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Professional tips on how to hand-paint kitchens

Listed under Blog, hand-painted kitchen, Little Greene, Masking tape Posted Jan 31 2012

(First posted on my Posterous blog)

The basic challenge for professional kitchen painters is to achieve a flawless hand-painted finish.

You can do this by paying a lot of attention to cleanliness, employing a careful and logical painting technique and drawing on a mindset that pulls you through hours and hours of concentrated effort. It isn’t easy and is a big step up from “normal” painting, especially if updating a tired wood or laminate kitchen

A bit like a wrestling match, if you relax, skip a step and think, “That’ll do” you have failed. The paintwork in your kitchen will look like most “satisfactory” paintwork found on millions of lounge doors and frames around the country! Not much to brag about.

You need to make sure you get the paint in the right place. There is no point having shiny doors if there is paint on a brand new floor. There is no point having a pretty door front, if, when you open them up, you see paint splattered all over the interior of the cupboards.

So I would recommend using 1200 grade lining paper as dust sheets, held in place with plenty of masking tape-

Blue 3M 2090 is good for sticking direct on worktops and flooring, and standard “white” masking tape is sufficient and cost effective to tape the lining paper together. I would not let standard tape come in direct contact with the floor or worktops as it tends to break down when walked on, and leaves a gummy mess behind. Trimaco green masking tape is worth considering as a substitute for 2090 on carpets, for sure.

Taping inside units is important too, else you can get ugly finishing lines.

Purists will say you should be able to paint straight lines free hand. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should! If there are 15 cabinets, that is 60 lines to paint – 3 or 4 times each. Are you going to pay an extra £500 just to say the frames were all done freehand, or would you rather have a dead straight masked line included “free” in the price?

Think vacuum sanding, vacuum cleaning, tack rags, closed windows and doors into the kitchen…

I believe this aspect of the work process cannot be taught! Either you are a neat freak and tuned into the requirements for a dust-free work space, or you aren’t.

When painting, you really need to be firm and not allow folks, their friends, and tradesmen to walk into the kitchen to have a look round. One false draught and it can waste all the efforts you put in to get a dust-free environment.

Painting technique
A careful painting technique is a must. There is no secret really. I use a 4″ foam roller to apply the paint, a synthetic American brush to lay it off and 20 plus years trying to get it right

In the rarified boat painting world, this painting technique is called Rolling and Tipping.

Painting doors is not hard, but there are usually a lot of them so you have to concentrate on a few variables. Edges cannot ridge up, runs are an absolute no-no…and you need to paint both sides. Doors can be painted while hanging, although I tend to remove them if the kitchen is being upgraded and requires lots of preparation work.

And after hours and days of careful work, there is nothing better than to stand back and admire the view: in this case, Little Greene oil eggshell in Blackened and Pitch Blue – a traditional, deep, slightly satin lustre…

unfitted hand-painted kitchen oil eggshell

It is great to hear a customer rave about the finish, and show the quality of the work to their friends. And when another tradesman says it is a work of art, you know it is worth doing this sort of job right!

I cover Cheshire, and if you are elsewhere in UK, these paint specialists are rather good.

If you feel inspired, here is all my current info on how to paint your own kitchen

Alternatively, if you would like a helping hand with setting up a kitchen for painting or snagging, I offer half and full-day on-site tuition. If you are about an hour from Chester, there is no travel charge.

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2 comments to “Professional tips on how to hand-paint kitchens”


    I have been told of a special paint for laminated kitchen cupboards that requires only one coat. It comes only in white, costs about £50, has a silk surface, and leaves a finish that looks like a brand new cupboard. Can this be true?

  2. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Hi, that sounds like you want a self-priming, high-build, high opacity, self-levelling coating with a silk sheen. With one coat, maybe there is one claiming to do that for white on white, but law of nature tells me Pass. Maybe clean / etch with Owatrol ESP which is also a primer, and then spray “one coat” but that is not what you are asking?

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