Painting Cabinets

Painting cabinets is an easy, inexpensive way to revitalize your kitchen.

Whether you’re looking to brighten up dark, dingy cabinets or add some color to your room, painting is a simple fix.

You don’t have to worry about the expense of replacing or re-facing your cabinets. With the right tools and information, painting cabinets is really a very simple project with great rewards.

Here is what you’ll need:

Necessary Paint & Preparation Products

  • Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)

  • Oil-base Primer/Sealer

  • Latex Satin Paint

Necessary Paint Supplies & Applicators

  • Small Roller Handle

  • 6” Foam Roller Cover

  • 2” Nylon/Poly Brush

  • 2” Painter’s Tape

  • Tools for Removing Cabinet Hardware

  • Lint-Free Rags

Click here to buy all your paint supplies online (opens in a new window).


Preparing Cabinets

Preparing your cabinets for paint is actually a several step process all rolled up into one.

Prep work is very important when painting cabinets because most cabinets are

a) difficult to get to

b) wood

c) very dirty

Begin by removing all of the doors, pull-out drawers, mounting hardware, and drawer pulls. If necessary label each of the components with a number or letter, so you know where it needs to go when you are ready to reassemble.

Once your cabinets have been disassembled, begin cleaning all of the surfaces you intend to paint with a mild solution of TSP and water.

Rinse with fresh water and allow to dry.

If there are some very bad stains/oily areas where the TSP does not clean well you may need to use a rag soaked in mineral spirits. Mineral spirits help to break down the greases and oils that tend to accumulate on wooden kitchen cabinets.


Priming the Cabinets

Begin this step by taping off all adjacent walls and surfaces. Lay plastic or drop cloths down to protect countertops and flooring.

Now, using the 6” foam roller and 2” nylon/poly brush, apply a solid coat of primer/sealer on all the surfaces to be painted (doors, drawers, cabinet fronts, moldings).

Primer will adhere to the porous wood and seal it. It will also help to seal out any dark stains or knots in the wood, so nothing will show through your final paint coat.

Allow primer to dry per paint manufacturer’s instructions (usually 4-6 hours).


Painting Cabinets

The last step in the process of painting cabinets is applying the coat of paint.

Be sure to clean your roller and brush well with mineral spirits after applying the primer/sealer.

Depending on coverage, you may need more than one coat of paint. If this is the case, be sure to allow the first coat ample drying time before applying the second coat.

STEP 4: (optional)


Cabinets are often a great place to try something new…a faux technique such as color washing . Crackle painting . A stenciled design.

Let your creativity be the guide. Painting cabinets can be fun.

You can find these faux techniques, faux finishes, and many other creative ideas elsewhere on the site.

Enjoy your new painted cabinets. Finished painting cabinets? Click here to return to the site home page.