A Step-By-Step Guide On How To Paint Your Kitchen Cupboards

Modern kitchen with Green cabinets

If your kitchen cabinets are looking a bit tired and dated, you may want to consider giving them a makeover. Painting kitchen cupboards is an excellent way to completely transform your kitchen’s look without spending a lot of money.

This article will discuss step-by-step instructions on how to paint your kitchen cupboards to achieve the perfect look for your home without needing any professional help.

Things To Consider Before Painting Your Cupboards

Painting a kitchen cabinet consists of cleaning, sanding, applying primer, and painting. It is a big job, so you may want to make sure that you are prepared before you begin. Here are a few things to remember:

Condition Of Cabinets

Cabinetman checking kitchen cupboards

Before you start painting your kitchen cabinets, it is crucial to ensure they are in good condition. Examine your cabinets closely and make sure that they are still sturdy and usable. If they are not, you may need to replace them instead of painting them.

Additionally, look for any cracks, dents, or scratches to be repaired. If your cabinets are in poor condition, painting them will not magically make them look brand new. It is best to repair any damage before you begin painting.

Cabinet Material

The type of cabinet material will also dictate how you should go about painting them. Painted cabinets can be made of wood, metal, or laminate.

  • Wood. Cabinets made of wood need to be sanded down before painting. It will help create a smooth surface for the paint to adhere to. Wood cabinets are the easiest to paint.
  • Metal. If you have metal cabinets, you will need to use a primer specially designed for metal surfaces. You will also need to sand the cabinets before painting.
  • Laminate. Laminate cabinets are the most difficult to paint and require a special bonding primer. Also, the laminate must be in good condition to achieve the best results.

Choose The Right Paint For Your Cupboards

Now that you are sure that your cabinets are in excellent shape, your next concern is choosing the right paint.

Types of Paints

It would be best to use paint that is specifically designed for cabinets. These paints are usually labeled as “enamel” or “semi-gloss.” They will give your cupboards a smooth, durable finish.

  • Oil-Based Paints. Oil-based paints have been around the longest, and they are very durable. Many professionals favor oil-based paint over latex paint because it allows them to achieve a smooth finish easily.

However, oil-based paints are very difficult to work with because they take a long time to dry and have a strong odor. Also, they require a lot of prep work and can be difficult to clean up.

  • Latex Paints. Latex paint is water-based paint, making it easier to clean up than oil-based paint. It also has less of an odor, and they dry more quickly. However, latex paints are not as durable as oil-based paints.

When using latex paint, find a 100-percent acrylic latex formula. These types of latex paints offer more durability and will last longer. They also resist fading and peeling better than other types of latex paint.

Paint Finish

You will also need to decide on a paint finish. The most common finishes are glossy, semi-glossy, and matte.

  • Glossy. Glossy finishes are very shiny and easy to clean. However, they can show scratches and fingerprints more easily than other finishes.
  • Semi-Glossy. Semi-glossy finishes have a bit of shine but are not as shiny as glossy finishes. They are also easy to clean and resist scratches and fingerprints better than glossy finishes.
  • Matte. Matte finishes have no shine and can be difficult to clean. However, they do not show scratches or fingerprints as easily as other finishes.

Paint Color

You will also need to decide on a paint color. You can go to a paint store and look at color swatches to select the best one that will suit your kitchen style. You can also look online to find some inspiration. The most popular colors for kitchen cupboards are white, cream, and gray.

Choose The Best Tools For You

When painting your kitchen cabinets, you have a few different options on how you can apply paint. You can use a brush, a roller, or a sprayer.

Paint brush and paint roller

Paint Applicator

  • Brushes. Brushes are the traditional way to paint kitchen cabinets. They are easy to use, and they give you a lot of control over the paint job. However, brushes can be time-consuming, and they can even leave brush marks on the paint.

You will need two types of paintbrushes for painting kitchen cabinets: a natural bristle brush and a synthetic brush.

The natural bristle brush is for applying primer. The one with synthetic bristles is for the paint. You should use a high-quality brush because it will make a big difference in the final result.

  • Rollers. Rollers are an excellent option if you want to get an even coat of paint on your cupboards. They are less likely to leave brush strokes than brushes. They are also fast and easy to use. However, rollers can be difficult to control, and they can leave lint behind in the paint.
  • Sprayers. Sprayers are ideal for big paint jobs. They are the best option if you want a professional-looking paint job. They are fast and give you a lot of control when painting. However, sprayers can be messy and require special equipment, which can be costly.

Other Tools And Materials

Now that you know which paint applicator to use, let us look at the list of things you’ll need before painting your kitchen cupboards.

  • Drill. You will need a drill to screw the new hinges into the cupboards.
  • Paint Primer. Paint primer is a necessity if you want your paint job to last.
  • Sandpaper. You will need sandpaper to smoothen out the surface of the cupboards before painting.
  • Painter's Tape. Use this tape to protect areas you do not want to paint, such as the countertop or backsplash.
  • Screwdriver. A screwdriver is needed to remove the old hinges from the cupboards.
  • Drop Cloths Or Old Sheets. These are useful for protecting the floor from paint drips.
  • Tack Cloth. You will also need a tack cloth for removing dust, lint, and other small particles from your cupboards before painting them.
  • Vacuum. A vacuum helps remove dust and dirt from the cupboards before painting.
  • Paint Tray. You will need a paint tray to hold the paint while painting.

How To Paint Kitchen Cupboards

Preparing The Room

Man labeling cabinet doors

The success of any paint project lies in prep work. When preparing your working area, make sure that it has proper ventilation. Also, always put on safety gear.

Here are some steps you need to take before painting your kitchen cupboards.

  1. Start by emptying your kitchen cabinets and clearing off the counters. Remove everything, including all dishes, glasses, and food items.
  2. You will also need to remove the doors, drawers, and other hardware, such as knobs, pulls, and hinges.
  3. Remember to label each cabinet door and drawer using painter's tape as you remove them. This way, you can easily put them back in the right place once you are done painting. Keep the hardware in a baggie or container so you won't lose any small pieces.
  4. Once everything is out of the way, it is time to give your cupboards a good cleaning. Use a degreaser to remove any grime or grease buildup, and then wipe them down with a damp cloth.
  5. If your cupboards are particularly dirty, you may need to scrub them with a brush or sponge. Be sure to rinse the degreaser off completely and let the cupboards dry before moving on to the next step.
  6. Repair damaged areas of your cupboards before painting them. If there are any cracks, holes, or dents, use wood filler to fill them in. Once the filler is dry, sand it down until it is flush with the rest of the cupboard surface.
  7. Cover the countertops, backsplash, and other areas in your kitchen that you do not want to paint. Using painter's tape on the wall along the cabinet edges helps to protect them from paint splatters.
  8. Use fine-grit sandpaper or a sanding sponge for sanding the cupboards. Lightly sanding your kitchen cabinets will create a smooth surface and help the paint adhere. Sand lightly in the same direction as the wood grain and fold the sandpaper to get into tight spots, such as the detailed areas in the cabinet door or the corners on the cabinet frame.
  9. Wipe off any dust with a damp cloth and vacuum. Then, use a tack cloth to remove smaller particles from the surfaces you will paint. Ensuring that the cupboards are completely clean and dust-free before painting is important.

Prime Kitchen Cabinets

Applying prime on a cabinet door

Primer is a must when painting cabinets. It will help cover any dark stains, prevent bleeding through the new paint, and provide a smooth surface for your paint to adhere to. Remember, use a wood primer specifically designed for cabinets.

  1. Start applying primer on the cabinet frames, working from the inside out. Use a brush to get into the detailed areas.
  2. Use a mini roller for the larger, flat surfaces.
  3. Once you have covered all the surfaces, do not forget to lay off. Laying off is the process of using a dry brush or roller to go lightly over all the surfaces you just painted. It will help remove any lint or dust that might have settled on the paint while drying. It will also prevent any paint buildup, ensuring an even, smooth finish.
  4. Apply primer on the kitchen cupboard doors and drawers. Again, start from the inside and work your way out. Once the backside is dry, flip it over to paint the front. Painting doors can be tricky. You can use a painter's tripod to lift the cabinet doors and drawers from your working surface for easy painting.
  5. Use a brush for the hard-to-reach areas and a roller for the larger, flat surfaces.
  6. For drawers, you may consider painting just the drawer fronts rather than the entire drawer. Paint on the side and bottom of the drawer may cause it to stick to the frame, making it difficult to open and close.
  7. Once you have primer on all the cabinet doors and drawers, lay off again.
  8. Let the primer dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions before painting. It usually takes around 24 hours.

Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Painting kitchen cupboards can be done using a brush, roller, or sprayer. However, as mentioned earlier, sprayers require special equipment and can be too expensive for small or do-it-yourself projects.

Here are instructions on how to paint your kitchen cupboards using a roller and brush:

  1. Start by painting the cabinet frame. Grab your brush to cut in around smaller areas. Use even strokes and finish them back into the wet paint. Then, feather out the edges with brushstrokes to create a smooth transition of color.
  2. Next, use a roller to paint the rest of the frame. Roll on the paint in even strokes. Start from the top and work your way down. Use a light touch, as you do not want to overload the roller and create drips. Use long, even strokes, and try to keep a wet edge. This way, you do not have to go over the same area multiple times.
  3. Once the frame is complete, move on to painting the cupboard doors and drawer fronts. Again, start with a brush around the edges and then use a roller for the larger areas. Be sure to paint both sides of each door.
  4. Now you are done with your first coat. Be sure that the paint is completely dry before proceeding to the next step. Depending on the type of paint you use, this could take four to eight hours.
  5. Once the paint is dry, apply a second coat if you prefer two coats. The second coating will serve as your finish coat.
  6. Allow the paint to fully cure to ensure a durable finish.

Check out this video for instructions on how to paint your kitchen cupboards!

Clean And Refinish Cabinet Hardware

If you are using the old hardware of your cabinets and do not intend to replace them, you may want to consider cleaning and refinishing them.  It will give them a new look that coordinates with your freshly painted cupboards.

  1. Wash the hardware with warm soapy water and a toothbrush to remove dirt and grime.
  2. Scuff the hardware with fine-grade steel wool to create a smooth surface to which the paint can adhere to.
  3. Paint the hardware with a coat of primer and let it dry.
  4. Then paint them with your desired color. You can also polish them with metal polish or spray paint them with a metallic finish.
  5. Allow the paint to dry. Then, apply a clear sealer for protection.

Reassemble Your Kitchen Cabinets

Re-attaching the handle to the cabinet door

Now that your cupboards are painted, you can finish off by putting back all the pieces you removed earlier. This is where the labels come in handy.

  1. Once the second coating dries, reattach the doors, then add the drawer fronts to the cabinet frames.
  2. Put all the screws, hinges, and knobs back into their respective places.
  3. Then add the shelf brackets and any other hardware.
  4. Finally, put the shelves back in place and replace any items you stored away during this project.


Painting kitchen cabinets can be the easiest and most inexpensive way to upgrade your kitchen without having to replace them entirely. You can choose any color you want to make your kitchen pop. By following these simple steps on how to paint your kitchen cupboards, you can guarantee smooth and successful painting projects.

Do you have any tricks for painting kitchen cabinets? Please share them in the comments below! If you found this article helpful, please share it with your friends or family who might be thinking about painting their kitchen cabinets.

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