Updating the look of your kitchen doesn’t have to mean a full renovation. One of the easiest and most budget-friendly ways to give your kitchen a fresh new look is by spray painting the cabinets. Spray painting can entirely transform the feel of your kitchen by changing the color palette. It’s also a great way to update worn or dated cabinets without replacing them. Here’s an in-depth guide to spray painting kitchen cabinets to help you get started.

Benefits of Spray Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Spray painting kitchen cabinets offers many advantages over replacing them entirely:

  • Cost-effective – The cost of new cabinets can run thousands of dollars, whereas a few cans of spray paint may cost you less than $100. Spray painting existing cabinets saves you big on the renovation budget.
  • Quick makeover – With some prep work and a couple coats of spray paint, you can give your kitchen an entirely new look over a weekend. Much faster than replacing or refacing cabinets.
  • Customizable color – Spray paint comes in virtually any color under the sun, allowing you to personalize your kitchen. Go bold or subtle.
  • DIY friendly – With some patience and prep, spray painting cabinets is totally DIY friendly. No need to hire a professional painter.
  • Easy to update – When you want to change the color down the road, respraying cabinets is much easier than replacing. Just scuff, clean, and spray new color.

Overall, spray painting provides a fast, customizable, and budget-friendly update for outdated or drab kitchen cabinets.

Preparing Cabinets for Painting

Proper prep work is crucial for getting great results spray painting cabinets. Taking time to thoroughly prepare ensures the paint adheres well and provides a smooth professional-looking finish.

Clean Cabinets

Give cabinets a deep clean before painting. Remove all contents, then wash with a degreaser or TSP substitute to remove built-up grease and grime. Rinse and let dry fully.

Sand Surface

Lightly sand cabinets with 220 grit sandpaper to scuff up the surface and allow paint to adhere. Focus on worn and shiny areas. Be sure to sand inside drawers and cabinet boxes too.

Fill Holes & Imperfections

Fill any holes, dents or imperfections with wood filler. Let dry fully and sand smooth. This gives you a flawless surface for painting.

Remove Hardware & Doors

Remove all cabinet hardware including hinges, knobs and handles. Take doors and drawers off the cabinets to make painting easier.

Clean Hardware

Soak cabinet hardware in a degreaser like TSP and scrub clean. Use steel wool on metal finishes. Rinse, dry and set aside hardware to paint separately.

Mask Off Areas

Use painters tape and drop cloths to mask off nearby walls, countertops, floors and other areas. This keeps them paint-free.

Prime Cabinets

Apply a high adhesion primer like Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 to cabinets. This helps the paint stick and provides a smooth finish. Allow primer to dry fully before painting.

Thorough prep like this helps ensure your painted kitchen cabinets come out looking professionally sprayed. Now you’re ready for the fun part – choosing a color and spraying on the paint!

Choosing a Color for Kitchen Cabinets

The color you choose can make a huge impact on the overall feel of your kitchen. Follow these tips when selecting a cabinet color:

  • Coordinate with countertops – Contrasting or coordinating your cabinets with the countertop color can create different effects. For example, white cabinets give dramatic contrast with dark countertops.
  • Consider flooring – Try to complement the tones in your flooring too. Medium wood flooring often pairs well with lighter cabinet colors.
  • Factor in lighting – The amount of natural versus artificial light impacts how colors appear. View color swatches in your kitchen at different times of day.
  • Complement appliances – Appliance finishes like stainless steel or black play off cabinet colors nicely. A classic combo is white cabinets with stainless appliances.
  • Think about style – Darker more saturated colors like navy blue work well in modern kitchens, while soft pastels fit a cottage style.
  • Visualize the whole space – Be sure to view color swatches on the cabinets rather than just a paint chip. The large surface affects how it appears.
  • Consider durability – Lighter colors like white or antique white show less wear over time compared to darker color cabinets.

Once you select the perfect color for your kitchen, it’s time to start spraying.

Spray Painting Process

With prep work complete, now you can transform the look with spray paint. Follow these steps for best results:

1. Work in a Ventilated Area

Paint outdoors if possible. If painting indoors, open windows and use fans to ventilate the area. This dissipates paint fumes. Consider wearing a respirator mask too.

2. Spray Paint in Light Coats

Apply multiple thin coats rather than one thick coat. Thin coats dry faster and result in a smoother finish. Allow full drying between coats according to can directions.

3. Start with Cabinet Box Interiors

It’s easiest to start spray painting the cabinet box interiors and shelves. Then do the cabinet frames and sides followed by doors and drawers.

4. Spray in a Sweeping Motion

Hold the paint can 6 to 8 inches from the surface. Fully depress the nozzle and spray in a steady back and forth sweeping motion keeping the can the same distance away.

5. Work From Top to Bottom

Spray horizontal surfaces first, then do vertical surfaces. This avoids drips. End spray strokes off the edge rather than the surface.

6. Check Coverage & Recoat

Inspect for any missed spots and apply additional coats as needed. Two to three coats typically provides solid coverage.

7. Spray Paint Doors & Drawers

With cabinet frames painted, now spray doors and drawers. Use painter’s tape for a crisp paint line around edges. Let doors dry fully upright.

8. Cure Paint Fully

Allow freshly painted cabinets a full two weeks to cure and off-gas completely. The paint continues hardening during this time.

Follow these spray painting tips closely and you can achieve beautifully painted kitchen cabinets. Proper prep and patience are key.

Tips for Successfully Painting Cabinets

Beyond the basic process, there are some additional pointers to follow for getting professional spray painted results:

  • Always read and follow the specific spray paint can directions for best results.
  • Consider using oil-based paint instead of latex for the most durable and smooth finish.
  • Use high quality spray paint formulated especially for kitchen cabinets.
  • During drying, avoid closing doors and drawers fully to prevent sticking.
  • Attachment drawer fronts to box after painting for easier painting and less wear over time.
  • Don’t forget to paint under cabinet trim, soffits and molding to match.
  • Spray cabinet hardware like hinges in multiple light coats for a flawless finish.
  • If spraying doors with hinges still on, cover hinges with painters tape to prevent drips and splatters.

Following these tips will help you achieve spray painted kitchen cabinets that look like they were professionally done.

Common Questions About Spray Painting Cabinets

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about spray painting kitchen cabinets:

Should I spray or brush paint cabinets?
For the smoothest most seamless finish, spraying is best. Spray paint can get into grooves and corners better. Brushing may leave more visible brush strokes.

How long does it take to spray paint kitchen cabinets?
Plan on spending a full weekend to do proper prep work, spray on multiple coats, and allow for drying time between coats. Rushing the process risks a poor finish.

What kind of sprayer is best?
Quality spray paint in an aerosol can works perfectly fine for DIY cabinet painting. No need for an expensive spray system. Choose spray paint formulated especially for painting cabinets.

Can I spray paint cabinets that were originally stained?
Yes, stained cabinets can be spray painted but will require a stain-blocking primer first for best results. The Kilz brand works well for blocking stains and tannins from bleeding through paint.

Should I take cabinet doors off to spray?
Removing doors makes spraying easier and avoids paint getting on hinges. You can spray with doors on but mask hinges and be prepared for more touch-ups.

How long should I wait to use cabinets after painting?
Allow new paint a full 2 weeks to cure and off-gas any solvents before replacing cabinet contents. Oils from hands can affect curing if touched too soon.


Spray painting kitchen cabinets provides a budget-friendly way to give your kitchen a fresh updated look. Follow the prep, spraying and drying steps outlined here for best results. With some time and care taken, you can DIY spray paint cabinets with beautiful professional-looking results. The transformation is well worth the effort and money saved!