How to paint kitchen cabinets – give your units a whole new look

Give your kitchen cupboard doors a new lease of life with a fresh lick of paint
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  • Refitting a kitchen can be costly and stressful, but if you’re happy with the layout and your cabinets are sound, why not consider painting what you’ve got? If you do the work yourself, there may even be money spare to splash out on new handles or worktops.

    Get more inspo from our kitchen ideas channel

    How to paint kitchen cabinets


    Image credit: Sussie Bell

    Where should I start?

    You’re less prone to runs and drips if you paint your doors on a flat surface. Lack space or can’t remove them? Just cover the hinges with masking tape, taking care to conceal all the metalwork and paint in situ. Always remove the handles, and put dust sheets or newspaper on the floor to protect it.

    Do I need to prep them?

    Yes – no shortcuts! Cleaning is essential to remove kitchen grime. Use a specialist degreaser like Zep Commercial All Purpose Cleaner & Degreaser (£12.99, Screwfix) if needed. Next, key the surface with a light sandpaper – 150-250 grit is fine – to help the paint grip. Wipe dust 
off with a damp cloth and allow to dry.


    Image credit: Colin Poole

    How about primer?

    Primers create a base for paint, and stop knots showing through. Pick a primer suited to the surface you’re painting, or go for a universal primer like Ronseal’s One Coat All-Surface Primer and Undercoat. Wood primer is only for bare, unpainted wood. Some furniture-specific paints don’t require primer – this will be clearly stated on the tin.

    What paint should I use?

    It depends on the door type and your desired finish. On laminates, the safest option is to buy a specialist multipurpose paint designed for wood, melamine and MDF. Any eggshell or interior wood paint will work on wooden or painted kitchen doors. Chalk paints are suitable for kitchen units, but you’ll usually need to seal the top coat with wax or varnish.

    ‘New colours will take a few coats. Take you time and wait for each application to dry thoroughly,’ advises Protek’s Becky Rackstraw.


    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

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    Any tips for success?

    Take your time – this is no afternoon makeover project. It’s tempting to slap the paint on thickly and quickly but you’ll regret it when the slightest scuff chips 
a whole chunk of paint off. Allow at least five to seven days to build up the paint 
in thin layers, lightly sanding and wiping off dust between coats. Allow a minimum of four hours’ drying time for primer, and 24 hours for all other coats. Expect to apply at least two coats of colour.

    Three of the best furniture paints

    For a fade-resistant finish, try Protek

    Buy now: Protek Royal interior wood paint in Ice Blue, £16,99 for 1 ltr, Protek

    For skipping the primer, try Ronseal

    Buy now: Ronseal Chalky furniture paint in Midnight Blue, £11 for 750ml, Wood Finishes Direct

    For a smooth finish, try Crown

    By now: Crown non-drip satin for interior wood and metal in Cloud Burst, £15.49 for 750ml, Homebase

    Honourable mention goes to Frenchic’s Lazy range, which is infused with wax. That means there’s no need to seal or buff – it’s also self-priming. Thorndown’s resin-based formula is designed to protect while letting the natural grain show through.

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