How Do I Prime My Cabinets So That They Don’t Peel?

Oil-based primer will always be your best option for priming kitchen cabinets. However, a water-borne primer is less evasive and easier to work with. You do not have to be a painting professional to paint your cabinets if you know how to prep and prime them the right way! Painting your kitchen cabinets is easy and affordable, and anybody can do it!

How To Prime Kitchen Cabinets And Other High Gloss Surfaces?

I would always advise using an oil-based primer on any type of wood.

I get the question all the time, “What’s the best primer for kitchen cabinets?” There are a lot of answers to that question. But let me tell you why oil-based primer will always be your best option for priming kitchen cabinets.

The first and most important thing to remember about oil-based primer is that it is permanent.

Oil-based primer binds to the surface being primed and will not wash off or wear off with time. Once it dries, it’s there forever.

The second reason I like oil-based primer is that it sticks better to bare wood than any other kind of primer out there.

Related article How To Paint Over Gloss Paint

Achieving The Best Results When Priming

In order to get the best results, you need to know how to prime kitchen cabinets and other high gloss surfaces. 

If you don’t properly prepare your surface to be painted you will most likely have paint peeling off your cabinets in the future. 

A good primer will create a bond between glossy and hard-to-paint surfaces such as laminate and/or Formica and the paint that is being applied.

But what primer should you use for your cabinets?

And what type of cabinets do you have?

If you’re not sure don’t worry, I have ALL the answers for you!

Find Your Cabinet Type Here 

How To Choose The Right Primer

Water-based primers cannot provide the same level of protection or adhesion that an oil-based primer can.

Oil-based primers will create a much more durable surface, which is why they are by far the best option for this project.

That said, there are times when oil-based primers aren’t the best choice for a project and water-based primers will do just fine.

This is sometimes can be a personal preference on the part of the person working with them, rather than any one specific advantage or disadvantage to either product.

Find out what primer is right for your project Best Primer For Kitchen Cabinets Without Sanding 

What’s The Best Way To Apply Primer?

Paint primer is a must when you are painting a surface that has never been painted before.

If you don’t use primer, the paint will tend to peel off the surface.

The first step to applying paint primer is to wash the surface thoroughly with TSP or KrudKutter.

Allow it to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

This will help remove any dirt or grime that would prevent the paint from adhering properly.

You can apply paint primer with a sprayer or brush and roll it.

Related article Best Paint Sprayers On Amazon

If you decide to use a sprayer ensure that you have read the safety instructions before using it and wear a respirator, long sleeves, and long pants at all times while spraying.

If you want a detailed step-by-step guide to painting kitchen cabinets that will guide you from start to finish, download my free DIY guide!

how to paint kitchen cabinets guide download

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11 thoughts on “How Do I Prime My Cabinets So That They Don’t Peel?”

  1. With new unfinished cabinets the only thing needed is a light sand, prime then paint, correct?

    • Depending on the wood. In most cases, yes but if you are painting them white you want to make sure you do not have a wood that is known for tannin bleed. Then you will have to prime. A general rule I have is that when you paint them white I would prime them with at least one coat of Benjamin Moore’s FreshStart primer to prevent yellowing in the future. Any dark colors your fine just painting them but I would use PPG Breakthrough in that case.

  2. I was told by a Benjamin Moore sales person to use INSL-x stix primer on my 20 year old dark cabinets…after finishing the long step by step prep work, I painted on my first coat of primer. Went back to store to buy two sample white colors and was told by a different sales person that this primer was not a stain blocker even if I used two coats it would still bleed thru …I have read and researched but have not found any information on this, please help asap

    • Absolutely go with Zinsser Coverstain. It is an oil-based primer that will block any stains or tannin bleed.

      • Hi..I watched the vedio for comparing 3 of the primers but I’m still confused..I finished cleaning and sanding and i will start the priming process tomorrow..hope I get you reply before.
        I was going to buy the Zinsser “CoverWhite Oil-Based Primer and Sealer” but two store agents insisted that I get the STIX one and do one coat.
        And I watched a vedio for you using the same one (I’m transferring my brown old cabinet from the 90s to white and want to hide the oak grain).
        I prefer to do one coat of told me that it will cover the grain and the other said might not.
        Please which one to use.
        What is the difference between the STIX and the oil base Zinsser.
        The price is not an issue for me but the STIX is for $50 and the Zinsser Is for $20!!!
        Can you please help me decide?

        For the zinsser also there is a sprayer that you we can use to spray the hard areas.

        Sorry for the long msg but I’m really confused and I trust your opinion.

        Please help ASAP.

        Thank you

  3. Not fully Is ok..but the most.

    So I watched your best three primers you shose the seal lock and then the Stix over the zinsser.
    And I also watched another vedio you used the stix and the advances BM on oak wood.
    What’s the difference..thanks

    • Stix is a water-based product that sticks to pretty much any surface.
      However, there is a chance that stains from the wood bleed through. So if you are doing a light color I wouldn’t necessarily recommend Stix. I would always recommend an oil-based primer first and shellac on cherry wood.

  4. I just built 16 Shaker kitchen cabinet doors using alder and 1/4″ alder plywood. My question is this: Do I need to prime or can I use a paint/primer premium blend paint? The color is a medium dark gray.

    • Yes,
      if you have bare wood you always want to prime it before painting using an oil-based primer. You can try using a water-based primer but you could potentially have stains bleed through.


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