Pros & Cons Of Painting Kitchen Cabinets (Read First!)

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Last updated on March 28th, 2023 at 09:46 pm

Should You Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets? Find Out Here!

Are you wondering if it is a good idea to paint your kitchen cabinets? Well, look no further because I have your answer!

Painting kitchen cabinets is a great way to update an old kitchen on a budget and prevent undamaged cabinets from ending up in the landfill. Though painting cabinets are messy, time-consuming, and requires a little bit of skill, and the finish might not last as long if not done properly.

Taking some time to investigate all of the steps required to paint kitchen cabinets like a professional can help you decide whether painting the cabinets is worth your time and effort or not.

Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s break into the details further so you can easily decide whether it is worth painting your cabinets or not.

Let’s dive in!

Quick Navigation: Painted Kitchen Cabinets Pros & Cons

  1. Benefits Of Painting Kitchen Cabinets
  2. Drawbacks Of Painting Kitchen Cabinets
  3. Final Thoughts
  4. Related Kitchen Cabinet Articles

Benefits Of Painting Kitchen Cabinets

There are several big benefits of painting kitchen cabinets that you need to consider before ripping out your existing cabinets and purchasing new ones. These benefits include:

  • Being more budget-friendly
  • Making an old kitchen look more modern
  • Preventing undamaged items from ending up at the landfill
  • Preventing other items in the kitchen from needing to be replaced as well

Benefit One: Painting Kitchen Cabinets Saves A Lot Of Money

Probably the biggest benefit of painting kitchen cabinets (and why most people consider it when wanting to make a change in their kitchen) is that painting is a LOT cheaper than replacing the cabinets.

A gallon of primer, a gallon of cabinet paint, some sandpaper, a paint roller, and a paintbrush are all you really need to paint your kitchen cabinets. Combined, these items will total less than $100 while the average cost of installing new kitchen cabinets is over $2,000 (realistically closer to $3,000-$4,000).

In addition, whenever you rip out old items and replace them with new ones, the replacement never seems to match the old items perfectly, so oftentimes you end up replacing the countertop, flooring, and backsplash as well. All of that starts to make your simple kitchen upgrade turn into a $10,000+ project.

So if your kitchen cabinets are in good shape (just an ugly color), then painting them can be a great way to freshen them up while saving a ton of money.

We didn’t keep any part of the old kitchen we had, so we ended up spending thousands more to replace everything. Our old kitchen didn’t have enough cabinets to be worth keeping, reconfiguring, and painting them so we opted to replace them with new ones that would all match.

Benefit Two: Painting Kitchen Cabinets Is An Easy Way To Update An Old Kitchen

Another benefit of painting kitchen cabinets is how easily you can update an old kitchen to make it look more modern.

Paint comes in thousands of different colors, so you can choose whatever color you want to fit the new vibe of your kitchen. New cabinets, on the other hand, come in limited colors unless you want to get the unfinished ones and paint them.

If you are going to go that route, then you might as well keep your existing cabinets and repaint them to give them new life.

If you don’t like the style of the cabinets you have, you can always have them refaced then you can paint them. That option is more expensive than painting alone, but it is still cheaper than replacing the cabinets altogether.

Also, painting is typically seen as a beginner-friendly DIY project, so painting should be a pretty doable project for most people to tackle.

Benefit Three: Painting Kitchen Cabinets Prevents More Items From Ending Up At The Landfill

Another, less thought-of benefit of painting kitchen cabinets is the impact you are having on the environment.

Too often, we are quick to throw things out that are “dated-looking”, even if they are still in great shape. These items we throw out end up in a landfill that hurts our environment.

What if, instead, you keep your existing cabinets that are in decent shape and just added a new coat of paint? You could help prevent a few more items from ending up in the landfill.

Of course, this concept only works if your existing cabinets do not have any damage. If they do, then sometimes they cannot be repaired and kept.

As a side note, cabinets are attached to the wall via screws (and also screwed together near the hinges). If you want to reconfigure your kitchen so it has a better layout, you can unscrew your existing cabinets, rearrange them, and reinstall them before painting.

That could be another great way to get some extra life out of your existing cabinets. Then you would only need to potentially purchase a couple of cabinets that you might be missing to complete your new layout.

Benefit Four: Painting Kitchen Cabinets Can Be Less Effort/Time Than Replacing Them

Finally, painting kitchen cabinets can potentially save you some time and effort compared to replacing them.

Now, don’t get me wrong, painting cabinets IS a ton of time and effort itself, but if replacing the cabinets is going to require you to replace the countertops, flooring, and backsplash as well, then all of those items combined could make it cost more time and effort compared to if you just spent the time painting what you already have.

You also could hire a professional to paint them for a fraction of the time it would probably take you, which would still be cheaper than replacing them outright.

These are the bathroom cabinets I painted at my mom’s house. Instead of risking damaging the countertop, plumbing, and flooring by replacing the perfectly fine vanity, we just left it all in place and I painted it a fresh white.
Here’s how they turned out after I painted them a fresh white and put new pulls on them. This “medium-sized vanity” still took me a couple of days to complete, so a larger kitchen will take at least a week (if not longer) to complete.

Related Kitchen Cabinet Articles

Drawbacks Of Painting Kitchen Cabinets

There are also several drawbacks of painting kitchen cabinets that you need to consider before you decide that painting your existing cabinets is worth it. These drawbacks include:

  • Painting is messy
  • Sanding/painting is time-consuming
  • Improper prep and painting techniques can look bad
  • The painted finish might not last as long
  • Some cabinets can’t (or shouldn’t) be painted

Drawback One: Painting Kitchen Cabinets Is Messy

One drawback to painting kitchen cabinets is the mess it makes.

Sanding the cabinets causes a mess of dust over everything in your home. Even if you take the cabinet doors and drawers outside to do the sanding, the cabinet frames still will need to be sanded and will still cause some dust to accumulate in your home.

In addition, paint somehow manages to get on everything – clothes, the floor, your body, whatever other items are around – so you will want to take the extra time to tape off and tarp down everything in your kitchen to prevent a bigger mess than necessary.

And finally, you’ll have to remove all of the items in your cabinet and drawers so you can sand and paint them (otherwise they will be covered in dust), so you’ll cause a mess in another room until you can put the items back in place. Your cooking appliances will also be in the center of the action, so cooking might be difficult while you are taking on this painting project.

If you have a hard time living in chaos for several days, this project might be annoying/not worth it to you.

Drawback Two: Painting Kitchen Cabinets Takes A Long Time

Another drawback that many don’t consider is the amount of time and effort required to paint an entire kitchen full of cabinets.

There are several steps to painting cabinets that take a great deal of time and effort. You will need to:

  • Remove items from the kitchen cabinets and drawers
  • Remove the cabinet hardware
  • Wipe down the cabinets
  • Remove any peeling old paint (if applicable)
  • Sand the cabinets
  • Prime the cabinets (1-2 coats)
  • Paint the cabinets (2-3 coats)
  • Reinstall the cabinet hardware
  • Clean the whole kitchen because of dust
  • Reorganize your kitchen items back into their homes in the cabinets and drawers

Many of these steps often take hours between them, so be prepared to live in chaos for at least a week until this project is complete.

Again, if this level of chaos would drive you nuts, then painting the cabinets yourself might not be the best choice. Hiring a professional would speed things up, but even then, it will take them several days because of the dry time required between coats of paint.

Drawback Three: Painting Kitchen Cabinets Can Look Shoddy

While painting is often considered a beginner-friendly DIY project, there is still a little bit of finesse required to get a great finish on your painted cabinets.

The prep work (cleaning, sanding, and priming) along with the paintbrush and paint roller you use will make a huge difference on the quality of finish you will get while painting.

If you are not patient and/or not a good painter, then painting kitchen cabinets might not be worth it for you. And also, if you aren’t patient enough to sand between coats of paint and properly prime/use the right tools, your finish will turn out poorly.

The last thing you want to do is take all of this time, effort, and money and end up with shoddy workmanship on your kitchen cabinets.

Drawback Four: The Finish On Painted Kitchen Cabinets Might Not Last As Long

Another drawback of painting kitchen cabinets that goes along with the point above is that the paint might not last as long as the finish on new cabinets might last.

If you don’t take the proper steps to prep, paint (with the correct type of paint), and top coat your cabinets (depending on the type of paint you use), the finish might start to peel off earlier than expected.

Of course, if you prep and paint your cabinets correctly, then the paint should last forever. Keep that in mind while deciding if you want to tackle this project or not. Taking shortcuts can potentially force you to repaint the cabinets again in a couple of years.

Also, if you aren’t using cabinet hardware then the paint might wear off earlier than it should. Make sure to install the pulls and knobs back on your freshly painted cabinets so the actual paint is not touched that often. That will help the paint stay clean and last for years.

Drawback Five: Some Kitchen Cabinets Can’t (Shouldn’t) Be Painted

Finally, the last drawback of painting kitchen cabinets is that some cabinets simply can’t be painted (or should I say, they should NOT be painted).

Most kitchen cabinets that are made of wood or laminate can be painted, and the paint will end up with a good finish that will last for years. However, some of the cheapest cabinets are made out of vinyl-wrapped MDF that will not do well with paint.

These types of cabinets often are super cheap and look great when they are first installed, but after a few years of normal wear and tear, the vinyl shell starts to peel off and expose the MDF underneath. Once the MDF is exposed, it starts to swell from humidity and break off in chunks.

These types of cabinets are not worth painting (or technically can’t be painted because the paint will likely peel off the vinyl shell after some time). Your time, effort, and money will be put to much better use by replacing these cabinets with some higher quality wood cabinets (either pre-finished or unfinished ones that will hold your paint better).

There are a few more situations where painting your kitchen cabinets might not be the best solution for you. To see them, check out my other article on when to paint vs replace kitchen cabinets.

Final Thoughts On Painted Kitchen Cabinets

There you have it!

Overall, painting kitchen cabinets is a great way to save money and update your kitchen without doing a full-blown renovation. Sanding and painting the cabinets can be tedious, but in the end, your freshly painted cabinets should make a huge impact on your kitchen.

Hopefully, this guide helped you decide whether painting your kitchen cabinets is worth it or not.

Catch you in my next post!

The Best Kitchen Tools & Products I’ve Reviewed

Ravinte Cabinet Handle Installation Template (For Doors & Drawers)

This is my all-time favorite handle installation template because it has two templates (one for drawers and one for doors) with multiple pull sizes & knob placements! These templates make installing cabinet handles a breeze because you always know your handles will be installed in the same spot on all of your drawers and doors. The kit also comes with a drill bit so you can guarantee you’re using the correct size. I used this template on my entire kitchen and both bathrooms to cut the installation time in half. You can find this hardware template here on Amazon.

Franklin Brass 5-1/16 Inch (128mm) Center Bar Pull (Stainless Steel)

If you want to immediately modernize your kitchen island, then these cabinet pulls are a must. They are heavy-duty feeling, durable, easy to install, and are a large size for a great price. We put these pulls on all of our kitchen and island doors and drawers along with our bathroom doors and drawers. You can find these gorgeous cabinet pulls here on Amazon.

P.S. Use the hardware installation template I mentioned above to install these new pulls in record time!

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Pros & Cons Of Painting Kitchen Cabinets (Read First!)

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