Painting Kitchen Cabinets: What to Know Before You Do It Yourself!

kitchen-cabinet-paint Painting cabinets can transform a kitchen, however the job requires the skills of a professional painter or an experienced DIYer for best results. Dan Schaeffer, owner of ProTect Painters of Central Austin and a leading painter in Austin, TX provided some insight on the difference between a professional job and a typical do-it-yourself approach to painting your cabinets.

When you are painting kitchen cabinets, one of the major differences between professional painters and DIYers is spraying vs. brushing.

"When you roll or brush cabinets you will never achieve as smooth and clean of a look as spraying," says Dan. "That clean look also starts with professional prep work of masking, cleaning, caulking, sanding, and priming. You can’t just pull the cabinet off and paint, if you want a clean, professional final product." Dan also added that "many homeowners don’t realize how much staging area is required to paint cabinets. You need adequate space to spray, plus room and separation between each finished piece for adequate drying."

Learn more about the cabinet painting process before deciding whether or not to take this task on yourself.

Step 1: Purchase tools and supplies

You also will need a large open area for painting and drying.

Step 2: Label and remove each cabinet door and drawer front

Apply a piece of painter’s tape to the inside of each door and cabinet. Do the same for the adjacent frame. Number each removable piece and adjacent frame with the same number. This will help you keep track of which piece goes where when it comes time to put the cabinets back together. Remove all hardware and place in plastic bags, each one labeled with the corresponding number of the piece and frame; skip this step if installing new hardware.

Step 3: Cover all surfaces not to be painted

Cut painter's tarp or rosin paper to fit countertops and apply with painter's tape. Cover the floor, as well.

Step 4: Clean all surfaces to be painted

Mix a solution of no-rinse TSP or other degreaser. Working in small sections, use a sponge dipped in the solution and wrung out to clean all surfaces to be painted. Follow with a sponge dipped in water and wrung out to rinse. Let dry.

Step 5: Fill any holes or dings

Apply wood putty to any dings or dents in the wood as well as to any if you plan to use new hardware that will require holes in different places.

Step 6: Sand all surfaces to be painted

Using 100-grit sandpaper, smooth any raised surfaces from the wood putty and rough up all other surfaces. Wipe away all wood dust with the tack cloths and screw a cup hook into the edge of each removable piece to be painted; this will allow you to hang the pieces to dry.

Step 7: Prime all surfaces to be painted

Place as many pieces as will fit on the sawhorse. Apply primer to the inside, let dry, then flip to apply to the outside. Hang them to finish curing, which can take several hours depending on the weather. Repeat until all pieces are primed, priming the cabinet boxes in the meantime.

Step 8: Sand all surfaces to be painted again

This allows you to remove any brushstrokes left behind during the priming process. Wipe away all wood dust with the tack cloths.

Step 9: Paint all surfaces

Place as many pieces as will fit on the sawhorse. Apply paint to the inside, let dry, then flip to apply to the outside. Hang them to finish curing. Repeat until all pieces are painted, painting the cabinet boxes in the meantime. Once everything has dried completely, apply a second coat.

Step 10: Put your kitchen cabinets back together

Once completely dry, reinstall all pieces with existing or new hardware, using the drill to create new holes.

As you can see, this is an involved home improvement task that takes an attention to detail for best results. Take it on if you have the time and want to do the work. Otherwise, a professional painter can complete the job-in less time as a sprayer will likely replace brushes, and with professional results. He or she also can help with the paint color selection process, as you will want to create a palette that complements wall and appliance color alike.

Specializing in exterior and interior painting, on residential and commercial projects, ProTect Painters provides local businesses and homeowners across the country with highly-skilled, trustworthy, and fully insured and licensed painting professionals who provide superior craftsmanship. Utilizing a myriad of paint options and finishes, combined with flawless customer service, ProTect Painters guarantees a stress-free home improvement experience for its customers.

Dan Schaeffer is owner of ProTect Painters of Central Austin providing Painting Services to Austin, Texas. 9600 Escarpment Boulevard Suite 745-70, Austin TX 78749 We're 100% insured and we're local. Right in your own neighborhood!

  • Before and After Kitchen Cabinets painted Black

    Before and After Kitchen Cabinets painted Black


  • Putty knife
  • Paint application supplies such as brushes or sprayer
  • Painter’s tape
  • Painter’s tarp and/or rosin paper
  • Sponges
  • Buckets
  • No-rinse TSP or other degreaser
  • Wood putty
  • Sandpaper (100-grit and 220-grit)
  • Tack cloths
  • Cup hooks
  • Sawhorse
  • Sandable primer
  • Cabinetry paint
  • Drill (if needed)


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