Should I DIY or hire a pro for my Kitchen cabinets?

Cabinets are the heart of the kitchen and set the tone for the look and vibe of your space. Whether you’re designing a new home or moving into a different home, you can transform the look of your kitchen by painting your kitchen cabinets. However, the million-dollar question is, should I DIY it or hire a professional painter? When it comes to painting kitchen cabinets, there are many factors to consider. Read on to learn the steps for how to paint kitchen cabinets so you can decide whether to DIY it or hire a pro. 


Painting Kitchen Cabinets: Should I DIY or Hire a Pro?

The decision of whether to DIY or hire a pro to paint your kitchen cabinets depends on your budget and your desired finished project. A professional company that paints cabinets will have the systems in place to get your cabinets painted quickly and correctly. They will also have the necessary equipment and access to the best paint products to get you the smoothest and most durable finishes.

Painting kitchen cabinets takes more work than one might think. From taking the cabinets apart to setting up for the job, to multiple times sanding in between coatings, and finally, reassembling the cabinets, there are several steps involved that require precision and knowledge in order to get a quality paint job that looks great and lasts for years. 

If you’re looking for a professional paint job that you can trust is done properly and with the highest quality tools and paint products, we recommend getting in touch with a professional paint company. They will have the knowledge and experience and take the time to make sure the job is done right. 

If you feel confident that you can tackle your kitchen cabinet paint project or simply want a better idea of what the process looks like, check out the steps for how to paint kitchen cabinets below. 


How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

As we mentioned, painting kitchen cabinets requires a series of steps that must be completed in order and given the necessary time to ensure the cabinets stay intact and all coatings dry properly.  


Overview of Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Before we dive into the steps for painting kitchen cabinets, here is a quick overview of the process. 

  1. Disassemble cabinets
  2. Set-Up 
  3. Prep (Clean and Sand)
  4. Prime
  5. Sand
  6. Fill
  7. Sand
  8. First Top Coat
  9. Sand
  10. Second Top Coat
  11. Clean Up
  12. Reassemble cabinets

As you can see, there are a lot of steps involved, along with drying time to consider. Painting kitchen cabinets is not a sprint to the finish but more of a marathon-style project. If you’re ready to DIY, let’s dive into the steps!


Step-by-Step Process for Painting Kitchen Cabinets


Step 1: Disassemble Cabinets

The first thing you must do is disassemble your kitchen cabinets by removing the doors, drawers, and hardware. Make sure you take notes and mark where everything came from so it can go back in the same place. Store any screws or hardware in labeled baggies so you know exactly where everything goes when the job is complete. 


Step 2: Set Up

Clean out the inside of your cabinets and drawers to give space for later rounds of sanding and masking. Cover everything to prevent dust from getting all over your home and paint from getting on things you don’t want painted. Once you’ve properly set up your kitchen for the paint job, it should look similar to a biohazard site with covered floors, temporary plastic walls, etc.


Step 3: Prep (Cleaning and Sanding)

Once your area is set up, now it’s time to prep. Prep will consist of two phases: cleaning and sanding.

Cleaning – It is recommended that you clean all surfaces to be painted with a pre-paint cleaner and degreaser. This will help remove oils and greases from cooking and from your hands touching the cabinets and drawers.

Sanding – Next, sand all the surfaces to be painted. Sanding helps create texture and bite for the primer to adhere to, essentially creating a Velcro effect. This is very important for long-term adhesion of your paint to your cabinets, ensuring you don’t have to re-do the paint job after a short amount of time. 

This is best done using a 120-150 grit sandpaper and a vacuumed sander unit such as a Festool Unit or Ekasand to mitigate the amount of dust. After the initial sanding process, we recommend wiping everything down with tack cloths.


Step 4: Prime 

Primer adheres better than paint and also helps block any stains and leftover residue that may have been missed during the cleaning and sanding phase. We typically recommend using a Shellac primer, such as the White Pigmented Shellac Primer or the B-I-N® Shellac-Base Primer, for the best results. 


Step 5: Sand 

After the primer has dried, it’s time to break out the sander again and lightly sand all primed surfaces. This time, use a higher grit, such as a 180-220 grit sandpaper. After sanding, wipe all sanded surfaces down with tack cloths to remove dust. 


Step 6: Fill 

After the primer is applied, it is really easy to see any imperfections in the cabinets that you may want to fill. We recommend using the Bondo Glazing and Spot Putty for small imperfections. For full-grain filling, we recommend using Aqua Coat Grain Filler


Step 7: Sand 

By the end of your kitchen cabinet paint job, you’ll be an expert with sandpaper! After filling, the surface will need to be sanded again and wiped clean with tack cloths.


Step 8: First Top Coat 

Once you’ve cleaned, sanded, primed, sanded, filled, and sanded again, it’s finally time to start applying your top coats. If you are DIYing, look for a cabinet, trim, and furniture water based enamel or urethane that can be brushed and rolled. 

Many of the BEST, top of the line products require spraying and do best being run through a fine finish sprayer such as an air assisted airless unit or HVLP unit. Other sprayers such as Graco’s new GX lineup work great as well. Knowing the proper tip, tip size, and sprayer pressure will also be important. You should only apply your paint with a sprayer if you are properly trained with how to use the spray equipment. 

We recommend spraying vs brushing and rolling as the paint goes on smoother, more evenly, and looks more professional. Therefore, if you are not properly trained with how to use a sprayer and you want the best possible results, your best option is to hire a pro to help paint your kitchen cabinets. 


Step 9: Sand

After you apply your first top coat and let it dry, it’s time for one last go with the sander. Use a 220 or higher grit sandpaper. Once again, wipe down the surface with tack cloth.


Step 10: Second Top Coat

After sanding and wiping down the cabinets, apply your second finish top coat.


Step 11: Clean Up

After you’ve applied the last top coat, you can start cleaning up the space and getting out your labeled doors, drawers, and hardware. Just make sure all top coats are fully dry before touching them.


Step 12: Reassemble Cabinets

The final step in your kitchen cabinet paint job is to reassemble the cabinets. Rehang the doors, reinsert the drawers, and remount the hardware. Be sure everything fits securely.


How Long Does It Take To Paint Kitchen Cabinets?

It probably comes as no surprise that all of these steps take time, and you definitely don’t want to rush the process. A professional paint company hired to paint kitchen cabinets should be able to accomplish all of these steps correctly in around a week, give or take, the size of your kitchen.

If you have decided that hiring a pro to paint your kitchen cabinets is the best option for you, we’d love to learn more about your project and work with you! You can chat with our team of experts and get a quote for your project here!


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