How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets Like the Pros this New Year

calander Dec 22 , 2021 user-iconAnderson Painting
Father and daughter painting cabinets

Home improvement projects are always great additions to your list of New Year’s resolutions. If you plan on painting your kitchen cabinets to ring in the new year, note that you have your work cut out for you. There’s a reason most homeowners hire professionals for a project of this scope and scale. That said, nothing is preventing you from giving it your best shot. Those with strong DIY sensibilities enjoy taking on challenging tasks, and kitchen cabinet painting is certainly among them. As with any other home renovation, however, there are countless pitfalls that can set you back if you’re not fully prepared. The main goal is always to achieve professional-grade results that stand the test of time. If you’re not confident in your cabinet painting abilities, we recommend working with experienced pros. But if you’re willing to give it your best shot, here’s our advice for painting kitchen cabinets like the pros this year.

How to Properly Paint Cabinets

Give Yourself the Time and Space to Get it Done

Painting your kitchen cabinets properly isn’t as straightforward as slapping on a fresh coat of paint over the course of a single day. If you want to tackle this project like the pros, you need to set aside several days (if not weeks) as well as some additional space to streamline the process. The average kitchen cabinet project takes about 3-7 days, and that’s taking into account the labor of several people. If you’re on your own and lack experience, you can expect the project to take twice as long. If you’re wondering why kitchen cabinet painting takes so long, you’ll soon understand when we lay out the brief step-by-step process. Simply put, there’s a lot of preparation and disassembly involved -- painting might be the primary thing on your mind, but it’s far from the only task you’ll be performing. If you’re unable to dedicate a couple weeks to this project, it might make more sense to hire the pros.

Gather the Necessary Tools and Materials

Professional interior painters use a variety of quality tools and products to tackle kitchen cabinet painting the right way. If you want to achieve similar results, you’ll need to equip yourself with the same stuff. At the bare minimum, you’ll need:

  • Screwdriver/drill
  • Pencil(s)
  • Dropcloths/tarps/plastic sheets
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) (e.g., gloves, eyewear, close-toed shoes, mask, etc.)
  • Cleaning supplies (e.g., scrubbing tools, degreaser, spray bottle, water)
  • Cloths
  • Painter’s tape
  • Paintable wood filler
  • Putty knife
  • Sandpaper (varying grit sizes)
  • Caulking gun and caulk
  • Handheld vacuum
  • Primer
  • Paint/stain/varnish (depending on your preferred coatings)
  • Applicators (i.e., brushes, rollers, and/or sprayers)
  • ...and more (depending on how you approach the project)


Chances are you’ll need more supplies than what’s mentioned here -- every cabinet painting project is unique, after all, so it’s important to iron out the details before making your supply run. Leave some room in your budget for some additional materials, too.

Prepare and Protect Your Kitchen Surfaces

Interior painting always holds the potential to get messy, so it’s important to cover surfaces you don’t wish to paint to minimize the risk of messes and facilitate the clean-up process down the line (this is what your drop cloths and other coverings are for). Laying down drop cloths and tarps will protect your kitchen floor and countertops not only from paint but also water, chemical spills, dust, wood chips, and other materials you might work with during this project. Failing to cover all surfaces prior to working is a rookie mistake that can significantly extend your project’s duration.

Remove Cabinet Doors and Hardware

While there are different ways to go about painting your kitchen cabinets, the method that produces the best results involves removing cabinet doors and hardware. By taking this step, you can bring the disassembled features to another space (like the garage, basement, workshop, or outdoors if weather allows) and more easily access them from every angle. Indeed, prepping, priming, and painting your cabinet doors in an appropriate location is much more efficient than trying to do so while they’re still attached -- it’s also far less messy. You’ll still need to paint your cabinet boxes in their fixed locations, but now you can do so without the doors in the way. Plus, if you have someone helping out, you can divide the labor to speed up the project.

Don’t Forget to Clean, Repair, and Sand

As we mentioned earlier on, there are several things to do before you start painting your kitchen cabinets. Namely, you want to give them a good cleaning, fix and/or patch any damaged areas, sand them down, and apply a coat of primer. All of this might seem like overkill, but these steps are necessary for ensuring the best coverage and longest-lasting results.

Anticipate Multiple Coats

Finally, note that most professional cabinet painting jobs call for at least two coats of paint. Knowing this from the outset will allow you to purchase the correct amount of paint so you don’t have to make an extra trip to the store. Invest in high-quality paint, too, as this will reduce the number of coats needed to provide beautiful and lasting results. After you’ve completely painted your cabinets and doors, you’ll then need to put them back together. Many pros will recommend installing new hardware as a finishing touch. Whatever the case, be careful as you piece your cabinets back together. If you do happen to damage any of the fresh paint, be prepared to perform some small touch-ups after the fact.

New Year, New Cabinets -- Like a Pro

There’s no replacement for the professional touch offered by a company like Anderson Painting. Still, if you’re up for a DIY cabinet painting project to ring in the new year, we’re happy to help in any way we can. To learn more about us and all we do, call today at 919-610-1855 or email us at info@andersonpaintingnc.com!