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Should I Have My Kitchen Cabinets Painted?

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Matt Stone

Painting your kitchen cabinets is a great way to quickly transform your kitchen. You can dramatically improve the look of your kitchen without the hassle and cost of replacing your existing cabinets. In fact, painting cabinets can cost less than half what it costs to replace them.

On the other hand, painted cabinets may require more maintenance than other finishes. It is important to get the process right for your new paint job to last as long as it should. Read below to discover the crucial factors to consider when deciding whether or not to paint your kitchen cabinets.

Cabinet Finish Options

If you are having brand new cabinets installed you have a huge selection of finishes and materials to choose from. If, however, you have chosen wood cabinets or are refinishing your existing wood cabinets you can select between stain or paint.

Stained cabinets have a more natural look but are limited in color options and may not always be in style. Stains almost always have a warm look with red, yellow, or orange undertones. While these colors can look great in some settings, they are not for everyone. The clear finishes often put on top of stained wood are very durable and will last a long time. This increased durability means that a stained finish may require less maintenance over time.

Paint gives you a multitude of color options to fit any style. There are literally thousands of color options available. Cabinets can be painted to fit any color palette or style you would like giving you far more room for customization. While cabinet enamels are very durable, they are not quite as strong as stain finishes and may require more upkeep.

Understanding these pros and cons will help you decide whether to paint your cabinets or not.

The Cost Of Paint Cabinets

Painting cabinets is one of the more expensive painting projects you can do around your home. Cabinets take special care to paint correctly. It is both time and labor-intensive to properly prepare and paint cabinets. The average cost to paint kitchen cabinets can range from $2000 to $6000. That being said, it is still far cheaper to have cabinets painted than to replace them altogether.

Factors that affect the cost of painting Kitchen Cabinets

  • How many cabinets are being painted: Larger kitchens will cost more.
  • How many colors are being used: More colors require more labor and dry time.
  • The condition of the cabinets: Cabinets with damage or wear will require more prep time.

Transition From Stained to Painted Cabinets

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It is very common to transition from stained cabinets to painted ones. Perhaps you have purchased a house that came with stained cabinets or you have grown tired of the stained look you once loved. Even though it is common to paint stained cabinets there is a very specific process that must be followed to get a fine, durable finish that will look great for many years.

While many homeowners may consider tackling this kind of project on their own, it is probably best left to professional painters. Getting a smooth, professional finish requires spray equipment and some know-how that takes years to develop.

The Stained Cabinet Painting Process

These are the key steps for painting stained cabinets.

  1. Sanding/Cleaning: Paints do not like to stick to surfaces that are dirty or slick. Clear coats on stained cabinets are especially difficult to get paint to adhere to. Sanding the cabinets creates a rough surface that paint can stick to. Washing the cabinets removes any grease stains that have accumulated over the years that will interfere with the paint sticking.
  2. Primer: Applying a high-quality primer is an essential step for painting stained cabinets. The primer needs to be made for bonding to other materials and blocking stains from showing through. The stains used on cabinets often have strong pigments in them that can show through several coats of paint. Primer will help keep this from happening.
  3. Paint: A purpose-made cabinet or trim enamel should be used to paint cabinets. This paint will be durable and will result in a higher-quality finish.


Even though there are pros and cons to painting your kitchen cabinets, it is often a great choice. It can dramatically improve the look of your kitchen without having to pay for replacing your existing cabinets. By taking the time to find a knowledgeable, professional painter you can ensure that you will have a durable and beautiful finish on your cabinets that will last for years to come.

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Author: Matt Stone
Matt is the owner of Hometown Painting. He has worked in the painting and construction trades for over 10 years. He has a passion for teaching homeowners so they can make the best paint choices for their homes.

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