Everything you need to know about Cabinet Painting

Cabinet painting and refinishing has become extremely popular in recent years. It is an excellent way to give your kitchen an updated look, at the fraction of the cost of replacing them. You can take old, beat-up cabinets and turn them into new, modern looking cabinets. That being said, Cabinet refinishing is a very meticulous process. Here is everything you need to know!

Benefits of Painting your Cabinets

Most people who decide to paint their cabinets are usually looking for a change in color or to “brighten” things up. However, there are quite a few benefits to refinishing your cabinets if using the right products. Some benefits of refinishing your cabinets include:

  • Easier to clean
  • Unmatched Durability
  • Flawless Finish
  • Able to fix blemishes, imperfections, and scratches
  • Color change
  • Silky smooth finish

Major Concerns or Reasons for Failures

The major concern we run into when asked about cabinet painting is will the finish chip and peel. This is a VERY common issue, but it IS avoidable. The major reasons for this failure happening are for one of two reasons or a combination of the two:

1. The substrate was not properly prepped prior to painting


2. The wrong products were used.

Proper Prepping for Cabinet Refinishing

Cabinet painting

In order to achieve the best, longest-lasting finish, it is essential to ensure every step of the process is done meticulously. This all starts with the prep. Every piece of the cabinets (Doors, Drawer fronts, and bases), need to be thoroughly cleaned, sanded, primed, sanded flat, and then finish coated. Skipping any of these steps will drastically increase the chances of failures. Many times, the early steps of cleaning and sanding prior to priming get skipped. This will undoubtedly cause the finish to fail.

Our Process of Refinishing always starts with cleaning the doors and drawer fronts, labeling them, and taking them off to transfer to our shop where we will carry out the extensive process of refinishing them. During this process, we are able to fix a lot of scratches, imperfections, and blemishes through a process of sanding, priming, and using a spot glazing Bondo putty.

For the On-site portion, the entire kitchen gets completely masked-off to ensure that your kitchen is completely protected. This includes papering off the floors, plastic-ing off the countertops, appliances, insides of cabinets, backsplashes, etc. We also encapsulate the room and run a ventilation system to pull any dust, paint fumes, etc. out of the home.


Process of cleaning, sanding, priming, puttying imperfections all before topcoat.

What Products Should NOT be used on Cabinets

Often times, contractors will use a trim paint from Sherwin-Williams, Benjamin Moore, or other major paint suppliers on cabinets. Whether it is an oil-base, latex, or polyurethane product, this is NOT what should be used on cabinets. Theses suppliers make great products for interior and exterior use, but these are not made for the wear and tear kitchen cabinets get. Other products commonly used on cabinets are lacquers. Lacquers will provide a more durable finish compared to the store-bought products but also have its cons. Lacquer tends to break down more easily around your stove, sink, dishwasher, etc. They are less resistant to heat, water, oils, and chemicals. They also tend to yellow over time.

Some common products used that we do not recommend are:

  • Emerald Urethane
  • Benjamin Moore Advance
  • Benjamin Moore Command
  • Insl-X Cabinet Coat
  • Anything Valspar, Behr, or Rust-oleum
  • Oil-based Paints or Lacquers

These are common examples of failures when proper prep and products aren’t used.

What Products SHOULD be used on Cabinets

At Highfill Painting, we only use 2k Water-based Polyurethane coatings. These coatings are two component systems where we add a catalyst (or hardener) to the product to ensure the best possible adhesion and durability. The catalyst is an integral part for making it resistant to water, chemicals, hand oils, cooking grease, scratches, and marring. These coatings are revolutionary technology that provide the best possible finish, and the most durable, longest-lasting finish.

Common brands of these types of coatings include:

  • Renner Italia
  • Envirolak
  • Milesi
  • Centurion
a kitchen with white cabinets and a marble counter top- cabinet painters in Henrico, VA
a kitchen with white cabinets and countertop- Bon Air, VA cabinet painters

About Highfill Painting

Highfill Painting, a cornerstone of the local community, offers a comprehensive range of painting services designed to beautify and protect your space. With years of expertise, our family-owned business combines traditional values with modern techniques to deliver unparalleled results. Whether you're looking to refresh your home's interior, protect your exterior against the elements, or give your commercial space a new lease on life, our team is dedicated to exceeding your expectations.