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The Pros and Cons of Professional Kitchen Cabinet Painting: Is it Worth the Investment?

Let’s face it — there are a number of projects around the house that even veteran DIYers should think twice about doing on their own. At the top of that list is, or should be, repainting kitchen cabinets. In many cases, professional kitchen cabinet painting will be the best approach to this project.

Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of professional kitchen cabinet painting. But also, in this post, you’ll be steered to resources to help you handle kitchen cabinet painting as a DIY project, if that’s how you decide to handle it.

A man looking at the mess he's made painting his kitchen and wondering about hiring someone for professional kitchen cabinet painting

Costs of Kitchen Cabinet Painting

Looking around your house, it’s easy to set on freshening your kitchen cabinets with new paint as a hugely visible and greatly satisfying upgrade. But whether you tackle the job yourself, or decide on professional kitchen cabinet painting, it will cost you.

DIY Cost Calculation

To arrive at a ballpark figure for kitchen cabinet painting, first, find out the square footage of your kitchen. Multiply that number by $3 per square foot for a rough guess of the DIY cost of the work. For most kitchens, the DIY cost of cabinet painting will be between $200 and $600.

Professional Cost Calculation

You can also use your kitchen square footage to get a rough idea of what a professional kitchen cabinet painting job will cost. Multiply the square footage by $10 per square foot to get a sense of what you might pay for the work.

Some professional kitchen cabinet painters might quote you a job cost based on the linear feet of cabinets in your kitchen. If that’s the case, expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $60 for each linear foot of cabinets.

Finally, if a contractor quotes you a job price based on an hourly rate, you could pay anywhere between $20 and $50 per hour, with prices even higher in areas with a high cost of living, for professional kitchen cabinet painting.

Reasons to Hire a Professional Kitchen Cabinet Painter

As you can see, hiring someone for professional kitchen cabinet painting can be a significant investment. However, kitchen cabinet painting is a fairly complicated enterprise, and investing in a professional job likely will be money well spent.

Professional painter spray painting kitchen cabinets

For instance, a professional cabinet painter will be well-acquainted with the detailed prep work required for a top-quality job, from removing latches and hardware to cleaning and sanding your cabinets to applying primer to prepare your cabinets for painting.

Also, a professional cabinet painter will have top-quality tools, and will know how to use them properly, avoiding the paint streaking and other problems that might come from a DIY job.

Finally, a professional kitchen cabinet painter can be an invaluable resource in advising you on your project’s aesthetics. A professional can guide you to a paint color choice, or choices, that will produce a renewed kitchen of which you can be proud.

Choosing a Professional Kitchen Cabinet Painter

As you consider hiring a contractor for professional kitchen cabinet painting, your first step should be to get bids from local contractors. Of course, you can go online to find contractors, but you should also check with friends and neighbors and ask in online community bulletin boards for recommendations.

Evaluating Bids for Professional Kitchen Cabinet Painting

As you meet with potential professional kitchen cabinet painting contractors to get quotes for your job, you can expect those bids to encompass a number of factors. Of course, the size of your kitchen and the number of cabinets it contains will be a factor, but contractors also have other considerations.

For instance, if you have cabinets higher than 8 feet from your kitchen floor, you can expect to pay a premium to contractors, possibly as much as 10% of the total job cost. The materials comprising your cabinets will also be a factor, because some material will require more prep work and more paint.

If your cabinets feature a lot of detailed woodwork, you’ll also be charged for the extra labor required to tackle that part of the job. Also, if your kitchen features a complex layout or has tight spaces, that will factor into any quotes you get for professional kitchen cabinet painting.

Finally, if you are repainting dark cabinets in a lighter color, there will be a need for additional coats of primer and paint, which will be reflected in the quotes you get for professional kitchen cabinet painting.

Professional Kitchen Cabinet Painting Frequently Asked Questions

As you weigh whether professional kitchen cabinet painting is worth what you’ll pay for it as compared to handling the job yourself, you’ll no doubt consider factors from the time it will take, to the level of household disruption, to how to keep your newly painted cabinets looking good for the long term.

Read on for a look at the answers to some of the detailed questions you’re asking yourself about professional kitchen cabinet painting.

How long should professional kitchen cabinet painting take?

Of course, the length of time it will take a professional painter to handle your project will depend on the number of cabinets in your kitchen. But as a rule of thumb, you can expect the work to take three to four days for a smaller kitchen, to as many as ten days for a large kitchen.

Using a paintgun to spray paint cabinets

Also, as you’re searching for a contractor to do the work, you should ask whether he or she will be dedicated to your home, or whether they and their crews will be working on your cabinets among other projects. If you’re included among a number of other projects, your timeline could be lengthened.

Are there any tips for handling access to the kitchen during cabinet painting?

The short answer to this question is to plan not to have any access to your kitchen during cabinet painting. For one thing, all of your kitchen utensils, plates, glasses, and food will be removed from your cabinets prior to painting.

Additionally, the appliances installed along your kitchen counters and cabinets — oven, stove, dishwasher, etc., will be sealed with paper or plastic to prevent paint from getting on them.

The one piece of good news here is that your refrigerator will be wrapped lightly with plastic so that you can still have access to it. But overall, you should plan on eating take-out, prepared foods, or the cereal taken out of your cabinets for the duration of your cabinet-painting project.

How can kitchen cabinets be maintained so the look of professional painting lasts?

The first step in ensuring that your newly painted kitchen cabinets will continue looking good for a long time is to ensure that you or your professional kitchen cabinet painting contractor uses top-quality paint. Use either a gloss or semi-gloss sheen paint, because those two gloss levels are the most durable.

For extra protection of your newly painted cabinets, apply a sealant containing polyurethane, polycrylic, spar urethane or similar products. Be aware that some varnishes will dull white paint, so if that’s the color you’ve used on your cabinets, be wary of applying sealant.

Tips for DIY Kitchen Cabinet Painting

If you do decide that you’re ready to tackle kitchen cabinet painting as a DIY project, you’ll need to ensure that you have the right tools and materials on hand. Additionally, you should educate yourself in advance on potential pitfalls with the work. Read on for some guidance on those points.

Tools and Materials

As with all DIY projects, it’s helpful to gather up all of the supplies and materials you’ll need before you get started with the work. For example, if your cabinets have some dents and dings, you’ll need to have wood filler, a putty knife, and fine-grit sandpaper on hand to make those repairs.

Before you get started in earnest with the job, you’ll want to install some contractor paper to protect your kitchen floor from paint splatter. Also, in advance, you should have some tables nearby on which to paint your cabinet doors. Or, you can place the doors atop empty 5-gallon buckets for painting.

For painting, you’ll first need to apply a shellac-based primer to your cabinets, before applying a gloss or semi-gloss paint to them. To apply primer and paint, you can use a couple of different sizes of rollers on flat sections of your work. A small brush is the best choice for work along panels and other details.

Amazon offers a set of rollers and brushes that would be great for kitchen cabinet painting.

Potential Pitfalls

There are a number of things that need to be done as part of painting kitchen cabinets that some DIYers might not know to do, or might ignore, that can result in a shoddy-looking job.

Kitchen cabinet doors removed in order to paint them

If you are going the DIY route, remember to wipe down your cabinets with a cleaner and degreaser before you do anything else to ensure your new paint will adhere to the cabinets. Also, to ensure paint adherence, you should lightly sand your cabinets before painting.

Next, don’t try to repaint your cabinets without taking the doors out of the cabinet frames and removing hinges and hardware. Label everything that you take out of the cabinet frames and off the cabinet doors to ensure that they’re reinstalled properly after the cabinets are repainted.

As a final step before applying paint, don’t neglect to put a coat of primer on your cabinets to ensure an even finish on the final product.

Reviewing Professional vs DIY Kitchen Cabinet Painting

As you’ve learned — and it probably came at no surprise — having your cabinets professionally painted will cost considerably more than making it a DIY project. That’s true both for the monetary cost and the cost in time.

The time factor becomes particularly important if you’re doing the work yourself, since in most cases, kitchen cabinet painting will be more than a weekend project.

That, of course, means that you’ll have to sandwich your DIY work in between your actual job or other household responsibilities, which could stretch the timeline for the job from about a week to closer to two weeks. That’s a lot more disruption than the week or less that a professional job should take.

In addition to the time factor, you should also consider the quality of the finished work. Unless you’re fairly well-experienced with DIY painting projects, it’s a virtual certainty that a professional job will be of higher quality than what you could do. And there’s no shame in admitting that fact.

Also, if you decide to hire a professional painter, they should offer a warranty for their work — if they don’t, look elsewhere for a painter — that will address any problems with the job. That, of course, is not a protection you’ll have with a DIY project.

Preparing a kitchen for painting

Wrapping up Professional Kitchen Cabinet Painting

As you’ve learned, there is a lot to think about concerning professional kitchen cabinet painting and pursuing it as a DIY project.

For additional help with your kitchen cabinet painting project, you should look further at the DIY Painting Tips posts on choosing kitchen cabinet paint colors, on getting inspiration for your project, and for when the work is done, how to organize your kitchen cabinets.