top of page
  • Writer's pictureChris Arnett

Should I Paint My Cabinets Myself?

I owned a residential painting company for a number of years before I got into wood refinishing and restoration. I had customers that would ask me to paint their cabinets and my answer was always the way! I'm a picky painter, I have an attention to detail at a level where even a little "orange peel" texture from a micro foam roller will bother me, that's not how painted cabinets look when you purchase them new, so until I can deliver those factory finish results, I'm going to pass. However, I understand there are some instances where you may want to DIY your kitchen cabinets. Maybe you have a rental property and everything needs painted after a tenant moves out, maybe your cabinets are older and have already been painted multiple times (when you're ready for a completely new look, you should check out our custom refacing process, you're the perfect candidate!), or maybe you just maxed out your home renovation budget and a temporary fix is what you're looking for. If you're going to paint your cabinets yourself, skip the kits and follow these steps for a finish that will hold up better than your average paint job.

Step 1: Properly Clean and Prepare Your Cabinets

The first step in achieving a professional-looking finish is to thoroughly clean and prepare your cabinets. Remove all hardware, such as handles and knobs, and clean the surfaces using a mild detergent like dawn dish soap and warm water. Rinse thoroughly and allow the cabinets to dry completely. DO NOT immerse your cabinet doors and drawer fronts in water. Some cabinets are made from MDF wood and even hardwoods can be damaged and warped if they are soaked completely in a liquid.

Step 2: Sand the surfaces using a fine-grit sandpaper, 180-220 to remove any existing paint drips and heavier orange peel texture if they are previously painted, or just to create a slightly rough surface that will help the new paint adhere properly. Wipe down the surfaces with a microfiber cloth to remove any dust or debris.

Step 3: Apply a High-Quality Primer

A good primer is essential for ensuring a smooth and durable paint finish. Choose a high-quality primer specifically designed for use on cabinets, such as a stain-blocking primer (tannin rich woods like cherry and oak), which will help prevent any existing stains or discoloration from bleeding through the new paint. Apply the primer evenly using a brush or roller and allow it to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Step 4: Choose the Right Paint and Tools

When selecting paint for your cabinets, opt for a high-quality paint that is specifically formulated for use on cabinets. Benjamin Moore cabinet coat and Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane are both good coatings. This type of paint is designed to be more durable and resistant to chipping, peeling, and staining. Invest in quality brushes and mini rollers that are designed for painting cabinets, as they will help you achieve the smoothest finish possible when painting cabinets yourself.

Step 5: Apply Multiple Thin Coats of Paint

As mentioned in the introduction, applying multiple thin coats of paint is key to achieving a durable and professional-looking finish. Start by painting the edges and corners of the cabinet doors and frames with a brush, and then use a mini roller to paint the larger, flat surfaces. Allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next one. Be patient – rushing the process can result in lap lines, drips and a heavier "orange peel" texture.

Step 6: Reassemble the Cabinets

After allowing the final coat of paint and topcoat to dry completely, reattach your hardware and reassemble your cabinets. Enjoy your freshly painted cabinets, knowing that you've achieved a finish that is more durable and professional-looking than the average DIY paint job.

While DIY cabinet painting can be a temporary solution for certain situations, it's important to follow the right steps to achieve the best finish possible. By properly preparing your cabinets, using high-quality primer and paint, applying multiple thin coats of paint, and adding a protective clear coat, you'll be able to enjoy a finish that holds up better than your average paint job. However, if you live in Columbus Ohio and when you're ready for a more permanent and high-quality solution, consider Rocket Finish's custom refacing or refinishing process to achieve factory-like results that will truly transform your kitchen and preserve and add value to your home.

22 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page