How to Paint Old Kitchen Cupboards

Updated February 21, 2017

If you have a limited budget but still want to update your kitchen, painting old kitchen cupboards and cabinets is easy. Painting old cupboards also gives the kitchen a new look, since grime and grease have spent years building up on the surface. With a new coat of paint and hardware, you can save yourself thousands of dollars in home improvement costs. If you are planning to sell your home, a fresh paint job will enhance the kitchen and make it appear new and clean.

Remove all of the cupboard doors from the units with a screwdriver, and lay them flat on a tarp outside. Choose a work area that is relatively debris-free, since you don't want dirt or leaves flying onto newly cleaned and painted cupboard doors.

Remove dirt and grease from the cupboards. Use an all-purpose cleaner that removes both dirt and grease, since heavy-duty cleaners may compromise the quality of the wood or surface material. Wipe away grime with a sponge and cleaner, and then wipe dry with a rag. Wipe away any grime from the unit itself, using the same cleaner.

Sand the cupboards lightly, using 150-grit sandpaper. This will remove any ridges or bumps from the cupboard surface. Even if the surface has no imperfections, running the sandpaper over the cupboards will allow primer to adhere to the surface better.

Prime the cupboards and doors with an oil-based interior primer and a paintbrush. Primer keeps the paint job looking ideal for a longer period and hides darker paint if your cupboards were painted previously. Allow the primer to dry thoroughly.

Paint the cupboards and unit with your desired colour, using a 2- or 3-inch-wide paintbrush. Use a thin coat, since you will add more later.

Sand the cupboard surfaces and unit lightly once the first coat of paint has dried, using 400-grit sandpaper. This will smooth out any brushstrokes and allow the next coat to go on seamlessly.

Paint thin coats and lightly sand until you reach your desired finish.

Install new hinges and knobs, using a screwdriver, to complete the new look.

Reattach the doors, using the screwdriver.

Things You'll Need

  • Tarp
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Sponge
  • Dry, clean rag
  • Screwdriver
  • 150- and 400-grit sandpaper
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • 2- to 3-inch-wide paintbrushes
  • Hardware (hinges and knobs)
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