Any painting job takes planning and patience. Prep work is key, especially if you make painting your kitchen cabinets a DIY project.
Before your brush ever touches the wood, you must get the surface ready to accept paint. This means properly cleaning, sanding, and priming every inch of the surface, or the finish color will not stick well.
Cleaning is the most important step in the process. Years of greasy fingerprints and cooking splatters can leave a layer of grime that inhibits paint adhesion. You can remove most of the gunk with a degreaser. After that procedure you will need to rough up the surface with some 100-grit sandpaper to help the paint stick.
The primer you use can make or break the finish. To get a glassy surface, you need to use a “high build” sand-able primer to best fill the wood and even the surface. The sand-able part of that equation is essential, so that you can smooth the surface before painting on the finish coat. You may even need two coats of primer to completely fill the grain.
To keep the doors and drawers flat as the paint levels, make yourself a pronged drying rack by drilling screws up through several pieces of scrap wood. This way you can flip your work as soon as it’s dry to the touch. Also, screw cup hooks into the edges of doors and drawers so you can grab hold and move them without fingerprinting the paint; then hang them up for out-of-the-way drying.
The type of finish paint you use contributes to the smooth look. Usually, painting cabinets for a high-traffic area such as a kitchen required using oil-based paints. However, working with oils can be messy, and the fumes are toxic. Nowadays, there are latex formulas specified for cabinetry (labeled 100% acrylic) that will create a durable, even finish.
When the painting is done, add finishing touches such as new hardware or a faux finish to make your handiwork really pop.