Painting Inside of Cabinets: From Selection to Techniques and Trends

Painting the inside of cabinets is more than just a design choice; it’s a creative expression that breathes new life into your kitchen. Whether you’re looking to refresh your old cabinets or embark on a complete kitchen makeover, painting the inside of cabinets can transform the entire look of your space.

The kitchen is the heart of the home, and the cabinets are its soul. When cabinets look tired and worn, the whole kitchen loses its sparkle. Painting the inside of cabinets isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s about rejuvenating the space and adding a personal touch. Let’s dive into the world of cabinet painting, exploring its importance, benefits, and the process that makes it all happen.

Benefits of Painting Inside of Cabinets

  1. Cost-Effective: Replacing cabinets can cost over $5,000 for a standard kitchen. Painting them, on the other hand, can be done for around $200, depending on the size of your kitchen.
  2. Versatility: With various paint types and finishes, you can achieve any look, from rustic farmhouse to sleek and modern.
  3. Personalization: Choose colors that reflect your personality and style, making your kitchen uniquely yours.

Choosing the Best Paint: Selecting the Ideal Paint for Inside Kitchen Cabinets

Selecting the right paint for your kitchen cabinets is like choosing the perfect outfit for an occasion. It has to match the material, fit the style, and last a long time.

Types of Paint

  1. Latex Paint: Great for beginners, dries quickly, and cleans up with water. However, it takes up to three weeks to fully cure.
  2. Oil-Based Paint: More durable and stain-resistant, but typically more expensive.

Considerations for Different Materials

  • Wood Cabinets: Most paints adhere well to wood, but proper sanding and priming are essential.
  • Metal Cabinets: Specialized paints may be required for metal surfaces.
  • Plastic Laminate Cabinets: Consult with a paint dealer to ensure the paint will bond to the material.

Best Brands and Quality Paint

Choosing quality paint ensures a smooth finish and long-lasting results. Whether you opt for a 100 percent acrylic formulation in latex paint or a professional-grade oil-based paint, the quality matters.

  • Finish Options: From high-gloss shine to crackling glaze for a rustic look, the finish can dramatically change the appearance of your cabinets.
  • Tools and Techniques: Brushes, rollers, or sprayers? Each has pros and cons, and the choice may depend on the type of paint and the details of your cabinets.

Preparation and Tools: Preparing Cabinets and Gathering Necessary Tools

Before diving into the world of painting, preparing your cabinets and gathering the right tools is essential. Like a chef prepping ingredients before cooking, proper preparation ensures a smooth process and a delicious result.

Cleaning and Sanding

  1. Cleaning: Kitchens are prone to grease and food splatters. Scrub your cabinets with a solution of trisodium phosphate and water to get rid of any residue. Rinse and let them dry thoroughly.
  2. Sanding: Sand the doors and faces of the cabinets. Cover the current holes with wood filler if you’re using new hardware. Use a wood sanding block to prevent rounding over the edges. Pay attention to worn areas and shiny spots to ensure proper adhesion of the new paint.


Priming is like laying the foundation of a building. It ensures a well-bonded finish coat and reduces the need to sand and deglaze old finishes. Apply an even coat of primer-sealer to all surfaces. If the old paint is flaking off, treat it with denatured alcohol and fine steel wool.

Tools Needed

  1. Paint Sprayer: A paint sprayer can be a great option for a smooth and professional finish.
  2. Brushes: You’ll need different brushes for different tasks. Use natural bristle brushes for oil-based paint and synthetic bristle brushes for latex paint.
  3. Safety Gear: Don’t forget safety glasses, gloves, and masks to protect yourself during the process.

Safety Precautions

Safety comes first. Ensure to work in a well-ventilated area and follow all safety instructions on the paint and primer containers. Keep children and pets away from the work area.

Painting Techniques: Mastering Techniques for Painting Inside of Cabinets

Painting is an art, and mastering the techniques is key to achieving a flawless finish. Whether you’re painting the inside of cabinet doors or drawers, your chosen method can make or break the final look.

Brush vs. Spray

  1. Brush Painting: Ideal for hard-to-reach corners and offers more control. It requires patience and skill but can achieve a beautiful finish.
  2. Spray Painting: This provides a smooth outcome but requires more preparation, such as taping or tarping areas that could accidentally get sprayed.

Painting Drawers and Doors

  1. Remove and Label: Remove all doors, drawers, and hardware. Label them to remember their corresponding locations.
  2. Create a Paint Station: Set up a dedicated space for painting and drying. You can create a drying rack with ladders and 2x4s.
  3. Apply the Paint: Start with the inside edges, openings, outer sides, and fronts. Apply thin, light coats and allow at least four hours to dry between coats.

Special Effects

Want to add a touch of magic? Consider special effects like a faux finish with crackling glaze for a rustic look or a high-gloss finish for a polished appearance.

Color Choices: Choosing the Perfect Color for the Inside of Cabinets

Choosing the right color for the inside of your cabinets is like painting a picture of your kitchen’s personality. It’s not just about picking a shade you like; it’s about creating harmony, setting the mood, and reflecting your style.

Understanding Color Psychology

Colors have the power to evoke emotions and set the tone of a space. Here’s a glimpse into the world of color psychology:

  • Blue: Calming and serene, perfect for a peaceful kitchen.
  • Red: Energizing and stimulating adds warmth to the space.
  • Green: Fresh and natural, it brings a touch of the outdoors inside.
  • White: Clean and pure, it offers a timeless and classic look.

Matching with Kitchen Theme

Your chosen color should complement the overall theme of your kitchen. Whether it’s a rustic farmhouse, sleek modern, or cozy cottage style, the color should enhance the theme, not clash with it.

  • Farmhouse Style: Consider earthy tones like beige, brown, or soft green.
  • Modern Style: Bold colors like black, gray, or metallic shades can add a contemporary touch.
  • Cottage Style: Soft pastels like pale blue or creamy white can create a cozy feel.

Popular Colors and Trends

Staying in tune with the latest color trends can give your kitchen a fashionable edge. Here’s what’s trending:

  • Neutral Shades: Colors like gray, beige, and white are versatile and timeless.
  • Bold Accents: Adding a pop of color like teal or coral can create a focal point.
  • Two-Tone Cabinets: Combining two complementary colors can add depth and interest.

Using the Color Wheel

The color wheel is a handy tool for finding harmonious color combinations. Here’s how to use it:

  • Complementary Colors: Colors opposite each other on the wheel, like red and green, create a vibrant look.
  • Analogous Colors: Colors next to each other, like blue and green, offer a harmonious feel.
  • Triadic Colors: Three colors evenly spaced around the wheel, like red, yellow, and blue, provide a balanced and lively effect.

Painting Different Types of Cabinets: Techniques for Painting Various Materials and Styles

Every cabinet tells a story, and the material and style dictate how that story unfolds. Each requires a unique approach, from wood to metal, vintage to unfinished.

Wood Cabinets

Wood cabinets are like a blank canvas, ready to absorb the color of your choice. But they require proper sanding, priming, and a compatible paint type.

Metal Cabinets

Metal cabinets can be tricky. They often need a special metal primer and paint that adheres well to the surface.

Vintage Cabinets

Vintage cabinets carry a charm that calls for a delicate touch. Consider a distressed finish or antiquing glaze to enhance their character.

Unfinished Cabinets

Unfinished cabinets are like a mystery waiting to be revealed. Before painting, they may require extra preparation, such as filling knots and sealing the wood.

FAQs About Painting Inside of Cabinets

Questions are bound to arise when embarking on the journey of painting inside of cabinets. It’s like setting off on an adventure with a map full of unknowns.

Should You Paint Both Sides of the Cabinet Doors?

Absolutely! Painting both sides of cabinet doors ensures a uniform look and protects the wood. However, allowing one side to dry completely is essential before painting the other. It’s like wearing a well-tailored suit; you want it to look good from all angles.

Why Don’t You Paint Inside Cabinets?

Some people choose not to paint the inside cabinets to save time or money or simply because they prefer the natural look of the wood. It’s a personal choice, like choosing between a novel and a short story. If the inside of the cabinets is in good condition and won’t be visible, you may decide to leave it as is.

Should You Paint the Inside of the Cabinet?

Painting the inside of the cabinet can provide a fresh, clean look and allow you to add a pop of color. It’s like adding a secret ingredient to a recipe; it can elevate the entire dish. Painting the inside is a good option for a cohesive and finished appearance.

What Type of Paint Should You Use for Inside Cabinets?

The paint type depends on the cabinets’ material and the desired finish. Oil-based paints offer durability, while latex paints are easier to work with. It’s like choosing between tea and coffee; both have unique flavors and benefits.

How to Prevent Paint from Sticking to Items Inside the Cabinet?

To prevent paint from sticking to items, ensure the paint is fully cured before placing anything inside. Using a clear protective finish can also help. It’s like setting a jelly; it needs time to firm up.

Can You Paint Inside Metal Cabinets?

Yes, you can paint inside metal cabinets, but it requires specific preparation and paint designed for metal surfaces. It’s like cooking with a new ingredient; you must know how to handle it.

How Long Does It Take for the Paint Inside Cabinets to Dry?

Drying time depends on the type of paint, humidity, and temperature. Generally, it takes anywhere from a few hours to a few days. It’s like waiting for bread to rise; patience is key.

Tips and Tricks: Expert Tips and Common Mistakes to Avoid

Painting inside cabinets is like a dance; it requires grace, precision, and a few secret moves to make it look effortless, whether you’re painting inside cabinets black, a different color, or just looking for expert painting tips.

Professional Tips

  1. Test the Color: Before committing to a color, test it in a small area to see how it looks in different lighting.
  2. Use Quality Brushes and Rollers: Investing in good quality tools can make a difference in the finish.
  3. Don’t Skip the Prep Work: Cleaning, sanding, and priming are essential steps, not shortcuts.
  4. Use Painter’s Tape: To achieve clean lines and protect areas you don’t want to paint.
  5. Apply Thin Coats: Multiple thin coats are better than one thick coat. Patience is a virtue here.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Rushing the Process: Like a fine wine, painting takes time. Don’t rush the drying time between coats.
  2. Skipping Primer: Primer helps the paint adhere and provides a smooth surface. Don’t skip this step.
  3. Using the Wrong Paint: Not all paints are created equal. Choose the right one for the material and finish you want.
  4. Ignoring Safety Precautions: Safety first! Use proper safety gear and work in a well-ventilated area.

Finishing Touches

  1. Add Protective Finish: A clear protective finish can add durability and make cleaning easier.
  2. Reinstall Hardware Carefully: Don’t rush this step; you don’t want to scratch your freshly painted cabinets.
  3. Add Shelf Liners: Add decorative or protective shelf liners for a finished look.

Maintenance and Refreshing: Caring for and Refreshing Painted Cabinets

Once the paint has dried and the tools are removed, maintaining and refreshing your painted cabinets begins. It’s like tending a garden; with a little care and attention, it continues to bloom.

Cleaning Tips

  1. Use Gentle Cleaners: Avoid harsh chemicals that can damage the paint. A mild soap and water solution usually does the trick.
  2. Wipe Spills Promptly: Don’t let spills sit; they can stain or damage the paint over time.

When to Repaint

  1. Assess Wear and Tear: If you notice chipping, peeling, or fading, it might be time to repaint.
  2. Consider a Refresh: Sometimes, a simple touch-up or a new coat of protective finish can bring cabinets back to life.

Refreshing the Look

  1. Change Hardware: New knobs or handles can give cabinets a fresh look without repainting.
  2. Add Interior Lighting: Consider adding interior cabinet lighting for a modern touch.
  3. Experiment with Shelf Liners: Different colors or patterns can add a new dimension to the inside of cabinets.

DIY vs. Hiring Professionals: Weighing the Options

The decision to paint the inside cabinets yourself or hire professionals is like standing at a crossroads, each path leading to a different adventure. Both options have their allure and challenges.

DIY Painting


  • Cost-Effective: DIY can save you significant money, as you only pay for materials.
  • Personal Touch: You have complete control over the process, allowing for customization and creativity.
  • Satisfaction: Completing a project yourself creates a sense of pride and accomplishment.


  • Time-Consuming: DIY projects can take longer, especially if you learn as you go.
  • Potential Mistakes: Without professional experience, mistakes can happen, leading to redoing work or hiring help.

Cost Considerations:

  • Materials: Expect to pay for paint, brushes, rollers, primer, and other tools.
  • Time: Consider the value of your time and whether the project fits into your schedule.

Hiring Professionals


  • Quality Work: Professionals have the experience and tools to achieve a smooth and lasting finish.
  • Efficiency: A professional team can complete the project in a fraction of the time it might take you.
  • Less Stress: Hiring professionals means you don’t have to worry about the details or potential mistakes.


  • Higher Cost: Professional services come at a price, often several times the DIY cost.
  • Less Control: You may have less control over specific details or customization.

Cost Considerations:

  • Labor: Most of the cost will be for labor, which can vary based on the location and complexity of the project.
  • Materials: Some professionals include materials in their quotes, while others may charge separately.

Exploring Special Techniques and Upcoming Trends

The world of painting inside cabinets is ever-evolving, with new techniques, trends, and technologies emerging like blossoms in spring.

Special Techniques

  1. Faux Finishes: Create visual textures like marble, wood grain, or antique patina for a unique look.
  2. Textured Painting: Using specialized brushes or rollers to add physical texture to the surface.
  3. Artistic Effects: Hand-painted designs, stencils, or murals can turn cabinets into works of art.

Upcoming Trends

  1. Bold Colors: Vibrant and bold colors make a statement in modern kitchens.
  2. Two-Tone Cabinets: Mixing different colors or finishes for upper and lower cabinets is on the rise.
  3. Sustainable Practices: Eco-friendly paints and practices are gaining popularity.

Future Technologies

  1. Smart Cabinets: Imagine cabinets that change color with a touch of a button or mood-sensing technology.
  2. 3D Printing: Customized 3D-printed cabinet doors with intricate designs could be the future.


Cabinet painting is a transformative journey exploring special techniques and trends. Painting cabinets is not just a project but a journey of self-expression, creativity, and transformation. It involves turning ordinary into extraordinary, old into new, and mundane into magical. Embrace the excitement, possibilities, and joy of creation by choosing colors, textures, and finishes to add to the symphony of your home. Explore the world of cabinet painting and let your kitchen tell a new tale.