Painting kitchen cabinets can be a cost effective way to...

Painting kitchen cabinets can be a cost effective way to give a kitchen an updated look. Credit: iStock

Purchasing new kitchen cabinets can cripple your finances and put you into a real money pit with steep sides. So would you be shocked to discover you could transform the look of your kitchen for less than $150 and some effort on your part? All you have to do is paint your kitchen cabinets. Yes, paint.

You can watch a short video of me showing how to paint kitchen cabinets by going here:


You'll need few tools and some painting supplies to get professional results. Gather the necessary screwdrivers or powered screwdrivers that will allow you to remove any and all cabinet knobs and hinges. Professional-grade paint brushes are a must as is sandpaper, oxygen-bleach cleaner to remove grease from surfaces and liquid dish soap.

You may want to purchase a liquid de-glosser to save you the step of sanding your existing cabinets. It's imperative you purchase a finish paint that's made for woodwork as well as the matching primer suggested by the paint manufacturer. Do not cut corners buying cheap paint.


The first step is to remove all knobs, drawer pulls and hinges from the cabinets. You don't want to try to paint around these things. When removing door hinges, always start with the lower one or have a helper hold the door in place while you remove the hinges. Don't allow a door to tilt, which can cause the hinge to bend or the wood to split.


All surfaces that will be painted must be perfectly clean. You'll be stunned to discover how much grease is on your cabinets. Oxygen bleach rapidly cuts through grease. If you mix liquid dish soap with this solution, it works even better. Rinse them with clear water and dry the wood.


If the surfaces you intend to paint are glossy or even a semi-gloss, the new paint will not stick well. You need to sand the surfaces or use a liquid de-glosser that dulls the surface of the cabinets, cabinet frames, doors and drawers. The liquid de-glossers work exceptionally well.


If your cabinets are stained wood, a primer is absolutely necessary. Primers are special paints that provide a great foundation for finish paints. Always buy the primer from the same manufacturer as the finish paint. Many paint manufacturers make special primers to match finish paints.

The finish paint you choose must be formulated and state on the label that it's made for woodwork and cabinets. These paints cure to a very hard surface that's meant to take the abuse kitchen cabinets receive with daily use.


Consider using a special paint conditioner that allows the paint to flow easier and helps hide brush strokes. Always make your last brush stroke toward the area you just painted, lifting the brush gently away from the surface like an airplane lifts off from a runway.


You can paint the frames of the cabinets with great speed once the doors and drawers are out of the way. Don't try to rush the job with heavy coats of paint. Thin light coats are better than heavy coats that can run and drip.


It's best to apply the finish paint as soon as the primer is dry. Look at the label of the primer for re-coat times. If you apply the finish paint as soon as you're allowed to, you get a better chemical and mechanical bond between the primer and finish paint.

Summary: Cabinet manufacturers apply paint with spray equipment. You can try to do this if you want, but it requires great skill and professional spray equipment. Painting with a professional brush and the paint additives that minimize the brush texture will produce excellent results. It's not as hard as you might think.

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