Painting kitchen cabinets is a great way to get a new look and feel in your kitchen. This is also an ideal way to save money and time during a renovation. Following a step-by-step guide can make painting kitchen cabinets an easy and straightforward process.


Table of Contents

Step 1: Understand the paint job

Metal, wood, and wood-laminate cabinets are generally easier to paint than plastic laminate cabinets. In most cases, plastic laminate requires specific techniques and special paints. It’s important to test a sample of the paint on an unnoticeable area of the cabinet to guarantee the paint will bond properly with the material. Moreover, it may be beneficial to consult with an experienced paint dealer to select suitable paints.

Drawers and flat-front doors are easier to paint than woodwork and cabinets with detailed profiles or raised paneling. These areas need more paint and require more prep time. If the woodwork is damaged or warped, it may be best to purchase new unfinished cabinet doors and paint them with the existing cabinets.

Step 2: Remove hardware and doors

In order to start painting, the drawers and doors must be removed. Additionally, all the latches, pulls, knobs, and other pieces of hardware should be removed. Make sure to place the screws and the hardware in clear bags. This makes locating them easier when it is time to reassemble the cabinets.

Next, number every door and mark the appropriate location as the features are removed. Avoid mixing them up or the hinges won’t line up properly.

Step 3: Clean the surfaces

The kitchen is a work area where splatter, grease, heat, and steam are common occurrences. For that reason, cleaning the surface of the doors and drawers prior to painting or sanding is an important step. Use a solution that’s mostly water and rinse thoroughly, but avoid soaking the cabinets with water. Before painting or sanding, allow all the doors to dry completely.

Step 4: Sand the surfaces

Lightly sanding the doors preps them for paint. In some cases, a wood sanding block is used to avoid rounding the edges. When sanding the cabinets, removing all the existing paint is not required. It’s more useful to roughen the surface so the fresh paint has a smooth and clean base to bond.

When existing paint is flaky, this may suggest that the finish did not bond properly with the wood. In most cases, this is a result of grease or moisture seeping into the wood or under the paint. Sand these areas down and use a stain-removing spot-primer.

Step 5: Applying primer-sealer

This step requires an even coat of primer-sealer. Apply primer evenly to all surfaces to guarantee a properly bonded coat. Primer-sealer offers a solid base for water-based or semi-gloss paints. In the past, high-gloss paint was popular for its stain and water resistant features; however, water-based finishes are currently better to work with and offer a more durable finish.

Step 6: Apply the paint

When applying the paint, begin by painting the openings and the inside edges. Next, paint the sides of the outer cabinet and then the frame face fronts.

The next step requires painting any wood pieces or molding, followed by the drawers and cabinet doors. When these parts incorporate raised or detailed features, it is best to allow the paint to flow into the corners and gaps evenly. However, avoid allowing the paint to accumulate in one spot.

Be sure to cover the entire surface with a thin, light coat of paint. Thin coats show less brushstrokes and dry much faster. Let the paint dry for around 3 hours between each coat. Prior to every coat, it is useful to lightly sand the surfaces to prep for the next coat. For most cabinets, two quality coats of paint is more than enough to offer a rich appearance. However, applying a third coat can help protect the cabinets from the daily punishment of heat, splatter, and frequent use.