How To Paint Kitchen Cabinets: Home Painting Guide

You don’t need to hire a professional to paint your kitchen cabinets! With the right tools, anyone can accomplish this task with ease.

Follow our complete how to paint kitchen cabinets guide for all the tips and tricks you need to be successful.

Aside from your sprayer and the paint you are using, there are some tools and materials you will need to make the job appear professional and complete.

  • Sanding blocks
    Use sanding blocks of various grits to remove any surface scratches or burrs before painting and after applying the primer.
  • Painter’s tape and masking
    Unless you are removing the cabinets, you will want to tape off and mask (plastic sheeting or drop cloths) areas where you don’t want the paint to land.
  • Screwdrivers
    Unless you like a challenge, it is much easier to remove cabinet hardware such as handles and closures before you paint.
  • Sponge or horse-hair brush
    For a finished look, or to apply design elements, you can use a sponge or brush on the final coat before it dries. 
  • Personal protective equipment
    Covers your eyes, clothing, and face with proper PPE.
  • Lighting 
    You will most likely be working indoors and have a lot of the other surfaces covered. Make sure you have enough lighting to see what you are doing. Halogen stand lights are an excellent light source.
  • Ladders 
    You may need to reach above your head to get the entire cabinet. It is a better idea to use a sturdy ladder.

Useful Tips When Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Spray painting your kitchen cabinets isn’t a difficult task. There some things you can do to make the project more enjoyable and easy, though.

  • Remove all hardware
    If possible, you will want to remove the handles, closures, clasps, and hinges. Taking the cabinet doors off will help you get full coverage without having to worry about the doors getting painted shut.
  • Gather all of your materials before you start
    You will want to make sure you have everything you need to start and finish the job. It is better to have everything on stand by than to have to stop in the middle of the project to run to the store for extra supplies.
  • Use cheesecloth
    After you sand the old paint off, use a cheesecloth to remove any lint, debris, and dust from sanding. Cheese cloths won’t leave lint behind and are cheaper than microfiber.
  • Take your time
    While you may want a finished project right now, it is better to take your time and exercise patience. Allow each coat to fully cure before applying the next, so your finished project looks clean and professional.

Spray Painting Kitchen Cabinets

When you want to save time, it is wise to consider spray painting the kitchen cabinets.

Instead of rolling or brushing the paint, a high-quality paint sprayer can have the job done in a fraction of the time.

The key to perfectly painted cabinets lies in the quality of preparation work.

Here are the steps to follow:

Spraying kitchen cabinets with earlex paint sprayer

1. Clean all the Cabinets

It is imperative that you clean the cabinets thoroughly to remove the years of dirt and grime before painting. If you don’t take this step the primer and paint will not be able to adhere properly.

Then, label each cabinet properly. Remove any hardware and label that accordingly as well. Now is a great time to take your cabinets to the garage or workshop. Then, stick tape into the hinge holes to keep unwanted paint out.

2. Sand and Prime

Many people want to learn how to paint cabinets without sanding. It is possible, with certain paints and finishes. Otherwise, it is wise to scuff up the surface before priming. You can use this as a time to sand any damaged areas. Generally, a 320-grit sandpaper will work well for this.

Then, follow these steps:

  • Fill areas with spackling compound
  • Sand the doors and frames with 320-grit sandpaper
  • Don’t sand too hard, just enough to remove the shine
  • Vacuum the dust
  • Wipe down the cabinets with tack cloth
  • Apply stain-killing primer
  • Once the primer has dried, sand the cabinets again gently

Use a gloss or semi-gloss latex enamel paint for your cabinets. Its hard, shiny finish resists stains and fingerprints.

3. Spray Paint the Cabinets

Prepare your area for spray painting.

It is also important that you prepare the materials according to the spray painter’s manufacturer directions.

Thinner paint will provide a finer finish.

Test your spray pattern on cardboard first. Here are some more tips to remember while spraying:

Woman painting furniture outside with bosch sprayer
  • Spray 10 to 12-inches away from the surface.
  • Sweep your arm back and forth across the panel.
  • Don’t use your wrist to spray.
  • Use a block of wood to elevate the doors.
  • Spray the backs first to practice.
  • Overlap the paint by 50 percent until you reach the bottom.
  • Allow the paint to dry overnight.

4. Install the Hardware and Cabinets

Once the cabinets are dried and everything looks good, you are ready to reinstall the hardware. Hopefully, you followed the instruction to label everything carefully which makes this task much easier.

All that’s left is to hang the cabinets and enjoy your hard work.


Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the common things that people want to know when learning how to paint kitchen cabinets.

What Kind Of Paint Do I Use On Kitchen Cabinets?

It is a common question to wonder what kind of paint to use on kitchen cabinets. This is one of the biggest struggles that a homeowner faces.


You can use a variety of paints as long as they are compatible with your sprayer.


A good rule of thumb to remember is that you don’t want to use a matte finish paint on kitchen cabinets. 


It is also best to stay away from an eggshell finish. It is important to create a surface that’s durable and wipeable. By doing this, you’ll avoid painting the cabinets again for at least a few years.


How to Nest for Less prefers to use latex paint because, “they don’t yellow over time, have quick drying times for your second or third coats, and it’s easy to clean your brushes after each day (just a little water and dish soap).”


If you don’t want to use a sprayer, there are several people that swear by using spray paint in an aerosol can. In fact, First Home Love Life shares “how to get professional looking spray painted cabinets for less than $20!”


Should I Use White Paint For Kitchen Cabinets?

While it is perfectly acceptable to use white paint for the kitchen cabinets, you don’t need to stop there. With a wide array of kitchen cabinet paint colors available, you can choose most any shade that suits your taste. 


In fact, one of the top picks by A Piece of Rainbow is, “Rich natural wood with the prettiest blue.”


Even if you do decide to go with a white color, there are many shades of white to choose from as well.


Do I Need To Be Experienced To Paint Cabinets?

When you are looking at tackling DIY kitchen cabinets, you might feel a little intimidated by your lack of experience. There is no need to be worried.


Every task that needs to be completed to paint the cabinets can be performed by a beginner.


The key will be taking your time and doing each step properly. A lot of the result will depend on the preparation of the cabinets as well as your spraying techniques.


If you aren’t a professional paint sprayer, simply take some time and practice with the gun on a spare piece of cardboard or wood first.


This will help you get the hang of the movement and you can make setting adjustments to get the flow right. When you consider the cost associated with purchasing new cabinets or having a professional paint them, it is clear to see the savings you will enjoy by doing it yourself.


Can I paint kitchen cabinets without priming or sanding?

It is not recommended to paint any surface without first sanding and priming. Sanding will remove old paint, varnish, and finishes, as well as remove and burrs, scratches, or wear marks that can show up in the finished product.


Primer is essential to make the paints adhere to the surface. Without primer, your paint won’t last as long and will be susceptible to chipping, peeling and flaking.


Is spray painting kitchen cabinets better & easier than using rollers or brushes?

While this is an opinion, based on the painter doing the job, in general, spray painting kitchen cabinets is easier than brush or roller painting.


A sprayer will apply an even layer of paint while allowing the paint to get into corners, decorative lines, and on the sides or hard to reach areas. Sprayers will also help you prevent paint runs, thick paint areas, or missed spots that brushes and rollers can’t offer.


What Is The Cost To DIY Paint Kitchen Cabinets?

Determining the cost to paint kitchen cabinets will depend on the materials you decide to use. If you are using a paint sprayer, you’ll have to factor in that cost as well.


When purchasing a paint sprayer, you need to keep in mind that you’ll have it to use on future projects. It’s more of an investment. To find a quality sprayer, be sure to read our Best Paint Sprayer for Cabinets Reviews.


It is possible to paint your cabinets on a budget. Designer Trapped said, “When I painted my kitchen cabinets, we were able to update the entire kitchen for $700, including flooring, fixtures, everything–the whole shebang. Y'all, that price can’t be beat! New cabinets alone would put most kitchens well over the $700 threshold.”


How much will it cost to have kitchen cabinets painted by a professional?

According to Home Advisor, the national average for the professional painting of kitchen cabinets is $697. The actual price range will vary from $384 to $1110, depending on location, paint used, and professional labor costs per hour.


Can laminate kitchen cabinets be painted, if so, what type of paint should I use?

Laminate cabinets can be painted, though it isn’t ideal. Laminate is notorious for refusing paints, and you will need to invest in specialty paints for the project. First, you will need to start with a laminate primer.


This is a primer specifically designed to adhere to laminate. Once the primer fully cures, then you can paint with your chosen color. You will want to use oil-based or latex-based paints for this project.


Can I spray chalk paint on kitchen cabinets?

You can spray chalk paint on kitchen cabinets. You will need to sand the varnish away and remove anything else on the wood before the chalk paint application.


Once you have the surface ready, a thin layer of primer can be used to help the chalk paint adhere to the wood surface. After the primer has cured, you can apply your chalk paint in thin layers until the surface is coated evenly. Several coats may be required for a solid, finished look.


Conclusion

Painting the kitchen cabinets yourself is a great way to save time and money. While it can seem like a big task to undertake, it doesn’t have to be cumbersome. Take the time to do the necessary preparations and ensure you have the right equipment for the job.

Then, you’ll be amazed at how great your kitchen cabinets look after the job is complete.


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