How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets Tutorial

If you’ve ever considered painting your kitchen or bathroom cabinets, this tutorial will take you through every step! This particular process uses a paint sprayer, which will give you the absolute best, factory-looking finish.
If you’re interested in painting your cabinets by hand, check out this cabinet painting by hand tutorial.

I told you about my new love affair with the best paint sprayer I’ve used — if you are considering this project I HIGHLY recommend it. It will get the job done well.

This is the entire cabinet painting process, step by step to break it down for you. Painting your cabinets is NOT hard. It’s a practice in patience and it can be stressful at times, but it’s not hard. 🙂

I have to first thank my friend Jenny from Evolution of Style again — she traveled over from Cincinnati to help me get set up and go through the process with me. She is a pro at this and her advice was SO helpful!
Check out her site to see her kitchen redo as well:
how to paint kitchen cabinets

Prepping your cabinets for paint

1. Remove and label all of your drawer and cabinet fronts.

Keep track of your screws and hardware in separate baggies — and label the bags well! I had bags for door screws, drawer screws, hinges and then one for random stuff like our tip out trays and the lazy Susan cabinet doors.

If there is something you’ll need to remember how to put back together, take a photo of it before you take it apart. I did that with our tip out tray doors and it helped a ton:

tip out drawers

Number your cabinets doors when you take them off — use painters tape and a sharpie and write the number of the cabinet on the tape. This will eliminate the guessing game of where they go back when you are done!

2. Wipe down your cabinets with a wet rag, then sand lightly. I used a 220 grit sanding sponge.

I recommend wiping them down first. If there’s crud on them, sometimes that just gums up the sanding block. It’s best to clean them a bit first and then sand.

You don’t have to go crazy with sanding — more on that in a minute. But you just need to get a little bit of the shine off the cabinets. I didn’t sand much, just a quick pass over the fronts.

3. After sanding you need to clean them well.

The BEST product I’ve found that I’ve used over the years is TSP.

I used it in a spray bottle already mixed but I can’t find that anymore. This mix works as well. Spray it on, wipe it off and then do another wipe with a clean, wet rag to make sure all of it is removed.

There are TSP substitutes, like Krud Kutter that is good stuff too.

I really like that the spray version is already mixed up. But if you can’t find the TSP spray, this is a good option.

Here’s the thing — you really do need to sand a little bit. But in my experience the MOST important step is cleaning really well. Paint will not stick to goo. 🙂 And if it does it will wipe off with the goo later.

It’s time to prime! 

After wiping down your cabinets well and letting them dry, it’s time to prime.
This is where the paint sprayer comes in. Jenny recommended this primer from Porter Paints so that’s what we used:
best primer for kitchen cabinets
This part went incredibly fast.
We did one coat on the backs, waited an hour for them to dry (actually a bit longer but you can after an hour) and then we flipped them and did the fronts. I could not start the topcoat (the paint color) for another 24 hours to ensure they cured well.
This is when you start to see your vision come to light!: drying rack for kitchen cabinet doors
And it’s very exciting! (More on that drying rack in a minute.)
Here’s our set up — my sawhorses fell apart and I don’t have new ones yet (two sawhorses would be ideal) so I dragged out two sets of Christmas bins.
We set a board across the top and then placed the cabinets on there:
painting kitchen cabinets