Painting your kitchen cabinets can completely transform the look of your kitchen, helping modernize and refresh the space. With some preparation and the right techniques, you can paint your cabinets to look like they were professionally done. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to paint kitchen cabinets like a pro.

Gather Your Supplies

  • Paint – Choose a high-quality cabinet paint such as latex acrylic in a satin, semi-gloss or gloss sheen.
  • Primer – Use a bonding primer designed for slick surfaces.
  • Sandpaper – 120-220 grit sandpaper for sanding and scuffing.
  • Rags – For wiping down cabinets.
  • Tack cloths – For removing dust between coats.
  • Paintbrushes – Angled sash brushes for cutting in.
  • Paint rollers – Choose microfiber or foam rollers.
  • Painter’s tape – For protecting walls and countertops.
  • Drop cloths – For protecting floors.
  • Paint tray – For holding paint while rolling.

Prepare the Cabinets

Proper preparation is crucial for a smooth, professional paint job.

  • Remove cabinet doors and hardware. Remove shelves and drawers as well.
  • Clean surfaces with a degreasing cleaner. Rinse and let dry.
  • Sand cabinets lightly with 120-220 grit sandpaper to scuff the surface.
  • Wipe away dust with a tack cloth.
  • Fill any holes or imperfections with wood filler and sand smooth.
  • Clean again and allow to fully dry before priming.

Prime the Cabinets

  • Use a high-quality bonding primer made for slick surfaces.
  • Stir the primer well before using and apply a thin, even coat with a brush.
  • Allow the primer to fully dry per manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Lightly sand any areas that feel rough or bumpy.
  • Wipe clean with a tack cloth before painting.

Paint the Cabinets

  • Stir the paint well before using. Pour some into a paint tray.
  • Use angled sash brushes to neatly “cut in” edges and corners. Allow to dry.
  • Apply two coats of paint using a roller, allowing proper dry time between coats.
  • Roll vertically first, then horizontally for an even coat.
  • Finish with a final smooth brushstroke to level out the finish.
  • Allow the paint to cure fully before reinstalling doors and hardware.

Tips for a Flawless Paint Job

  • Maintain a wet edge while painting to prevent lap marks.
  • Work in sections and finish fully before moving on.
  • Use painter’s tape for a crisp paint line against walls or countertops.
  • Turn off overhead lighting to check for missed spots.
  • Use a small foam roller in hard to reach areas.
  • Sand lightly between coats for maximum adhesion.
  • Clean brushes immediately after use in soap and water.


What kind of paint should I use on kitchen cabinets?

For kitchen cabinets, use a durable latex acrylic paint in a satin, semi-gloss or high-gloss sheen. Gloss finishes are most resistant to moisture, grease and dirt.

How do I get a smooth finish when painting cabinets?

Proper sanding between coats gives the paint something to grip and creates a super smooth finish. Also use high-quality microfiber or foam rollers. Finish with light, even brushstrokes.

What sheen is best for cabinet paint?

For cabinets, semi-gloss and high-gloss sheens are best. They are most durable and easy to clean. Satin is a good compromise between durability and hiding imperfections.

Should I use primer before painting cabinets?

Yes, always use primer. For slick surfaces like cabinets, use a bonding primer specifically designed for laminates, metal, etc. Proper priming helps the paint adhere evenly.

How do I avoid brush marks when painting cabinets?

Use high-quality synthetic bristle brushes and apply paint evenly using light, smooth strokes. Maintain a wet edge and work methodically to avoid overlapping strokes that leave marks.

How long does it take for cabinet paint to cure?

Typically 7-14 days for cabinet paint to fully cure and harden. Avoid opening cabinets or placing heavy items on shelves during this time. Read manufacturer’s instructions.


With the right preparation and painting techniques, you can achieve stunning, professional-looking painted cabinets. The key steps include thorough cleaning and sanding, priming slick surfaces, applying paint smoothly and evenly with quality brushes and rollers, allowing proper dry time between coats, and being patient with the curing process. Pay attention to details like “cutting in” edges neatly and maintaining a wet edge to avoid lap marks. With some time and care, as well as high-quality paint products, you can paint your kitchen cabinets like an expert.