Color Coordination

Should Kitchen Cabinets Be Painted?

Read Time (
March 17, 2023
Kallista Design

If you’re looking for a way to update your kitchen design and color palette, painting the cabinets can help refresh the space. But taking on this renovation project involves more than choosing a paint color at the local hardware store. What may sound like a fun task at first could have you thinking, “Should I paint my kitchen cabinets?”

Not all kitchen cabinets can be painted, so it’s important to examine your cabinets and know what to look for before you decide to paint.  

In this article we will explore how to paint kitchen cabinets, the types of paint you can use, and step-by-step instructions for transforming your kitchen cabinets.  

Can Kitchen Cabinets Be Painted?  

Before you rush to the store to choose a paint color, take a close look at your kitchen cabinets and note their condition. Cabinets that are peeling, sagging, or even broken can’t be revived with a fresh coat of paint and may need to be replaced entirely.  

Wood cabinets are the easiest to paint, whether unfinished or already painted a different color. While laminate or stained finishes can also be painted, you will first need to sand each piece so you have a clean surface.  

Painting Kitchen Cabinets and Maintaining a Luxury Feel

white kitchen with dark emerald green cabinets
Credit: @thealisonvictoria Featured Product: One™ Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet

How hard is it to paint cabinets? When you choose to paint your kitchen cabinets, it’s important to keep in mind that this is a renovation project. Sure, it’s a task that you can do yourself, but it still requires significant planning and investment in the proper tools and materials to make sure that your cabinets maintain the luxury vibe of your kitchen. Whether you have an open kitchen, a galley kitchen, or a different layout entirely, take time to research how to paint kitchen cabinets professionally so your project looks stunning when it’s completed.  

Best Paint to Use for Kitchen Cabinets

kitchen with blue cabinets
Credit: @maison_birmingham Featured Product: One™ Deck-Mount Bridge Kitchen Faucet

Latex and oil-based paints are the most common choices for kitchen cabinets, and both can provide a high-quality finish. If you go with latex, be sure to choose a paint with 100% acrylic formulation, which will provide longer durability than vinyl latex paints.  

If you have children or pets, you may want to choose an oil-based paint, which cures faster than latex paints. Cabinets painted with a latex paint may take as much as three weeks to cure fully, which means that your cabinets will still be vulnerable to damage during that time from a rambunctious pet or child.  

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How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

black and white kitchen with white cabinets
Featured Product: One™ Deck-Mount Bridge Kitchen Faucet

Step 1: Prep the Space

Before you even break open a paint can, take time to clean out the kitchen and the cabinets. Clear off the counters, move any furniture out of the way of potential paint splashes, and empty out the cabinets completely. Cover the countertops, backsplash, flooring, and fixed appliances with tarps or paper to protect these surfaces and set up a workspace or table for painting cabinet doors, shelving, and drawers.  

Step 2: Remove Doors, Drawers, & Shelving

As you remove the doors from the cabinets, label each one so you know where it goes when it’s time to reassemble. You can use a drill or screwdriver to remove cabinet hardware and make sure to keep all these small items in a safe place so that none are lost. The best way to do this is to put each door’s hardware in a plastic bag labeled with the cabinet number.  

Step 3: Clean the Cabinets

You don’t want to paint over dust or debris, so take time to wipe out the insides of the cabinets, as well as the shelves and doors. A damp rag should be sufficient. If you use cleaning products, be sure to carefully follow the instructions on the label.  

Step 4: Prep the Cabinets and Flat Surfaces

While you can manually sand the cabinets, doors, and shelves with sandpaper, liquid sandpaper can make the job easier and cleaner. This product removes the gloss and finish on surfaces, and all you have to do is wipe the liquid sandpaper on all the cabinet doors and wait until the surface dries.  

Before you use any chemicals, such as deglosser or liquid sandpaper, make sure to open windows for ventilation and wear safety gear, like goggles and a protective mask.  

Step 5: Add Primer

Before painting, coat the cabinets, doors, and shelving with primer. If you use brushes or rollers, clean them off while you wait for the primer to dry.  

Step 6: Paint the Cabinets

Once the primer has dried, it’s time to begin painting. Generally, you want to start with a thin layer, because a single thick layer of paint can more easily chip and show damage. As you paint, start at the inside edges of the cabinet frames and move toward the sides. Add two to three layers of paint and use a foam roller to smooth out the coats once you’re finishing.

To apply the paint, use high-quality brushes, such as a larger 4-inch square brush for large, flat spaces, and a smaller, 2½- inch brush for corners and molding.  

Spray paint is another option for kitchen cabinets, but it takes skill to create a professional-looking finish, and you will likely have to rent equipment to spray paint properly.

Step 7: Reassemble the Cabinets

After the paint has fully dried, you can reassemble your refreshed cabinets. If you organized and labeled all your pieces, you should have no trouble putting everything back in its proper place and admiring your handiwork. This is also a great time to replace your hardware if your old pieces don’t match your new color palette.  

What’s Next for Your Kitchen?

While painting the cabinets can completely transform the space, you may need to make additional updates for a cohesive look. New wall art, décor pieces, and light fixtures can help finish out the transformation. Depending on the state of your countertops, faucets, and appliances, you may want to consider making changes in those areas as well. For inspiration, explore some of the latest kitchen trends, such as adding kitchen shiplap to the walls.  

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