How to Paint Cabinets to Look Like Wood Pt. 1

  • 4-12 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 75-150
What You'll Need
Sponge roller
Sanding Paper
Primer coat
Deglossing liquid
Masking Tape
Drop Clothes

It is possible to paint wood cabinets. It does not mean paint over wood cabinets but to paint cabinets to appear as if they are wood. A faux wood finish is an easy and inexpensive way to make your cabinets appear as if they were made of wood. This can be a great way to update the look of the cabinets without having to completely replace them, many times an expensive and time consuming task.

Step 1 – Preparation

It is best to have a large area to paint the cabinets that is free of dust and particles and has plenty of ventilation. Ventilation and air flow is important as these remove the paint fumes and also help the cabinets to dry faster. Apply masking tape to the adjacent trim, walls, and flooring that may get some paint splatter. Removing masking tape is much easier than having to completely repaint the walls. Drop cloths are an excellent way to protect the floor.

Step 2 – Remove Doors

The cabinet doors will be removed and painted separately from the rest of the cabinets. It is also necessary to remove the hardware from the doors. This hardware is normally the hinges and any handles or knobs. To further update the look of the cabinets new hardware can be used with the new faux wood cabinets.

Step 3 – Sanding

Sand the cabinet and doors in the direction of the new wood grain. This creates a surface for the paint to adhere to. If the cabinets are already painted then sand and apply a de-glossing agent. The de-glossing agent helps to make the shiny surface already on the cabinets absorb the new paint.

Step 4 – The Base Coat

A base coat or paint primer is needed. The best colors for this base coat include natural looking colors that range from tans to darker browns or dark gold. Have a piece of wood that you are basing the painting off of and try to match that color with the base coat. When painting the coat it is best to use a sponge roller as this puts down an even coat of paint. Paint in the direction that the wood grain will go. Make sure that this coat is completely dry before moving onto the next step.

Step 5 – Metal Cabinet

Painting metal cabinets to look like wood is a little more challenging as the preparation work will include removing rust. Additionally add a base coat that is rust proof and can provide additional protection. Metal cabinets tend to get scratched and dinged up and any bit of protections will help.

Step 6 – Deglossing Liquid

A deglossing liquid is a great way to avoid sanding if you are painting over cabinets that already have paint on them. This product will clean and prepare the surface for new paint. Do not use deglosser if the paint on the cabinets is latex as this produces a tacky finish and deglosser is not overly effective with oil-based paints. However to get the best paint job, do a light sand job and then apply the deglosser right before applying the primer coat. This provides the best adhesion for the base coat.