How to Strip and Paint Cabinets

Transforming the appearance of cabinets through stripping and painting is a transformative DIY endeavor that can breathe new life into any space. Whether you’re looking to revamp your kitchen, bathroom, or any other cabinetry, the process of stripping and painting cabinets is a rewarding project that can enhance both aesthetics and functionality. Stripping old paint or varnish is a crucial step, allowing for a clean slate before applying a fresh coat of paint.

How to Strip and Paint Cabinets

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the step-by-step process of how to strip and paint cabinets, from the initial preparation and removal of old finishes to selecting the right paint and achieving a smooth, professional-looking finish. Unveiling the secrets of proper surface preparation, color selection, and application techniques, this article aims to equip DIY enthusiasts with the knowledge and confidence to embark on a cabinet makeover journey, turning outdated spaces into stylish and personalized havens.

Importance of Stripping and Painting Cabinets

Painting cabinets is a great way to give your kitchen or bathroom a fresh new look without the hefty price tag. However, simply slapping on a coat of paint onto your existing cabinet may not always be the best solution. In fact, in some cases it can actually cause more harm than good.

This is where stripping and painting cabinets comes into play. It involves removing the old paint or finish from your cabinets before applying a new coat, resulting in a more professional and long-lasting finish. In this guide, we will cover the reasons why stripping and painting cabinets is important and how to do it effectively.

Why Strip?

Stripping your cabinets may seem like an unnecessary step, but it serves several important purposes. First and foremost, it helps to remove any dirt, grime or grease build-up that has accumulated over the years. This is especially important for kitchen cabinets as cooking and food prep can lead to a lot of grease and oil splatters on the surfaces.

Why Paint?

Choose From a Variety of Colors

There are several benefits to painting your cabinets rather than replacing them. Firstly, it is a more cost-effective option as you can achieve a brand new look without having to spend thousands on new cabinets. Secondly, it allows for more creativity as you can choose from a variety of colors and finishes to suit your personal style.

10 Methods How to Strip and Paint Cabinets

1. Remove Cabinet Doors and Hardware

The first step in stripping and painting cabinets is to remove the cabinet doors and hardware. This will make it easier to work on the cabinets and ensure a more professional-looking finish.

Make sure to label each door and its corresponding hardware so that you can easily put them back in the correct place. To remove the doors, use a screwdriver to unscrew the hinges from the door. For hardware, such as knobs and pulls, use a drill or screwdriver to remove them from the door.

2. Clean Cabinets Thoroughly

Before beginning the stripping process, it’s important to clean your cabinets thoroughly. Use a degreaser or a mixture of warm water and dish soap to remove any dirt, grime, or grease from the surface of the cabinets.

This will help the paint adhere better and result in a smoother finish. Once you have cleaned the cabinets, rinse them with clean water and allow them to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

3. Strip Old Paint or Stain

If your cabinets have an old layer of paint or stain on them, you’ll need to strip it off before applying new paint. There are several methods for stripping, including using chemical strippers, heat guns, or sandpaper. Choose the method that works best for your cabinets and follow all safety precautions.

Including Using Chemical Strippers

However, keep in mind that using chemical strippers can be harsh on the environment and your health. Therefore, it is recommended to try alternatives first before resorting to chemical strippers.

4. Sand Down Cabinets

After stripping off old paint or stain, it’s important to sand down the surface of your cabinets. This will smooth out any imperfections and create a better base for your new paint to adhere to. Use a fine-grit sandpaper and make sure to wipe away any dust before moving on to the next step. While sanding, it’s also a good idea to fix or replace any damaged areas of the cabinets. This will ensure that your cabinets not only look great but also have structural integrity.

5. Fill in Any Holes or Gaps

If there are any holes or gaps in your cabinets, now is the time to fill them in with wood filler. Once dry, sand down any excess filler until it is smooth with the rest of the cabinet surface. This step is important for ensuring a smooth and professional-looking finish on your cabinets. To ensure a seamless look, you may also need to fill in any gaps between the cabinet doors and frames.

6. Prime Cabinets

Before painting, it’s recommended to prime your cabinets with a high-quality primer. This will help cover up any imperfections and create a better base for your final coat of paint.

Start by removing all hardware and doors from the cabinets. Lay them flat on a drop cloth or tarp to protect your work surface. Using a fine-grit sandpaper, lightly sand the cabinet surfaces and doors to create a smooth surface for the primer to adhere to. Wipe down with a damp cloth or tack cloth to remove any dust or debris.

Using a Fine Grit Sandpaper

7. Choose Your Paint

When selecting paint for your cabinets, make sure to choose a high-quality, durable paint that is specifically meant for cabinets. This will ensure a longer-lasting finish and better resistance to wear and tear. You can choose from a variety of finishes such as matte, satin, semi-gloss or high gloss, depending on your personal preference and the style of your kitchen.

8. Apply Paint

Using a brush or roller, apply your chosen paint to the cabinet doors and frames. Make sure to use smooth, even strokes and avoid drips or bubbles. You may need to apply multiple coats for full coverage. Let the first coat dry completely before applying a second coat.

9. Let Dry and Reattach Hardware

Once the paint has dried completely, reattach the cabinet doors and hardware using your labeled pieces. Make any necessary adjustments to ensure they are level and aligned properly. However, if you want to change the hardware or add new ones, now is the perfect time to do so. Simply remove the old hardware and fill in any holes with wood filler before painting over them.

10. Add Finishing Touches

To complete the look of your newly painted cabinets, consider adding new hardware or decorative elements such as trim or molding. These small details can make a big impact on the overall appearance of your cabinets. If you are replacing hardware, make sure to choose the correct size and finish for your cabinets.

 Overall Appearance of Your Cabinets

Consider whether you want knobs or handles, and if they will match or complement your other kitchen fixtures.

Things to Consider When Stripping and Painting Cabinets

Choosing the Right Finish

There are a variety of finishes available for cabinets, including paint, stain, and varnish. Each option offers its own unique benefits and drawbacks. Paint is a popular choice as it can completely change the color of your cabinets and provides a smooth and uniform finish. It also tends to be more durable and easier to clean than other finishes.

Preparing Your Work Space

Before you begin stripping and painting your cabinets, it’s important to properly prepare your work space. This includes removing all cabinet doors and hardware, covering countertops and floors with drop cloths, and ensuring good ventilation in the room. You may also want to consider setting up a temporary workspace outside if weather permits, as this can help contain any dust or fumes.

Choosing the Right Stripping Method

There are several methods for removing the old finish from your cabinets. The most common are chemical stripping and sanding. Chemical strippers involve applying a solvent to the surface of the cabinet, waiting for it to soften the finish, and then scraping it off with a putty knife. This method can be effective but may require multiple applications and can be messy.


In conclusion, by following the steps outlined in this blog post, you now have all the tools and know-how to successfully strip and paint your cabinets. Remember to always start with proper preparation, including cleaning and sanding the surface, before applying any paint or stain.

And don’t be afraid to get creative with colors or finishes – your cabinets are a great opportunity to add some personality and style to your kitchen or bathroom.

Embrace the process as well – while it may seem daunting at first, taking on a DIY project like this can be incredibly satisfying and rewarding in the end. Plus, not only will your newly painted cabinets look amazing, but you’ll also save money by doing it yourself. Thanks for reading, and we hope this has given you some inspiration on how to strip and paint cabinets!

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.

Leave a Comment