How to… Hand Paint a Kitchen

A few weeks ago I was asked by a young Painter & Decorator how to “Gloss” a kitchen… is it a case of Undercoating and Glossing… or do I do something special??? so for him (and others), I thought that it might be good to show my process – other Kitchen Painters will have their own variations, but this is my system;

Being a Painter & Decorator today has many challenges – not only do we need an understanding of basic Chemistry, but also we need a grasp of modern technologies such as “Dust-free” sanding to perform our role effectively and efficiently.


So, for this illustration, I’m assuming that we are looking at a solid Oak kitchen with a laminated carcass.

On day one, my focus is degreasing and preparation – firstly, I cover all work surfaces with a 600mm wide self adhesive film, I tape all edges with 3M 2090 masking tape (this protects edges and corners from any minor knocks) and apply *Krud Kutter, a fantastic water-based, biodegradable, degreaser and treat all surfaces… Kitchens, by their nature are extremely greasy environments, even if the surface looks or feels clean, it will not be! believe! following this, I take a toothbrush and clean all mouldings and corners and joints with Methylated Spirits.


Next I look at sanding the surfaces to be painted. This is where my Mirka and Festool “Dust-free” sanding system comes into it’s own. No client wants their home to become a “Dusty Wonderland” with dust being strewn throughout their home for the next month. My Mirka CEROS and Festool ROTEX coupled to my Mirka 915 extractor removes 99.5% of dust from the atmosphere – better for the client, better for me and better for the project.

My next task is to mask everywhere that needs a sharp edge – for this, again, I use 3M 2090 tape in 1″ and 1.5″ variations. If I need to cut precisely I use my Olfa knives and for cutting masking tape for glazed door I use my *Axus Shears.

Now just for good measure, I repeat the degreasing process – belt and braces,… belt and braces!

Now for the part that the home owner is most interested in, the paint!… I use a tried and tested formulation; my process is 2 – 3 coats of Pegaprim Isofix, which I have tinted to the topcoat colour (I buy my paint from Holman Specialist Paints – their colour mixing is 100% accurate, in my experience) – so that the colour starts to build from coat one. Isofix is a high adhesion sealer primer that dries to a bullet hard finish (it’s vital that the base coat adheres to the substrate, that’s why I go to so much effort with the degreasing)… just a side note; Isofix is akin to Zinsser BIN – it does not stay open for very long, so does not “lay off” (the process of lightly running a soft brush over a rollered, “orange-peeled” surface in order to knock out any surface deviations or marks), so will need to be nibbed down with 320 grit Abranet between coats in order to flatten and prepare for the next coat.


Incidentally, I remove all door unit furniture prior to painting and keep safely in a container. When painting the doors, I remove them from the carcass and use “Painters Pyramids” so that I can paint a face and the sides/edges in one pass.


Once painted, I place the wet door on a portable racking system to dry – I use the *Erecta-Rack, a fantastically versatile system that will build to accommodate as many items as I need, yet still remain with a small “foot print”. This piece of kit is a must for any Kitchen Painter (in my opinion).


Finally comes the topcoats, for this I use Tikkurila Feelings Furniture Paint and I use a variety of rollers and brushes to apply the paint – my rollers of choice are pictured above and range from Dulux Glosser Microfibre on the left to *Axus Lime Wood Finish on the right. The brushes that I use predominantly are the *Fox… this is due to them being fantastic synthetic brushes… oh yes, and also because I helped to development them (kind of biased, I guess!?).


Finally, I replace all door furniture and clean the whole kitchen ready for the “Ta-Daaaah” to the client.

I hope that this post has been of use – it is by no means the be-all and end-all of how I work – this is just how I paint this type of kitchen, for a pre primed MDF kitchen I have a slightly different process, and likewise for a waxed kitchen… I could go on and dissect how I actually apply the paint to the n’th degree, but perhaps that’s for another day.

Thank you for reading.

For further information about my work and how I go about it, please visit my website.

Martin Guest, Traditional Painter for the West Midlands.


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