Painting Kitchen Cabinet Doors

Learn the best ways to paint kitchen cabinet doors.


This shows different kitchen cabinet options. Darker base cabinets ground the space while the soft-gray finish on upper cabinets highlights their unique shape (Design by Didier Michot).

Old and dingy cabinets can really ruin a kitchen. If your cabinets aren't looking their best, but you don't have the budget to replace them, consider painting the kitchen cabinet doors for a fresh new look.

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Painting kitchen cabinet doors isn't exactly an easy fix, but with some time and patience, you can give your kitchen a major facelift without a major overhaul. Most pros use a paint brush and roller to paint kitchen cabinet doors, but spray paint is an option as well.

Before you start painting, remove everything from your cabinets, clear off your counters, and cover your backsplash, appliances and floor. Next, you'll need to remove all of the hinges, hardware, doors and drawers from your cabinets. If you label each door with masking tape, you'll have a much easier time reinstalling all of them when you're finished. If you plan on using the same hardware, keep it all in a plastic bag so you don't lose any pieces or screws. It's much easier to paint cabinet doors if you have a worktable, but 2x4 boards propped on buckets or boxes can work as well. If you're really handy and have a garage, use wire or hangers to hang all the cabinet doors to make painting each side much more manageable.

You'll need to prep your cabinet doors properly before you begin painting. Cabinets normally get a lot of grease and food spattered on them, so clean each one well. If you'll be installing new hardware, cover the current holes with wood filler and then use 100-grit sandpaper to smooth all the surfaces and ensure your paint will adhere. When you're done sanding, wipe away dust with a tack cloth before drilling your new holes, and use caulk to fill in any gaps or seams.

Do not forget to prime if you want your paint to stick and to achieve a professional finish. You don't need many fancy tools to paint your cabinet doors—an angled brush and mini foam roller will do the trick. Try working in small sections with your angled brush and go over your work with the roller for a super-smooth finish. Once your paint has dried, do a final sanding with very fine grit sandpaper and apply a coat of satin polycrylic to make your cabinet doors extra durable. Once your cabinet doors are completely dry, you can reinstall them and put the hardware back on.

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