Painting Kitchen Cupboards – FAQ

by Andrew Ahearne - January 24, 2022

Kitchen cupboards are an integral part of any kitchen environment. For many homeowners, they provide an opportunity to add colour and spice up a room that looks dull. If yours have lost their shine and are worn out, painting kitchen cupboards can be just the thing to bring them back from the dead.

If you’re on the fence between painting your kitchen cupboards and replacing them, NewlinePainting is here to help you decide:


Is painting kitchen cupboards a good idea?


Painting your kitchen cabinets is a cost-effective and relatively speedy way to give your kitchen a new lease of life. It’s beneficial if you’re on a budget because it lets you upgrade your cupboards without having to fork out for expensive replacements. If you’re satisfied with your kitchen’s layout and need a final touch to enhance it, painting your cupboards or cabinets with a fresh new colour will do the trick.


Can I just paint over my kitchen cupboards?


Absolutely, but some prep work is required to get a smooth and desirable finish. If your painted kitchen cabinets surfaces are in good condition, proceed to lightly sand with a sanding sponge or 120 grit sandpaper.

For rough surfaces, use 100 grit sandpaper to flatten bumps and sand again with a 120 grit paper to smooth it further. This should be sufficient to ensure the paint sticks on your cupboards, but if you feel that some cracks need filling, use a wood filler before applying the paint.

Add primer after sanding to give your cupboards a smooth surface to create the best paint finish. If you’re painting laminate, you’ll need a special bonding primer to ensure that the paint adheres.


Do I need to prime cabinets before painting?


This will depend on whether you’re choosing to respray kitchen cupboards with the same type of paint or using a different kind.

If you’re using the same paint as before, primer is optional, and it will make your paint job look more professional. A different type of paint for kitchen cupboards, meanwhile, will require a primer to keep paint sticking to the surface.  
Looking to prime and paint your household doors while you’re at it? Check out our door painting guide to get the best results.


What kind of paint do you use on cupboards?


What is the right paint for kitchen cupboards? There are several paint types to choose from, with semi-gloss, gloss or satin finishes being the most popular today.

High gloss – High gloss finishes provide a shiny, wet look that reflects light and makes your kitchen feel more spacious. While giving a beautiful, shimmering look, high gloss paint can easily show marks and smudges, making it a bad choice if you have young children who might accidentally scuff the paint. 

Satin finish – A satin finish is generally reserved for walls but is a good option to paint kitchen cupboards. It delivers a subtle sheen, but doesn’t reflect as much light as a high gloss paint. While durable to wear and tear, they’re also vulnerable to mould and mildew.

Semi-gloss – A semi-gloss provides the best balance of durability and sheen and is considered the best paint for kitchen cupboards. In places that regularly experience high traffic, a semi-gloss finish will hold up well to regular wear and tear, mould, and mildew. In a high moisture environment, like your kitchen, it will resist humidity and is easy to clean.

Matte – If you’re a traditionalist and want your kitchen to look vintage, a matte finish is a good choice. A matte finish works well to hide any imperfections as it reflects less light than a glossier paint, which is ideal if your cupboards are prone to blemishes. However, it makes your kitchen feel smaller and is challenging to clean without leaving streaks.


What color cabinets are in for 2021?


Since the new year has essentially just started, we can’t say what the future holds. But for last year, experts took a note of these colour schemes to be the trendiest:

Two-toned – Uniform finishes for kitchens, like all-white, have slowly faded away and are now replaced with two-toned schemes that feature contrasting colours. This pairs two different colours that contrast significantly to provide a striking look. For example, you could use all-white for your top cabinets and a darker colour on the lower cabinets.
Green: In line with nature-inspired schemes, a green kitchen cupboard paint provides a soft look that’s both serene and earthy. There are various shades of green to choose from, such as mint, emerald, or sage, but all of them create a calm ambience ideal for the kitchen.
Blue: Nothing beats the classic image of the ocean in a beautiful blue hue. Blue is calming and serene in any shade, but it’s also sophisticated when paired with neutrals or white to create a minimalistic look.
Creamy whites: Creamy whites provide a warmer alternative to an all-white kitchen cupboard paint, while remaining classical in appearance. These whites have a more buttery tone that emits a calm and warming feeling, which is why they’re for anyone who wants a traditional feel without having an all-white kitchen.


How to paint laminate kitchen cupboards?


Painting laminate kitchen cupboards require prep work before paint can be applied. Follow these steps to paint yours: 

1) Remove doors, drawers and any other hardware like hinges and handles.

2) Give your cupboards a good cleaning with sugar soap to remove all dirt and debris.

3) Sand your cupboard doors lightly or use the two method process mentioned prior if the surface is rough. This will remove bumps and smooth down the surface for a better-looking finish.

4) Use an adhesion-promoting primer before applying your kitchen cupboard paint. A laminate’s smooth surface doesn’t hold paint well, so this primer ensures a lasting finish.

5) Sand a second time using 240 grit sandpaper, then apply your first paint coat and wait for it to thoroughly dry.

6) Sand a third time, and then apply your second coat of paint and let dry.


Painting vs Refacing Cabinets – Which is Better?



Cabinet refacing works by laminating your existing cabinet’s exterior with a brand new, layered material. This gives them a completely different look while preserving the cabinet’s original framework. If your cabinet’s design is older and no longer trendy, refacing is a better option as the material is brand new and not just painted on.

On the other hand, painting is a lower-cost solution that doesn’t involve changing its look entirely. If your cupboards and cabinets are in good condition and you’re just looking to change the colour, then painting is perfect. You can use high gloss or matte paint depending on your preference and cabinet’s condition.


Should you Repaint your Kitchen Cupboards or Replace Them?


Are you currently renovating or remodelling your kitchen? Then you may be tempted to replace your cupboards and cabinets. However, doing so will eat up your savings and can increase the total cost of your kitchen renovation substantially. In contrast, painting your kitchen will only be 1/3 to 1/2 of the price.

If you’re satisfied with your cupboard’s design and structure, painting them is recommended. They will still have the same foundation with just a new coat of paint that’s bound to give your kitchen a fresh look.


DIY or get a professional?


DIY painting is significantly cheaper as you’ll only need the right supplies and some elbow grease. However, you’ll have to do a fair amount of prep work, including knowing which primer to use. Applying paint is also usually done with an airless spray gun, which requires a steady hand and patience to get an even distribution.

If you’re new to painting, we suggest hiring a professional as they’ll be more experienced and can get the job done much faster. This will also avoid costly mistakes, such as an uneven coat of paint, streaks, the wrong finish or other issues from a lack of experience. If you’re not sure if it’s worth the cost, then we suggest you paint a small, inconspicuous space on your cabinet, such as underneath the sink, to see if you like the new look.


Newline Painting – Kitchen Cupboard Painters 


Not sure you’re up to DIY painting your kitchen cupboards? Then book a consultation with Newline’s experts who are more than happy to help. Our expert cabinet and cupboard painters in Melbourne can get the job done right with a professional touch that you’ll love, ensuring your cupboards will last for years to come.

Contact us today at 1300 044 206 for more information or book a free quote!

If you enjoyed this article and want to read more painting guides, check out our metal paint removal guide to learn more.

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