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.

    For all the inspiration your need: Kitchen makeovers

    How to paint kitchen cabinets


    Image credit: Sussie Bell

    Can you just paint over cabinets?

    Most specialist cupboard paints are suitable for all wooden and acrylic cabinets. The trick is in the preparation.

    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.

    How do you prep cabinets for painting?

    Cleaning is essential to remove kitchen grime. Use a specialist degreaser like Zep Commercial All Purpose Cleaner & Degreaser 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.

    Buy now: Zep Commercial All-purpose Clean & Degreaser, £12.89, Screwfix


    Image credit: Colin Poole

    Do kitchen cabinets need a 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

    More quick transformations: Easy kitchen updates – quick and simple ways to transform your room

    For tip for painting kitchen cabinets

    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.

    What is the best paint to use on kitchen cupboards?

    Best durable cupboard paint

    For a fade-resistant finish, try Protek. This a much-trusted brand is more well-known for the durable garden paints in the range. The interior paint, like it’s garden counterpart is a high-end luxurious paint that offers a water repellent finish that minimises the effects of wear and tear – ideal for busy kitchen cupboards.

    Buy now: Protek Royal Interior Wood Paint in Ice Blue, £16,99 for 1 ltr, Protek

    Best paint to avoid a primer

    To make light work of the task at hand choose a brand that allows you to skip the primer, such as Ronseal. The furniture paint is favoured for many an upcycling job thanks to this quality – everything you need is in one tin, there’s no need for a primer. Allowing you to revamp kitchen cupboards in no time. While still durable enough to withstand knocks and scuffs.

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

    Best cupboard paint for a glossy finish

    For a smooth finish, if matt or chalky is not the desired look you desire, we recommend Crown non-drip satin.

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

    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.

    Related: 12 ways to revamp kitchens without spending over £50 – from painting cabinets to hanging new blinds

    Are you feeling ready to paint?

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