Did you know the average cost of having kitchen cabinets professionally painted is around $5,000 for a medium-sized kitchen? With the right information, you can do it yourself for only the cost of a paint sprayer and a few basic supplies.
If you’re looking to save money or just enjoy doing home projects, spray painting kitchen cabinets is a DIY project you can definitely tackle yourself and we’re here to help! Below you’ll find a complete guide with step-by-step instructions for exactly how to spray paint kitchen cabinets. You’ll learn how to prepare, what equipment you’ll need, and some helpful tips and FAQs as well.
Why Spray Paint Your Cabinets?
Spray painting your kitchen cabinets is a great way to update the look of your kitchen without breaking the bank. A fresh coat of paint can make a dramatic impact on the look and feel of your kitchen and is a much more affordable option than replacing cabinets or having them professionally refinished. With a little preparation and the right tools, you can achieve a quality look at home and save a ton of money by doing the work yourself.
There are two main methods for how to spray paint kitchen cabinets. Brush painting (with brushes and rollers) and spray painting (with a paint sprayer). If you want to get a professional looking finish in less time, spray painting your kitchen cabinets is the way to go. With a decent sprayer you’ll be able to apply smooth coats without brush marks and it will be much faster than using rollers and brushes.
Tools and Materials Needed
When it comes to spray painting kitchen cabinets, the first thing you’ll need is a decent sprayer. There are tons of paint sprayers on the market at different price points. Here’s an article that will help you find a good sprayer within your budget.
Drill or Screwdriver
You’ll need a drill and/or a screwdriver to remove cabinet doors and hardware.
Once you’ve removed screws and hardware, you’ll need a place to secure them where they won’t get lost. Plastic sandwich bags are perfect for this. You can use a separate bag for each door and drawer and label them. By keeping everything organized it will be much easier when it comes time to put everything back together.
Drop Cloths and Painters Tape
You’ll need to protect the floors, countertops, appliances, and walls around your cabinets. Drop cloths and painter’s tape will make the process simple and easy. Plastic drop cloths are inexpensive and very easy to use. You can also use rosin paper to protect floors and countertops.
How to Choose the Right Paint
Cabinet paint is recommended and will give you a beautiful, smooth finish, but any high-quality acrylic paint will work. Here’s an article all about the types of paint available for cabinets and here are some ideas to help you choose a color.
Unless your cabinets have already been painted, don’t skip the primer! Priming helps the paint stick to the cabinets and it can help cover imperfections as well. If you’re just updating the color or touching up cabinets that have already been painted, priming is not as important for spray painting your kitchen cabinets.
Preparation for Spray Painting Kitchen Cabinets
Taking the time to properly prepare and get your cabinets ready for painting will make a huge difference in the overall results. Some of the steps might seem tedious, but in the end, you’ll see it was time well spent when your cabinets have that nice, smooth finish!
Empty The Cabinets
First, you’ll want to empty out your cabinets and drawers. Get some boxes or empty plastic tubs to hold all of your dishes and other kitchen tools and store them outside of the kitchen while you’re spray painting your kitchen cabinets.
Disassemble Where Possible
You’ll need to remove cabinet doors, drawer faces, and hardware as much as you can. The more you remove, the easier spray painting your kitchen cabinets will be. This process is time-consuming, but it’s a lot easier than trying to paint around hinges and handles. And if you stay organized, it will be a piece of cake to put everything back together.
After taking the doors down and drawer faces off, unscrew and remove the hinges and hardware. Keep all of the hardware for each door and drawer together in separate plastic sandwich bags. Make sure to label each cabinet panel and the hardware that goes with it as you remove them.
Being detailed in your labels will help make everything run smoothly and make your life a LOT easier when it’s time to put the kitchen back together. You can use a simple numbering system and make a chart to help you remember where everything goes.
Sand and Patch the Cabinet Surfaces
Once you’ve removed everything that you can, lightly sand all surfaces with a fine-grit sandpaper. You don’t need to completely remove the finish, you just want to smooth out damaged spots and rough up the surface to give the paint something to stick to.
After sanding, patch minor cracks, holes, and dings with wood filler. If you’re changing out hardware or handles for something that will need different holes, now is the time to fill in those existing holes.
Clean the Surfaces
To finish prepping the cabinet surfaces, remove any lingering dust, dirt, or grease. Use TSP or white vinegar to wipe down cabinet doors and frames and allow them to dry fully before moving on to paint.
Set Up a Work Area
You’ll need an area set up for painting your kitchen cabinet doors. Outside is ideal if you have the space, or clear a spot in the garage or another room in your home. You’ll want to protect the area around your workspace with drop cloths.
When it comes to how to spray paint kitchen cabinet doors, you can use an old table and cover it with drop cloths to protect the surface. Use something to prop up the cabinet doors from the surface of the table so you can easily reach to paint the sides. Pieces of scrap woodwork well.
Set up a drying area away from the painting area where you can move pieces after you’ve painted them. The pieces should sit off the floor to keep wet sides from touching anything while they dry. 4×4’s lined up work great, but anything sturdy that will lift the cabinet pieces off the floor will work
Protect Adjoining Surfaces and Appliances
You’re almost ready to start spray painting your kitchen cabinets! Before you get started with the paint you’ll want to take a few moments to protect everything in your kitchen that you don’t want to get paint on it.
Tape off all areas around the cabinet frames and protect your walls and appliances with plastic drop cloths. You can use more drop cloths or rosin paper to cover floors and countertops. Don’t forget to cover the inside of your cabinets as well, unless you’re planning on painting them.
How to Spray Paint Kitchen Cabinets
You’ve done all the prep, now you’re ready to start spray painting your kitchen cabinets!
If this is your first time using a paint sprayer, try a few practice rounds before you start spraying your cabinets. You can use a piece of cardboard or a large scrap of wood to get the feel of the sprayer and adjust the settings for the right spray. You don’t want to end up with a bad finish because you rushed into painting before figuring out the sprayer.
Once you’re feeling comfortable with the sprayer, you’re ready to prime. Most primers will need to be thinned when using a paint sprayer. Thin the primer according to the manufacturer’s directions for your sprayer before starting.
Prime the cabinet frames and all of the doors and drawer fronts. You’ll want to prime the front and sides of the doors, then move them to the drying area. Let everything dry for at least 24 hours, then prime the backs of the doors. 1-2 coats of primer should be enough, but you can do up to 4 if you need to. A few thin coats will give you a better result than trying to do 1 thick coat. Follow it up with 2 coats of paint.
Paint the Cabinet Frames
You can use a brush for the frames if you like, but a sprayer will be quicker and provides a smoother finish. Spray painting your kitchen cabinet frames will be the most disruptive part of the job because you’ll have to cover up most of your kitchen to protect everything.
If you paint the frames first, you’ll be able to remove some of the protective covering sooner and get to things like your fridge and sink while the cabinet doors are still drying.
Paint the Cabinet Doors
Be patient and take your time when spray painting your kitchen cabinet doors. You don’t want to have drips or uneven sections. Move the sprayer smoothly over the surface to provide a light, even coat. Once everything has been painted, allow it to fully dry for at least 24 hours before applying a second coat of paint.
Clean the Sprayer
You’ll want to clean your sprayer after every use to keep it in good working order. This process won’t take long and will ensure your sprayer is in good condition and ready for putting on the next coat of paint. Follow the instructions that come with your particular sprayer.
Reassemble the Kitchen Cabinets
Now the paint is completely dry and you’re ready to reassemble your cabinets. If you took the time to label everything carefully, putting your kitchen back together should be a breeze.
Once all the doors, drawer fronts, and hardware are put back on and your kitchen supplies are unpacked, that’s it. Congratulate yourself on a job well done. Sit back, relax, and enjoy your beautiful, freshly spray-painted kitchen cabinets!
Tips for Spray Painting Kitchen Cabinets
Tint Your Primer
You can ask your paint store to tint the primer the same color as your paint. This will make the color appear richer.
Don’t Touch Too Soon
It’s possible to leave fingerprints on paint that looks dry but is still tacky. Make sure to allow enough time for everything to fully dry before touching it.
Lay Your Cabinet Doors Down to Paint them
Drips are more likely when the surface is vertical so it will be easier to paint the cabinet fronts if they are laying horizontally.
Sand Between Coats
After the paint has fully dried, take your fine-grit sandpaper and lightly sand the surfaces of your cabinets before applying the next coat. This helps the paint stick and the next coat will go on more evenly.
Set Up a Temporary Kitchen
Once everything is removed and covered up in preparation for spray painting your kitchen cabinets, your kitchen will be pretty unusable for a while. Unless you want to order in or eat out for every meal until you finish the job, set up a temporary kitchen elsewhere in your home.
A folding table with some basic kitchen tools, dishes, and a couple of small appliances like a griddle or toaster oven will make it easy to prepare meals and snacks while you’re completing the project.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is priming essential?
Yes, priming is very important to make sure you have a smooth finish that won’t peel or flake. If you don’t prime, the paint may not stick to the cabinets very well and can flake over time. The only exception is if you’re spray painting kitchen cabinets that have been painted with the same type of paint before, then priming isn’t as necessary.
Do I need to paint the inside of my cabinets?
That is totally up to you. If the inside of the cabinets is in good shape then it’s not necessary unless you just want to.
How Long Does Spray Painting Kitchen Cabinets Take?
This depends on how big your kitchen is and how much time you have to dedicate each day. Plan for a minimum of 4-5 days but probably more like 1-3 weeks. While this isn’t a super quick project, the good news is, using a sprayer is much faster than using a brush and roller.
Part of what takes the longest is waiting for the paint to dry between coats. You’ll need to allow at least 24 hours between each coat of primer and paint which is a minimum of 3-4 days. Getting your kitchen ready by emptying cabinets and prepping everything will take several hours if not several days, then putting everything back at the end will likely take a couple of days as well.
Wrapping Up How To Paint Kitchen Cabinets
Now that you’ve learned everything you need to know for how to spray paint kitchen cabinets, all you need to do is pick up some supplies and you’ll be ready to start your project! Come back and let us know how it goes. Which of the tips did you find most helpful?
Ready To Learn More?
Check out our Painting Kitchen Cabinets hub page for everything you could want to know about cabinet painting including costs, how-tos, reviews, and more.
I started painting in 2001 and have seen just about everything in my painting career. I started in production and commercial painting, then moved over to new construction and remodeling during the boom of the early 2000s. Post 2010, I niched down into residential painting where I have done everything from exteriors, decks, interiors, furniture and more. Over the last few years, I’ve had a focus on kitchen cabinets.
I started the DIY Painting Tips blog in 2015 to start sharing everything I’ve learned over the years and help all the people who’d rather tackle their painting projects themselves.
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