How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets: A Step-by-Step Guide And More

Tired of staring at your worn-out kitchen cabinets? Wondering how to give your kitchen a fresh, new look without breaking the bank?

Look no further!

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through a step-by-step guide on how to paint kitchen cabinets.

By the end of this guide, you’ll be equipped with the skills and knowledge to transform your kitchen cabinets, giving your space an amazing makeover!

Skill: Intermediate

Painting kitchen cabinets might seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools, materials, and a bit of patience, anyone can do it! 

Cost: $200-$600

On average, you can expect to spend between $200 and $600 for a full kitchen cabinet paint job. This is significantly cheaper than replacing your cabinets entirely!

Time: A Few Days To A Week

Generally, you can expect to spend anywhere from a weekend to a full week on this project.


  • Screwdriver/cordless drill with screw heads
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint sprayer
  • Mini paint roller
  • Foam sanding block with fine-grit sanding paper
  • Permanent marker
  • Steel wool
  • Rubber gloves
  • Blue painter’s tape


How Much Does it Cost to Paint Kitchen Cabinets?

Newly painted kitchen cabinets

As mentioned earlier, the cost of painting kitchen cabinets can range from $200 to $600, depending on various factors. This includes the cost of tools, materials, and paint.

It’s important to remember that investing in a high-quality paint will result in a more durable finish, which means less maintenance and repainting in the future.

Here’s a breakdown of the average costs associated with painting kitchen cabinets:

  • High-quality cabinet paint: $35-$100 per gallon
  • Primer: $15-$20 per gallon
  • Paint brushes: $5-$10
  • Paint roller: $5-$10
  • Tape: $5
  • Sandpaper: $5
  • Lacquer or sealant: $15-$25 per can

If you decide to hire a professional to paint your kitchen cabinets, the cost will be higher. Of course, the quality of the job should be higher too.

The cost to paint your kitchen cabinets, whether professional or DIY, will be significantly cheaper than replacing them.

Replacing your kitchen cabinets can easily go over $5,000 for a 10-by-12 foot kitchen.

How Long Does It Take To Paint Kitchen Cabinets?

On average, it takes anywhere from a weekend to a full week to complete a kitchen cabinet paint job.

This includes time for prep work, painting, and drying.

Here’s a general timeline for how long it will take to paint kitchen cabinets:

  • Prepping the surface: 1-2 hours
  • Applying primer: 1-2 hours
  • Painting the first coat of paint: 2-4 hours
  • Painting the second coat of paint: 2-4 hours
  • Drying and curing time: 24 hours

Be sure to account for adequate drying time between coats of primer and paint to ensure a smooth finish.

How Difficult Is It To Paint Kitchen Cabinets?

Painting kitchen cabinets is a manageable project for most DIY enthusiasts.

However, it does require patience and attention to detail.

Following the steps outlined in this guide will help you achieve a professional-looking result.

Steps For Painting Cabinets

1. Prep the space

A kitchen protected with plastic traps and painters tape

Before you begin painting, it’s important to prep the kitchen as well as a separate work area for your cabinet painting project.

This means clearing all the cabinets and countertops, removing all the hardware, and vacuuming or dusting the surfaces.

We recommend using a garage or similar workspace that you don’t mind getting messy for painting the cabinet doors and drawers.

In the kitchen, remove all items from the cabinets, cover countertops and appliances with drop cloths, and mask off any areas you don’t want to be painted with painter’s tape.

2. Create a paint station

Cabinet doors drying on a rack

Set up a designated area for painting cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and shelves. This can be a garage, basement, or a well-ventilated outdoor space.

Ensure that the area is clean and dust-free to avoid any debris getting into the wet paint.

Choose a level surface that will be able to support the weight of the cabinets.

Cover the surface of the table with a drop cloth or old newspaper to protect it from paint splatters.

Set up a fan nearby to help circulate air and keep the area well-ventilated. Opening a window will really help with this.

You can also build a drying rack for the painted kitchen cabinets.

One way is to set two 2x4s between two small ladders to create a flat surface.

Then, screw eye hooks into both planks of wood so you can hang your painted cabinet doors and drawers on them.

Place all of the painting supplies within reach so you don’t have to keep going back and forth.

*If you choose to work with Tribble Painting, we will take your kitchen cabinets back to our shop, which is specifically designed for this purpose.

3. Remove the doors, shelves, and hardware

Taking off cabinet doors

Using a screwdriver or drill, remove the cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and any hardware such as handles or knobs.

To remove the doors, you will first remove the screws that hold them in place.

Then, use a pry bar to gently pry the door off of the hinges.

Be careful not to damage the door or the hinge as you do this.

Be sure to label each piece with a permanent marker so you can easily reassemble everything later. You can use tape and a Sharpie or pen to label them with corresponding numbers or letters.

4. Clean all the surfaces

Use a degreaser spray (such as Krud Kutter) and a rag to thoroughly clean all surfaces of the cabinets, doors, and drawer fronts.

This will help remove any grease or grime that may prevent the paint from adhering properly.

If there is oil, dirt, or anything else between the cabinets and the new paint, the paint won’t stick as well.

This means you will have to repaint them again sooner rather than later.

5. Strip the paint off the cabinet boxes

If your cabinet frames have existing paint or a clear coat, use a paint stripper to remove the old finish.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and be sure to work in a well-ventilated area.

You may need to apply it multiple times to get all of the paint off.

Be sure to wear gloves and protective clothing while you are working with the stripper, as it can be harmful if it comes into contact with your skin.

Once you have stripped off all of the old paint, you can move on to priming the cabinets and drawers.

*At Tribble Painting, 95% of the kitchen cabinet projects we get are cabinets that are stained; therefore, this step is unnecessary. We will assess the condition of the paint, but typically we will recommend new cabinets due to this process being time-consuming and cost-prohibitive. 

6. Prime the cabinet boxes

Apply a coat of primer to the cabinet frames using a brush or mini paint roller.

This will help the paint adhere better and provide a smoother, more durable finish.

7. Sand, caulk, fill, and seal the cabinets

After the primer has dried, use a foam sanding block with fine-grit sandpaper to lightly sand the surfaces, then wipe them down with a tack cloth to remove any dust.

Fill any dents or imperfections with wood filler, and caulk any gaps or seams.

Allow the filler and caulk to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Finally, use a brush or roller to apply a thin layer of sealer to the cabinets. This will help to protect the paint job and keep the cabinets looking like new.

8. Paint the cabinet boxes

Painting kitchen cabinet boxes and frames

Once the surfaces are prepped, apply your chosen paint to the cabinet frames using a brush or mini paint roller.

Put painter’s tape between the cabinet boxes and any surface they touch, such as walls and backsplashes. This helps make sure you paint the whole box and don’t get paint anywhere you don’t want it to go.

Depending on the type of paint you’re using (oil or latex), it may take multiple coats to achieve full coverage and a smooth finish.

Be sure to paint in the direction of the wood grain to avoid any lap marks.

Be sure to allow adequate drying time between coats, as specified by the paint manufacturer.

Allow the paint to dry for at least 24 hours before moving on to the next step.

9. Prep, prime, and paint the doors, drawers, and shelves

Letting painted cabinet doors cure in a rack

Following the same process as with the cabinet boxes, clean, strip (if necessary), and sand the cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and shelves.

Apply a coat of primer, allowing it to dry before lightly sanding and wiping down with a tack cloth.

Then, apply your chosen paint using a brush, roller, or paint sprayer, ensuring even coverage and allowing for drying time between coats.

Allow the primer and paint to dry completely before reattaching the shelves to the cabinets.

10. Put back all the pieces

Reinstalling kitchen cabinet doors after painting

Once all the paint is dry and you’re satisfied with the finish, reattach the hardware and reinstall the doors, drawer fronts, and shelves.

Be careful not to scratch or damage your newly painted cabinets during this process.

Congratulations – you have now successfully painted your kitchen cabinets!

Types Of Cabinets

Wood-laminate, metal, and wood cabinets are easier to paint than other cabinet materials.

Some materials need specific paints and processes to get the paint to stick to them. Plastic-laminate cabinets are a good example of this.

Cabinets with flat front doors and drawer faces are easy to paint, unlike ones that have more detailed work like raised edges or fancy architectural features.

If your cabinet doors and drawers are too damaged to repair, it’s best to buy unfinished cabinets and paint them.

Brushes, Rollers, And Sprayers

Painting kitchen cabinets can involve paint brushes, rollers, or even a sprayer.

Brushes and rollers are easier to start using, but you need to use them carefully so you don’t leave streaks or other marks.

Sprayers are a little more difficult, but once you get used to them, you can paint more quickly and better.

Dedicated Painting Workspace

Most professional painters have a space they dedicate to painting cabinets.

They have an area that can get paint everywhere, large worktables, and other tools and materials.

If you don’t have anything like this, you can put boards on top of buckets and drop cloths around the area.

It’s best not to use sprayers outside because the wind can send paint everywhere.

Do I Need To Paint My Kitchen Cabinets?

If your cabinets are looking worn, and outdated, or you’re simply ready for a change, painting your kitchen cabinets is a cost-effective and transformative solution.

A fresh coat of paint can breathe new life into your space and give it a whole new look.

On the other hand, if your cabinets are peeling, delaminating, sagging, breaking, or have large and visible damages, you will be better off replacing them.

Repairing these damages and then painting them will cost a lot. Painting over the damages will only give them a new color, and the damage will cause the paint to peel or crack quickly.

What Type of Paint Do I Need for the Cabinets?

Paint in bucket

When it comes to choosing the right paint for your cabinets, there are two main types to consider: oil-based paint and latex paint.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Latex paints are typically easier to work with and dry faster, while oil paints tend to provide a more durable and smooth finish.

Which Is Better For Kitchen Cabinets: Oil Or Latex?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as both types of paint have their merits.

Oil-based paint is known for its durability and resistance to wear and tear, making it a popular choice for high-traffic areas like kitchens.

 It offers a durable finish and can be used on both wood and laminate cabinet surfaces. However, it can be slow-drying and smelly, so it’s not ideal for everyone.

On the other hand, latex paint is easier to clean up and has lower levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which makes it more environmentally friendly.

It’s easier to work with and clean up than oil-based paint, but it doesn’t offer quite the same level of durability.

The Best Paint Finish for Kitchen Cabinets

White painted kitchen cabinets

When selecting a paint finish for your kitchen cabinets, it’s important to choose one that will be both durable and easy to clean.

Semi-gloss, satin, and eggshell finishes are popular choices for kitchen cabinets, as they provide a smooth, easy-to-clean surface while still offering some level of durability.

High-gloss finishes are also an option for a more modern look, but they can show imperfections more easily and may be more challenging to maintain.

When choosing a paint finish, be sure to pick one that is specifically designed for use on cabinets.

Should I Use A Paint Sprayer Or A Brush And Roller?

Paint set: roller, brush, spatula and liquid sprayer on the concrete floor, close-up.

Both paint sprayers and brushes/rollers have their advantages when it comes to painting cabinets.

Paint sprayers offer a smooth, professional finish and can be more efficient, especially for larger projects.

However, they can also be messy and require more prep work to protect surrounding surfaces.

Brushes and rollers, on the other hand, are more accessible and easier to control but may require more coats to achieve a smooth finish.

If you’re not sure which option is best for you, try spraying a small section of your cabinets and seeing how you like the results.

Spraying can be easier than brushing if you get the hang of it. With spraying, you can always go back and brush or roll over any areas that you’re not happy with.

Ultimately, the choice will depend on your personal preferences and the specific needs of your project.

Can You Just Paint Over the Cabinets, Or Should You Strip Them?

If your cabinets have a layer of paint or a clear coat already applied, it’s important to strip and sand them before applying a new coat of paint.

This will help ensure proper adhesion and prevent potential issues like peeling or chipping.

If your cabinets are unfinished or have a stain without a clear coat, you can skip the stripping process and simply clean and sand them before painting.

Regular Or Faux Finish?

While a regular paint finish will give your kitchen cabinets a clean, refreshed look, a faux finish can add depth and character.

Faux finishes can mimic the appearance of wood grain, marble, or other textures and can be achieved using a variety of techniques such as glazing, sponging, or rag-rolling.

If you’re considering a faux finish, it’s important to practice your technique beforehand and be prepared to invest additional time and effort into the project.

Contact Tribble Painting For Any Of Your Cabinet Painting Needs

Professionally painted kitchen cabinets completed by the Tribble Painting Company.

By following this guide, you’ve learned how to paint kitchen cabinets like a pro, transforming your Ann Arbor kitchen into a beautiful, updated space.

If you’re not quite ready to tackle the project yourself or you’d prefer the expertise of professionals, Tribble Painting Company is here to help.

We provide an expert kitchen cabinet painting service in Ann Arbor that will give a high-quality, durable finish to your kitchen cabinets, ensuring a stunning result that will last for years to come.

Fill out our contact form today, or give us a call to get started!

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