Are you considering painting your kitchen cabinets? Painting your cabinets vs. refacing them can save you lots of money – but if they’re not painted correctly, you’ll end up with a message that could turn into more money spent to fix the problem caused by not understanding the mistakes to avoid when painting kitchen cabinets.

Even though you may be good at painting walls, cabinets pose their challenges. Cabinets are made of different types of materials and finishes. Some steps and techniques need to be followed to have a quality finish.

Even the most patient and capable DIY-er may wonder why they undertook such a time-consuming and labor-intensive project. Things like sanding, filling in dents, and priming cannot be skipped over if you want a professional look when everything is done.

Understanding the job will take time, and attention to detail is necessary are the first steps. But knowing the crucial actions and mistakes to avoid can help save you from headaches later in the process.

Dig in below to follow professional tips and mistakes to avoid below.

Table of Contents

Benefits of Painting Cabinets

Painting can be a great way to refresh your kitchen or bathroom. A few of the advantages include the following:

  • It gives the room a whole new look and feels at an affordable cost
  • Much less expensive than refacing or replacing your cabinets
  • Quality paint provides a look that lasts as long as new cabinets.
  • It can make cabinets easier to clean.
  • Increases your home’s value.
  • The project can be completed in under a week.

Cabinets Need Special Attention

Inevitable painting mistakes will negatively affect the outcome of your painted cabinets.

freshly painted kitchen cabinets

Even one small mistake could be a big hassle before the project is finished. Avoid the following issues to improve your chances of getting the best results the first time.

  1. You Rush the Process – Cabinet painting is not a weekend project. The process can span several days because of all the steps required. If you don’t allow sufficient time to complete each step (especially the preparation of the surfaces and ensuring everything dries completely), your project will fail.
  2. You Don’t Remove the Doors and Drawers – Leaving these in place makes it difficult to get all areas painted with precision. You must also remove the hardware—handles, drawer pulls, and hinges. This will eliminate the need to cut around them and provide a flat surface to paint. Additionally, if you add handles or drawer pulls for the first time, do this before painting. If you wait, you could chip or crack the dried paint.
  3. You Fail to Label Everything – As you remove the cabinet doors, drawers, and hardware, ensure you know where to reinstall them. Using scotch tape to number pieces or simply writing “above sink” on the video can save time and hassle when it is time to put everything back in its place. Store the hardware during the painting process.
  4. You Don’t Clean the Surface – You may think your cabinets are clean, but they still have accumulated a coating over the years. You’ll need to use a degreaser to remove all oily residue, or the paint won’t adhere properly. Just using a wet rag will not do the trick.
  5. You Don’t Repair Imperfections – If cracks, holes, or gauges in the cabinet surface, you’ll need to fill them. You can use wood filler or caulking, then scrape the excess off to create a smooth surface. This will help your paint have a soft texture giving the finished project a cleaner, more professional look.
  6. You Skip the Sanding – Most cabinets have a glossy or semi-glossy finish. Sanding is necessary to take the gloss to a matte finish to ensure the paint adheres properly. When you sand the cabinets, your color will last longer and have a more even look.
  7. The Area Isn’t Dust-Free – Although you may not think your room is dusty, even a few motes will impact your cabinets. Areas where dust settles will look grainy. Ensure you thoroughly vacuum the room and wipe down your cabinets before proceeding.
  8. You Don’t Use Primer – This is a crucial step in the process that cannot be skipped if you want the paint job to last. Using a stain-inhibiting primer can prevent stains on the original surface from bleeding.
  9. You Use Cheap Paint – Don’t try to save a few pennies with less expensive paint. Painting cabinets should last for years, but cheap paint will chip and flake.
  10. You Don’t Allow the Paint to Cure – It’s hard to tolerate cabinet doors lying around, but don’t rush to put them back on too soon. Even one little smudge can ruin the entire surface, requiring you to sand and repaint.
  11. You Pick the Wrong Color – Take your time deciding on the color for your cabinets. You don’t want to redo the painting process because you don’t like the shade. Try out the color on one door to see if you like it. Or you can even buy some poster board and paint it. Check out the best paint colors for your kitchen cabinets.

Choosing the Right Paint Color

Sherwin-Williams Digital Color Wall (click to visit)

Now that you know what not to do, it’s time to choose the paint color and finish that works best for your space. Because kitchen cabinets get used so often, they tend to get dirty quickly. Having a paint finish that does not show fingerprints and can easily be wiped clean is a good choice.

Choosing a slightly shinier paint finish can do just that. For kitchen cabinets, you probably want to skip the matte paints and go for the semi-gloss or satin finishes. Use top-of-the-line primers and paints like Sherwin Williams to ensure the job lasts for years.

As for the color, this choice is purely personal taste. You may want to keep your cabinets neutral or choose a pop of color. Whatever your choice, the finished product will look great if the project is done correctly.

Steps For Repainting Kitchen Cabinets

freshly painted cabinets

Although repainting kitchen cabinets can be a tedious and detailed job, there are some basic steps that you will need to follow. When attempting to repaint your cabinets yourself, you will need to:

  1. Remove drawers, doors, and hardware.
  2. Label each piece.
  3. Thoroughly clean doors and drawers, removing any grease.
  4. Fill in any holes and dents.
  5. Sand the surfaces.
  6. Wipe down doors and clean away any sand or dirt present.
  7. Prime and paint.
  8. Let dry before reassembling.

Following these steps can help ensure that your finished product looks excellent and the paint job will last. However, keep in mind this is not a quick and easy job. Allowing lots of time to do the job right and for everything to dry thoroughly is necessary.

Tips When Hiring an Expert

With so many tedious steps and so much time and effort needed, hiring expert cabinet painters may be your best option. There are a few things to look for when hiring a painter.

First, make sure the company you choose has experience. Current reviews and pictures of completed cabinet work are excellent ways to ensure the painting company knows what they are doing and can deliver your desired look.

Make sure to ask about the project timeline. Even though they will be doing the work, ensuring their timeline works for you is vital.

Lastly, ask if they bring all their paint and equipment or if you will need to provide anything. An interior painter who brings everything they need will mean less work for you.

Why Going Pro is a Better Choice

White Kitchen Cabinets

Painting cabinets successfully is a difficult task that requires precision, knowledge, and the right tools. Yes, you can save money doing it yourself, but the results may be less than ideal.

It also requires a lot of time and effort that you may not be able or willing to spare.

Painting cabinets also requires protecting the area where the cabinet painting happens. You don’t want paint splattering over your floors, countertops, or appliances.

Although the process should not be rushed, professionals will get the job done more quickly than an amateur can. They’ll also clean up the area, so you don’t have to.

HBP Painting Contractors is an expert cabinet painting contractor. We can convert your current faded and outdated cabinets into beautifully painted ones that last many years.

Besides professional cabinet painting, we also offer residential and commercial interior and exterior painting and can apply beautiful, unique faux finishes.

We have been around since 1983 as a locally owned and operated painting contractor. We offer free paint estimates across St. Louis and surrounding cities across St. Charles, Jefferson, and Franklin Counties.

If you are located outside of this area, you can find cabinet painters by simply Googling “cabinet painters near me.”


Watch our Cabinet painting video:

Painted cabinets

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Paint Over My Kitchen Cabinets?

Although painting your cabinets is one of the simplest, most affordable ways to change the look of your cabinets, you can’t just paint over the current paint color or finish. Steps like sanding, filling in holes or dents, and pricing the surface are necessary if you want the paint job to last.

What Kind of Paint Should You Use on Kitchen Cabinets?

Using water-based paint with a semi-gloss or satin finish is the best bet when choosing paint for your kitchen cabinets. Those finishes will give your cabinets a small amount of shine while also being durable and easy to clean.

Is It Better to Paint or Roll On Cabinets?

When painting cabinets yourself, using the technique you are most comfortable with is your best option. Just know that the choice of brush or roller can significantly affect the look of the finish on your cabinets. Because of this, hiring an expert interior painter is suggested to ensure you get the look you want.

Is Painting Kitchen Cabinets a Good Idea?

Painting your cabinets can give your kitchen a fresh look or cover up knocks and imperfections. It can also be a less expensive choice when changing the face of an ample space without a complete remodel. However, make sure you don’t waste your time or money. Consider hiring someone for professional kitchen cabinet painting to ensure the job gets done the first time correctly.