Saturday, February 6, 2021

How To Paint Kitchen Cabinets Without Pulling Your Hair Out!

Painting cabinets is easy and simple.

How To Paint Cabinets

Painting is one of those chores that everyone usually comes face to face with at least once in their lives.  Whether it's just a bedroom or a whole house, this post is going to break down my technique I use to get consistent repeatable results.


One of the first things people think of when you mention painting anything is brushes and rollers.  Also messy paint buckets and the even messier cleanup.

It's enough to send shivers down the toughest spines.

I find one of the best ways to get the results you want when painting cabinets is to not touch either of those.  I go the way of the sprayer.

WAIT, Wait...

 I know what your thinking.

"Spraying is so complicated and daunting."

Not the way I'm going to show you in this video.


1.  Air Compressor

I use a 6 gallon pancake compressor.  I don't endorse Ryobi and have no affiliation with them.  I honestly don't even have a lot of there tools in my shop.  

I just happen to have this one because when I was shopping for a new compressor a few years ago I knew I wanted a vertical style compressor.

This was the only one I could find.

Hardly a ringing endorsement I know, but with the exception of having to replace the regulator its been a pretty good unit to date.

The main point to take away here is that you can do painting with a cheap small unit.  You don't need one of the tall large ones that sit in a corner of the garage taking up space.  Plus I am also able to use this to air up bicycle and car tires when needed.

Compressors are useful on a number of occasions outside painting.  So I endorse getting one, no matter what brand.

2.  Spray gun

This one I have in my shop is a general purpose suction sprayer that I picked up someplace I can't remember over a decade ago.  It's been a good performer for me and reliable as well.

It's simple to learn and master because it only has one onboard adjustment.  For the most part you just hook up the air hose and adjust the PSI to get the look you want when applying paint to your project.

There are other styles to choose from as well such as a gravity feed spray gun but I don't like those so I don't use them and will not be going into them in this post.

3. Cabinet Paint

Don't be fooled by the names manufacturers put on there paint cans.  Often times it's the same stuff just with a different label.

What you want for cabinets is something that is enamel based.  If you use a latex based paint your doors will stick closed anytime the humidity in your home gets to high.

Step 1

Now that we have our tools and materials on hand we can get busy painting.  Whether you have new doors like I have for my kitchen remodel or you are reusing you cabinet doors you will want a good primer for a base.

Without a primer there is a possibility you could see any imperfections in the wood below.  If you have ever seen painted oak cabinets you know what I mean.

The wood grain of oak is notorious for showing through paint.  A good coat of primer will help diminish that possibility.

Step 2

Now we can set up our air compressor and make some adjustments according to the style of sprayer you may be using.  Always be sure to check the max PSI your sprayer can safely handle.
Mine can handle a max setting of 45psi.  I like to use a pressure between 30-40psi.  This is personal preference however.  

Different pressures will give different looks.  Experiment on some scrape wood and see what you like and don't like.

How thick the paint is will also have a baring on the finish look as well.  I use a 3 cups of paint to one cup of water ratio to thin my paint for spraying.  Again play around with this and see what looks good to you.

Step 3


There are four main things I keep track of when spray painting kitchen cabinets.

1. Viscosity -  This is simply how thick or thin the material you are spraying is.  In this case the material would be paint but you can spray on all sorts of materials.

As I mentioned earlier I use a 3 to 1 ratio for most paints.  This will vary a little based on different brands of paint but for the most part 3/1 gets me what I'm looking for.  That gives me a little bit of texture to my cabinets.

I don't like a completely flat look.  I feel it tends to look fake so I go for a more organic feel in the kitchen.

2. PSI - Again different psi's will give different looks.  So play around.  Find what works for you.

3. Distance -  If you spray paint from 3 inches away that will have a certain look to it.  If you hold your sprayer 6 inches away that will have a different look to it.  In general I like to be about 12 inches away from my project.

4. Angle - This is something people get snagged by and don't even realize it.  Holding the sprayer at a 90° angle across the door will give a different look than holding it at a 45° angle.  I'm not saying 45° is bad I'm just saying don't combine 45° with 90° on the same project.

Final Thoughts

Watching the video above and keeping track of the four points I just laid out will help get a wonderfully looking new kitchen in no time.  Well it is a step in the right direction at least.  There are still a few things that need to be done to complete the look but this will get you going.

Don't forget to check out the entire series I have on a Budget Friendly Kitchen Remodel here.

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Until then!