How Many Coats of Primer On Cabinets? (You’d Be Surprised!)

Properly priming any surface is just as important as the paint that you use, and that’s especially true for cabinets. The amount of primer that you need for cabinets depends on the paint tone you are using, and one coat is enough for light paint. Whether you are using light or dark paint, let’s take a look at how many coats of primer you need to use before you paint cabinets.

how many Coats of Primer On Cabinets

When painting anything on the interior of your home, you need to use primer as an undercoat. The number of coats of primer you need can vary, depending on your desired end result.

You only need to put 1 coat of primer on cabinets. However, dark cabinets sometimes require 2 coats of primer before you can apply a coat of paint. Avoid using 3 or more coats of primer because it will extend the drying time and can lead to chipping.

Putting primer on cabinets makes it so that the paint can properly adhere to the surface and essentially look better for longer. That extra coat of primer both protects the cabinet and makes it look better once the paint goes on. Follow along as we explore the key factors that determine how many coats of primer you’ll need for your cabinets.

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What is the Purpose of Primer?

The purpose of primer is to make it so that the paint will properly stick to the surface. In the case of cabinets, the surface is more often than not made out of wood.

Wood surfaces such as cabinets in particular need to be primed before painted. If you simply painted a wooden cabinet without having primed it, it would dry before the solvents can cure as intended.

There are several things that can occur if you paint your cabinets without priming them first, such as:

  • Paint peeling
  • Unevenly drying
  • Spotted patterns
  • Potential damage to the cabinets

Before you paint your cabinets, give yourself a day to prime them first and attack the paint job after 24 hours. Priming your cabinets takes a little bit of patience but is well worth the results.

When Should I Use One Coat of Primer on Cabinets?

You can use one coat of primer if your cabinets are light in color. Brushing on a single coat of primer is enough for paint to adhere to a lightly colored cabinet.

After you apply your single coat of primer to the cabinets, you need to allow it to dry. For the most part, it is a good idea to allow primer to dry for up to 24 hours. Many homeowners have rushed into painting after priming and learned that extra dry time would have yielded better results.

Even one coat of primer is enough to help protect the surface of the cabinets when it is time for them to painted. You could use the highest quality paint available, but if you fail to prime the cabinet, it will turn out poorly.

That is why priming your cabinets is an essential. If your cabinets that need to be painted are light, apply a single coat of primer and give them 24 hours to dry. Once the primer has dried, you can get to the fun part: painting the cabinets.

When Should I Use Two Coats of Primer on Cabinets?

If your cabinets are dark, you should consider using two coats of primer before painting them. Doing so will help make the paint turn out the color that was intended and wear well overall.

Dark colors that may need two coats include brown, black, and espresso. There are many other dark colors of cabinets available, and you can easily discern that for yourself. Once you have determined that the cabinet is dark enough to warrant two coats, you can get to work.

It takes roughly 30 minutes for the primer to become dry, but that is not when it is time for another coat. Give yourself another 30 minutes, making it an hour after the application, before you decide to apply another coat of primer.

The same rules for waiting before painting with single coats of primer applies to two coats. 24 hours or more is the perfect timing.

What If I Use Three or More Coats of Primer?

Using three coats of primer you might be okay, but anymore and you could run into trouble. Yes, primer is helpful in making your paint job turn out beautiful, but too much of it can be bad.

Some of the issues that come along with putting too many coats of primer on a cabinet include:

  • Excessively long dry time
  • The primer itself can crack
  • Chipping in primer and paint
  • Crazing

With that said, some people do say that they have success using three coats of primer on cabinets. Generally, one or two is enough, but if you are able to get away with three, just be cautious.

Primer helps paint adhere to surfaces like cabinets but adding extra layers beyond two won’t make it more adhesive.

How Many Coats of Paint Do I Need After Priming Cabinets?

At least 24 hours after priming the cabinets, you will need to paint them with two coats. Only painting one coat on cabinets leaves more room for them to dry unevenly or even look blotchy.

Give the cabinets 2-4 hours between coats of paint so that the chemical reaction of the paint and its solvents has time to work. Each cabinet door that you paint requires 24 hours per side to dry.

You will need to leave the drying side of the cabinet exposed and preferably with a fan on it. You will notice as you apply the second coat of paint that it smooths out any little errors in the first coat.

In general, it is a good idea to avoid hanging the cabinets until they are fully dry. The last thing that you want is to get paint on you while hanging them and damage the paint job.

You are going to be happy with your two coats of paint when your cabinets hold up to nicks. If you so choose and want to play it safe, you can use three coats of paint. You’ll still need 2-4 hours between coats and a 24-hour dry time per side with three coats.

Otherwise, two coats of paint are perfect after your cabinet is primed.

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Related Questions

Does primer need to be shaken?

You need to shake or stir primer before you use it to help evenly mix it. Stir your primer with a stick so that it will sit on the surface better.

Does primer need to be even?

No, primer does not need to be even, but you should try to apply it smoothly. You can cause cracks and chips if your coat of primer is blotchy and poorly applied.

What Did We Learn?

One or two coats of primer is all that you need when painting cabinets. It is important to give yourself and the cabinets 24 hours at least after being primed before you begin painting them.

Choose two coats of primer if your cabinets or dark in color. You can also use two coats of primer on your cabinets if the first go-through was blotchy or uneven.

When the time finally comes for you to paint your cabinets, aim for three coats of paint. So long as you allow between 2 and 4 hours between coats, the paint should adhere beautifully to the primer.

Remember that it is not worth it to rush through the drying process for freshly primed cabinets. Those 24 hours or more of dry time between priming and painting are critical. In fact, the dry time is largely responsible for how well the paint will take to the primer.

After successfully priming and painting your cabinets, wait until they are fully dry, and you can go ahead and hang them. All that you need is 1-2 coats of primer, some patience, and some brushes to successfully prime your cabinets.

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