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How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

If your kitchen’s layout is great and you simply want a change, painting your cabinets could be an easy and affordable way to update its look. Select a paint color first before beginning!

If you opt for an oil-based formula, be sure to work in an open space with ample ventilation. Since oil is an aggressive solvent that emits strong fumes both while you work and over time, ventilation will be key in order to keep air quality at a safe level.


If you plan on painting cabinets, it is advisable to create a level surface. Two sawhorses and a long piece of wood work well to provide this. Doing this will enable you to reach corners and edges more easily as well as protect surfaces like laminate.

Trisodium phosphate (TSP) should also be used with a sponge to prep surfaces that you plan to paint in order to ensure that the new paint adheres well and doesn’t peel off quickly. This step will also prevent peeling.

Next, it’s essential that you select either brush or spray painting as your method of choice for painting your cabinets. Both approaches can produce great results; it is however, essential that the right paint be selected for your project; whether that be with no VOC options available like Benjamin Moore Advance(r) or Sherwin Williams Emerald(r).

If you are using water-based paint, it is a wise move to add a stain-blocking primer as this will seal knots or other imperfections in the wood that could bleed through and show through in your finish coat.


Kitchen cabinets take an incredible beating from grease, steam and food splatter. To protect them and create a great-looking finish, the best way to protect and revitalize them is with durable kitchen cabinet paint of high quality.

Experts advise removing doors, hardware and drawers from cabinets in order to make cleaning and prepping them for painting easier. Mark each piece with a number to identify when taking out later; store screws and hinges securely in plastic bags afterwards.

Assemble your cabinet pieces on sawhorses or 2 long pieces of wood to elevate them off of the ground, making it easier to reach all edges. Scrub all dirt and grease off before beginning your sanding job; depending on their type, some wood may require filling any pores with spackling before painting can take place; vacuum after each round of sanding so as to eliminate dust build-up.


Once your cabinets have been sanded and cleaned, apply a coat of high-quality bonding primer. This step is essential in helping ensure the paint adheres to the cabinet surface properly; to achieve maximum success choose a primer compatible with the type of paint being used.

If you’re painting wood cabinets, for maximum protection use a stain-blocking oil-based primer to block water, smoke, or any other stains from seeping through general-use primer. This will prevent water, smoke or other stains from seeping into it and staining its surfaces.

Plastic laminate and vinyl surfaces benefit from using an acrylic urethane primer that adheres quickly and doesn’t yellow quickly, saving both time and money in the long run. For best results, select an acrylic urethane product with low viscosity to maximize adhesion to any surface – it won’t yellow as quickly while drying quickly to save both your time and money in the process.

Before applying primer by hand or sprayer, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Allow at least four hours of drying time after which you can begin painting your cabinet doors and drawer fronts.


If you prefer glossy cabinets, choose a glossier paint. Otherwise, consider eggshell or satin finishes.

Before beginning to paint, it’s essential that you utilize an effective degreaser. It will remove grease, oils and other substances which could potentially cause your new coat of paint to yellow or fade prematurely.

For optimal results, choose a cabinet paint specifically formulated for woodwork and cabinetry, tinted to match your chosen hue if possible.

If you prefer using a brush, work in thin coats to avoid drips and runs. A foam roller may speed the process. On detailed areas such as doors or drawers with moldings or moldings that need special care when painting them, follow the grain direction with final brush strokes in order to keep drips to a minimum. Allow to dry completely before reassembling doors or drawers (if previously removed mark where hinges and handles go to facilitate easy assembly later on).

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