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How To Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Choose your paint

For ease of wiping the cupboards down with a cloth, a paint with a semi-gloss is recommended. Any flatter then it will have a chalky feel when you wipe it down. Using high-gloss paint will highlight every single brush stroke or roll mark – so unless you’re an exceptional painter then semi-gloss is preferable. In terms of colour, white appears to be a hot choice in kitchen trends at the moment. Painting your cabinets white or a very pale colour also gives you lots of room to add accent colours elsewhere.

Clean and cover

Reparation is always the biggest part of any painting project. Clean out your kitchen cabinets and tape plastic sheeting to worktops and floors to help protect finishes and avoid paint spills. Clean your kitchen cabinets using a degreasing agent like TSP to get any grease off of cabinet surfaces. Pay particular attention to areas around the handles, underneath the cabinets, and under the bottom of the edges of cupboard doors. This will ensure that the paint adheres properly.

Sanding and priming

Give the cabinets a light sand with 220 or 400 grit sandpaper, depending on the finish of your cabinets. Cabinets with an open grained finish like oak for example, you should use a heavier grit sandpaper.
After sanding, remove cupboards, lay them flat and brush on a primer coat. When they are dry, flip the cupboards over to prime the other side. Once the primer is completely dry, give the cupboards a light sanding to smooth out brush strokes. For a really smooth finish repeat the process and use a finer sandpaper the second time. Then vacuum and wipe your cabinets with a tack cloth to clean away any debris.


Use a good-quality brush or smooth roller to apply paint to the cupboards. Apply a thin coat and let your kitchen cabinets dry flat to avoid drip marks. When dry to the touch, turn them over and paint the other side. Wait a few hours before applying a second coat. You should note several thin coats are better than two thick ones. It not only gives a better finish but also makes it more hard-wearing. Discover our full range of paints for kitchen cabinets or why not check out our article which includes pros and cons and our best paints for kitchen cabinets if you're looking for an experts recommendation. 

  1. Tikkurila Helmi 10
    Tikkurila Helmi 10
    From £26.95 £22.46
  1. Benjamin Moore Ultra Spec Scuff X Satin
    Benjamin Moore Ultra Spec Scuff X Satin
    From £88.00 £73.33 Was £108.00

Changing the hardware

For a completely new appearance you may wish to consider changing the handles and knobs on your cabinets. Your kitchen will look surprisingly different.

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More tips and advice from the paint experts