How to Paint Cabinets

Tired of how your cabinet looks like? Don’t throw that away yet. You can do a project that can turn it into a brand-new looking one. It’s just a matter of repainting it. If repainting a big one looks daunting, you may start with a small cabinet.


  • 150-grit sandpaper
  • cloth
  • detergent
  • high-gloss enamel paint
  • latex wood patch
  • liquid deglosser
  • pad sander
  • paintbrushes (3-inch straight, 2-inch trim, and tapered sash)
  • paint remover
  • primer
  • putty knife
  • screwdriver
  • short-nap paint roller
  • sponge
  • tack rag


First step is to empty the cabinets and remove any shelves. Take off the doors and remove the hardware. If the hardware is painted, you can remove the old paint by soaking the hardware in paint remover.
Wash the cabinets with a mild detergent. Rinse with clean water and a sponge, then scrape away any loose paint with a putty knife. Use the putty knife and wood patch to fill any scratches, dents, or cracks. Let the wood patch dry.
Sand the cabinet surfaces with a pad sander and 150- grit sandpaper. Wipe away the sanding dust with a tack rag and spot-primer the patched areas and any bare spots with primer. If the cabinets are varnished, sand the surfaces, apply a liquid deglosser, then apply a primer before painting.
  1. To ensure an even finish, you’ll need to paint the surfaces of the cabinets in a specific order:  Paint the back wall first, then the top, next do the sides, and finally the bottom.  (Most cabinets require two coats of paint; sand all the surfaces in all steps lightly between coats with 150-grit sandpaper).
  2. Use a short-nap roller to paint the outside surfaces.  Working from the to down, apply the paint in smooth, even passes.
  3. Paint both sides of cabinet doors to prevent warping.  Using a trim brush, paint one side of the doors at a time, beginning with the inner surfaces.  Paint the raised panels first, then the horizontal rails, and finally the vertical stiles.  When the paint has dried, use the same technique to paint the other side of the doors, then paint the edges.
Finally, paint drawer fronts using a tapered sash brush.  Let the doors and drawers dry for several days.  Install hardware and hang the doors.

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