How to paint kitchen cabinet doors

Updated February 21, 2017

Painting the doors on your kitchen cabinets is a way to spruce up any old kitchen without handing over thousands of dollars to get new cabinetry. Before jumping to your paintbrush and bucket, the cabinet surface must first be prepared for the paint to adhere properly. Although painting each door may take some time, it will cost less in the long run and look just as good as the more expensive alternative. With basic finishing materials found at most hardware stores, paint your kitchen cabinet doors to look like new.

Remove hardware or other metal decorative pieces from the cabinet door with a screwdriver. Unscrew the hinges and remove the door from the cabinet.

Place the cabinet door on a dropcloth in a well-ventilated area.

Mix together a solution of 1/4 cup trisodium phosphate and 1 gallon of warm water, or follow the manufacturer's directions.

Soak a sponge in the solution and rub down the doors to remove grease and other build-up. Let the trisodium phosphate mixture sit for one to two minutes.

Rinse the doors with clean water until all of the solution is removed. Let the doors dry overnight and observe them the next morning. If the wood has a chalklike coating, rinse it again and let it dry overnight.

Apply a layer of latex primer to the cabinet doors with a paintbrush and allow it to dry between two and four hours, or according to the manufacturer's directions.

Paint the doors with one or two coats of semigloss or gloss paint made for kitchens and bathrooms, using a paintbrush. Semi-gloss and gloss are easier to clean and maintain in a kitchen environment. Let the paint dry for 24 hours, then reattach the doors to the cabinet and reapply the hardware.


Wear rubber gloves when working with trisodium phosphate.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Dropcloth
  • Trisodium phosphate
  • Bucket
  • Sponge
  • Paintbrushes
  • Latex primer
  • Latex paint
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