Recently I had a good friend ask my help with painting their kitchen. Kitchens are unlike other rooms in your home because they are exposed to grease, grime, food, water and smoke. It is important to take a few extra precautions to ensure your paint job will stand up to the everyday wear and tear.

Prepare for painting your kitchen

Below are four steps to prepare your kitchen walls for a new coat of paint.

1. Clean your walls

One of the biggest differences with painting your kitchen starts with the prep. Over time, the walls can develop a layer of grease on the walls from everyday cooking, especially in smaller spaces. 

When I prep a kitchen for paint, the first step always includes cleaning the walls with a scrubby sponge and some simple green. This will remove any grease and ensure that the paint will be able to bind to the drywall.

2. Sand it down

After the walls have dried, I sand down all of the walls with 100-grit sandpaper to remove any bumps or imperfections that have developed over the years. It is also important to plastic off all entrances into the kitchen as well as any heating/cooling registers or any other crevice where dust can travel. When it comes to containment, it is always best to go above and beyond. 

After removing all of the bumps, I spackle any holes or divots with spackling paste. I prefer this product to others as it does not require a prime coat and it sands easy. 

Once the spackle is dry, I sand the spots with 220-grit sandpaper. If you use anything heavier, the sandpaper can leave lines in the spackle that will show under the paint. It is important to work in a circular motion and check with your hand for a smooth finish after sanding each spot. 

3. Lay down plastic

The next step is getting the room ready for paint. I will wipe down the walls with a damp rag and discard all of the plastic and vacuum all of the dust to prep for paint. After cleaning, I re-plastic all cabinets, appliances, fixtures, floors and furniture. Never leave anything to chance, as paint has a funny way of finding the areas that are left exposed.

4. Choose your paint

Depending on the kitchen layout and floor plan, you will have different options when it comes to paint. If a customer has an open floor plan and a big kitchen, I suggest a flat finish on the ceiling, an eggshell/satin finish on the walls and a semi-gloss finish on the trim. 

This is the standard with interior painting and will likely be consistent with the rest of the house. If you have a small or closed off kitchen and like to cook, I suggest a satin/eggshell sheen on the ceiling as it will wick away moisture and grease. It is important to use a higher end paint in your kitchen as well, the lower end paints will not clean as well and will fade over time. 

Kitchens are one of the hardest rooms in your home to paint so if you are ready to take on the project yourself, follow the recipe, be patient, and as in the case of my friend, sometimes it is best to call in the pros.