How To Paint A Kitchen Cabinet


Is your kitchen in need of some TLC? Do you want to avoid the hassle of messy remodelling? The best solution is to paint the kitchen cabinets with your own two hands. It saves you the expense of getting someone in to do the job and painting is known to be a relaxing activity.

If you’ve no idea where to get started, help is here.

How to paint kitchen cabinets? Here's our step-by-step guide.

The equipment

The first thing you need to sort out is your painting kit. You will need:

  • A cordless drill or screwdriver
  • Rubber gloves and protective eyewear
  • Primer
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paint
  • Paint tray and stir sticks
  • Wood filler
  • Sponge
  • Cloth


It's important that you prepare the cabinets for paint. Select a primer that's recommended for the type of kitchen cabinet surface you have (wood, laminate, etc.). Also, make sure to get it tinted to the colour of the top coat.

It's very important that you prime the surface before applying the paint. If the surface is dark or stained, the original finish can bleed through the top coat.

The paint

Make sure that you purchase the right kitchen cabinet paint. You'll need to choose between: acrylic enamel paint and alkyd paints for cabinets.

Acrylic paints are water-based, they're low-fume and clean up easily with water. Alkyd are oil-based and require good ventilation as the paint contains solvents that can irritate your lungs and make you feel sick.

Whichever paint type you choose, make sure it's the best quality one available within your price range. This is very important if you want a lasting kitchen cabinet finish.

The preparation

Remove doors, drawers and shelves. Use a cordless drill or screwdriver to remove hinges and hardware. Carefully label each piece with its position for easy reassembly.

*You do not want to paint over hardware, such as hinges and handles, as it will affect the way the cabinet functions.

Prepare the surface

Before painting kitchen cabinets, it's important to clean the faces of the cabinet boxes and drawers and both sides of doors and shelves with a product that removes dirt and grease.

''Preparation is key. Be sure that all surfaces are sanded smooth prior to priming and painting. It's important that the lighting is sufficient during this phase. Blemishes can be hard to spot until they are primed or painted over, at which point you would have to start the patching, priming and painting process over,'' advises builder, Adam Brown.


Before jumping straight in and painting the entire cabinet, do a test run by applying primer and paint to the back of a cabinet door. This allows you to see what the colour is like and helps you decide whether you like your kitchen cabinets that colour.

Brown recommends making some samples of a few options and setting them up in a room. ''It can be hard to select the right colour with so many options. If you've got a couple of samples set up, the one that grabs your attention immediately when you walk into the room will be the one to go for.''

Prime the cabinetry

Before you go near the cabinets with a brush and paint, prime the faces of the cabinet boxes, drawers and both sides of doors.

Paint the cabinets

Make sure your paint is well-stirred, then pour into a paint tray. Load a roller or brush with paint and start your paint project.


Paint the cabinet doors first ' these will take longer to paint because you'll need to give them the time to dry before you can turn them over to paint the opposite side.

Next, paint the inside of the cabinets (if the shelves are adjustable).

Paint the cabinets with light coats. Be prepared to apply at least two coats per side when painting kitchen cabinets.


Paint the front of the drawer but not the drawer's sides or glide hardware. Use painter's tape to protect the rest of the drawer from errant brush strokes.

Set the cabinets on their ends and paint with light coats using a brush. Allow to dry completely between each coat.

Cabinet box:

Use painter's tap to protect the wall from paint drips or messes. Use a roller or paintbrush to paint the frame and sides of the cabinetry unit or cabinet box. If your cabinets have a lot of detailing, it will be easier to use a tapered brush.

A roller works well on larger flat surfaces and flat-panel doors.

Putting it back together

Once the paint finish has dried completely, it's time to put the cabinet back together. Attach the drawer pulls, screw the hinges on the doors, and hang the doors on the cabinetry box. Slide each drawer back in.