The To-Do's and Not To-Do's of painting cabinets

Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker RS318386

Spring and summer offer us plenty of time to open our windows and put some fresh paint on the walls, or your cabinets if you follow the trends! You can use these tips for any wooden cabinets such as kitchen, bath or even in your potting shed!

To-Do... figure out what kind of cabinets you have

Wood and MDF can be painted without much drama. The hardest part is removing the stain or the finish with a deglosser (also known as liquid sander). Plastic laminate cabinets are tougher, sometimes impossible, to paint successfully. Discuss with a paint consultant at a home improvement store before attempting these yourself. 

To-Do... take off the cabinet doors, pull out the drawers, and remove all the hardware, including hinges

Label everything so reassembly is easier. You may have problems with doors not properly closing if you do not follow this step carefully! 

Not To-Do... rush through cleaning

Kitchen cabinets are magnets for grease and food splatters. Get rid of gunk with a heavy-duty cleaner like phosphate-free TSP.

To-Do... consider an alkyd paint

This specialty paint, popular with pros, is like a hybrid of oil and latex paints: It gives cabinets a super-durable finish that can withstand lots of use — and abuse — dries to a glossy sheen, and is resistant to moisture and humidity. 

Not To-Do... think you can rush through this project

With all the prepping, cleaning and painting, you’ll probably need a minimum of two weekends to finish everything, so plan (and pace yourself) accordingly. 


Coal Infantino

Coaldwell Banker

(717) 676-5545

Posted by

Coal Infantino

Coldwell Banker

1499 S.Queen St York, PA 17403

(717) 854-9242 Office

(717) 676-5545 Cell


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Esther Preston
Heartland Realty - Redmond, OR

There's a new gell paint that out ,and makes it much easier.  On Amazon 

General Finishes JQ Gel Stain, 1 quart, Java

May 31, 2016 08:15 AM #15
Kristen Correa, Broker
Kristen Correa Real Estate & Reedy Creek Realty Services - Keller, TX
I love coffee & real estate. I am out of coffee!

My daughter is stuck on this NO song:

My name is no

My sign is no

My number is no

You need to let it go...

I am not ever painting my own cabinets again. Or even attempting to install the hardware. I will hit another screw, get them unlevel or otherwise flub it up everytime. 

Good tips to those who want to try it on their own, from my experience, you're right. It's not a day project, it's like a day just in prep alone. Take your time is on the money...

May 31, 2016 08:38 AM #16
Susan Laxson CRS
HomeSmart Professionals - La Quinta, CA
Local Knowledge & Global Network

I am not very handy, but this could be a project for my family to share doing together and learning a new skill!

May 31, 2016 09:01 AM #17
Athina Boukas
Virginia Capital Realty - Richmond, VA
Certified Residential Specialist (CRS)

I would not have the patience to do this myself. I have had pros do it to perfection for a reasonable cost (but still much more expensive than the cost of paint and TSP).
It is labor intensive.

May 31, 2016 01:08 PM #18
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Coal Infantino - well said. There is no need to rush to complete such an important task.

After all, kitchen is one of the most important room in the home.

May 31, 2016 01:55 PM #19
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Great post!  I have clients with cabinets that can't be painted or I'd send them your post :)  Anyone considering painting should definitely read your blog!

May 31, 2016 03:08 PM #20
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

This is good information for those who enjoy DIY projects.  I would love to paint my cabinets. 

May 31, 2016 04:29 PM #21
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667 (MT), 914-419-0270 (NY), Broker in NY with Grand Lux Realty and in MT with (coming soon!) - Kalispell, MT
The House Kat

This is great information for someone who wants to paint their cabinets!

May 31, 2016 08:30 PM #22
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Such a timely post. Congrats on the feature. I was also thinking of redoing cabinets. Great and helpful comments.

May 31, 2016 10:38 PM #23
Sham Reddy CRS
H E R Realty, Dayton, OH - Dayton, OH

Anything that is hastily done backfires!!!

With all the prepping, cleaning and painting, you’ll probably need a minimum of two weekends to finish everything, so plan (and pace yourself) accordingly. 

May 31, 2016 11:25 PM #24
Coal Infantino
Coldwell Banker - York, PA
Realtor specializing in south central PA

Thanks for all comments!  I had my kitchen cabinets painted 2 years ago and I am so glad that I hired a professional.  They are still looking as good as they did when they finished the job.

Jun 01, 2016 12:49 AM #25
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

The thing is that when projects are done, they look one way. If done poorly, it looks another. Cabinets stand out and wont stand for poor work

Jun 01, 2016 01:02 AM #26
Jennifer Mackay
Counts Real Estate Group, Inc. - Panama City, FL
Your Bay County Florida Realtor 850.774.6582

Good post and grats on the feature! Yes, cabinets are one tough, long term project not to be taken lightly - thanks for sharing Coal Infantino 

Jun 01, 2016 08:44 PM #27
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hi Coal --- as others have commented, I'd likely hire a professional but those with better painting skills -- these are great tips.   

Jun 04, 2016 11:33 PM #28
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good morning Coal Infantino ,

So glad Patricia Kennedy featured this post in her favorites for the week! Excellent is not a job to rush through! We hired a professional to paint our cabinets and so glad we did!

Jun 04, 2016 11:52 PM #29
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Hey, Caol,  I included this post in today's Last Week's Favorites!

Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend. 

Jun 05, 2016 12:05 AM #30
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

I can see why Patricia included your post this week...well done!

Jun 05, 2016 12:17 AM #31
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

I just finished painting our living room, hall, and entryway. Between the prep work and assembling/moving scaffolding, then scrubbing everything I can't normally reach, the painting was the fast part. It took the better part of 4 days, and my husband helped on the 4th day. 

Jun 05, 2016 08:17 AM #32
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

Some of the new paints do magic things. It will simulate granite counter top. I have painted dull cabinets to give a new cabinet appearance.  

Thanks for the article.

Sam Shueh

Jun 05, 2016 09:07 AM #33
Thomas J. Nelson, Realtor, ePRO, CRS, RCS-D
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

As a former house painter I can agree that the results are all in the prep. We would spend days prepping a house for paint. Sometimes the prep took as long or longer than painting the actual house. "Clean, sand, tape off-twice, paint once" and watch it last a long time! Good post and a great way to do a less expensive kitchen update.

Jun 06, 2016 12:45 AM #34
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Coal Infantino

Realtor specializing in south central PA
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