The Do’s & Don’ts of Painting Kitchen Cabinets

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The Do's and Don'ts to easily paint your kitchen cabinets. A step by step guide how to paint kitchen cabinets as easily as possible.


The most common questions I got in my last house was about the kitchen cabinets. Did I paint them? (Yes!) Was it hard? (No!) Am I glad I did it? (Heck yes!) Will I paint (the person asking) cabinets for them? (No, haha,–but I’ll tell you how to do it!). Read on 🙂



Painting a kitchen full of cabinets is not hard, but it can be time-consuming. There are several important stages, including drying, that just take time, so you can only rush the project so much. However, there are steps you can take that will save you time, energy and major headaches, so today I pulled my most important tips into a post for those of you undertaking this project.

Facing a kitchen full of dated, wood cabinets can be intimidating. Below is a picture of our kitchen before I painted and made a few other updates in this space. I worked through my kitchen in sections, which helped make the project more manageable. Though I consider this to be a fairly large kitchen, so that also contributed to the scale of the project.



I have a post with the step by step process I used to paint our cabinets HERE. It covers all the tools you need, how I broke it down into sections and the important tools I used to do the job, so be sure to check that out.  You can also see our full kitchen reveal post HERE.


Easily updated your dated, dark wood kitchen cabinets with paint. See the do's and don'ts for painting your kitchen or bathroom cabinets in this post. It is easier than you think!


Want a quick overview of the cabinet painting process? Check out this 1 minute video of the process using a paint sprayer below!



Corbels via Osborne Wood Co.


Last fall I wrote an update on how the finish was holding up on the cabinets, two years post-painting. I thought that was important because what everyone wonders is, will the paint last? Will it chip off? How will it hold up? I wanted to reassure everyone that I had barely any issues with two years of wear and tear even with kids and dogs 🙂 You can check that post out HERE.



So here are my ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ I think everyone should know about before they undertake painting their kitchen cabinets.


1–Just DO it! If your kitchen is aging, you really aren’t going to hurt it by updating your cabinets. Sure, not everyone loves painted wood, but in the end it is your home. Make it one you love!

2–Do set aside enough time, or know that this will go on for awhile especially if you can only paint nights and weekends. I did our project over the summer, the heat presented a few challenges but we have a more relaxed schedule then which gave me more flexibility. Of course, the time it will take will depend on the size of your kitchen. I suggest you work in sections to minimize disruption unless you have a very small kitchen.

3–DO USE A PAINT SPRAYER. Probably my most important piece of advice! I can’t imagine tackling this project without one. Not only will a brush leave marks and streaks, it will take TEN times longer to complete. The HomeRight Super FinishMax is the perfect tool for this project, it is easy to use even for a beginner and will give you factory finish results. You can purchase one HERE. You also should use a Spray Shelter, this enabled me to leave my cabinet outside to dry overnight, kept the dust off and protected my garage from any overspray. That is available HERE.

4–Do prepare and sand obsessively well. It’s not really the painting that the hard part of this project, it is the sanding. I removed as much of the existing stain and gloss top coat as I could, I think this really helped my paint finish be durable. I recommend this Orbital sander and this corner sander to make this easy, again using a piece of sandpaper is just not going to give you the best result.

5–Do use these stands to raise up the cabinets while you paint. Even if the paint is dry, it won’t be fully cured, so when you flip the cabinet over it may stick to the drop cloth. Ask me how I know that– I had to redo an entire section of cabinets when I made this mistake. The risers will help reduce any contact marks and allow you to flip the cabinets sooner.

6–Do enlist help if you can. Again, this is a big job. Have a friend who also wants to paint cabinets? Help her (him) in exchange for them helping you. Or, hire out the sanding part–my teenage son was fabulous at this job and he worked cheap. Find a neighborhood teenager to tackle this for you and save your energy, or start painting the frames to save time during this step.

7–Do be fully prepared before you start. Stock up on your supplies. You can download a printable supply checklist in this post HERE. You should make sure to buy enough paint and primer (one gallon of both was enough to do my kitchen), and plenty of sanding pads if you use the Belt Sander or Corner Cat, these wear down quickly and you’ll want to switch to a new one often for the best results. Buy at least two (or three to be on the safe side) packs of refills.

8–Do charge up your drill ahead of time, it will make taking any hardware and the cabinet doors off much faster than a screwdriver.

9–Do sample paint first if you aren’t sure of a color. You can see my post HERE on selecting a paint color, you definitely want to be sure you love the results. Buy a sample can, and if you don’t like what you see, stop and get another color. Just because a color looks good in someone else’s kitchen, or online, doesn’t mean it will work in your space.


1–Don’t use bargain paint. This is the time for good paint, it is a little more expensive but you want the paint to last. Make the investment in the highest end paint your paint store recommends. I used Sherwin Williams Door & Trim formula, be sure to buy when it goes on sale!

2–Don’t skip priming. Again, this isn’t the project to use a paint mixed with primer to save a step. Buy a quality primer (we used Kilz in the gold can) apply it using your sprayer for good coverage and let it dry. Sand off any rough spots after it is dry, and wipe dust off with a rag with mineral spirits.

3–Don’t rush the drying time. Hard as it is to be patient, make sure the paint is adequately dry before you flip the cabinets or reinstall them. The paint will be vulnerable for at least the first month, I chipped off several places when reinstalling the doors by accident. Nothing a quick touch up couldn’t fix, but take extra care the first few weeks.

4–Don’t skip making other updates. If you have exposed hinges, which will date the look of your kitchen, so update those along with adding new hardware. You’ll love your new look so much more!

5–Don’t give up! Push through to the end and you’ll love your result. The last section may seem like the hardest section but once it’s finished you will be so glad you did it!

For tons more information on how to paint cabinets with the HomeRight Super FinishMax, please visit the HomeRight website HERE.





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Our posts contain affiliate links.  If you make a purchase after clicking on these links, we will earn a small commission, which helps to keep our content free.  You don’t pay a cent more than you would otherwise, since that would be tacky! Please see our full disclosure policy here.

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  1. I’ve been wanting to paint our cabinets since we moved in two years ago!! Love your 1st tip. Just Do It. That;s what I need to do.

  2. Hi–sorry I’m writing this a couple of months after I first saw it! But I’m confused by your mention of exposed hinges. Do you mean to get new ones? Or to somehow do something so that you don’t even have exposed hinges? Thanks.

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