Skip to Content

Can you paint kitchen cabinets?

If you are thinking of a kitchen makeover but a whole new kitchen is just too expensive then you might have thought about painting your kitchen cabinets, I certainly did. This has probably led you here, wondering can you paint laminate kitchen cabinets? Well, the short answer is yes, you definitely can, but there are a few steps you need to take to make your kitchen cabinets look their best so make sure you read on.

Can you paint kitchen cabinets?

Painting kitchen cabinets is something you can definitely do and something that I have in fact done myself. It is a really affordable way to give your kitchen a complete makeover. Painting laminate requires a few extra steps over painting regular wood but if you follow the steps outlined below then there is no reason why you can achieve an excellent paint job on your kitchen cupboards.

Below you can see an image of my laminate cabinets before and after painting. With a new tile splashback too it looks like a brand new kitchen which cost me about £200 all in!

Kitchen cabinets before and after painting

Kitchen cabinets before and after painting

How to paint laminate cabinets

So how to paint laminate cabinets? Well, it’s not that different from any other type of painting. Most cabinet paints have primers built in so you don’t even need to prime first. It is always a good idea to make sure the cabinets are clean before painting. This can be a particular problem with grease on kitchen cabinets. So grab a damp cloth and some sugar soap and get to work cleaning those cabinet doors.

This job requires some elbow grease and a little painting skill but is well within reach for most DIY’ers.


In order to get a good, paintable surface you need to rough it up a little with some medium grit sandpaper. If you don’t do this you will be painting onto a very shiny surface, this will work fine at first but will lead in time to paint chipping. We are not trying to strip the cabinet doors back here, a light sand to aid adhesion is what we are after.

The reason I advise medium grit sandpaper, somewhere between 100-200 is that you want to rough the surface up so a too higher grit will take too long, but you don’t want to damage or gouge the wood so too low grit sandpaper will cause too much damage. Somewhere around 120 grit sandpaper or a little higher is perfect.

Sand all the laminate cabinets so that the surface is scuffed up, this will give a better adhesion with your paint. Pay particular attention to areas that will be more likely to see contact. Around edges and cabinet handles are the areas you need to really work on. For the large areas like the cabinet doors, you can even use an orbital sander as long as you have the right pads.

Choosing the right Paint

The next important step to follow is choosing the correct paint. High quality paint always makes a big difference on these kinds of projects and will massively affect the number of coats of paint you ultimately need to apply. There are a few different paints on the market specifically designed for painting laminate cabinets, these paints are designed to have really good adhesion to laminate cabinets and provide a good, strong finish. All of the cabinet paints I have seen are oil based paint so make sure you grab some cleaners for your brushes.

These Ronseal paints are specially designed to be used on laminate surfaces and are also one coat. With one coat paint, you will gain back some of the time you spent sanding so it is a win-win!

Painting Laminate Cabinets

As part of your prep work, you must remove any door knobs or handles from the cupboards. Don’t try and paint around them, saving a few minutes by not removing everything from the cupboards is not worth the poor level of finish you will get by doing this.

The key here is to take it slow and try and get a nice smooth finish, a good paint brush here will be a big advantage, don’t cheap out and buy a crappy paint brush as this really is a false economy. If you see any imperfections or brush strokes in your finish then go over them again gently with your brush trying to smooth them out.

Pay particular attention to the cabinet door as these are the areas that will really draw your eye. A good cupboard front finish will really improve the overall feel of this process.

Paint Sprayer

For my laminate kitchen cabinets, I actually used a spray gun to achieve a really high-quality finish on the cabinet doors. This was the first time I had used an electric paint sprayer and while it took a little bit of setting up, once the settings were dialled in it provided and really good, even coat of paint on the cabinet doors.

These guns are quite affordable and can be used for all kinds of jobs, one issue I did have is that the laminate paint was quite thick so it would block the nozzle quite often. mixing in a tiny but of paint, thinner helped fix this issue and didn’t make any difference to the coat of paint.


I always like to ensure I have plenty of paint left over after I am done for touch-ups. If your tin is very low then try and buy a new one in the same colour if you can. Manufacturers often change colours so the last thing you want is to end up with mis matched cabinet doors when you have to do some touch ups!