How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets to Fill in the Grooves

Mark Morris

Styles in home décor, like fashion, are changing faster and faster. One room in the house that can quickly become dated is the kitchen. Many times cabinets are the main focal point in kitchen décor, and unsightly, out of date, grooved cabinets may be a source of discontent for many homeowners. There is a simple fix. With very little out-of-pocket expense, a little sweat equity and a few simple tools, you can get rid of the ugly grooves and help your kitchen get its groove back.

Smoothing the grooves

  1. Remove the door from the cabinet and remove the hinges and knob from the door. Sand down the finish until the natural wood shows through. Make sure to sand evenly to avoid rough or uneven spots later. You may need a small amount of stripper in the grooves themselves. Make sure to wear latex or other chemical-resistant gloves to avoid the harsh effects of the stripper. The goal is to provide a surface that the filler can adhere to. Work the stripper into the grooves with a disposable paint brush. Use the screw driver wrapped in sandpaper to finish the job.

  2. Once the stripper has thoroughly dried, mix and apply the auto body filler. The filler comes in two parts: a gray cream, or putty, that comes in a can and a tube of red accelerator. Using a flat piece of plywood or palette, mix a golf-ball-size lump of putty with a dime-sized amount of accelerator. Mix the putty well until it is an even pink color. You will only have a few minutes to work, so make sure you are ready before mixing the putty, and plan on working a small area at a time. You may want to wear gloves in this step as well to avoid drying out your skin.

  3. Using the putty knife, drag the putty across the grooves, working it in and smoothing it evenly making sure to fill all the grooves completely. If the grooves are more than an eighth of an inch thick, you may need to let the putty harden and apply a second coat. Watch for voids in the putty that can be be caused by bubbles.

  4. Allow the putty to dry thoroughly, then sand lightly. Check for any areas that need more putty and fill them. Be careful to shape the ends of the grooves carefully when sanding to blend them in. Once you have an even surface, allow the putty to dry about an hour until it is completely hardened, then sand thoroughly with fine-grit paper and use a rag to wipe away the dust.

Applying the finish

  1. Using even strokes, apply a coat of primer to the entire surface. Watch for runs and streaks. Follow manufacturer's instructions for the best results. Allow to dry and touch up any areas that were not completely covered. Allow the maximum recommended drying time to ensure proper bonding before proceeding. If you notice any drips or runs, lightly sand them with fine sandpaper before proceeding.

  2. With a clean brush, apply a coat of paint to the entire surface of the cabinet. Be careful to avoid runs or drips. Allow adequate drying time between coats. Read and follow the label instructions for best results. You will want at least two good coats of paint. Working from the top down will give the most even finish. While your doors are off, give them the full treatment as well. A light sanding and a coat or two of paint and primer will ensure a good match.

  3. Allow adequate drying time before installing the hardware and rehanging your doors. You may want to consider a color change for the hardware as well. Acrylic spray paint is readily available in dozens of colors and works well on almost all metal and plastic surfaces. Be sure to clean the hardware thoroughly, use a primer and do your painting before reinstalling it on your door.