How to Refinish My Kitchen Cabinets With Spray on Paint

Updated February 21, 2017

Painting kitchen cabinets is a popular way to give a kitchen an inexpensive face lift, but the results often disappoint. Brush painting leaves brush marks and the occasional stray bristle and sponge painting leaves streaks. All of these results reek of a novice trying to save money. However, simply switching to spray paint can cure these problems and leave the do-it-yourselfer with professional and expensive looking results. Done correctly, a spray paint finish is smooth and has a shine much like acrylic or resin. It's a great deal of work, but the results are worth the effort, especially when a spray paint refinish costs less than a quarter of the cost of a professional redo.

Remove cabinet doors from the cabinet housing with a screwdriver, then remove all hinges and hardware from both the cabinet doors and the housing.

Tape plastic tarps over all the doorways leading into the kitchen with painter's tape, and use plastic tarps and tape to mask off any interior areas of the cabinet housing that's to remain paint free, then turn off all air conditioning and fan units to prevent the spread of sanding dust and paint fumes.

Put on a lead paint dust mask and work gloves.

Lay the cabinet doors on a plastic tarp on the floor and sand then on both sides and all four edges first with an electric hand sander and medium grit sanding pads, then with a fine grit sanding block to ensure that all grooves and crevices are sanded and the existing finish is roughed up to the point that new paint bonds to the surface. Repeat this process on the cabinet housing.

Wipe away all sanding dust with clean cloths to prevent the dust from contaminating the new paint.

Load a pressure sprayer with spray paint attachment with paint according to the manufacturer's instructions, or if using cans of spray paint, attach a spray handle to a can of paint to ease the stress of spray painting on the hand joints.

Switch the lead paint dust mask to a spray paint respirator.

Paint the cabinet doors and the cabinet housing with spray paint using even pressure on the paint sprayer and an even back-and-forth motion. Spray on thin strips of paint and build the thickness of the paint slowly to prevent dripping. Paint one side of the doors, let them dry and then turn them over and paint the other side.

Wait until the paint is completely dry and then put on a clean regular dust mask and sand all newly painted surfaces manually with fine grit sandpaper or sanding block.

Wipe off all sanding dust with clean cloths, put on the painting respirator and spray all target surfaces with a second coat of paint with the same technique as the first coat, using an even back-and-forth motion to lay down thin strips of paint and build the paint thickness slowly.

Repeat Steps 9 and 10 at least once more or until the surface finish attains a satisfactory glasslike sheen.


Existing paint on kitchen cabinets may either be oil or water based. When repainting remember that oil based paint adheres to surfaces already painted with water based paint, but one cannot paint water based paint over oil base paint. The paint won't stick and ends up bubbling and then peeling off. Paint only oil over oil, oil over water, or completely remove any oil based paint before continuing.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic tarps
  • Painter's tape
  • Screwdriver
  • Lead paint dust mask
  • Gloves
  • Small electric sander
  • Medium grit sanding pads
  • Fine grit sanding pads
  • Fine grit sanding block
  • Clean cloths
  • Respirator mask
  • Pressure sprayer/spray can handle
  • Acrylic paint
  • Regular dust masks
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About the Author

An attorney for more than 18 years, Jennifer Williams has served the Florida Judiciary as supervising attorney for research and drafting, and as appointed special master. Williams has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Jacksonville University, law degree from NSU's Shepard-Broad Law Center and certificates in environmental law and Native American rights from Tulsa University Law.