Complete Guide to Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets Like a Pro

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Painting Kitchen Cabinets: Ultimate Paint Guide

If you’re considering painting your kitchen cabinets, you probably have a lot of questions. Like how many coats of paint for kitchen cabinets, what’s the best paint, how much will this cost, and the list goes on.

Painting your kitchen cabinets can have a huge impact on the overall look and feel of your kitchen. It’s a cost-effective way to give your cabinets a new life without having to replace them entirely. 

To successfully paint your kitchen cabinets, you need to know everything about the paint and the painting process.

With the right techniques, tools, and kitchen cabinet paint, you can achieve a professional-looking finish that rivals the look of new cabinets.

Just a friendly reminder: This tutorial and any opinions or recommendations are genuinely mine, but this is not a substitute for consulting a professional. I also use affiliate links to earn a commission.

Everything You Need to Know to Successfully Paint Kitchen Cabinets

The Best Type of Paint for Kitchen Cabinets

When painting kitchen cabinets, there are a few different types of paint to consider.

And I’ll just say it right now, don’t be fooled by the special paints or cabinet paint kits. You won’t need to spend extra money on these if you carefully follow the cleaning and prep steps.

Latex paint is popular because it dries quickly and is easy to clean up with soap and water. 

Oil-based paint is another option, but it takes longer to dry and requires mineral spirits for cleanup. 

Water-based paint is a newer option that combines the best of both worlds – it dries quickly and is easy to clean up, but it also provides a durable finish. 

Chalk paint is a trendy option that can give cabinets a unique, matte finish. It may require a bit more prep work and may not hold up as well since it wasn’t designed for an area that gets this much use.

The Best Paint Brand for Painting Kitchen Cabinets

To get the best results, you don’t necessarily need “the best paint” or some special paints; you just need high-quality paint. In my experience, after trialing several paint brands, the best one is Behr Scuff Defense!

Contrary to popular belief, I was not impressed with the Sherwin Williams Advance paint that most people recommend. It was thick, and finicky, and getting a smooth finish was far harder than with Behr.

Ultimately, as long as you stick to high-quality paint for your painted kitchen cabinets, they will turn out just fine. More important than splurging on paint is following the steps I’m about to go over about prepping your cabinets.

How Many Coats of Paint When Painting Kitchen Cabinets?

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How Many Coats of Primer When Painting Kitchen Cabinets

You’ll need at least two coats of primer when painting kitchen cabinets. For best results, allow the first coat of primer to dry completely before applying the second coat. 

And almost more important than applying two coats is using a high-quality primer. You’ll want something that blocks stains and really grips onto your cabinet surface. 

If your primer coat isn’t good, forget about your paint lasting. The durability of your painted cabinets starts with a solid primer coat.

It is also important to lightly sand between coats to ensure a smooth and even finish. I’ll get to more on sanding, so keep reading. By following these steps, you can achieve a professional-looking paint job on your kitchen cabinets.

How Many Coats of Paint on Cabinets

Like your primer, you’ll also need at least two coats of paint to ensure complete coverage. Sometimes a third coat is necessary, and this is especially true with very dark or very light (like white) colors.

After the first coat has dried completely then you can apply a second coat of paint. Again, lightly sand between coats of paint to ensure a smooth surface. Doing this helps your paint layers adhere better to each other, improving your paint kitchen cabinet’s durability.

How Long Between Coats of Paint on Kitchen Cabinets

When painting kitchen cabinets, allowing enough time for each coat to dry before applying the next one is crucial.

Since painting cabinets is all about having a perfectly smooth finish, I wait at least 24 hours between coats. Compared to painting a wall, I’ll only wait a few hours before jumping in and giving it more paint.

To optimize drying time, use enough paint to cover the cabinets fully, but avoid applying too much at once because this delays drying. Using too much paint per layer can also lead to drips and unevenness. 

When painting kitchen cabinets less is more. So, use enough paint to see progress with each layer, but not so much that you can’t get the paint to lay completely flat on the surface. 

Remember, you can always add more layers, but removing drips is nearly impossible. Or at least it’s a process you don’t want to go through if you can avoid it.

What Paint Finish for Kitchen Cabinets

You have a few options when choosing a paint finish for your kitchen cabinets.

satin finish is the most popular paint sheen for kitchen cabinets because it is easy to clean and maintain.

For a more dramatic look, a high-gloss finish can provide a sleek and modern appearance. It’s important to note that the higher the sheen, the more imperfections that will show.

How to Prevent Brush Strokes When Painting Cabinets

To achieve a smooth, brush-stroke-free finish when painting cabinets requires good prep work and a mindful technique.

Your final results can only be as good as how the surface started. It all starts with proper cleaning and sanding for a smooth finish with minimal brush marks.

Once your surface is ready for paint, start with your paint roller and apply a thin, even coat of paint. Use your paint brush for cracks or corners your roller can not reach. 

The trick to avoiding brush marks is the amount of paint on your roller or brush. You don’t want to overload the paint, but you also don’t want your brush to dry. It’s a delicate balance between too little and too much.

Using a Paint Sprayer to Paint Cabinets

Before using a paint sprayer to paint cabinets, the first and most important thing is good ventilation. Not only is this vital to your health, but it also helps prevent fume buildup and ensures that the paint dries properly. 

Although not necessary, using a paint sprayer is the best option for painting cabinet doors. The paint sprayer quickly and efficiently gives your cabinets the most impressive coverage in very little time.

So, if you are on the fence and can swing it, I highly recommend investing in one. You won’t regret it.

Painting with a sprayer has a learning curve, and some are pretty expensive. But, don’t let this scare you away. The results were phenomenal when I used the HomeRight paint sprayer when I painted my cabinets.

For just around $100, this tool was more than worth the investment for how good and durable my cabinets turned out.

Painting Kitchen Cabinets Two Different Colors

Painting your cabinets in two colors is a great way to add visual interest to your kitchen. This look continues to be an increasingly popular kitchen design trend. 

One popular option is to paint the upper cabinets a light color, such as white, and the lower cabinets a darker color, such as black or a moody green. This creates a nice contrast and can make your kitchen feel more spacious.

When choosing your paint color, consider the overall color scheme of your kitchen and choose colors that complement each other.

What is The Easiest Way to Paint Cabinets?

You know you want to paint your cabinets, but where do you start? Especially if this is your first time, the painting process can seem overwhelming. The good news it isn’t actually hard work; it’s time-consuming.

Although it’s more work upfront, the easiest way to paint cabinets is by removing all the cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and hardware. Doing this leaves your cabinet frames a blank canvas and a nice flat surface.

Do not try and paint your cabinets while these are still attached. Trust me, I tried it when giving my RV a makeover, and the hinges looked terrible.

How Long Does it Take to Paint Kitchen Cabinets?

The process of painting kitchen cabinets can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the size of the kitchen, the number of cabinets, and the level of detail involved.

The cabinet painting process involves:

  • Removing the cabinet doors, drawers, and hardware.
  • Thoroughly cleaning
  • Sanding and priming
  • Applying multiple coats of primer and paint
  • Allowing ample time for drying and curing

I know you want to complete this DIY project, but it’s so important to take your time every step of the way. Doing so ultimately pays off and ensures a long-lasting and professional-looking finish.

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Can I Paint Kitchen Cabinets Without Sanding?

You may be wondering if you can skip the sanding step. And the answer is a hard no. Sanding is a very important step in painting cabinets.

The good news is you don’t need to sand down to bare wood. All it takes is a light sanding. 

Start by lightly sanding the cabinets with fine grit sandpaper, then wipe them down with a damp cloth to remove any dust.

It’s important to sand in the direction of the wood grain to avoid damaging the surface. While this step may seem tedious, it’s the right way to paint cabinets and ensures your paint will last for years to come.

How Much Paint Do I Need for Painting Kitchen Cabinets?

How much paint you’ll need depends on a few factors, such as the size of your cabinets, the type of paint you’re using, or if your cabinets are bare wood or previously painted.

Generally, you’ll need about one gallon of paint for every 250 square feet of the cabinet surface. My kitchen is relatively tiny, and when I painted my cabinets, I only needed one gallon of primer and one gallon of paint.

Painting Kitchen Cabinets Cost

The cost of painting kitchen cabinets can vary depending on whether you hire a professional painter or do it yourself. On average, hiring a professional painter can cost thousands. Crazy, right? At that rate, you may be better off just replacing your cabinets. 

Compared to tackling this on your own, this diy project will cost you very little. You’ll need to consider the paint and paint supplies such as rollers, brushes, a paint sprayer, painter’s tape, and drop cloths. 

All in, painting kitchen cabinets costs around $200 to $500. Keep in mind that the cost will vary depending on the quality of the paint, the finish you choose, and the size of your project.

Is Painting Kitchen Cabinets a Good Idea?

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Painting your cabinets is a great option if you want to update your kitchen without breaking the bank. It is a cost-effective way to give your kitchen a fresh look and allows you to customize the color and style to your liking. 

However, you need to consider the condition of your cabinets and whether they are suitable for painting. If they are in poor condition or made of a material that doesn’t hold paint well, it may be better to invest in new cabinets instead. 

Ultimately, the decision to paint your kitchen cabinets depends on your budget, goals, and the condition of your current cabinets.

Can you Paint Any Kitchen Cabinets?

Yes, you can paint just about any cabinet. However, some surfaces and materials will hold up better than others. Solid wood cabinets are going to be the best and easiest to paint. With the right preparation and supplies, painted wood cabinets will look fresh and new for years. 

Keep in mind that different materials require different techniques or primers, so it’s important to do your research and follow the proper steps for a successful paint job.

How Do I Cover the Oak Grain When Painting Cabinets?

If you have oak cabinets, before you paint them, it’s important to know that if you paint them, the wood grain will remain. But, don’t be discouraged; there is a diy process to hiding the wood oak grain. With this process, you can achieve a sleek, modern look for your cabinets without the oak grain showing through.

Painting Kitchen Cabinets Vs. Refacing

Cabinet refacing or painting are two budget-friendly ways to update your outdated kitchen cabinets. And there are pros and cons to each of these techniques. Check out this post to learn all about cabinet refacing vs painting to help you determine which is best for you.

How to Pick a Kitchen Cabinet Paint Color

Sampling paint before finalizing your decision is a must. The good news is there is a way to make this process easier.

Skip the paint store, at least for now, because the best way to trial paint is Samplize. They have the most genius peel-and-stick paint sample product to help you choose the right color without all the fuss. I use these for all my diy projects!

If you’re struggling to decide which paint color is best for you, my best advice is to stop researching and start sampling! Keep your project moving by heading to Samplize’s website and ordering samples today. 

When Painting Kitchen Cabinets Do You Paint the Inside?

When giving your kitchen cabinets a fresh coat of paint, you may ask yourself if you must also paint the cabinets inside. The answer depends on personal preference and the level of detail you want to achieve. 

Some professional painters recommend painting the inside of the cabinets for a more polished look, while others suggest leaving them unpainted to save time and effort.

I have a strong opinion on this topic, and here you can read my answer to the question when painting kitchen cabinets, do you paint the inside of cabinets?

You asked how many coats of paint for kitchen cabinets, and I gave you this answer plus much more! Now you know everything you need about paint to achieve a durable finish and professional look for your painted kitchen cabinets.

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