DIY Kitchen Cabinet Painting Tips

Using an airless sprayer to paint kitchen cabinets.
Using an airless sprayer to paint kitchen cabinets.

When painting kitchen cabinets it’s important to prepare the surface properly so the paint will adhere and not peel or chip over time. You can paint cabinets with a brush, but a sprayer is faster and leaves a smoother surface.

Here’s how to go about painting your kitchen cabinets.

Steps in painting kitchen cabinets:

  1. Remove Doors & Drawers: Take the doors and drawers down and paint them separately.
  2. Clean Cabinets: Clean all surfaces thoroughly with a household cleaner to remove any grease or grime.
  3. Sand Cabinets: Sand all surfaces. If the old finish is in good condition, you don’t have to sand it down to bare wood, just until it’s smooth and free of gloss.
  4. Remove Dust: Vacuum off any sanding dust, then wipe the cabinets down with a clean, damp cloth.
  5. Prime Cabinets: Apply an oil-based, stain blocking primer to the cabinets. Oil-based primers adhere and block stains better than latex primers.
  6. Fill Imperfections: Fill any holes or dents with two-part auto body filler. After the filler has hardened, sand it smooth with the surface.
  7. Paint Cabinets: Apply two coats of latex or oil-based enamel paint, sanding lightly between coats.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Danny Lipford: People often ask, “How hard is it to paint your kitchen cabinets?”

First, you want to sand all surfaces, whether they’re painted or stained, so the primer will adhere well. Then apply an oil primer to help the subsequent layers of paint stick.

Next, fill any holes, divots, or low places with automobile body filler; and sand it smooth after it dries. Then wipe it clean and you’re ready to apply two coats of quality enamel paint. Brush painting will work fine, but a sprayer is even better if you have access to one.

When you’re done, your old cabinets will have a fresh, new look; and so will your kitchen.


  1. My cabinets are not wood. They are white builder grade laminate that can peel away from the pressed board. Is there a paint that would adhere to that type of material? If not what would be the best way to make over Those types of cabinets? I prefer dark cabinets And my husband wants to leave them be. I’m looking for a compromise

    • Hi, Bobbie,
      Here’s “Today’s Homeowner” host Danny Lipford’s answer to your question:
      “You can paint those cabinets by lightly sanding with 120-grit sandpaper, wipe free of dust, and use a bonding primer to create a surface that your finished coats of paint will adhere to.
      Good luck with your project!”

  2. My custom-made, raw wood cabinets were recently delivered. I’m planning to paint (small foam roller rather than a brush) them myself…polyurethaning the insides. Is it easier to paint them once they are hung up? OR, while they are still sitting on the floor?

    • Hi, Peggy! We usually take the cabinets outside and paint them there.
      It’s good because there’s so much fresh air, and you don’t have to worry about paint spills. 🙂
      Good luck!


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