How to Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets Yourself

Clean Cut Paint Bottle

The task of painting your kitchen cabinets may feel like it’s more than you can handle, but if you break it down into three separate sections, you’ll find it more manageable. First, you’ll need to decide on just the right color for your cabinets, whether it’s pure white, off white, blue, green, or some other popular cabinet color.

Once you know the color you want and the cabinet paint brand you’ll use, you can begin to take the steps towards completing your cabinet painting project. Three parts of the cabinet painting process to consider are:

  • The tools you’ll need
  • Prep the cabinets and trim
  • Prime and paint the cabinets

The Tools Needed for DIY Cabinet Painting

The list of tools needed to paint your cabinets is long so it’s presented as a checklist to ensure you don’t overlook anything essential.

____ 1) Drill or screwdriver to remove hinges and other hardware

____ 2) Baggies to store hardware

____ 3) A way to mark the baggies to keep all removed pieces organized. You can use a Sharpie to write directly onto the bag or write on a piece of masking tape and stick it to the bag.

____ 4) Fabric or plastic drop cloths

____ 5) Gloves

____ 6) Cleaner and degreaser – one brand is Krud Kutter

____ 7) Red scotch brite pads

____ 8) Absorbent cloths so anything you use to deep clean the cabinets doesn’t stay on the surface and ruin it. We use blue shop towels as to not spread contaminants.

____ 9) Mask so you don’t breathe in the alcohol or other cleaning chemicals. Fans are also helpful to introduce fresh air into the space.

____ 10) If you plan to fill in any holes when moving hardware, for example, you’ll need a putty knife, wood filler that you can paint over, sandpaper, and painter’s tape.

____11) Caulk and a caulk gun, however do NOT caulk door frames to panels, they are made to expand and contract and it will cause it to crack.

____ 12) Small, electric sander (optional) or you can use sandpaper

____ 13) Absorbent cloth or vacuum to remove dust from cabinet surfaces

____ 14) Tape rosin paper to floors to protect them

____ 15) Primer – talk to a professional in your favorite paint store to help you choose the right primer. Shellac is the best option, if not Benjamin Moore Stix is another great option.

____ 16) Paint – with endless possibilities, you can become overwhelmed quickly. Do some online research and consult with a paint professional to decide on color and brand. Benjamin Moore INSLX Cabinet Coat or Benjamin Moore Scuff-X are the best DIY options.

____ 17) Stir sticks, paint pour spouts, paint can opener, paint rollers, paint tray, paint sprayer, and painter pyramids so you can paint all sides at one time.

How to Prep Cabinets for Cabinet Painting

The first thing that must be done for your kitchen cabinet painting project is for the cabinets to be dismantled. You must do so in a very systematic manner, marking each baggie or container so when you need to put the cabinets back in place, you’ll know where each goes. Mark all doors and drawers so you know their location. We recommend drawing a “map” of the space with the number of each door and drawer and their coordinating places.

Once everything is dismantled, your next step for preparation is to clean the cabinets and surrounding surfaces. Be sure to remove any grease that is on the surfaces as paint will not adhere to grease.

Next, you’ll need to sand the surfaces of the doors, cabinets, and drawers. The purpose of the sanding during prep is to create a surface that the primer and paint will best adhere. Use an absorbent cloth or a vacuum to remove the dust from sanding.

Prime and Paint the Cabinets

Apply primer to all surfaces. There are optimal methods to applying primer and those should be understood before you begin your primer application. Be sure your primer is completely dry before you move onto the next steps. A tacky primer will cause a lot of problems easily avoided by following this direction to fully dry.

Sand the surfaces (post-primer) until they’re glassy smooth. Vacuum the dust and wipe with an absorbent cloth. Apply the paint following cabinet painting techniques used by professionals.

Once the surfaces are painted and completely dry, put all the hardware and cabinetry back together. Clean up the work area and enjoy the results of your well-organized and well-orchestrated project.

And if you have any questions while you’re working on your cabinet painting project, we’re here to help you. 

We have useful tips on how to prepare for your kitchen cabinet painting project, as well as advice on the pros and cons of having a kitchen island.

Even if you begin and need help to finish, we’re happy to help! Visit Clean Cut Painting at or call (860) 854-8679.