As you may know, I’ve been helping my sister with her kitchen. For the cabinets, she wanted to paint them a custom blue color. Since we’re reusing the original upper cabinets and doing new wood lower cabinets (the bases are from IKEA with Semihandmade doors), that was the perfect solution so I thought I’d share how to paint kitchen cabinets with a paint sprayer!
There’s lots of options when it comes to painting cabinets! You can use chalk paint or latex paint. And then there’s the option to paint with a brush and roller or to use a paint sprayer. This post will help you know which is the right choice for your project.
why paint cabinets with a paint sprayer?
If you’re considering painting your cabinets- what’s better spraying or using a paint brush? The benefit to using a sprayer is you’ll get a smooth and more consistent finish- no brush marks! And it can be much faster to use a sprayer too!
However, there is a learning curve if this is your first time spraying (which isn’t usually the case with a paint brush). Make sure to have a piece of wood to practice on so you don’t get drips and to ensure your paint is the right consistency.
There is a significant amount of time needed for prep since everything needs to be tarped off to prevent paint getting where it shouldn’t go. Don’t worry- I’ll get to that in a minute!
For me, a sprayer is the best option if you want to paint your whole kitchen at once. If you want to do a few cabinets here and there, I suggest a paint brush so you don’t need to tarp off your kitchen every time you paint.
how to paint kitchen cabinets with a paint sprayer
Let’s start with the video tutorial so you get an overview on what I did. Then, I’ll dive in with more details below:If the video doesn’t work here, you can watch it on YouTube here. P.s. I’m trying to build that page up, so if you’d subscribe, I’d really appreciate that!
- Wagner FLEXiO 5000 paint sprayer
- 1 gallon Zinsser Primer
- 2 gallons of paint- Benjamin Moore Blue Ice mixed in Behr Premium Plus– satin finish
- 1 gallon Floetrol
- 3 oz. bathroom cups (for elevating the cabinets during painting)
- Krud Kutter
- Paint Brush
- Strainers for paint
- Paint coveralls
- Eye protection
- Plastic gloves
- Frog Tape
- Plastic Tarp
- Paper to protect floors
- Putty to fill dents in cabinets
Start by prepping cabinets for paint. Take the cabinets doors down and remove all hardware (hinges and knobs/pulls). Clean the doors and drawers REALLY well! You need to remove any grease or dust or anything that might ruin the paint finish. For this, I used Krud Kutter and loved it since you just spray it on. It works just like TSP except you don’t have to mix it.
This step totally depends on how rough your cabinets are. If needed, sand off any imperfections like paint drips. If the cabinets have dents or chipping paint, fill with putty, let dry, and sand off. Finish up cabinet prep by wiping clean the cabinets one last time.
Next, it’s time to prep the room for painting with a sprayer. Sprayers usually have a bit of overspray (which means tiny dots will get on anything not covered. Start by protecting the floors, I used painter’s paper to cover up the new wood floors.
Use a plastic tarp and painters tape to cover doorways, windows, cabinet bases you don’t want painted, electrical outlets and appliances. This takes a few hours to do, but it’s a key step in prepping to paint with a sprayer. Finish the prep by laying the cabinets on paper cups. This elevates them off the ground so that they don’t get stuck to the ground and helps ensure a better paint job. Prepping took me about 6 hours.
Hint- place the cabinets back side up so that you can paint the backs first. This helps make sure you have your painting technique down. Then, when you flip them, if anything gets damaged by the cups, it’s just the inside of the cabinets.
And now it’s priming time! If you’re like me, its feels SO good to get to this step! I am using the Wagner FLEXiO 5000 for this tutorial- it’s perfect for getting a smooth finish. I really like that it’s designed for cabinets and furniture. I want to try this to chalk paint a dresser or something next! It also works for walls and ceilings too- so it’s super versatile!
To prep for painting, I suggest putting on paint coveralls, plastic gloves, eye protection, a shower cap and shoe booties to prevent getting covered by paint.
The FLEXiO 5000 paint sprayer is really cool because it comes with the motor (or turbine) that sits on the ground so that the heaviest part isn’t in your hand. This makes it so your hand doesn’t get as tired while you paint. Then when you’re done, the home and nozzles are stored in the base!
It comes with two nozzles- the iSPRAY for applying the primer (shown above). Then, for painting the cabinets with the paint, switch to the Detail Finish Nozzle. For me, the primer went on SUPER easy with the bigger nozzle. It was exciting to see the yellow cabinets fade away!
Note, the bigger nozzle gave off more overspray. When I switched to the detail finish nozzle, it was much less (which was nice).
Prime the cabinets and bases, wait an hour for it to dry, then flip the cabinets and paint the second side. Painting both sides of cabinets isn’t necessary per say, but since these were a bright yellow, we wanted that color covered. It’s up to you if you paint both sides. It does take extra time, so keep that in mind.
Wait one more hour for the primer to dry before painting. Priming took me about 1 hour of spraying time.
Finally, it’s time to start painting on the final color! This part is also fun because you can see how awesome your cabinets look painted! For me, this is when I messed up. I continued using the bigger nozzle which resulted in a textured finish. Here’s how to get a smooth finish with a sprayer-
HOW TO GET A SMOOTH FINISH WITH A SPRAYER
- strain your paint! I LOVED this type of strainer since they’re also like a funnel (I used a different kind in the video that I didn’t like as much because it was a mess to use). Even if you have new paint, there can still be some debris that you need to remove from the paint
- Add Floetrol to your paint. I used 6 TBS for the 16 oz paint sprayer container. So what’s Floetrol? It’s a paint additive that helps water-based paints level and results in a smoother finish. It reduces brush and roller marks if used without a sprayer. And it reduces wear and tear on spray guns.
- Use the correct nozzle. For me, that meant the smaller detail finish nozzle.
- Try using thinner paint. At first, I bought the thickest, most expensive paint with one coat coverage guarantee (I used Behr Marquee and it wouldn’t even come out of the sprayer). Thick paint is awesome for brushing on paint, but for a sprayer, you want thinner paint since you need to do a few light coats. I used Behr Ultra Premium paint and it was perfect.
- If you’re still having problems, take the sprayer apart, clean it, and put it back together while looking at the manual. A dirty nozzle or if you’re missing a part can result in issues.
- If in doubt, call customer service– 1-800-328-8251. I called Wagner a few times for help and was so grateful for the tips they gave me!
WHAT NOT TO DO WHEN USING A PAINT SPRAYER
- DO NOT use mineral spirits to thin latex paint. I tried to thin the expensive paint and the guy at the hardware store suggested mineral spirits. That was a horrible suggestion! Mineral spirits will thin oil based paints, but water is better for thinning water based latex paint.
- DO NOT over water down your paint. This will result in runs and drips. It won’t be pretty. Instead, use the Floetrol suggested above.
- DO NOT test your paint on a cabinet. Test on a piece of extra wood. If you drip paint all over your cabinets, you’ll need to sand them and it’ll take forever and you’ll be super annoyed at yourself (ask me how I know 🙂 ).
This is a small one, but make sure to turn on your sprayer on before pushing the trigger to paint. If you push the trigger with the machine off, it’ll dribble paint out the front. If you’re over a cabinet, you’ll have to clean it up and can mess up the finish.
Side note, keep a wet rag handy to clean up any dribbles or paint runs that might happen.
While I painted, I kept a sharpie on me and would mark on the ground every time I did a coat of paint. I did two coats for both sides. This helped me work more efficiently. After I had two marks and the cabinet door was dry, I’d flip the door and paint over the sharpie marks.
Paint takes 2 hours to dry to the touch. It’ll take up to 14 days to fully cure though, so be careful with your newly painted cabinets! I painted inside so I could avoid getting tree droppings or bugs on the cabinets. Once they were dry to the touch, I brought them outside to continue to dry. This left floor space for me to continue to paint cabinets on the ground.
Painting took me 1.5 days.
Why didn’t you use chalk paint? For this kitchen, my sister fell in love with this periwinkle color (Blue Ice from Benjamin Moore). So we went with latex paint. The biggest benefit latex paint has over chalk paint is you don’t have to do a finish coat.
Would you ever spray the cabinets with the doors still attached? I wouldn’t because it’d get in the hinges and they wouldn’t open and close as easily. Or you could paint them closed which would be a bummer.
Why didn’t you paint the upper cabinets first before the lower cabinets were installed? Because we installed side panels that needed to be painted on the lower cabinets. Spraying includes a lot of prep and clean up, so it’s best to do it all at once.
How do you clean the sprayer? Take the nozzle off the hose and clean it off in the sink. My favorite part of this sprayer is that it’s pretty easy to clean! I had one that it was super hard to clean out and it ended up not working quickly because I couldn’t get paint out of the tip. Also, you can always add water to where the paint goes and run it through the sprayer to ensure everything is clean!
We started installing the cabinets and hardware. The sink and faucet are in place. Slowly, but surely we’ll get there! The finish is nice and smooth and I can’t wait to show you the kitchen completely redone!
We still need to paint the ceiling, install the new lights, wallpaper, tile, finish installing the cabinet doors. But it’s getting SO close! Remember when the kitchen used to look like this?!
Looking how far you’ve come with a renovation is such a good feeling! Let me know if you have any other sprayer questions and I’ll answer them in the comments.
Oh, and here’s the mood board that shows the vision for this room.
Thank you to Wagner Spray Tech for sponsoring this post!
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