How To Paint Kitchen Cabinets: All You Need To Know

Do you want to upgrade your kitchen without spending a lot of money? Painting your kitchen cabinets is the answer! You can avoid a complete renovation and paint your old or outdated cabinets for a makeover that will liven up the room! 

kitchen with white cabinets, wooden counter and lights hanging

You can always hire a professional to do the job, but you can also make it a DIY painting project to keep the fun, and the money, to yourself! Follow our guide to prepare and paint your cabinets and make them look like you replaced them! After you see the fantastic results, you may also want to know how to paint your kitchen tiles like a pro.

What you need to know before painting your kitchen cabinets

Before you start preparing your cabinets or painting them, there are some things you should first consider. It is essential to choose the right paint for your surfaces, select the more suitable colour and use the right brush for your cabinets. Here is all you need to know!

The paint you’ll need

    • Latex or oil paint: You can use both latex or oil paint since both will provide a good finish. Latex paints dry quicker, and you can clean them up with water, making them more user-friendly. On the other hand, oil paints form a more durable paint film and level out to a smoother finished surface. They also need a shorter time to cure fully. If you choose to use latex paint, make sure it’s water-based and a 100% acrylic formulation for greater durability and adhesion than vinyl acrylic paints.
    • Any interior wood paint or eggshell will work on already painted and solid wood cabinets. You can use chalk paints for kitchen cupboards, but you’ll usually need to seal the topcoat with varnish or wax for a wipeable surface. The best paint to use on laminate cabinets is a specialist multipurpose one designed for melamine, wood, and MDF.
    • Matte: Matt paints have a muted, non-glossy finish and are great for a modern look.
    • Gloss: It is considered the best paint for cabinets since it is highly durable. It is also easy to clean, and its glossy finish will make a room appear larger.
    • Semi-gloss: Semi-gloss has a lot of shine and can make colours look more vibrant. If you choose this type of paint, make sure to sand cabinets well because it can accentuate imperfections. You can also clean it easily, and it can hold up against mould and mildew, withstanding years of use.
    • Chalkboard: This paint will allow you to write lists and messages on it once it dries. You can use it to make a message centre on your cabinets, and match the chalkboard wall in your kitchen. Wait, what? You don’t have one? Ok, here is what you are looking for. 

Choose the right colour

  • Your new cabinet colour should complement your flooring, countertops, and overall colour scheme of your kitchen. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to make everything match. Having contrast can also be interesting
  • Consider the climate of the place you live. If it is warm and there is lots of natural light streaming into the kitchen, you should better stay away from dark paint. Dark colours can act as a magnet for the sun’s heat.
  • If you want your colour to show less wear and tear and have less visible cooking splatters prefer to stay away from very pale and very dark shades. To be safer, choose from the wide range of hues in between.

kitchen with white cabinets, wooden counter top with plant pot on top

The brushes you’ll need to paint

  • Angular sash brushes: This type of brush is the best for maintaining control on your projects when working with raised panels and small spaces. For a good grip, find a brush with a rubber or wood handle. 
  • Nylon/polyester blends: Brushes with this material for their bristles ensure cleaner lines by distributing your paint.
  • Brushes with medium thickness: These paintbrushes give you more control, and their stiffness affects quality significantly.
  • Rollers: If you prefer to use a roller instead of a brush, use one that is small in size, preferably 2.5 cm or less. For larger areas, use a 10–13 cm foam roller. For a smoother finish, choose one made from mohair or foam.
  • Spray paint: If you want to use spray paint, look into an HVLP sprayer. This spray type will help minimise the amount of your effort for a decent job.

How to prepare your kitchen cabinets before painting

Prepping your cabinets is as important as painting. Follow our step-by-step instructions to get your cabinets’ surface ready for the paint job!

What you’ll need

  • Cordless screwdriver
  • Painter’s tape
  • Plastic bags
  • A piece of cardboard
  • Long sleeve shirt 
  • Thick gloves
  • Paint stripper
  • Plastic paint scraper
  • Cloth or cleaning rag
  • Chemical degreaser
  • Wood filler
  • Putty knife
  • 100-grit & 220-grit sandpaper
  • Plastic wrap
  • Palm sander or sanding sponge
  • Paintbrush  
  • Bonding primer
  • Roller 

Step 1: Remove your cabinet doors

  • Take the drawers and doors off of the cabinet frames
  • Label each door you take off differently to know where each of them goes. You can use a piece of painter’s tape and write a letter or number to label each of them.
  • Keep your cabinets out of the way by putting them in an open space, like the basement or garage.
  • Empty your cabinets and store their contents in another room while you’re working.
  • Keep the hinges and hardware of the cabinets in bags, using a different bag for each one, so you won’t lose or mix them up. 

man on ladder preparing kitchen for painting, drilling the cabinets off

Step 2: If there is old paint, strip it off the cabinets

  • Put a piece of cardboard underneath you and work in a well-ventilated area.
  • Wear a long sleeve shirt and thick gloves so you won’t irritate your skin.
  • Start at the top of the cabinet or frame and paint a layer of paint stripper on the surface.
  • Let it sit for at least 45 minutes. 
  • Gently remove the paint in long strokes using a plastic paint scraper. 
  • Do the same for all of the cabinets until the surface is even.
  • If your cabinets have multiple coats, use the paint stripper numerous times.

Step 3: Clean the cabinets

  • Spray a degreaser on a cloth or cleaning rag until it’s damp. 
  • Remove any stuck-on oil by rubbing the cabinets with the damp cloth along the grain. 
  • Clean all sides of the frame and door for the primer to stick to your cabinets.

Step 4: Smooth out holes and dents

  • Make sure you have a wood filler or purchase one from your local home improvement or hardware store.
  • If there are any large dents or holes, fill them with the wood filler
  • Squeeze the product into the spot you want to hide and smooth it out with a flexible plastic scraper or putty knife. 
  • Allow it to dry for 30 minutes before moving on.

Step 5: Tape the edges around your cabinet and cover the floor

  • Lay a drop cloth or sheet on the floor and countertops, so you don’t spill any paint on them. 
  • Use painter’s tape to surround the edges where your cabinet meets a wall. Prefer this to masking tape since the last one can be difficult to come off.
  • If there are any appliances near your painting area, cover them in plastic wrap.

kitchen, having cabinets taken out, appliances wrapped with plastic wrap and surrounded edges

Step 6: Roughen the cabinet surfaces

  • To remove the finish currently on your cabinets, find a 100-grit sandpaper
  • For your wooden cabinets, scuff with the grain, so they don’t get marked up. 
  • For a better grip, use a palm sander or sanding sponge.
  • For the primer and paint to adhere better, apply light pressure just to roughen up the surface
  • Use a dry paintbrush to wipe away any dust.
  • Vacuum the area.

Step 7: Paint on your cabinet frames and doors with bonding primer

  • Before you prime any door, remove your labels, but keep them close by so you don’t lose them.
  • Use a bonding primer and not a wall one.
  • First, prime the more detailed areas.
  • Then continue priming the larger areas with a roller. 
  • Make an even, smooth surface for your paint, painting along with the grain.
  • Use the primer to cover the entire surface.
  • Let it dry completely.

Step 8: Sand the surface of the primed oak

  • Sand lightly with a sandpaper of 220-grit
  • Use a tack cloth to wipe it
  • Apply a second coat of primer.
  • Wait 24 hours before painting.

man holding a paint roller, standing inside a kitchen with cabinets off and ladder

Step-by-step guide to painting kitchen cabinets

Now that your doors and cabinets are ready and the primer has dried, it is time to start painting. Grab your brush and roller, and happy painting!

What you’ll need

  • High-quality brush
  • Foam roller
  • Latex paint
  • Paint mask
  • Long sleeve clothes
  • Felt feet
  • Cordless drill
  • Screwdriver

Step 1: Apply the first coat of paint to the cabinet doors and drawer frames

  • Choose high-quality paint for a smooth finish.
  • Use a high-quality brush for smaller areas and a roller for larger ones
  • Use the same technique as for the primer.
  • Use even brush strokes.
  • Finish the stroke back into the wet paint.
  • Feather out the edges.
  • Lay off after the surface has been painted.

Step 2: Apply the first coat of paint to the cabinet backs and fronts

  • Paint the backs of the cabinet doors and drawer fronts pieces.
  • Let them dry.
  • Paint their fronts
  • Let the paint completely dry.

Painting Kitchen Cabinets in white using a roller. Redecoration home wood furniture

Step 3: Apply a second coat

  • Apply your finish coat.
  • You are done with the painting process.
  • Allow the paint to completely dry before you put everything back together. Drying time will take at least 5 days.

Step 4: Reinstall your drawers and doors

  • Before you reinstall them, it is best to refinish or replace any old hardware. This extra step will make you feel like you have an entirely new kitchen!
  • Use the labels to make sure everything goes into place.
  • Reassemble the cabinets and hardware.
  • You can add felt feet where the doors and drawers hit the cabinet frames. This will not only make them quieter when they close but also help prevent the paint from chipping.
  • Unwrap your electrical appliances and put them back in place. For even more stunning results, find here how to clean your stainless steel appliances.

Step 5: Remove the painter’s tape

  • Remove the painter’s tape you had along the edges of the cabinets and other surfaces.
  • Throw away any drop cloths
  • Clean your brushes and rollers thoroughly.
  • All you need now is some amazing tips to organise your kitchen and enjoy your cooking time beside your freshly painted kitchen cabinets!

kitchen with white walls and cabinets and window to the left

Extra painting tips

Here are some extra painting tips to help you with your project: 

    • It is better not to use a paint sprayer. It is an added expense and will be challenging to use if you are not familiar with it.
    • Mini microfiber rollers can be easier to use than foam ones.
    • Follow one step at a time and always let the priming or paint dry before you move on. Take your time and be patient.
    • It is good to clean your brush between coats. To do so, work the bristles under warm, soapy water with your fingers until the water runs clear. Shake it out and let it dry.

How much does it cost to paint kitchen cabinets?

  • When talking about the costs to paint kitchen cabinets, you have to consider the following factors: their size, how long you’ve been using them, what type of wood they are made of and their condition
  • The average price to paint them yourself is between £250 and £650
  • If you hire a professional to do the job, it can cost £800 to £4.000.
  • Refacing your kitchen cabinets would cost around £900 to £7.000.

beautiful kitchen with 3 lights hanging on top of counter top with sink and hidden lights
If you are not ready for a complete kitchen remodel, you can give a fresh, new look to the room with a fresh coat of paint for your cabinets. Follow our instructions to painting them for a fantastic result. And who knows? If you enjoyed painting your cabinets, you might want to consider painting your whole kitchen!

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