Architectural Home Designs & Decorating Ideas

How to Professionally Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Gabriela Connell
4 minute read

Is your kitchen stuck in the past? Do the outdated oak cabinets make your space feel dark and dreary? With a fresh coat of paint, you can give those tired cabinets a whole new look for a fraction of the cost of new ones.

Painting cabinets is a budget-friendly way to update your kitchen’s style. Done right, your painted cabinets will look like they were professionally finished. Achieving truly pro-level results does require careful prep work, primer, and attention to detail. But with some elbow grease and these step-by-step instructions, you can paint your cabinets like a pro.

Gather the Right Painting Supplies

Painting kitchen cabinets is largely about proper prep and products. Having the right painting supplies on hand will make the process much smoother.

Here’s what you’ll need:

how to professionally paint kitchen cabinets

Choosing the right paint is key for a long-lasting finish. Cabinet enamel paint comes in oil or latex options. Oil-based enamel paint provides a smooth, hard finish that resists nicks and wear. But it requires mineral spirits for clean-up. Latex enamel is water-based, making it easier to work with and clean up. It still delivers a durable finish.

Prep Cabinets Before Painting

Prepping your cabinets thoroughly before painting is the most crucial step for getting flawless results. Taking time to prep ensures paint adheres to the cabinet surfaces properly.

Remove Doors, Drawers and Hardware

Detaching the cabinet doors, drawers, and hardware allows you to paint the frames and doors easily. Number each door and drawer to keep them organized. Use a screwdriver to remove the hinges and hardware. Set screws aside in a small container so they don’t get lost.

Clean and Sand Cabinets

Give cabinet surfaces a thorough cleaning using a degreasing cleaner like TSP. This removes any built-up grime and grease so paint can properly adhere. Lightly sanding also helps rough up the finish so the new paint sticks better. Wipe sanded surfaces clean of dust with a tack cloth.

Tape Off Countertops, Floors and More

Carefully tape off countertops, floors, and other areas you don’t want to get painted. Drop cloths are also useful for covering appliances and furniture from paint drips and splatters.

Prime Cabinets for a Flawless Finish

Priming is an essential step that too many DIYers try to skip. But applying primer creates a uniform, sealed surface that allows the paint to go on smoothly. Primed cabinets highlight less of the wood grain and flaws.

Choosing Cabinet Primer

With oil and latex options, it’s best to use a primer compatible with the paint you’ll use. For latex paint, choose a high-bonding latex primer. Or you can opt for an all-in-one primer and paint product made specifically for cabinets.

Priming Technique

Using a combination of brush and mini roller, apply primer in thin, even coats. Work top to bottom on the cabinets, priming the frames and doors. Let primer dry fully before a light sanding. Then wipe clean and apply the finish paint.

Paint Cabinets Like a Pro

With prep work complete, now the fun part begins – seeing the cabinets transform with a fresh coat of paint. Use these pro tips for painting kitchen cabinets flawlessly.

Paint Options for Cabinets

When choosing cabinet paint color, lighter tones visually open up smaller kitchens. Neutrals like cream and gray are versatile. For drama, consider navy or charcoal. Matte finishes hide imperfections well while satin/semi-gloss are durable and stylish.

Proper Painting Technique

Painting cabinets requires patience and attention to detail. Use high-quality mini foam rollers and angled brushes to paint the cabinet frames and doors. Apply in thin, even coats using light brush and roller strokes.

Paint the cabinet interiors first, then the outside frames and doors. Allow proper dry time between coats. Lightly sand then wipe clean before adding the next coat. 2-3 coats provides ideal coverage.

Dry Time

Oil-based cabinet paint needs up to 24 hours drying time between coats. Latex options can be recoated after 4-6 hours. Dust-free conditions help accelerate cure time.

Once the paint has fully cured, it’s time for the fun part – seeing the finished kitchen cabinets! Reinstall the doors, drawers, and hardware using your labels for guidance. Touch up paint spots as needed.

Then stand back and admire your like-new, professionally painted cabinets. You’ve saved thousands over the cost of new cabinets. And added style, brightness, and value to your kitchen.

Transforming outdated cabinets with a fresh coat of paint is an affordable way to update your kitchen’s look. Follow these pro tips for prepping, priming, painting and you can achieve results worthy of a luxury remodel – all with a DIY budget!