All You Need to Know about Painting Kitchen Cabinets

We've had our kitchen cabinets painted for over a month now and I still get excited when I walk downstairs in the morning and see white instead of yellow!

I shared some progress pictures on my instagram stories and SO many people reached out asking questions on the process. I can't say I am too surprised because I had NO idea the cost/process/etc either.

So, here's a breakdown of the questions YOU guys asked and my honest review of the process!

What is the cost and is it more affordable than replacing?

From my experience (we had 4 separate quotes), the cost is based on the amount of cabinets you have. Most cabinet painters can quote you based on photos and providing a count of how many doors and drawers you have. The quote we ended up going with charged around $100 per door and $45 per drawer.

This is significantly less than replacing your entire kitchen. The cost of cabinets alone is more than this price and that does not include the cost of demolition and installation. Also, if you get new cabinets, you're more than likely replacing your countertop as well which is an additional expense. I know this because in our last house, we paid $10,000 more than this project cost to gut and replace our entire kitchen and we had half of the cabinets and counter-space than we do now.

This is why painting cabinets is SO popular, because it's such a cost effective way to change the look of your kitchen.

Now, if your cabinets are in rough shape or you don't like the overall style of your doors, then replacing may be a better option for you.

How long did the project take from start to finish?

Our particular kitchen took six days from start to finish! We had to empty out the entire kitchen, which was a pain in the butt, however, it gave me the opportunity to declutter and purge our kitchen stuff as well as take inventory on what we needed for the kitchen right before Christmas!

We still had full use of our stove/dishwasher/fridge/etc so we were able to cook dinner every night - it was just a bit more strategic trying to find all of our plates and pots/pans from a separate area of the house!

The contractors were there most of the day so the kitchen was off limits for lunch - so we definitely ate out more than we usually do.

I will still count this as a win though, because if you're completely replacing your kitchen, it takes much longer than six days and you generally don't have the ability to use your kitchen!

What was the process?

The first day - the contractor came and removed all of the hinges and hardware off the doors and took the doors and drawer fronts off-site to their warehouse, where they spray them in a controlled environment to make sure they get a factory smooth finish. This is the same process that pre-painted cabinets go through, so the cabinets look exactly the same as they would if you purchase them from a store.

They also sanded and cleaned all of the cabinet boxes to prep them for paint.

The next few days, they taped off the floors, edges, and hung plastic to encapsulate the kitchen. Our specific contractor decided to spray our cabinet boxes because we had so many cabinets as well as bead board accents which is hard to paint.

The final day, they came back with the doors/drawer fronts (they put three coats of Benjamin Moore Advance Cabinet Paint) and installed soft-close hinges on all doors and our new hardware that we picked out.

Our contractor (as well as the others we interviewed) did not charge extra for changing out hinges or hardware, as long as they are the same size and no new holes need to be drilled. They only charged the cost of upgrading to a soft-close hinge with no mark-ups or installation cost.

Would this be a project you would do yourself?

Long story short... yes, and no. Can it be done? Of course. All it takes is a quick Pinterest search and you will find hundreds of tutorials of people who have painted their cabinets themselves. However, in order for it to be done right so it lasts, you would need to have a paint-sprayer (which that in and of itself is difficult to get the right paint consistency if you're not used to it!) as well as a controlled environment where you are spraying your doors. There are a lot of steps in the process which leaves a lot of room for error, so unless you're a pretty skilled DIY'er or painter, I would recommend to hire it out.

Now - if you're looking to re-fresh your kitchen on a short-term basis (maybe you're not planning on being in your house very long, or you're planning a full kitchen renovation shortly) - than I would say it's doable, but expect it to look painted and not factory finished.

Watching the contractors at our house and seeing the processes they have perfected to make sure every kitchen they touch comes out perfect, it definitely opened my eyes that this type of project is not an easy DIY!

Has the paint chipped or scratched?

So far... NO! The cabinets do take a full 30 days to cure, so I have tried hard to be very delicate with them and keep my eyes on Jude as much as possible, but we are now out of the 30 day window and they still look good as new. I have wiped them several times with a magic eraser and smudges come off very easily!

Can you paint cabinets that aren't solid wood? How can I add character to boring cabinets?

Yes! It just requires additional prep work, like bonding primer to adhere to a more glossy surface. I am obviously NOT a professional, so I would recommend contacting one to get more information, but I have personally seen it done!

In terms of adding character - there are a TON of ways. First, if you have wood cabinets, you could always have a carpenter add trim to the outside of your doors/drawers to make a shaker style before painting them.

Other ways to add character is painting them a bold color (I am loving Navy and Green!) or do a two-toned kitchen where the bottoms are a different color than the tops. You could also remove upper cabinets and do open-shelving instead if you don't love your cabinets.

Another way is adding different hardware. If your door is a slab (just a plain door), try adding handles instead of knobs. It will draw attention to the hardware instead of the door. Here is an example:


Have you thought about having your cabinets painted? What have you learned about the process that would be important for people to know?

Higbie Maxon Agney

83 Kercheval Ave

Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236

(o) 313--886-3400 

(c) 248-515-2201

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