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Preparing Your Cabinets for Paint

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I’m getting so close to sharing with you guys our painted kitchen cabinets.  Today I’m sharing how I prepared my kitchen cabinets for paint.  I won’t sugar coat it…  Painting your kitchen cabinets is a lot of work!  We have a pretty good size kitchen along with a butler’s pantry and just the prep work alone took days.  Taking the time to prep your cabinets before you paint is an important process and one you want to take the time to do well.

Kitchen Makeover Preparing for Paint

Supplies to Prep Your Cabinets for Paint:  {affiliate links included for your convenience – you can see details here}


#1 ~ Remove Your Cabinet Doors and Hardware.    Make sure you come up with a system for labeling them.  If need be, create a map of your kitchen.  I labeled mine with a letter and a number system.  For example… near our microwave I labeled the doors M1, M2, M3 and M4.  I numbered from left to right.

Prepping Cabinets for Paint Labeling Cabinets

If you are reusing the hinges make sure to bag up everything and if there are different size screws keep track of them to make re-installation easier.

#2 ~ Clean your Cabinets Well and Get Them Smooth.   I used TSP to clean our cabinets and gave them a good scrub down.  Make sure to look at the surface from different angles for any grease spots.  Kitchen surfaces have a lot of oil residue from fingerprints to cooking.  You want to make sure you’ve cleaned them really well.

Prepping Cabinets for Paint Clean and Degreasing

You want your surfaces smooth.  We used a Liquid Sandpaper / Deglosser on our surfaces.  Our cabinets are relatively new.  We have no showing grain to our cabinets and really no damage, so I decided to go the easier route.  If your cabinets need any repairs or if you have any holes to fill you want to use wood filler and make your repairs prior to sanding.   If your cabinets are older or if you have a textured wood grain then I would suggest sanding.

#3 ~ Prime!  Use a good primer.  I went with Sherwin Williams Multi Purpose primer since I was using their paint.

Prepping Cabinets for Paint Priming Cabinets

I used my HomeRight sprayer to prime the cabinet doors.

Prepping Your Cabinets for Paint

For the cabinet bases I used my 1” Purdy angled brush and a 3” foam roller.  I put on a nice even layer.  You don’t want your primer to be a thick layer, you’re just creating a great base for your paint to stick to.

If you are needing to cover up any wood grain then I would suggest a second coat of primer.

Once my primer was dry I gave it a light sanding with a sanding block using my hand to double-check that the surfaces were smooth.

Then I took a damp, soft cloth and ran it over the surfaces to remove any sanding residue.

Now you’re ready!!!  Bring on the Paint!


See our finished Cabinets Painted

You might also like to check out:

Butcher Block Island

Mini Mudroom in our Kitchen

Industrial Barstools



  1. This is quite the process! My dad has painted my cabinets for me…twice! He said to make sure that I LOVED the color this last time, because this would be his last time to paint them! You will love your new look! Pinned! Life to the full! Melissa

  2. I can’t wait to see how this turns out. I am seriously contemplating ours versus hiring out and I just can’t decide if it’s worth the stress/work or not.

    1. It’s definitely worth the work… I can see it coming together, which is SO exciting. But if you can afford to hire it out then you definitely will be saving yourself a lot of time and energy. 🙂

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