Decorating a kitchen can be expensive and time consuming job. If you’re decorating on a budget, one of the fastest ways to transform a kitchen space is to paint the cabinets. While is does take a little time and effort, a kitchen can be made to look new again in a weekend. Painted furniture is an up to date way to deal with builders cabinets, or cabinets that need to be rejuvenated.

Step 1 –

Clean the cabinets well to remove all grease and grime, then sand with a medium grit sandpaper. You may wish to remove the doors from the cabinets.


Step 2 –

Prime the cabinets with a good quality primer such as Kilz or BIN. Follow the directions on the can, but I let the primer cure for at least 24 hours.

Priming kitchen cabinets


Step 3 –

Paint the cabinets with latex enamel semi gloss paint, in your chosen color. Use quality brushes to avoid bristles in your finish. Unless you are an adventurous decorator, you may wish to stay with neutrals. This way you can change the decor over time, without having to repaint the cabinets.

White gives an airy, clean look. Black offers a sophisticated style and beige or creams blend with almost any decor. Charcoal grey or deep brown create a more contemporary kitchen look.

Painted kitchen cabinets


Step 4 –

If desired, you can topcoat the cabinets with a clear, water based polyurethane to protect it and offer years of easy cleaning.

You also have the option of using decorative paint finishes to create a custom look. Try dry brushing, glazing or aging techniques for a one of a kind look on a budget. Stenciling or stamping is a great way to bring a motif into your kitchen decorating.

Stenciled kitchen cabinets

Other options to dress up your kitchen cabinets are adding molding to the top edge of the cabinets, or changing out the cabinet hardware. Both can be found at home improvement centers and are easy to install.

Also consider removing the door of one cabinet and use as a display area. Paint the inside of this cabinet a different, but coordinating color to set off your best dishes and collectible.

With a little bit of elbow grease, any kitchen can be transformed with paint! Painting cabinets when you’re decorating a kitchen instead of replacing them can save you thousands of dollars.

Image Credits: Home and Decor, BHG, Hooked on Houses

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  1. Gloria Lindsey January 17, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    I just wanted to say thank you to I’ve been receiving it in my email box for several years now and I don’t think I’ve ever thanked you. I’ve just always taken it for granted that it would be there. I do appreciate being able to look at new and refreshing ideas, great projects, and beautiful photos of all styles in every room of the home. This website has provided all of this for me, and I love knowing that everything is created with a budget in mind. So thank you very much Mrs. Kathy Woodard for making this possible! God bless you!

    1. Kathy Woodard January 20, 2014 at 4:17 pm

      Hi Gloria! Thank you so much for your kind words… It really means a lot to me when I hear from readers who have been with me a long time… and it always feels good to know all our hard work is helpful! Thank you again for taking the time to write such a kind worded note! -Kathy

  2. Patti January 31, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Help! My daughter needs help re modeling her kitchen. She lives in southern calif. she needs new cabinets cheap. She doesn’t like ikea cabinets. So any ideas?

    1. Kathy Woodard February 8, 2014 at 4:15 pm

      Re-Store (Habitat For Humanity) often gets cabinets in great condition that simply need repainting! Hopefully there is one in her area!

  3. Michelle March 9, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    Just wondering if you can recommend the best product to use for cleaning & degreasing older cabinets?

    1. Kathy Woodard March 10, 2014 at 11:55 am

      If you are repainting, TSP is the best degreaser for that…its found in (usually) powder form in the painting section…

  4. Rhiannon July 23, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    We have a birch colored veneer strip that runs down the middle of the doors (between where the doors close)on our cabinets… We are repainting white and are ordering if we can paint that veneer strip or leave it?

    1. Kathy Woodard July 29, 2014 at 12:27 pm

      Without seeing it its tough to say, but if the birch is part of the base of the cabinets, and you are repainting the doors white, we suggest painting the whole cabinet white…

  5. Cathy October 1, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    Have you ever used chalk board paint for cabinets? I would like to re do my cabinets in a primitive black.

  6. Lisa @ Lisas Creative Designs June 3, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    Oh I love the Shabby Chic inspired kitchen! I painted my cabinets a few years ago but it’s time to paint them again. I am trying to figure out what color to do them in. I am in a bit of a Pink frame of mind these days but I think my husband would run away from home if I painted them pink! I am thinking light grey or white.

  7. Jilly July 30, 2015 at 9:55 am

    I’d love to paint the cabinets in my kitchen, but they are fiberboard with paper wood look. The doors are wood, but not the frames and the corner pieces are plastic. I was told I’d have to resurface all the frames because the paper will not hold the paint, it will just curl up and fall off. It looked nice for a couple of years, but is looking very used now. Very cheaply done. HELP!

    1. Kathy Woodard August 4, 2015 at 11:43 am

      Hi Jilly… It sound like up might have to reface your cabinets… Have you thought of looking at Habitat for Humanity Restore, and finding outdated, but wood,cabinets to replace yours, then give them a good refinish paint job? Might be a good option for you if you have someone who can do that kind of installation. otherwise, fiberboard is tough to refinish. Anyone have a creative idea for her?

  8. Sarah August 9, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    A lot of the DIY instructions I’ve found for doing this includes using a Deglosser on the cabinet instead of sanding (including the “This Old House” site, which I love), but the priming must occur within an hour of using the deglosser. Plus, I really don’t want to use deglosser if possible as it is pretty toxic/fumey. It does have you sand in between coats for a smooth finish, too, which however I go about this I will do.

    I imagine sanding does the same thing as using a deglosser, so my question really about that. How well does the paint stand up to just a sanding vs. using a deglosser. Have you see any chipping, or peeling? I hope, like I’m sure we all do, that it will stand up to time, and heavy use.

    Thanks! :)

    1. Kathy Woodard October 29, 2015 at 3:15 pm

      My feeling is that sanding the old fashioned way is probably going to get you a longer lasting finish… Anyone disagree?

  9. Tari Harlan August 7, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    I love this site! I’m considering repainting my kitchen cabinets, they are knotty pine, although the previous owner painted them with a high gloss white…Will I need to do prep work before I paint them? We live in a log cabin, and I would like to stay “rustic”…any ideas on colors that won’t make it seem smaller and too dark? I like greens and whites shades, my accent. Color is orange and black, all the walls are knotty pine with an orange shellac…thank you

    1. Kathy Woodard September 8, 2016 at 1:46 pm

      You will have to sand or use liquid sandpaper on gloss cabinets… try considering gray… it’s a modern farmhouse color that looks great with rustic, but still updated!

  10. Laura Miller July 26, 2017 at 2:08 am

    Can I paint laminate cabinets?

    1. Kathy Woodard July 31, 2017 at 5:44 pm

      Yes! Google “how to paint laminate”! The key is the primer!


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