How to Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets on Your Own 

 December 3, 2021

By  Lora Keller

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If you are looking for an inexpensive but effective way to make your kitchen look new again, painting your kitchen cabinets is a great option. If you are someone who likes to take on DIY projects, then this is another fun project that can completely transform your kitchen. 

However, if you are not someone who typically takes on home improvement projects, then this idea might be a little scary or even overwhelming. 

First, if you are worried that you might not be able to tackle a task like this on your own, then don’t. Looking for a professional to help you with this would be the best option. 

But if you are ready to take on a DIY project like this, then we can certainly help walk you through how to paint your kitchen cabinets on your own, with no professional help. If you are ready and willing it actually is not as difficult as you might think.

Before Painting Your Kitchen Cabinets…

Before starting, you need to understand that depending on your kitchen, it might take a few days to a week to complete a project like this. If you have the time to dedicate a few days to this project then it shouldn’t take you more than 2 or maybe 3 days.

If you have experience with painting furniture or other projects you’ve done around the house you can probably finish in just a day or 2 if you are dedicated to getting it done. 

Now, if you are doing this in-between work or running errands with the kids and are going to have other obligations during this project, it might take you up to a week to get the entire kitchen done by yourself. 

It all just depends on your schedule, how much time you can dedicate to this every day if you have help, and how quickly you are able to work. It is just important for you to understand that once the project is started, your kitchen will be “in progress” until you finish. So time the project to fit your schedule accordingly. 

An image of painted kitchen cabinets

How To Prep for Painting

Before you can even begin to prep, you will need to gather your supplies. There are many different ways to complete this project. Just remember you can substitute anything that you would like. 

We know that there are going to be different strategies and techniques that you might prefer to use. We are just here to guide you in the right direction. This is a list of what you can use to complete the project. 

  1. You will need at least one brush and a paint roller with additional rollers.
  2. Paint trays. You can get either a reusable one or disposables. 
  3. If you are familiar with a paint sprayer then you can use one of those instead.
  4. You can use painter’s tape to help around corners and walls.
  5. Drop cloths are recommended, however, tarps will also get the job done if you already have some. 
  6. Painters pyramids can help you to paint the cabinet doors more quickly.
  7. Screw drivers to take the cabinet doors and handles.
  8. Sandpaper 120 grit and 220 grit.

Now, you need to prep your kitchen to paint the cabinets, so let’s get started. This is where all the fun starts. Remember not to skip steps. It is important to take the time to complete this project the right way. You don’t want to have to go back and redo all of your hard work because you skipped a step. 

  1. Clean your cabinets, inside and out. Using a bit of a vinegar-water mixture, spray down a clean cloth and wipe all the cabinets down. Make sure there is no food residue or crumbs left behind. You can use other multipurpose cleaners, however, a 50-50 mix of white vinegar and water is a simple, natural, and effective cleaner for this job. 
  2. Remove your cabinet doors and the hardware. (IMPORTANT: Mark your doors and the corresponding cabinets so that you can match them all back to the same spots. You don’t want to forget where the cabinet doors go.)
  3. Sanding time. If your cabinets are already painted, or if they have a clear coat finish you should sand them to make sure the paint will adhere to the wood properly. You can use either a hand sander or an electric sander, but remember, you don’t want to overdo it. Simply take your 120 grit sandpaper and sand with the grain lightly. You just want to sand it enough to take off the top layer of paint/sealant. Then you can use your 220 grit sandpaper to smooth the surface away. This will help prepare the cabinets for paint. (If you want to try and skip the sanding, there are some different types of paints that you can try. Take a look at the “Types of Paint You Can Use” section below to learn more)
  4. Wipe down everything and sweep/vacuum. You need to get rid of the dust and debris left behind from sanding everything down. 
  5. Set up your painting area. Lay your drop cloths/tarps out where you will be painting. 
  6. Use painter’s tape where needed. (Remember to either take the painter’s tape off after the second coat of paint. Use a putty knife to lightly score the edge so that the tape comes off with a crisp line.)
  7. Do you plan to paint the inside of the cabinets? If not you need to make sure the insides are edged off with painter’s tape. If you do plan to paint the inside of the cabinets then it is important to clean the insides very well before you start. You might want to look into a paint that is made to adhere to surfaces without sanding because the inside of your cabinets is most likely not made from solid wood. Even if your cabinets themselves are made of solid wood it is likely the insides are made of plywood, particleboard, or some other wood-type material like that. 

Types of Paint You Can Use

There are so many different types of paint that you can use when it comes to painting your cabinets. It all comes down to what you want your cabinets to look like and how much time and effort you want to put into them. 

No Sanding Paint:

One great option for those who are new to home improvement projects is to go with a paint that requires no sanding prior to painting. There are several different types and brands that you can use. 

You can find satin enamel paint from Art Deco, and it is available online or in craft stores. This is a great option because it goes on smoothly without any sanding prep required. It also needs no primer or topcoat and it is a very simple product to use. 

There is also Beyond Paint All-In-One and Valspar Cabinet and Furniture Oil-Enriched Enamel. These are also great options for anyone who is looking to paint their kitchen cabinets while skipping the sanding and priming. 

However, these types of paint do pose other challenges and don’t usually come in a large variety of colors. 

Oil Paint:

Oil paint is more of a commitment than other types of paint. Oil-based paints take longer to dry, however, they are stronger and more durable once they have dried and if they are applied correctly. 

Oil paint does take more work. You will need to sand down the cabinets first before you can apply oil paint or else the paint will not adhere properly to the wood. When using oil paint, you will also typically need to wait a day in between coats of paint. 

And they release volatile organic compounds into the air when being used so you will need to keep windows opened and air flowing through the space until each coat is completely dried. 

But remember, if you are completing this project with the intention of selling your home you need to consider what will be best as far as your ROI. 

It is a lot of work which is why it is not as commonly used among DIYers. So you can choose to have a professional team come in and complete the project for you. Or, if you are determined to complete it yourself going with latex paint is going to be easier. 

Latex Paint:

It used to be that oil-based paint was the only way to go when painting cabinets and other high-use wooden furniture. Nowadays this is not the case. Oil-based paints have always had a reputation for being durable and better for surfaces that are used and cleaned a lot. 

Latex paint is a type of paint that is water-based and until recent years has been considered “lower-end” and “less durable” when compared to its oil-based counterparts. But that really isn’t the case anymore. 

Latex paint has been somewhat reimagined by paint distributors and in many cases is very durable and a great option to use. Because it is so easy to use and so quick to dry between coats it has exploded in popularity.

In many cases, latex is now preferred to oil. 

image of cabinets that are painted

How To Finish It All Off

Now that you know how to paint your kitchen cabinets yourself there is only one thing left to do. Once you have completed painting your cabinets and removing any painter’s tape, all you have left to do is reinstall the cabinet doors and clean up any mess. This is by far the easiest part of the project.

With every cabinet door, you reattach you will notice your new kitchen slowly coming to life. Just remember that once you are all done and the drop cloths, paint buckets, and brushes are all picked up, step back and admire your hard work. You deserve it.

If you aren’t sure what painting your kitchen can do to help increase the value of your home give us a call at (941) 743-3700. We can help you with any type of appraisal including after repair value appraisals if you want to know what kind of return on your investment that your home can really provide. 

Lora Keller


Lora Keller 

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