This post may contain affiliate links. This won’t change your price, but may share some commission. Read my full disclosure here.
I came home last night ready to jump right in and prime to my heart’s content. But let’s not forget that my schedule is chaos right now, and before I knew it, the clock is displaying 11 pm* and not a single swipe of paint had touched the upper cabinets.
I could have done the sane thing and gone to bed earlier than usual. Gotten a little extra sleep. Maybe even dream about being in some kind of Zach Braff/Adam Levine love triangle. Or, I could do this:
BAM. Even with really bad camera phone pictures, I am happy. The trick to priming your kitchen cabinets in less than an hour? Well, the majority of it is ego.
No painter’s tape.
No drop cloths.
No concern for getting paint on my hands.
Just humming the Wonder Woman theme song and telling myself I’m a paint ninja. There isn’t a stray drop on the floor and my appliances are all paint-free.
See? Pure hubris. But with the right tools, the job was done in no time.
The primer I’ve been using for my cabinets is called Smart Prime. It’s not available in the big chain home improvement stores in my area, but I found it at a local specialty paint shop (and it’s also available through Amazon). The primer promises to have the best of both water- and oil-based paint worlds. Covers stains. Sticks to slick surfaces. Dries lightning fast. Low odor. yadda yadda yadda
I also use one and only ONE specific paint brush for the job. This Wooster shortcut angled sash brush has a short rubber handle, fits nicely in my small hands (insert “that’s what she said” joke), and is excellent for creating precise paint lines. Unlike the primer, it IS available at the big box stores (Home Depot is where I grab mine). With a little practice, I’m pretty sure anyone can learn to paint like a pro thanks to this brush. I also have a tutorial here if you want to check out more of my technique.
I had already used a liquid sander/deglosser to avoid having to sand the cabinets, so all of the cabinets were ready for primer. As for how I ensure a smooth surface, the trick is basically to brush the paint on as fast as I can, and while it’s still wet, roll over it a couple of times with a dry foam paint roller to smooth out the brush strokes. Using the word dry again for emphasis. Primer doesn’t need to be thick to do the trick!
In just a short while, the cabinets were not only primed, but dry to the touch.
And then, I cheated – I couldn’t wait the full cure time to see if I liked the paint (I’d picked it out from a swatch, but I’ve read some great reviews of Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White from expert designers, so I figured they would be a reliable source). The lighting at night isn’t great in my kitchen, but I could tell I had a winner (I swear, it doesn’t glow or look bluish like this in person).
I took a step back to get all 3 colors in the same shot: the upper cabinets (white), the lower cabinets (dark gray), and the old oak that will forever be forgotten about from this point forward.
Yep, haven’t gotten to the doors yet – but since the primer will expose any nicks and crevices in the cabinets that I’ll need to repair, I’m pretty satisfied with the progress I’m making so far this week. The rest of the week is planned to go as follows:
- Wednesday – patch necessary areas in the cabinets with wood filler/caulk, apply liquid sander to the cabinet doors, get both sides of each door primed & set to dry
- Thursday – finish whatever I didn’t get done from Wednesday (likely), apply first coat of white kitchen paint to the cabinets and the first side of the doors
- Friday – to hell with it, it’s Friday
- Saturday – college football is better than kitchen cabinets
- Sunday – second coat on the cabinets, paint the other side of the doors
That already means I won’t get everything I really want done before my aunt and uncle come to town, but it DOES mean I’m getting the essential pieces of the cabinets finished in time. Half-ninja achieved.
Other posts from this series:
- Prepping cabinets for paint (without sanding)
- Priming (that’s this post!)
- Painting the lowers and uppers
- Replacing the countertop
- Cutting the hole for the sink (and fixing a misaligned cut!)
- Treating the butcher block
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.