How to Paint Already Painted Cabinets

Are you looking for a way to give your kitchen an updated, modern look without the hassle of replacing cabinets? If so, painting your already-painted cabinets may be the perfect solution! With just a few materials and some basic skills, you can transform worn-out and outdated cabinets into stunning focal points that will make your friends and family jealous.

How to Paint Already Painted Cabinets

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about how to paint already painted cabinets—from selecting the right colors and materials to preparing the surfaces for paint application. Prepare yourself for a beautiful transformation in no time!

Safety Precautions

Before diving into your project, it’s important to take some safety precautions. Paint can emit harmful fumes, so make sure you have proper ventilation in the room where you’ll be working. Open windows and use fans or wear a respirator mask if necessary.

Additionally, always wear protective gear such as gloves and goggles while painting. This will protect your skin from any potential accidental spills or splatters and your eyes from any paint droplets.

Choosing the Right Color

The first step in painting already-painted cabinets is to choose the right color. You may want to stick with a similar shade to what you already have or opt for something completely different for a dramatic change. Keep in mind that lighter colors can make a space appear larger, while darker colors can add depth and richness.

It’s also important to consider the overall color scheme of your kitchen. If you have colorful countertops or backsplash, a neutral cabinet color may be the best choice. On the other hand, if your kitchen has more muted tones, you can bring in some personality with a bold cabinet color.

Gathering Materials

Once you have chosen your desired color, it’s time to gather all the necessary materials. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  • Paint (We Recommend Using a Semi-gloss or High-gloss Finish for Cabinets)
  • Primer
  • Sandpaper or Deglosser
  • Paintbrushes and/or Rollers
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Drop Cloths or Plastic Sheeting
  • Screwdriver
  • Cleaning Supplies (Dish Soap, Water, and Sponge)

10 Step-by-step Guidelines on How to Paint Already Painted Cabinets

Step 1: Remove All Cabinet Hardware and Doors

 Remove All Cabinet Hardware

Using a screwdriver, remove all cabinet hardware such as handles, knobs, and hinges. This will allow you to paint the cabinets evenly without any obstructions. It’s also recommended to remove the cabinet doors for easier access and a cleaner finish. You can mark the doors and cabinets with a piece of tape to remember where they go. It’s also a good idea to number them in the order they were removed. You can use small plastic bags to keep all the hardware organized.

Step 2: Clean the Cabinets Thoroughly

Using dish soap, water, and a sponge, clean all surfaces of your cabinets. This will remove any grease, grime, or dirt that may affect the paint’s adhesion. But be careful not to use too much water as it can damage the wood. Wipe down with a clean, damp cloth and let dry completely. This step is crucial for a successful paint job. It may be helpful to use a degreaser for tougher stains.

Step 3: Sand or Degloss the Surfaces

If your cabinets have a glossy finish, you’ll need to sand them to remove the shine and create a rough surface for the primer to adhere to. Use sandpaper with grit between 120-150 and sand in the direction of the wood grain. Alternatively, you can use a deglosser, which is a chemical solution that removes the gloss without sanding. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Step 4: Fill in Any Holes or Imperfections

Inspect your cabinets for any holes, dents, or imperfections and fill them in with wood filler. Once dry, sand down lightly to create a smooth surface. This step will ensure a flawless finish. But if your cabinets are in good condition, you can skip this step. However, it’s always a good idea to fill in any noticeable marks. It will make a huge difference in the end result. But if your cabinets are in good condition, you can skip this step.

Step 5: Apply a Coat of Primer

 Sand the Primer Before Painting

Primer is essential for painting already-painted cabinets. It helps the paint adhere better and provides a smooth base for a flawless finish. Use a brush or roller to apply an even coat of primer on all surfaces. Let dry completely before proceeding to the next step. It’s also recommended to lightly sand the primer before painting for a smooth finish. You can use a fine grit sandpaper (220-320).

Step 6: Apply the First Coat of Paint

Now it’s time for the fun part—painting! Use a brush or roller to apply an even coat of paint in long, overlapping strokes. Make sure to cover all surfaces evenly and let dry completely before applying a second coat. It may be tempting to apply thick coats, but thin layers will give you a better result. You can also use a sprayer for a professional finish. You can find paint sprayers for rent at most home improvement stores.

Step 7: Lightly Sand and Apply the Second Coat of Paint

Once the first coat is dry, lightly sand it with fine-grit sandpaper to create a smooth surface. Remove any dust with a clean cloth and apply the second coat of paint in the same manner as before. Depending on how opaque you want the color to be, you may need a third coat. Just make sure to let each coat dry completely before proceeding. This step is crucial for a professional-looking finish. It’s also recommended to use high-quality paint for cabinets.

Step 8: Let the Cabinets Dry Completely

Allow Your Cabinets to Dry

After applying all coats of paint, allow your cabinets to dry for at least 24 hours. This will ensure that the paint cures and hardens properly. It’s important not to rush this step as it can affect the durability of your paint job. But if you’re in a hurry, you can use a fan or hairdryer to speed up the process. It’s also recommended to keep the room well-ventilated during this time. It will prevent the paint fumes from lingering.

Step 9: Reattach Cabinet Doors and Hardware

Once your cabinets are completely dry, you can reattach the doors and hardware. Make sure to put them back in their original places using the marks you made earlier. This step may seem simple, but it can make a big difference in the overall look of your cabinets. It’s also a good idea to replace old hardware with new ones for a fresh look. It’s amazing how much of a difference new knobs or handles can make!

Step 10: Add a Protective Coat

To ensure the longevity of your newly painted cabinets, it’s recommended to apply a clear protective coat. This will protect them from scratches, stains, and general wear and tear. You can use a water-based polyurethane for a durable finish or wax for a more natural look. Apply according to the manufacturer’s instructions and let dry completely. It’s also important to avoid using the cabinets for at least 48 hours after applying the protective coat.

Congratulations, you have successfully painted your already-painted cabinets! With these simple steps, you can transform your kitchen into a whole new space. Just make sure to choose high-quality materials and follow the guidelines on how to paint already painted cabinets carefully for a professional-looking finish. Happy painting!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Can I Paint My Already-Painted Cabinets Without Sanding?

Answer: While it’s not recommended, you can use a deglosser to remove the gloss and create a rough surface for better paint adhesion. However, sanding is still the best option for a long-lasting finish. It also helps to remove any imperfections and smooth out the surface.

Q2: Can I Use Regular Wall Paint on Cabinets?

Answer: It’s not recommended to use regular wall paint on cabinets as it may not hold up well in high-traffic areas. It’s best to use high-quality paint specifically formulated for cabinets and furniture.

Q3: How Long Will the Paint Last on My Cabinets?

Answer: With proper preparation and application, your painted cabinets can last for several years. However, it’s important to avoid harsh chemicals and abrasive cleaners as they can damage the finish over time. Regular touch-ups may also be necessary in high-traffic areas.

Q4: Can I Paint Over Dark Cabinets with a Lighter Color?

Paint Over Dark Cabinets With a Lighter Color

Answer: Yes, you can paint over dark cabinets with a lighter color. However, it may require multiple coats of primer and paint to achieve the desired color. It’s also important to thoroughly clean and sand the surface for better adhesion.


In conclusion, painting already painted cabinets is ultimately a very involved task, requiring in-depth preparation and application. However, it is well worth the effort and with the correct steps, you can have beautiful cabinets that look as good as new. Keep in mind that different types of paint require different application techniques and choosing the right supplies for the job will help to make sure that your project will turn out how you anticipated.

So take on this home improvement project with confidence now that you’re equipped with all the necessary knowledge on how to paint already painted cabinets! Happy painting!

Photo of author

Adrian Green

Adrian is a woodworking hobbyist and has loved Woodworking since he was 10 years old. Back then in childhood, his father used to have a furniture shop. He used to help his dad and learned a lot from him about how to fix woodworking furniture, basic carpentry knowledge and also about how to work hard and take care of business. He enjoys woodworking as a hobby. He loves the feeling of creating something with his own hands, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing his finished products used by others.

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