June 26

Sanding your Cabinets Before Painting: What to Know


Do you want to give your cabinets a fresh coat of paint but need help figuring out where to start? Painting cabinets can be daunting, so why not take expert advice and get the job done right? Sanding is key when prepping your cabinets before adding a new layer of paint for protection. 

Don’t stress if you’re feeling overwhelmed— we’ve got all the information you need about what type of sanding materials work best for cabinet painting jobs, techniques that will make sure you achieve an even and smooth surface afterward, and other tips on how to sand down your cabinets properly. So let’s get into it!

Can you paint over cabinets without sanding?

Depending on the material your cabinets are made from and their current condition, you may find that sanding before painting is necessary – or even beneficial. Most kitchen cabinet doors and drawers are made from real wood or medium-density fiberboard (MDF). 

Real wood must be sanded down before painting because its surface tends to have ridges and blemishes, affecting how smoothly the paint adheres. MDF should also be lightly sanded as it has a smooth surface that will benefit from light scuffing to give the paint something to adhere to. 

Another factor to consider is the condition of your cabinets before painting them. If they’re in good shape and only need a few small areas touched up, then sanding may not be required. 

However, if your cabinets show signs of wear and tear (such as peeling or cracking), it would be best to lightly sand them down before you start painting so that the new paint will adhere properly and look its best when completed. 

Ultimately, deciding not to sand the cabinets before painting could affect how smoothly the paint goes on and how long it lasts. That’s why the answer to your question, “Do you need to sand the cabinets before painting?” It is highly recommended to give surfaces light sanding before painting. This will provide the best possible outcome and ensure your cabinets look their best for years! 

Do you have to sand cabinets before painting if you use a primer?

If your cabinets are in relatively good condition with no peeling or chipping paint, sanding the surface before priming is not essential. Primers are designed to create a strong bond between the surface of the cabinet and the top coat of paint, so they can provide an excellent foundation for new paint, even without sanding beforehand. 

On the other hand, sanding the cabinets is highly recommended if any existing damage, such as chips or scratches, must be filled in before painting. Sanding will help smooth out imperfections before you apply primer or paint, resulting in a more even finish.

Finally, if you are using an oil-based primer and paint, it is important to sand the cabinets’ surface to adhere properly. Oil-based primers require some kind of “tooth” on the surface to bond with it effectively. Sanding is key here as it provides this textured surface for better adhesion. 

What happens if you don’t sand cabinets before staining?

If you don’t sand your cabinets before staining, there are a few risks that you should consider, such as:

  • The stain may not adhere properly to the cabinet’s surface and could come off easily, leaving an uneven finish or patches where it did not take. 
  • Another risk is that the surface of your cabinets will be rough and inconsistent, causing an undesirable texture in the finished product. 
  • Furthermore, any imperfections or blemishes in the wood may be emphasized by skipping out on sanding. 
  • In addition, applying a sealer or top coat with unsanded cabinets can result in air bubbles and other irregularities due to trapped air from within the grain. 
  • Finally, even if you get a good-looking result, it will only last for a while since the stain has yet to be properly absorbed into the wood. All in all, sanding your cabinets before staining is essential for achieving a beautiful and durable finish. 

How to properly prepare the cabinets for sanding

Once the cabinets have been cleaned, it is time to start sanding. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to sanding cabinets and preparing for paint:

  1. Start by using 120-grit sandpaper and a hand sander or power sander. Begin one section at a time and move in small circles to ensure that all surfaces are evenly sanded down. Ensure you do not press too hard against the sander; this could damage the wood of your cabinets. Move from one section to another until all surfaces have been adequately sanded down.
  1. After sanding the entire surface, use a finer grit paper, such as 220-grit, to finish the job. This will help smooth out any imperfections caused by the coarser grit paper used before and leave you with a beautiful finish on your cabinets. 
  1. Use a damp cloth to wipe down the entire cabinet after sanding it with the finer grit paper for the best results. This will ensure all dust particles are correctly removed and leave your cabinets looking great! 
  1. After wiping the surface down, apply a coat of wood sealer to protect against wear and tear. Be sure to follow all instructions included with the sealer for proper application. 

Start bringing out your cabinets’ inner sparkle today

Ultimately, whether you should sand cabinets before painting them depends on your perspective and what type of look you’re going for. If you have the time to dedicate to sanding and want a smooth, high-gloss finish, then it’s worth taking the extra step. Now armed with this knowledge of when and how to sand cabinets before painting, you can take on any project like a pro.  

If you need help making the most of your house paint job dreams, then it’s time to call in the professionals. Image Painting is VA’s most trusted team of house painters who will ensure you get the perfect outcome. We’ll weave our expertise with your vision to create something spectacular in no time. Contact us today to get started with your painting project.


cabinets, Painting

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