According to survey results
, it typically costs around $25,000 to $50,000 to completely redo a kitchen. It is also the most popular room to renovate and refresh.

But did you know that you can refresh the hub of your home quickly and cost-effectively—if all you want to change is tired cabinetry?

New cabinets can cost $10,000 and up installed. But by simply painting your existing cabinetry, you can achieve a fresh and stylish look, for a lower cost than replacing existing cabinetry.

Painting your kitchen cabinets might previously have been considered a cheap look. But this couldn’t be less true in the prevailing decor scape. Analysis of current trends shows that painted cabinetry is by far the most popular choice for high-end designs, outstripping wood by roughly 37% in popularity. Experts estimated that while 3 years ago 70% of kitchen cabinet design featured stained wood, and 30% painted cabinets — this number has flipped with 70% of cabinets being painted now.

However, to achieve a high-quality look, you still need to know how to get the job done right. This is why we are sharing with you our top 10 tips for painting kitchen cabinets.

Sherwin Williams Pro Classic oil based paint
Choose a high-quality oil-based or performance paint

1. Use High-Quality Paint

The very first rule of painting kitchen cabinets to achieve a professional look is to choose high-quality paint. Not only will you use less paint (better paint means fewer coats), but your end result will be seamless. 

A high-quality paint will also be better wearing and keep a flawless look for longer. Do not use a standard latex paint… it will wear off quickly and look cheap.

A high-quality oil-based paint is still one of the top choices when painting kitchen cabinets. However, there are many new water-based products that also perform well. Sherwin Williams Urethane Trim Enamel is a good example.

kitchen cabinet door hardware
Remove the kitchen cabinet hinges and pulls before prepping and painting

2. Remove the Hardware

To get perfect results — and keep your hardware paint-free — remove all the cabinet hardware. This includes the door/drawer pulls as well as the hinges.

This ensures that the paint application will be smooth and even. Skip this step and you will end up with funny swirls, irregularities, and drips around the hardware where you tried to get in with a brush. 

3. Label Your Hardware and Doors

Highly important: label all hardware and number the doors as you remove them. You can place put your hardware into sandwich bags or plastic containers, or tag them with a strip of painter’s tape.

For the doors, look for a spot that will be hidden once the doors are re-installed (such as under a hinge) and number them with a pencil. If you do not do this, you may find that when it comes time to re-assemble, not all the doors are interchangeable, and screw holes might differ slightly.

Even the smallest differences can create major headaches with doors that don’t align or close, or hardware that is slightly off.

sanding kitchen cabinets
Sand the cabinets to remove an existing finish or prepare raw wood for painting

4. Prep the Kitchen Cabinets

Prepping the cabinets before painting is an absolute must, but many times is an overlooked step. Let’s face it… sanding is boring. But if you want quality results, then you need to make the effort.

If the cabinets were previously painted or stained, you will want to de-gloss the surface. This will allow the fresh paint to adhere properly. Skipping this step will result in paint easily flaking off cabinets within a short period of use.

Sanding all the surfaces is required for a proper finish. The amount of sanding that is necessary will depend on the existing finish. Thicker finishes may require chemical strippers in some cases.

Don’t go too rough with the sandpaper. A 150 grit is the most you’ll typically need.

Zinsser BIN primer
Using a primer is an absolute must!

5. Be Sure To Use a Primer

This is very, very important. Primer helps prepare the surface for the topcoat, and is a necessary step. Whether painting new unfinished cabinets or stained or painted cabinets, primer will seal the surface and provide for proper adhesion of the paint.

In most cases, a single coat of primer is all that is needed. Though Oil-Based primer is ideal when using oil-based paint, a latex primer is also fine.

Once all the surfaces have been primed, everything should be lightly sanded. This would help ensure a smooth finish with the paint. A finer grit sandpaper will do the trick. Just be careful not to sand too deeply and remove the primer completely.

kitchen cabinet paint colors
Don’t overlook the color of your appliances when deciding on a color for the cabinets

6. Pick a Paint Color That Will Work with Your Appliances

If you do not have an idea yet of what paint color you want—why not use your appliances as a guide?

Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. First, choose whether you want a high contrast look (think black appliances and white/light cabinets) or a monochromatic look.
  2. If your appliances are all-white, do not choose an off-white/cream color for your cabinets. The bright white of the appliances will make the cream or off-white look grungy.
  3. If you opt for white-on-white, eg. white walls, white cabinets, and white appliances, plan a few contrasting focal points to alleviate feelings of sterility. 
  4. If you opt for dark cabinets and dark appliances, think carefully about how to bring light into the space.
  5. Stainless steel appliances can pair strikingly with hot colors.

Still not sure where to start? Check out our post on 9 best kitchen cabinet paint colors and factor in your appliances as you narrow down your decision. 

tinted primer
Tinting the primer will help you achieve the desired coverage in fewer coats

7. Tint Your Primer to Avoid Multiple Coats with Dark Paint

If you are opting for dark paint for your cabinets, then a top tip is to tint your primer. 

By tinting your primer to a darker shade, you can reduce the number of topcoats needed to achieve the perfect coverage. 

wood kitchen cabinets
Fill open-grain wood if you don’t want the grain to show through

8. Think About Filling Open Grain Wood

If your cabinets are made of wood with an open grain, such as oak, this will show through after painting. Unless you decide to fill the grain.

Filling the grains will yield a silky smooth, ultra perfect finish which is the mark of a professional-grade cabinet paint job. 

To fill the grain, you have two choices. You can choose to fill it by painting on multiple coats of primer and sanding in between. Or, you can use spackling paste.

We would recommend spackling paste for flat cabinetry, and the primer method for cabinets that have a lot of molded edges and curves. Molding and curvature will make it hard to get a perfect finish with spackling paste. 

gray painted kitchen cabinet with red wall
Spray your kitchen cabinets for a professional finish

9. Get Your Cabinet Doors Professionally Sprayed For a Sleek Look

If you are after a state-of-the-art look, then consider getting at least your cabinet doors sprayed. Getting your doors sprayed will ensure a pro-level finish that looks like it comes straight out of a decor expo. 

For this reason, as part of our cabinet painting services, we do spraying, as we find this provides a superior finish. We highly recommend spraying the cabinets, doors, and drawers if you want your paint job to look 100% seamless and not like a DIY job. 

Kitchen Cabinet Repaint
Multiple light coats will give a better result than fewer thick coats

10. Apply Light Coats

When it comes time to paint, whether you are spraying or brushing, apply your paint in thin and even coats. Applying too much paint at once can lead to runs and drips, which you will have to painstakingly sand out to achieve a smooth finish. 

Two coats is the absolute minimum recommended for painting kitchen cabinets. In most cases, one coat of primer and two coats of paint should do the trick, though some colors might require additional coats.

Kitchen Cabinet Painting color consulting - man

Now You Have the Hottest Tips For Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Painting your kitchen cabinets is one of the most efficient and impactful ways to instantly update your kitchen. By painting your cabinets, you can instantly change the entire feeling and aesthetic of your kitchen.

However, you want to make sure that you paint it right—otherwise painting your cabinets could also be the fastest way to make them look cheaply home remodeled. Fortunately, with these industry insider tips, you are already on your way to nailing your cabinet painting project. 

If you are hesitating to tackle it on your own, and you are located in Austin, TX or the surrounding area, contact us. We specialize in painting kitchen cabinets and will take all the hassle out of the job for you. All of our work is covered by a 2-year warranty.

Check out our services, or schedule a free estimate today. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.