Painting a Kitchen
Project Checklist
  • Trisodium phosphate (TSP) or substitute
  • Appropriate chemical resistant gloves
  • A painter's hat, goggles, dust masks
  • Vacuum with brush attachment
  • Cloth or plastic drop cloths
  • Painter's tape (narrow and wide)
  • Plastic bags (large and small)
  • Newspapers
  • Paintbrushes, at least one of each of the following: 1" 2-3", 4-5"
  • Rollers and roller covers in widths and fabrics for the surface and finish you choose
  • Paint trays and liners
  • Extension poles and/or a stepladder
  • Buckets, cans and jars
  • Stir sticks
  • Lightweight patching compound
  • Wide-blade scraper
  • Putty knife
  • Edge pads
  • Sponge mop
  • Sandpaper in medium and fine grit
  • Sand-sponge for trim and molding

The kitchen is often considered the heart of a home —a place where meals are created and consumed every day and a space where guests tend to gather during parties or other get-togethers. The paint you choose for this room needs to be durable enough to accommodate unique temperature changes and surface challenges

Step 1 —Select Your Color Palette

When you select your colors, consider the mood you want to create. Experts say that red stimulates the appetite and might remind you of your favorite restaurant. Look for inspiration from photographs to narrow down a list of possibilities.

In some kitchens the wall space is limited, which can create an opportunity for you to make a statement with a bold color. How about orange? Or spring green?

Also, think about the elements in the kitchen area that won't change —countertops, cabinets, flooring and appliances. They contribute to your overall color palette and can also provide inspiration. For example, warm colors would look great with yellow wood tones.

Room size, wall height, architectural elements and light source are also important considerations when making your color or design choices. Our color experts offer the following suggestions:

  • Ceilings create an opportunity to introduce another color or dimension to the room. Try a darker tone on a tall ceiling or a lighter color if the walls are dark.
  • Light source varies from room to room and home to home and thus could impact the look of a color. Try the sample paint on the wall and view the color throughout the day. Choose a color based on how it looks when you are most often using it.
  • Highlight unique architectural elements with dark, rich colors. In historic or architecturally significant homes, these colors will highlight the beauty of its heritage.

Valspar offers a variety of online tools and resources to help you select the right look for your dining room. We'll even help you estimate how much paint you'll need to get the job finished.

Idea Gallery
Online Painter
Paint Calculator
Interior Decorative Painting Tips


Step 2 —Choose a Paint Finish

We recommend you choose a semi-gloss finish for the kitchen walls, to address frequent cleaning issues that are common in this busy space.

Valspar offers a kitchen and bath line of paints that are specially formulated to perform well in kitchens. Utilizing advanced technologies, these high-quality durable paints dry to a lustrous semi-gloss sheen and are designed to withstand frequent washing and maintain the beauty of their finish.


Step 3 —Planning

A kitchen is generally a small space and should therefore be an easy day project.

Choose the right painting clothes. Wear something that you won't mind getting paint on, like an old pair of jeans and a t-shirt.

Don't forget to reward yourself (and anyone who helped). Make sure you wash your hands after your prep and paint work and then consider ordering a pizza to celebrate your progress after a productive day.


Step 4 —Clear the Room

Move any countertop appliances, displays or accessories.

Use caution when moving refrigerators, which may have a water connection, and any gas appliances. Call an expert if you don't have experience disconnecting gas appliances.

Remove any hardware. Take off electrical outlet covers, wall and (if applicable) cabinet door hardware, keeping all screws and fasteners together in a zipped plastic bag for easy replacement. Tape a small plastic bag around doorknobs and fixtures.


Step 5 —Protect the Floors and Woodwork

Cover the floors completely with drop cloths. Try to lay the drop cloths as close as you can to the baseboards. We recommend you use cloth drop cloths because plastic doesn't absorb paint; a spill on plastic can create a slippery situation and quite a mess, too. If you do choose to use plastic, cover it with newspaper.

Tape along the top edge of the baseboards using a quality painter's tape with at least a 2" width (look for products that contain specific properties to handle your unique job or surface). Also tape any door or window frames or moldings that are not going to be painted.

Tip: By taping your baseboards and other framing, you make cutting in faster and easier. We recommend painter's tape because masking tape dries out too quickly and becomes difficult to remove. Once you have applied the painter's tape to the baseboard, pass over it with a putty knife, or a credit card, to smooth out any bubbles and ensure adhesion. This will keep any paint from getting underneath the tape. Remove the tape while the paint is still wet.


Step 6 —Remove Old Paint and Prep Walls

Use a scraper to remove any flaking paint and make sure to wear goggles to prevent falling paint chips from getting into your eyes. Clear away debris from any holes or cracks with a dry paint brush or a vacuum with a brush attachment.

Need to remove wallpaper?


Step 7 —Fill Cracks and Holes

Apply a lightweight patching compound to surface cracks or holes, using a putty knife; cover a little past the edges. Use the putty knife to smooth your surface. Let it all dry thoroughly. If more smoothing is desired, sand with fine grit sandpaper. Repeat these steps, being careful to let each layer of compound dry until you've achieved a perfectly smooth surface. For large areas, traditional drywall patching techniques are recommended.

It will be necessary to prime over the patching compound. Make sure the compound is fully dry before priming.


Step 8 —Clean and Dry Surfaces

Kitchen walls can get food and grease on them, which have to be removed because they will interfere with paint adhesion. Moving from top to bottom, and using an ordinary sponge mop, clean the ceiling and walls thoroughly with TSP and water (according to the manufacturer's instructions). Rinse well and let dry.

For large areas use a sponge mop to wash all surfaces with a solution of TSP and water (according to the manufacturer's instructions). Rinse with water and let dry thoroughly.

Tip: TSP is typically found in the paint department near the solvents. We recommend TSP because it is a non-abrasive, all-purpose cleaner that can be used on practically any type of surface. It is also a concentrate, which makes it a bit stronger than most ordinary cleansers. (Please note: Due to regulations, TSP may not be available in all areas).

Clean moldings and window sills with sponges or rags before you paint. Get rid of dirt and dust. Vacuum and dust as much of the room as possible, especially along baseboards. Particles can get in the paint or on the brush and create quite a mess adn leave bumpy result on your walls.


Step 9 —Prime the Walls

Primer is essential to achieving professional-looking results. Bare wood, drywall, patching compound and plaster require primer to seal the surface. With proper priming, you will use less topcoat and the final color will lay rich on the top layer.

Check out our multi-purpose primers.

Tip: If you are repainting walls or woodwork in excellent condition, and/or you are not making dramatic color changes, priming is usually not needed.

Need to prime? Not sure which type to use? contact our Valspar technical support team, or call 1-888-313-5569 in the United States. They can help you determine if you need a primer as well as what type of primer you should choose.


Step 10 —Paint the Trim

It is best to paint the trim work before the walls are painted. Beginning with your baseboards, use a 2" angled tip/sash brush and paint around the room in one direction, so that you do not miss any areas. Next, paint the window trim, door trim and any molding. Remove tape before the paint dries.

Need a refresher on loading a brush?


Step 11 —Cut In

Cutting in is a technique that helps you achieve clean lines at the corners and edges. Using an angled 2" trim brush, make a series of short strokes away from the edges where the walls or ceiling and wall meet. Work in three-foot sections so you maintain a wet edge.

Tip: Paint pads make cutting in around door and window frames a cinch! They save time and deliver a reliably uniform edge. Keep the wheels very clean to prevent marking the wall, and work in three-foot sections to maintain a wet edge.


Step 12 —Paint the Ceiling and Walls

After you have completed all your cut in work, the next area to tackle is the ceiling. Using a roller affixed to an extension pole, glide the paint in one direction, moving quickly to maintain your wet edge and avoid excess pressure.

Tip: For easy clean up, line your roller tray with a garbage bag.

Roll a three-foot wide shape of a "W" Move vertically across the room, moving from side to side.

Tip:If you have to take a break from your painting project, instead of rinsing the brush or roller, tightly wrap the tool in plastic wrap or an airtight plastic bag. The plastic wrap will keep the paint wet, so the roller can be reused later that day.

Check your product label for dry times. Remember not to put anything against the walls until the paint is completely dry; otherwise, you'll be back to step one.

Need a refresher on loading a roller or brush?


Step 13 —Finishing Touches

A professional decorator would advise you to carry your color scheme to the smallest detail. Spray paint is an easy way to change the color of electrical covers, light switch covers, lamp bases, vases, picture frames, chairs —almost anything in the room that you want to keep but need to update in order to complement the newly painted room.


Step 14 —Clean and Be Green

More painting to do tomorrow with the same color? You don't have to clean brushes and rollers when you take a break. Wrap them in sealed plastic to stay moist until you are ready to paint again.

Tip: If paint has hardened on the handle or along the edge of the bristles, soften it with warm water so that you can remove it before you begin to paint. Make sure you dry the brush before you dip it.

Project Finished? Don't throw away the rollers and brushes. With proper cleaning and storage, good painting tools can be reused many times. Reusing them saves you time and money, and also helps the environment, because you're generating less waste.

Helpful Information
Loading Brushes
Loading Brushes
Loading a Brush
Moisten the brush with water (for latex paint), then squeeze out any excess fluid.
Dip the brush in the paint carefully, placing no more than 2/3 of the bristles into the paint, then move the brush around a bit the first time to saturate the brush with paint.
Pull the brush up and let the excess paint drip off —overloading leads to drips, runs and spatter. You can also remove some excess paint by pulling the bristles against the edge of the paint can.
Loading Roller
Loading Rollers
Loading a Roller
First, get the roller a little damp. Use a thinner for alkyd-based paint and plain water for latex.
Roll off any excess. Fill the roller well (about halfway) and lower the roller into the middle.
Roll up and down the slope of the pan to saturate the roller and roll off any excess.
Cutting In
Cutting In

“Cutting in” is a technique that helps you achieve clean lines at the corners and edges. Using an angled 2" trim brush, make a series of short strokes away from the edges where the walls or ceiling and wall meet. Work in 3-foot sections so you maintain a wet edge.

Tip: Paint pads make cutting in around door and window frames a cinch! They save time and deliver a reliably uniform edge. Keep the wheels very clean to prevent marking the wall, and work in 3-foot sections to maintain a wet edge.

Removing Wallpaper
Removing Wallpaper
Score the Wallpaper
Using a wallpaper scoring tool, slice crisscross marks on the wallpaper. Later on these slits in the paper will help the softening agent ooze in and get at the paste.
Apply Wallpaper Remover with a New Spray Bottle.
Be sure to follow all instructions from the chemical remover manufacturer, including wearing proper personal protective equipment. Fill a brand new spray bottle with the chemical softener. (You don't want to use an old garden sprayer bottle because it might contain chemical residues). Follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully. Spray the wall and wait the recommended time before attempting to remove the paper.
Or Soften the Adhesive with a Steamer
Follow all manufacturers' instructions. Again wear goggles and gloves—electric steamers can get really hot. Steam a small area at a time and then remove the paper.
Scrape off the Wallpaper
This step is all about finesse. After all that work the last thing you want to do is gouge the wall with your scraper. Easy does it.
Remove the adhesive and prep.
Fill a bucket with TSP and water solution. Rinse with clean water or other detergent and sponge off the solution of TSP and let dry thoroughly before prepping and priming.
Priming Stained Surfaces
Priming Stained Surfaces

Stained walls and ceilings need primer to lock the stain from migrating to your top coat. Some woods naturally bleed tannins, which are natural color compounds in wood. Smoke and water can also leave stains, which will come through the top coat no matter how many coats you apply. Select a stain-blocking primer that is best for the type of stain, either an oil-based or latex-based product.

Spot Priming
Spot Priming

If you've sanded down to a bare surface, you will need to prime those spots. For some stains, spot priming is the best way to save time and lock in the stain from migrating to the topcoat. Don't forget to feather-sand edges so the topcoat applies evenly.

Prepping Trim and Special Surfaces
Prepping Trim and Woodwork

Woodwork and Molding

Proper preparation is critical when painting woodwork —the touch ups you do here will create the smooth surface you seek once it is painted.

  • Fill in dents and rebuild chipped corners with wood filler.
  • Use patching compound on scratches and smaller cracks.
  • Sand the dry surface with 180-grit sandpaper and wipe away the dust.
  • Use a hand vacuum with a brush attachment to clean dust and debris from woodwork and door frames.

Tip: With contoured or intricate trim or molding, use a sanding sponge rather than sandpaper. The sponge gets at places the paper can't reach, resulting in a more uniformly smooth surface.

Bare woodwork: Use a latex or oil-based specialty primer that is formulated to block stains.


Glossy Painted Surfaces

Prime your glossy surfaces to promote adhesion of the top coat.

There are three ways to prime a glossy surface:

  1. Use a latex or oil-based primer formulated for glossy surface adhesion.
  2. Use a liquid deglosser, following all label instructions.
  3. Scuff the surface with 180-grit sandpaper. The scuffing will help the new paint adhere better. Before painting, wash the surface with trisodium phosphate (TSP) or substitute according to the manufacturer's instructions; rinse with water and let dry.

Priming Glossy Surfaces
Priming Glossy Surfaces

Prime glossy surfaces to promote adhesion of the topcoat.

There are three ways to prime a glossy surface:

  1. Use a latex or oil-based primer formulated for glossy surface adhesion.
  2. Use a liquid deglosser such as Prepaint, following all label instructions.
  3. Go over the surface with 180-grit sandpaper. The scuffing will help the new paint adhere. Before painting, wash the surface with TSP and water according to the manufacturer's instructions; rinse with water and let dry.

Learn more about multi-purpose primers.

Dramatic Color Changes
Dramatic Color Changes

You can achieve a professional result with dramatic color changes when you use the right primer. Use a "high-hiding" primer if you want to paint a light color over a dark color.

Learn more about high-hiding primers.

Cleaning Brushes
Cleaning Brushes
Latex Paint
If you used latex paint, remove the excess paint in a bucket or container while the paint is still wet. It is much more difficult to remove dried paint with soap and water —if necessary, use a brush comb to remove it. Wash off the remaining paint under running water.
If you're going to use the brush again within a day, suspend the brush in a coffee can full of water, making sure the bristles don't touch the bottom of the can. You don't want a brush with bent bristles. For long-term storage, hang brushes from a hook.
Alkyd / Oil-Based Paint
Oil-based paint should be removed in a bucket or container with mineral spirits (petroleum distillate), rinsed in tap water and then washed with soapy water. Rinse the brush until the water runs clear.

Keep alkyd paint containers closed when not in use. Do not transfer contents to other containers for storage or disposal. In case of spillage, absorb with an inert material such as sand or kitty litter. Dispose of contaminated absorbent, container and/or unused contents in accordance with local, state and federal regulations.

DANGER: A spontaneous combustion hazard exists when cleaning up after using products that contain drying oils, such as linseed oil or tung oil. Rags, steel wool, sanding dust or waste soaked with oil-based products may spontaneously catch fire if improperly discarded. Immediately after each use, place rags, steel wool, sanding dust or waste in a sealed, water-filled metal container.
Cleaning Rollers
Cleaning Rollers
Latex Paint

To remove excess paint, scrape the tool thoroughly or wipe it across cardboard or newspaper.

If you are removing latex paint, partially fill a sink with warm water and roll the applicator back and forth. You can also remove paint in a bucket of water. If necessary, add detergent to remove partially dried material. Rinse the roller until the water is clear. Let dry.

Spin the roller to release excess moisture and then place it in a clean plastic bag (food storage bags work great).

Oil-Based Paint (Alkyd)

To remove excess paint, scrape the tool thoroughly or wipe it across cardboard or newspaper.

For oil-based paint, roll the applicator in a paint tray containing mineral spirits (petroleum distillate) or paint thinner. Next, wash the roller in soapy water. Rinse thoroughly and let dry.

Spin the roller to release excess moisture and then place it in a clean plastic bag (food storage bags work great).


Step 15 —Celebrate

Congratulations! You have successfully transformed a room in your home. Order in, take out, put your feet up and bask in the glory of a job well done.
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