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Sanding Not Required: Painting Kitchen Cabinets without Sanding

So you’ve been thinking for a while that your kitchen cabinets could use a makeover. What’s stopping you? Do you think sanding is a requirement, but you’re unwilling or unable to do it? That would be understandable since it’s a messy, tedious, and time-consuming job.

Fortunately, there’s a method for painting kitchen cabinets without sanding! We’ll tell you all about it.

Close up of a person holding a paintbrush painting kitchen cabinets without sanding

Benefits of Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Whether you’re painting kitchen cabinets without sanding or doing it with a sander, this project is a lot of work. However, it’s worth the time and effort. Here’s a list of reasons why.

Protects the Cabinets

Although your kitchen cabinets are safe from the weather outdoors, they’re still prone to wear over time due to exposure to the smoke, fumes, water, and food spills common to cooking. Paint provides a layer of protection that blocks out everything outside the cabinets, keeping the wood in good shape for its expected lifespan.

Beautifies the Kitchen

Kitchens are busy places; they’re used not only for cooking but also for socializing, planning, and preparing for the day. Since you spend so much time in the kitchen, it should encourage a good mood. The color of the kitchen cabinets can impact how you feel while you’re there. You can paint kitchen cabinets without sanding if it will help you enjoy such an important space.

Promotes Self-Expression

Similarly, nothing supports your mental and emotional health like expressing yourself artistically. You choose the color, the shade, the application style, and whether to add trim or accents with other colors. There is an art to painting kitchen cabinets without sanding, and it can allow your guests to connect with your personality or values.

Hones Your DIY Skills

In addition to being a fun hobby, developing your DIY skills is great for handling small improvement jobs or creative projects around your home. Even if you paint kitchen cabinets without sanding, you’ll still nurture other important skills, like cabinet installation and project organization. Of course, you’ll also learn more about painting.

Why Should You Paint Kitchen Cabinets Without Sanding?

There’s nothing wrong with using a sander to prepare wood for painting. Nevertheless, there are a few advantages to skipping it.

Increased Safety

Sanders and sandpapers are sharp enough to cut you, and they produce particles that could harm your health if they get in your eyes or lungs. To paint kitchen cabinets without sanding, you’ll use chemical alternatives, which are often safer.

Less Mess

Even if your lungs and eyes are free of the particles left over from sanding, your floor and walls might not be. You could vacuum or sweep everything up, but painting kitchen cabinets without sanding is a better way to save time and energy.

Saves Money

Sanding tools are often expensive, especially electric ones. Although such an investment could make sense if you work with wood frequently, other options are usually cheaper. The money you save could go toward other DIY projects, such as painting your countertops!

Tools You Need

The first step to painting kitchen cabinets without sanding is to gather the right tools. You need items that can achieve the effect of sanding without the act itself. Prepare yourself by going through the list below.

Sponges, Rags, or Scouring Pads

Handy for both cleaning and scrubbing, multi-purpose sponges are essential for multiple steps in painting kitchen cabinets without sanding. Microfiber, in particular, is sturdy yet soft and can be washed for reuse, making it both cost-efficient and environmentally friendly. If you prefer, scouring pads and microfiber rags work well, too.

Liquid Deglosser or Mineral Spirits

Since you’re painting kitchen cabinets without sanding, you need something else to eliminate blemishes and help the fibers grip the paint. Liquid deglosser is a great solution. It roughens the wood as effectively as sandpaper, except it uses chemicals rather than sharp or abrasive materials.

Cleaning kitchen cabinets before painting

Mineral spirits are also a great option; they work similarly to liquid deglosser. As a bonus, however, they also clean and disinfect the wood.

Masking Tape

Nearly all experienced painters agree that masking tape is a wonderful tool for paint jobs. It’s easy to apply and remove and keeps your painting space clean, protecting whatever you don’t want to be painted. Even organization is simpler with the tape because it can mark your workspace or help you identify each individual piece of the project.


Kitchen cabinets are easier to paint when you remove the doors from the shelves they cover. For that, you’ll need a screwdriver. Get one with many different heads so you’re prepared for any type of screw your cabinets might have.


If you’re painting kitchen cabinets without sanding, you’re probably using more chemicals than usual. Paint is made from chemicals, too. Wear disposable gloves to protect your skin from burns, rashes, or other types of harm.

Safety Goggles

Chemical usage is also a good reason to wear safety goggles. Otherwise, the fumes could cause your eyes to become dry and irritated. You’ll also want to prevent stray drops of paint or other liquids from damaging your eyesight.


Between the paint, mineral spirits, and sealer, you’ll deal with a lot of chemicals and smells in order to paint kitchen cabinets without sanding. A disposable mask could keep you from getting sick from the fumes. At the very least, blocking out odors will make the job more pleasant.


Any painting expert would tell you that primer is a must-have. It’s designed to help the paint adhere better to most surfaces, including wood, so that the paint job is more durable. It can assist with preventing blistering, peeling, and cracking as well.


Of course, you need paint. Many different kinds of paint would suffice, but acrylic is a popular choice for wood because it grips the grain so well. Plus, it’s available in a wide variety of colors and shades, so you’ll always be able to achieve your artistic vision.


Paint protects the wood, but what will protect the paint? A quality sealer, that’s what! The purpose of sealer–also known as a topcoat–is to act as a barrier between the paint and all the debris and liquid that might otherwise seep into the wood. The paint job will last much longer with a coat or two of sealer.

Paintbrushes or Paint Sprayer

Unless you want to try fingerpainting the cabinets, you’ll need tools to add color when painting kitchen cabinets without sanding. A set of paintbrushes is a classic and dependable option; they come in many sizes and with different types of bristles, so you can certainly find a set that suits you. On the other hand, paint sprayers are more efficient and sometimes easier to use.

Step-by-Step Instructions

If you’ve gathered all the tools you need to paint kitchen cabinets without sanding, it’s time to start your project. To ensure your success, follow these steps.

Secure the Work Area

Pets and small children may become curious about what you’re doing in the kitchen, and they may even try to “help” you. This could lead to an unnecessary mess at best and physical harm at worst. Put up baby gates or other barriers to block your workspace.

Tape Off Areas

You’re only trying to paint the cabinets, not the backsplashes, stove, oven, or anything else in your kitchen. Use masking tape to cover up any areas close to the cabinets that you don’t want to splash with paint.

Remove and Label Cabinet Doors

The cabinets will be easier to paint if you unscrew the doors and lay them down in your workspace. However, label each one with masking tape and a pen as you remove them.

Person removing kitchen cabinet doors before painting

Put tape written with matching numbers on the corresponding shelves. That way, you won’t get confused about where to put each door after the painting is done.

Apply Deglosser

To effectively paint kitchen cabinets without sanding, you need the liquid deglosser or mineral spirits to eliminate what remains of the current paint job. Brush your chemical of choice onto the wood and let it sit for as long as the manufacturer recommends or until the wood feels rough. After that, wipe it away with a damp cloth.

Wash and Scrub

You may be painting kitchen cabinets without sanding, but there will still be some mess. With the sponge, scouring pads, or rags, wash the wood with water and mild detergent to pick up debris left from the deglosser or mineral spirits. Washing also removes grease, sanitizes the wood, and removes any leftover paint or sealer.

As you do all this, peel off the numbered pieces of tape and stick them back on as soon as you’ve cleaned the spot where you had it.

As a bonus, consider washing each cabinet’s shelves, walls, and ceilings. You could easily reach every nook and cranny with the doors out of the way, allowing for a satisfying deep cleaning.

Prime the Wood

Once the wood has spent an hour drying, take a paintbrush and spread the first coat of primer on the surface. Allow it to dry as well before spreading a second coat, which will help it work more effectively.

Paint the Cabinets

Now it’s really time to prove that you can paint kitchen cabinets without sanding! Apply the first coat of your paint to the wood. If you’re using a paintbrush, move each stroke in the same direction to ensure the paint looks smooth and consistent. If you prefer to use a paint sprayer, we have a post about everything you need to know to use a sprayer.

Depending on the paint manufacturer, you may only need one coat. However, to guarantee a deeper and richer finish, put on two. Either way, keep the cabinet doors away from anything that could touch them while they dry.

Spread Topcoat/Sealer

When the paint is dry, put on the topcoat or sealer. You will need a paintbrush or paint sprayer for that as well. For the strongest and most durable finish possible, use the same number of coats you used for the paint.

Clean Up

You’ve shown that you can successfully paint kitchen cabinets without sanding, but now you must clean up.

To be safe, your first move should be to store the paint and other chemicals in a cool, dry space–such as a basement or shed–so they’re far from any sparks or heat sources. Wash off the paintbrushes or paint sprayer in a bucket or utility sink, where they’re less likely to damage the pipes or environment.

After that, remove the masking tape from all the areas you protected from paint and throw it away. Return the cabinet doors to their corresponding shelves.

Paint Colors to Consider

You may understand the basics of painting kitchen cabinets without sanding. However, you may still be mulling over other important aspects of the project, like what color paint to use. Not to worry–we’ll give you suggestions to help you decide.


When it comes to making a space feel brighter and more open, no other color rivals white. This is a wonderful choice if your kitchen is small and you want it to look bigger or if you want it to feel extra welcoming.


Only black can manage to feel dark and bold at the same time. Whether you want black as the main color or just for trim, it gives the kitchen an exciting yet classy sense of drama.


Since red boosts your confidence and energy levels while making you feel hungrier, some might say it’s the perfect color for a kitchen. It may help you find the courage to try new meals or cooking techniques.


You may love experimenting in the kitchen and crave the ability to focus more on the quality of your cooking or the simple joy of making something delicious. In that case, opt for green, which is known for enhancing creativity and concentration.


Knowing that the kitchen is often a social space, blue would be a lovely color for kitchen cabinets. It promotes tranquility and harmony, which could make interactions even more pleasant.


Naturally associated with happiness and cheerfulness, yellow could be a fabulous color for the same reason as blue. Kitchen conversations could be more fun if you’re surrounded by this color!

Modern kitchen with yellow cabinets and white sink

Try Painting Kitchen Cabinets Without Sanding!

We hope you feel more confident that you can paint kitchen cabinets without sanding. It may become your preferred method for painting anything in your home!

However, there’s even more you might want to know about the topic before you start your project. Boost your knowledge and confidence level by reading our advice on kitchen cabinet painting!