DIY Network

Painting 101

How to Repaint Kitchen Cabinets

Consider repainting your cabinets — and enhancing your kitchen — by sanding and repainting with high-quality paints. DIY experts show you how.

More in Kitchen

turn outdated kitchen into fresh modern space
  • Time

    Under Half Day

  • Price Range

    $50 - $100

  • Difficulty



Step 1: Sand Doors

Remove the doors, hinges and handles from the cabinets. Sand the doors and cabinet frames. Before you begin, hang plastic sheeting over the doorways to prevent dust from spreading throughout the house. Use a random-orbit sander with 100-grit paper to remove the old finish and a vibrating sander to give the wood a smooth surface. (Some random-orbit sanders can be attached to a wet/dry vacuum cleaner to minimize dust.) For grooves and other tight areas, use a sanding block or a detail sander with 60-grit paper. Be careful not to round off any square edges while sanding.

Step 2: Secure Hinges

Mark and drill pilot holes if necessary, and secure the hinges to the doors with screws.

Step 3: Apply Primer

Apply a coat of oil-based primer to the cabinets and doors. Keep the coverage as consistent as possible. The primer will prevent the wood from soaking up too much paint. A primer/sealer does double duty by preventing stains from showing through

Step 4: Apply Oil-Based Paint

Use long, even strokes to apply a coat of oil-based paint to the cabinets and doors. For cabinets, oil-based paint is preferable to latex paint because it dries harder and has fewer tendencies to stick to your dishes. Be sure you have good ventilation when using oil-based paints.

Step 5: Tips To Consider

Don't pinch pennies when buying paint and equipment. More expensive paints will last longer and be easier to apply. Better brushes allow you to paint more smoothly.

Paint the backs of the cabinets first. That way you won't coat your arms with paint.

For easier cleanup, line your paint bucket with aluminum foil.

paint backs of cabinets first