Update kitchen cabinets with paint for summer

Produce a dramatic update to the style of kitchen cabinets with contemporary shades of paint.

Summer is a good time to redo kitchen cabinets. The warm weather invites a more casual lifestyle. However, before planning a paint job, be mindful of how heat and humidity affect paint drying and curing. If your home is air-conditioned, this will help. Even though the paint will feel dry to the touch in 24 hours, allow a week for the paint to cure, or dry all the way through. Here are some tips for readers.

Q: I want to paint my kitchen cupboards and need some help. The bases are wooden and the doors are '80s style with wood bottoms and laminate covered doors. How would I paint them?

A: The secret to a professional job is proper preparation. Proceed by removing all the cabinet doors and hardware (hinges). Wash the surfaces with TSP, which is a heavy-duty cleanser. Wipe dry and sand the clean surface with medium-grade sandpaper to give it some tooth. Wipe away the sanding dust and apply a coat of high-adhesive primer with a low-pile roller and let dry overnight.

Apply two coats of water-based paint with a low-pile roller. Fine-grade sandpaper should be used for a light sanding between coats. Finish with two to four coats of acrylic varnish — the high gloss is most durable.

The wooden handlebars were modernized with two coats of silver metallic paint and high-gloss varnish. It makes a neat tie-in to the steel appliances. To break up the monotony of the cabinet doors, a few were painted a light blue.

Q: We would like to add a bit of color to our white melamine kitchen cabinets. The door surfaces have horizontal lines imbedded about 5/8 inches apart, boxed in with a smooth 2-inch frame. Any suggestions on an application that would suit this design would be helpful. (The appliances are white.)

A: I've seen this design of kitchen (and bathroom) cabinetry in homes and condos built in the '90s. One option is to develop a subtle highlight to the ridged section of the doors. Apply a basecoat to the doors — frames and center ridges covered completely in a pastel color of your choice, such as blue, green or orange. When the base coat is dry, tape off the smooth frame with low-tack painter's tape, and apply a wash of white paint with a rag moving horizontally in the direction of the lines. Wipe back with a clean rag, leaving traces of the whitewash in the lines. Before painting, prepare your doors according to the directions above.

Debbie Travis' House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email your questions to house2home@debbietravis.com.