Tips for Prepping Kitchen Cabinets for Painting

Painting kitchen cabinets can be a tricky and time-consuming exercise, but like any painting project, it is all about proper surface preparation. If you have an upcoming kitchen cabinet painting project, we have some prep tips to make your work more efficient, quick, and flawless. Read on;

Take Down The Doors And Drawers 

Painting right over everything in place can be quite tempting, but this option will give you a harder time, and the results will be quite unflattering. You will have a hard time sanding and painting the inner edges of your cabinet doors and around hinges and hardware. Removing the cabinet doors and drawers is pretty easy

When taking down your drawers and doors, be sure to label them properly to make reassembling them much easier. Go ahead and remove all the hinges, drawer pulls, handles and other hardware, and label them as well.

Surface Preparation

When surface preparation is done poorly, you eventually end up with adhesion problems, which means that you will have to keep on stripping off the paint to get it right. It is essential to follow the correct preparation procedures to have excellent looking and durable painted cabinets in the end. Important surface prep processes include cleaning, sanding, and priming.  


There are plenty of products available that you can use to clean your cabinets before painting. These include denatured alcohol, liquid de-glosser, trisodium phosphate (TSP), and de-greaser. For heavy grease, use denatured alcohol as it is capable of cutting through tough stains and grease. This product does not leave residue behind once it evaporates, unlike TSP. When using denatured alcohol, ensure that you wear protective gloves.

If your cabinets are not greasy, use dawn dish soap to get rid of dirt and stains. Stained cabinets that are protected with lacquer finish should be sanded off or de-glossed with a de-glossing agent. Removing the lacquer finish allows the primer and paint to bond well.


Never prime or paint your kitchen cabinets before cleaning and sanding them thoroughly. Sanding ensures that the protective lacquer finish does not prevent the primer and paint from bonding well. When prepping multiple kitchen cabinets for paint, it is advisable to use an electric sander. Sanding by manually may take a long time and will not be as effective as using an electric sander.

To remove lacquer finish from the surface, 120 and 150 sandpaper grit is ideal. Sanding between primer coats will require 220 grit. Before you begin painting, ensure that you remove any sanding dust on the surface using a tack cloth or a damp rag. If possible, sanding should be done far away from where you will be painting.

Caulking and Priming

Some cabinet doors, especially those with recessed panels, may require caulking to conceal any cracks that might be noticeable after painting. White paintable caulking is the most ideal caulk as it dries quickly. To avoid ruining your caulk, remove any sanding dust from the cracks you will be caulking. Once you are done with the caulk, choose the best primer that will prevent stains from bleeding into the paint. Oil-based primer or shellac primer is the best to use when preparing your kitchen cabinets for painting.

The Bottom Line 

Thorough preparation is the best way to achieve high quality, beautiful, and durable paint job. I hope these tips help you make your cabinet prep for painting much easier. However, if you need any professional help with cabinet painting in Omaha, NE, our team at Brush & Roll Painting can help. We have years of experience and a long list of happy clients.

To get started with us, book a FREE estimate below or call us on 402-932-9764 for more details.