DIY Network

How to Paint a Cabinet

Learn how to remove old coats of paint from a cabinet and add new paint with these easy step-by-step directions.

More in Remodeling

paint face frames starting high on cabinet
  • Time

    Under Half Day

  • Price Range

    $50 - $100

  • Difficulty

    Easy to Moderate


Step 1: Remove the Old Paint

Remove all hardware if possible, then mask off all remaining hardware, side walls, floor and ceiling to contain sanding dust. Lightly sand all surfaces using 120-grit sandpaper. Depending on the paint condition, the paint may have to be removed by scraping and/or heavy sanding using 60-grit sandpaper. To help speed up this project, we used a random-orbit sander (Images 1 and 2). A lighter sanding is preferred to avoid damaging the wood.Remove dust using a clean rag or vacuum cleaner with soft-bristle attachment. Using either a two part polyester filler or wood putty, fill any holes that have been caused by older hardware or nail holes. Remove dust with a rag and then wipe completely free of dust using a tack cloth.

Step 2: Paint the Cabinet by Hand

Pour the paint into a gallon bucket and mix in a paint leveler, mixing the paint together per manufacturer's recommendations.Starting high on the cabinet, paint the face frames and work downward toward the bottom of the cabinet. Observe the direction of the face frames and run brush strokes in those directions. When painting the doors, start with the center panel and make sure your brush strokes run vertically. On the rails, paint in the direction of the rails.Allow paint to dry completely before installing the remaining doors, drawers and hardware.

Step 3: Paint the Cabinet: Spray Option

Important: If electing to spray this cabinet, the placement of the glass into the doors should be done after the spray is completed to avoid having to mask the glass on the doors. Follow the same steps as those listed above for paint removal.Using a latex enamel paint, pour the spray canister about two thirds full with the paint.Using a paint leveler like, mix the paint together per manufacturers recommendations. Attach the canister to the spray gun, and attach the hose to the compressor. Begin by spraying the back of the countertop area and undersides of the cabinets first, working from left to right. Spray the face frames next, and then the door fronts and backs, drawer fronts and any additional trim.Replace hardware after the paint has dried.