Do You Paint the Inside of Your Kitchen Cabinets?

When Painting Kitchen Cabinets Do You Paint the Inside? // Woman Painting Kitchen Cabinets //

So, you’ve started painting your kitchen cabinets and are now asking – when painting kitchen cabinets do you paint the inside? It’s an age-old debate, and the answer may surprise you.

You already know a fresh coat of paint is a distinctive and affordable way to update your kitchen cabinets. But you still need to decide if you should paint the inside of your cabinets.

Say you decide to paint the inside – are you going to paint the doors, the cabinet boxes, and the drawers? 

Or you figured not painting the inside is better, but are you so sure?

Let’s dive in and answer your burning questions!

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.

Do You Paint the Inside of Kitchen Cabinets?

If you’re wondering whether to paint the inside cabinet or not, the quick answer is yes, you should paint the inside of the kitchen cabinet doors.

However, painting inside of cabinets is not entirely necessary. Meaning painting the cabinet frames and cabinet interiors is optional.

Do You Paint Both Sides of Kitchen Cabinets Doors?

It is best practice to paint both sides of the cabinet door. Let me tell you why. Think about this – why are you questioning it? Is it because in your gut, you know you should, but in your mind, you think it’ll be faster if you don’t.

I know this because I thought exact things when I was painting my kitchen cabinets white. I ultimately realized painting inside cabinets (I’m talking about the doors) is a good idea and not all that much more work. And the results give a much more polished and professional look.

Do You Paint the Inside of Your Kitchen Cabinets?

Maybe. I opted not to and kept the cabinet boxes and shelves the natural color. Not painting the interior of the cabinet base is a good idea when your cabinets are in good condition. 

When your cabinets have glass doors, the best practice is to paint everything. In this case, you do not want the inside of your cabinets to be a different color. You’ll want to give interior cabinets the same number of coats of paint as the exteriors. More on painting kitchen cabinets later.

Do You Paint the Inside of Cabinet Drawers?

No way! In my not-so-humble opinion, this sounds like a waste of your time. Painting the drawer fronts, duh, yes. Obviously. 

But painting inside the drawers doesn’t seem necessary. Think about what you put in your drawers – silverware, larger utensils, maybe some Tupperware, or even smaller items like spices. By the time you’ve got all your stuff in the drawer, is there even any inside left to see?

Instead of painting the inside of your kitchen drawers, a better idea is to insert something a little more fun: 

What Paint Do You Use Inside Cabinets?

When Painting Kitchen Cabinets Do You Paint the Inside? // Painting Inside of Kitchen Cabinets //

The best type of paint for inside of cabinets depends on your budget. Don’t be tricked into thinking you must invest in the most expensive paint or that special cabinet paint kit.

I want to share my favorites, but remember; we are talking about the paint, not the primer. If you want your painted kitchen cabinets, outside or inside, to stand the test of time, then you’ll need this primer. My pro tip is to use this primer and follow these steps precisely.

Also, keep in mind that if you plan to paint a porous wood or over old paint that you don’t know what base it is, then you’ll have to use an oil-based primer.

Here are the best paint options for painting inside kitchen cabinets:

Benjamin Moore Advance Paint

If you’ve researched the best paint for kitchen cabinets, you’ve heard of Benjamin Moore Advance. And that’s because it’s pretty darn good stuff!

Benjamin Moore describes this paint as their premium line of waterborne alkyd paint, which offers unprecedented self-leveling characteristics of oil-based paint, with the added benefit of easy soap and water cleanup.

Why does all this matter? Because you’ll finish up with an incredibly durable finish. You’ll also have a smooth surface regardless of if the original cabinets were not in the best condition. This paint is one of the most talked about when painting kitchen cabinets. And for a good reason. 

I can tell you from experience after painting my camper cabinets with this stuff it is worth every penny. This paint may go on a little thick, but it has excellent coverage. 

Since it was my first time painting cabinets, I did not do a very good job prepping them. But despite this, the paint stuck; the color was incredible, and the finish was durable. I mean, we are talking about a camper here! I had no chips after many trips with my kids in this camper.

Behr Scuff Defense Paint

Behr Scuff Defense is the paint I used for my painted kitchen cabinet project because this paint offers gloss-like protection with a matte look. 

Painted white cabinets were a little risky for my kitchen project since I have two young kids who are not exactly easy on anything they touch. But Behr Scuff Defense stood up to their test. Over two years later, and not a single chip!

The key to my paint cabinet success was taking the time to prep the cabinets correctly and using a good primer (two coats) and paint (two coats).

My trick to having the smoothest cabinet fronts was to do the backs first. By doing this, when you flip them over to do the front, you’re not risking messing up the paint on the side you see most.

I recommend using the blue can of this paint. It is a satin finish, and it’s not too shiny, but it does provide more protection than the purple can.

A minimum of a satin finish is also what Behr recommends you do, and I can tell you from experience that I agree. You can also use a gloss finish, but unless you like this more reflective look, it’s not necessary regarding durability.

Water-Based Paint

Water base paint is precisely that; it has a water (instead of oil) base to carry the paint particles. Water base paint is a good choice because it does not have those toxic fumes.

But don’t confuse this with VOCs (volatile organic compounds). They are two separate things. Water base paint can still contain a high amount of VOC.

It also easily cleans up with soap and water compared to oil-based paint, which you’ll need a chemical to remove this type of paint.

The particular paint I used on my kitchen cabinets was an interior paint that was also water base. Some say a disadvantage to water base paints is it takes two coats, but I wonder if any paint is only one coat. I know they advertise certain paints as only needing one coat, but I don’t buy into this advertisement. 

Honestly, I always do two coats. It could be because I’m not a professional painter. But I find no matter how thorough I prime and how diligent I am with my first coat, I always need a second.

I never regret taking the time to apply a second coat. Each coat requires less and less time to complete and looks amazing in the end.

Chalk Paint

Unless you are going for that farmhouse chippy paint look, I do not recommend using special paints like chalk paint on your kitchen cabinets. This stuff is a paint in the butt to work with. It leaves brush strokes, goes on thick, and is not my favorite overall. 

Many other options are available these days if you’re looking for a matte finish. So, again, don’t use chalk paint on the outside or inside of the kitchen cabinets unless you want this particular textured look.

Oil Based Paint

Oil-based paint is known for having strong smells for a good reason. This stuff is nasty! And the fumes last for days to weeks. 

In my 1960’s home reno, I used oil-based primer for my walls after I removed the wallpaper. Oil-based was the safest choice because if you use water-based paint on a wall that once had wallpaper and missed any glue, your paint won’t adhere.

After how long it took me to remove all that wallpaper, I was not about to risk the paint looking anything other than perfect, so I used the oil paint.

Proper personal protection and ventilation are a must when working with this stuff. I recommend closing any doors to seal off and contain the odors as much as possible. 

So, why would anyone choose to use this stinky stuff? Well, because it has excellent adhesion and incredible durability. And when we’re talking about inside of the cabinets, you will want something that can withstand all the handling and extra cleaning that comes with being in a kitchen.

Latex Paint

Latex paint is one example of water base paint. This is the most commonly used water base paint because it is easy to apply and clean up. This paint is not a good choice if you paint over bare wood (it’ll soak it up and swell) or a glossy surface.

Spray Paint

Spray paint is another no when talking about painting inside kitchen cabinets. I love using spray paint and will take every opportunity to use it when possible. But this is one diy project for which you can find much better options.

How to Paint the Inside of Kitchen Cabinets

The trick to painting the inside of your kitchen cabinets is to do the inside first. Doing so gives you the best results and a smooth finish on the fronts of your cabinets. The next most crucial step is surface preparation. This step is key to ensuring your paint sticks.

For best results, here is the painting process I suggest:

  1. clean the surface with a degreaser
  2. sand the surface 
  3. prime the inside of the cabinets and then the outside
  4. paint the inside of your cabinets and then the outside

What is Better for Painting Cabinets Roll vs. Brush?

Preventing brush strokes and having a butter-smooth finish is the goal for your painted kitchen cabinets. Now, what is the best way to get this look? A high-density mini foam roller. 

A mini foam roller is the best option that will give you that smooth look you’re after. But this doesn’t mean you won’t need a brush; you will need this for specific spots, so may sure you also have your favorite paintbrush ready. My go-to is this short-handle paint brush.

What Color Should Inside of a Cabinet Be?

Use the same paint color as you did on the front side of your kitchen cabinet doors. Painting the inside of cabinets the same color gives the most professional look.

If you feel the need to use a new color inside to cover your wood cabinets, I’d go bold and do a pop of color. The paint color should be completely different to look intentional instead of a mistake.

Painting The Inside of Cabinets Supplies

This is not a comprehensive list, but here are my go-to and favorite supplies for painting projects like this one:

Painting Kitchen Cabinet Mistakes

YouTube video

If you’ve made it this far or skimmed to the bottom, that was a lot of (great) info! So, let’s review and get back to the initial question. When painting kitchen cabinets do you paint the inside? Yes!

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