April 30

How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets Without Sanding 


Painting your kitchen cabinets can drastically revamp your space without breaking the bank. According to Forbes, it’s one of the highest ROI projects for your home. 

When painting kitchen cabinets, you usually start by removing the doors and prepping them by sanding down the surface. However, this is a messy and time-consuming task, and most people would like to skip this labor-intensive step. 

That’s possible if you find a suitable primer and paint for this situation. Below, we’ll run through those options and provide an entire six-step process for painting kitchen cabinets without sanding. 

6 Steps to Paint Kitchen Cabinets Without Sanding 

You might think that painting kitchen cabinets is about finding the right paint, applying it, letting it dry, and then hanging the cabinet back up and calling it a day. Getting the correct supplies is essential, but there’s more to this process to ensure a smooth and lasting finish. 

We’ll run through them step-by-step below. 

1. Gather Supplies 

Before you start anything, you’ll want to research which paints and primers to use while gathering all the necessary supplies for this project. Here’s a quick checklist of items you’ll need to paint kitchen cabinets without sanding: 

  • Paint: Preferably a high-quality acrylic or latex paint. 
  • Primer: This helps the paint stick, which is crucial when you aren’t sanding. Deglosser primers work well if needed. More on this later. 
  • Brushes/rollers: Brushes are best for delicate detail parts, and foam rollers work for larger surfaces. 
  • Floor protection: This can be anything from drop cloths to anything else to protect your area from paint spills or splashes. 
  • Kitchen/cleaner and sponges: You better believe we will clean those cabinets before getting down to business! 
  • Painter tape: Protects walls, countertops, and hardware from paint. 

This is a quick checklist of items you will need. Below, we’ll discuss how to use these items and which options to choose. 

2. Set Up Your Workspace

Since you aren’t sanding the cabinets, you don’t have to remove them from their hinges if you don’t want to. This can save a ton of time and energy, and it’s one of the key benefits of not sanding. However, you’ll need to take extra precautions to protect your kitchen: 

  • Use painter’s tape on cabinet hardware (knobs, hinges, interior) and the rest of the kitchen (walls, countertops, appliances). 
  • Make sure you have a safe and accessible way to reach the cabinets. Move any appliances beforehand if needed. 
  • Have a plan for where the paint and brushes will be reapplied, and then use drop cloths to protect the kitchen in those areas. 
  • Check for ventilation. Could you open a few windows in the kitchen? Or could you bring in a fan to help the space dry? 
  • Remove most unneeded items from the kitchen. Cover the countertops, stovetop, appliances, and floor just in case paint spills or drips happen. 

If you want to, you can still remove the kitchen cabinet doors and paint them in a more controlled workspace like the garage or outside. Remember that you’ll want to label or number the doors as you take them off, which will help you put them on correctly when reassembly comes. 

3. Clean the Cabinets

You’ll need to clean these cabinets like you’ve never cleaned them before! Seriously, the cabinets must be impeccably clean and free of grease or grime. 

To do this, you’ll need a quality kitchen degreaser that works on the material of your cabinets. Dish soap, warm water, and a sponge also tend to do the trick. 

Gently scrub each cabinet, rinse with a damp cloth, and dry immediately. Repeat as necessary. 

Once you are done with every cabinet, give them one final wipe-down to make sure there’s no cleaner or residue left on the surface. 

4. Prime the Cabinets

Find a quality primer that works with the material of your kitchen cabinet doors, and apply it once the cabinets are 100% clean. 

This is a crucial step. Since we are not sanding the cabinets, the primer will do most of the work to help the paint stick to the kitchen door. 

Also, primer can help with stain blocking, which protects your kitchen cabinets and improves the overall durability and lifespan of the finish. 

After applying the primer, let it dry completely. Check the manufacturer’s recommendation, but it usually takes an hour or two.

5. Paint the Cabinets

Now, we get to the actual painting. You should have chosen a color and type of paint well-suited to kitchen cabinets by now. 

Using a brush and/or roller to apply the paint is usually the best method from a DIY point of view. Professional painters sometimes use sprayers for cabinets, but that has somewhat of a learning curve and isn’t the best option for a non-professional. 

Apply the paint in even, thin coats. If needed, wait for the first coat to dry, inspect it, and add another coat or two. Finding a balance between thickness and consistency across all the cabinets is the name of the game here. 

6. Reassemble & Touch-Ups

After applying a few coats and giving them plenty of time to dry, your kitchen cabinets should begin forming. There will be a few spots to touch up and add finishing details. 

This can be a tedious process, but it’s best to use patience and ensure the job is done correctly for a sharp, lasting finish. 

After this, you’ll need to clean up the work area, peel off the painter’s tape, and clean up any splatters that may have occurred. 

Can You Paint Kitchen Cabinets Without Removing Doors? 

Yes, it’s possible to paint kitchen cabinets without removing the doors if you are not sanding them. Instead, make sure the cabinets are clean, attach painter’s tape to the hardware, apply an appropriate primer, and then paint the cabinets. 

Make sure your kitchen, floors, and appliances are covered from paint splatters or drips. 

Is It Difficult To Paint Kitchen Cabinets On Your Own? 

The process can be tedious and require a great deal of work. Your patience will likely be tested, but it is possible to paint kitchen cabinets yourself. 

If you have second thoughts, getting a no-obligation estimate from professional painters makes sense. From here, you can see if doing the job yourself is worth the cost relief or if it’s better to trust an expert to do the job professionally and efficiently. 

Do I Have To Prime Cabinets Before Painting? 

You don’t always have to prime cabinets before painting. However, it’s usually recommended, as a solid primer will help the paint stick to the cabinet and serve as a stain blocker. 


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