor with canvas drop cloths, or a leak-proof floor protector.
Use the Right Technique When Painting Your Kitchen
Applying paint properly makes the difference between a professional-looking job and an amateur effort that you’ll be unhappy looking at for years to come (and that won’t impress potential buyers if you’re planning to sell your house soon). Our blog post – “Common Interior Painting Mistakes to Avoid” – provides a comprehensive list of major don’ts that are applicable to kitchen painting. Here is a guide to correct kitchen painting technique:
Paint the ceiling first – If your painting project includes the ceiling, paint it first, as any drips will be covered when you paint the walls. Use an extension pole. The best extension pole length to use for painting a kitchen ceiling is one that extends eight feet. An eight-foot painting pole works great for rolling parts of the ceiling above cabinets and between can lights. The longer length lets you make wider roller passes with more reach and more control.
Apply primer, if needed – If a surface has already been painted and the paint is in good, clean condition, it will most likely not require priming. Unpainted drywall, bare wood, and painted surfaces in poor condition should be primed. Apply the primer with the roller on large areas and with the brush on areas too small to accommodate the width of the roller. Use a roller on the large expanses of wall and a brush for the little strips, such as between the backsplash and the cabinets.
Use a paint roller on large areas – Determine which areas are large enough to accommodate the roller. Pour a small amount of paint in the tray, soak the roller cover, then thoroughly roll out the excess. Roll the large spaces of the wall in a W-pattern, covering sections of about 4 feet by 4 feet. Bring the roller to about an inch or two of the painter’s tape.
Apply by brush where needed – Let the paint dry for about two hours. Dip the paintbrush in the paint and manually paint the areas that the roller could not reach. Avoid drips by minimally applying the paint and by re-brushing. Areas that were painted more than a few minutes before will likely already be filming over. Confine re-brushing to areas that were only recently painted.
Apply additional coats if necessary – Paint colors deepen and reach their full potential by being applied in two or even three coats. Allow the paint to dry for at least a couple of hours, then re-roll and re-brush the paint one more time.
Should You DIY or Call a Professional to Paint Your Kitchen?
This, of course, is a question only you can answer! To help you decide, Wallender offers this following wise advice:
“Painting a kitchen should be within the skill set of most DIYers, especially given the smaller scale when compared to other parts of the home. But you may want to have a paint contractor paint your kitchen if it is large, has a complex layout, or high ceilings. A professional painter can get to the out-of-the-way areas, plus they can address the often unusual geometry found in many kitchen spaces.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves – except to add that a professional will have the right experience, skill, equipment and supplies to make sure the job is done correctly and safely! The Paint Manager has been proudly serving Central Florida homeowners for over 20 years with experienced, dedicated and professional services that include exterior and interior house painting, roof repair and cleaning, drywall repair, popcorn ceiling texture removal, cabinet refinishing and so much more!
Plus, become a member of The Paint Manager to receive a 15% year-‘round member’s discount. Contact us to learn more about our services and membership discount offer. We look forward to meeting you!