Skip to main content

How to paint your kitchen cabinets to give your kitchen a fresh look

If you’ve been looking for a way to spruce up your kitchen but aren’t ready to commit to a full remodel, consider painting your cabinets. Cabinets constitute a large amount of your kitchen space, making it one of the most important aspects in terms of design and aesthetics.

As long as you prepare well and paint carefully, you can bring some life back into your kitchen. It’s simple to do and doesn’t require an entire kitchen overhaul, so repainting your kitchen cabinets is the perfect DIY project for the next time you have a free weekend.

Wipe them down

Before you begin painting your cabinets, remove all the doors, drawers, and hardware. This will give you much more maneuverability as you paint. Set your hinges and screws aside in a container where you won’t lose them, and be sure to remove any dishware that you don’t want to ruin. While you may not be painting the insides of your cabinets during this project, it doesn’t hurt to be cautious. Even professionals may accidentally splatter every now and then.

Once removed, wipe down your cabinets with a multipurpose cleansing wipe or a cloth dampened with vinegar. Rub down each surface you plan to paint to remove any dirt, dust, or minor stains that could cause imperfections if painted over.

man painting and sanding kitchen cabinets
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Use sandpaper

Next, sand down the cabinets with medium or fine grit paper. If your cabinets were previously painted, doing so will dull the shine or gloss so it doesn’t show through your new paint. Additionally, sanding your cabinets gives the paint something to “grip,” allowing it to adhere properly to your cabinetry.

Take your time to sand down your cabinet doors, the front face of drawers, and any other area you intend to apply paint. While you’re at it, sand down any imperfections or bumps so you’re left with a smooth surface.

Prep the cabinets for painting

It’s always best to paint your cabinets outside or in a large, ventilated garage to limit fume inhalation. Be sure to lay down a tarp to catch any paint splatters or missed brush strokes. If you must paint inside your home, just be sure the floor is protected by a drop cloth and the cabinets are out of the way.

In the house, lay painters tape around the edges of the ceiling and walls to avoid accidentally spreading paint onto them. Once everything has been taped and all floors and furniture are covered, you can begin painting.

Paint your cabinets

Regardless of the color you choose, we recommend using acrylic latex-based paint with a semi-gloss finish. This will give your cabinets a slight shine that isn’t too overwhelming. Semi-gloss paint is also wonderful for kitchen cabinets because they are more durable than matte and satin finishes.

For a more striking look, feel free to test out a high gloss finish. Be aware that this bright sheen reflects more light than semi-gloss or other finishes, making the smallest imperfections more prominent. To achieve the luxe look without the shine, opt for a satin finish. Be very careful with these, as they are less durable and more prone to scrapes and scratches.

We always recommend coating your cabinets with at least two layers of paint. Though it may look perfectly fine after round one, the second layer ensures full coverage and durability.

woman painting kitchen cabinets with a brush
Image used with permission by copyright holder

You might need to prime

If you decide to paint dark cabinets a brighter shade, you’ll need to add a coat of primer. This prevents those deeper colors from showing through, which can create blotchy areas and an overall unfinished look. If you’re painting over wood, a primer is also necessary to deliver a full-coverage, smooth product. Priming isn’t a necessary step for painting your cabinetry, but it effectively hides any noticeable cosmetic imperfections.

Once painted, replace all of the drawers and doors and reattach your hinges. After this easy, DIY project, you’ll be left with a fresh new look that is both inviting and impressive. Painting kitchen cabinets is a simple and relatively inexpensive way to renovate your space without embarking on a full remodel. Whether you bring in retro elements with deep reds and bright whites or stick to a cozier rustic vibe with dark-stained wood, you can customize your cabinetry to create a stunning kitchen in just a few hours.

Editors' Recommendations

Amelia Wilson
Amelia Wilson (author pen name Amelia J. Wilson) is a content writer in Greenwood, IN. She often enjoys topics on…
4 outstanding paint colors for your small laundry room upgrade
Don't settle with a dark and dreary laundry room. Try these paint colors to brighten and refresh the small space
Laundry room with shelving and cubbies

When styling a small laundry room, you've likely struggled to find a paint color that brightens the space. Even when opting for neutral tones, you find yourself entering a space that is cramped or dreary. The challenge with small laundry rooms is that they often appear dark, bleak, or dingy, making your already small area appear more cramped than it actually is. To prevent this from happening in your home, it's best to choose laundry room colors that help illuminate and expand the room's look.

While light neutrals and bright whites may seem like the obvious choice, we're here to prove that there are several fun color alternatives that will improve your space. Below, we've chosen four amazing paint colors perfect for opening up and brightening a small laundry room.

Read more
25 stellar staircase ideas to freshen up the look of your home
Not ready for an entire remodel? Update your staircase with one of these ideas
Young woman on stairs in a loft caring for potted plants.

If you want to change the interior of your house, you can change out throw pillows and invest in new furniture, but your stairs are a set thing, right? Not quite. You may not be able to move stairs or rip them out entirely, but you can get creative about your stair design.

Changing up your staircase can be one way to upgrade the look of your home and it isn't as difficult as you may think. If you aren’t sure how to accomplish this, we’ve got 25 ideas ranging from subtle to dramatic to help you figure it out. Keep reading for inspiration on how to update your staircase.

Read more
Do you need primer every time you paint? Well … it’s complicated
Here's when you should use primer and when you can skip it
Woman painting

The question of whether to prime before painting seems as old as, well, painting itself. The answer seems to be different depending on who you talk to. Paint manufacturers say "yes" — it is an essential wall painting technique — because they want the best possible surface for the paint to shine. Do-it-yourself (DIY) fans seem less thrilled about the process, mostly because it takes more time and money.

So, do you need primer when you paint? The reality is that not every painting project is the same, and the answer is not a clear-cut one.

Read more