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Thinking of painting your kitchen cabinets? Here’s what you need to know

Learn how to paint kitchen cabinets like a professional by following these tips from a Which? Trusted Trader painter and decorator

Thinking of painting your kitchen cabinets? Here’s what you need to know

Painting your kitchen cabinets and cupboards will transform an old, tired kitchen into a brighter, better space. Buying new cabinets and cupboards can be expensive, so painting your existing units is a cheaper way to get a new style. 

The paint’s finish will determine how long the new paint will last and how professional your newly painted kitchen cabinets will look. If you are at all apprehensive about painting to a high standard, we’ve got you covered.

We asked a Which? Trusted Trader painter and decorator to give us some top professional tips on how to paint kitchen cabinets. Read on to find out how to achieve a professional quality finish for your cabinets.

We’ve also included a cost guide for popular paint choices, covering the price, approximate paint coverage, and price per m2 of coverage, from a selection of paint retailers and brands. This will help you work out how much paint you’ll need for your cabinets and how much it will set you back.


If your kitchen needs more than some new paint, check out our guide to the best and worst kitchen brands. It includes brands such as Ikea, John Lewis and Wickes, and is based on reviews from thousands of kitchen buyers and lab test assessments of kitchen units.


About Which? Trusted Traders

Which? Trusted Traders are reputable traders who have passed an assessment process carried out by our trading standards professionals. A trader endorsed by us has demonstrated consistently high levels of customer satisfaction and business procedures, so you can be confident you’re paying for high-quality work.

Find a local trader you can trust – go to Which? Trusted Traders.

How to paint kitchen cabinets like a professional

painting a kitchen cabinet

We spoke to Shaun McKay from Which? Trusted Trader Splash of Colour Painters & Decorators Ltd to find out how to paint kitchen cabinets using a professional process and techniques.

Before you get the paintbrushes out and immediately start laying on coats of paint, consider Shaun’s top tip: preparation plays an essential role in making sure you get a great paint finish.

He told us: ‘A lot of people don’t realise that there’s more to finishing cabinets than simply applying a coat of paint. When professional painters take on a kitchen cabinet project, we follow a process.’

Preparing your kitchen cabinets for painting

According to Shaun, you should:

  • First prepare the cabinet surfaces by cleaning them and removing any hardware, such as hinges and handles
  • Secondly, remove the drawers and doors to paint them separately.

Once you have disassembled everything, look for any imperfections or damage. Shaun said: ‘If you find dents, cracks or scrapes, fill them in and then sand the surface before applying paint.’

If you discover major damage and decide you need to purchase new kitchen units, check out our advice on kitchen cabinets, doors and worktops. Here, you’ll find out about the best kitchen cabinets, and different materials such as wood, chipboard and MDF, plus options for cheap cabinets and sturdy units. 

paint and brushes

Priming and painting your kitchen cabinets

Splash of Colour are based in Glasgow and were our Trusted Trader of the Year 2020. Owner Shaun highlighted the importance of using the right products. He will sand the surface of the cabinets, then apply two coats of primer.

Primer provides better adhesion of paint to the surface and will give increased protection and durability.

Professionals will use primer with a shellac-base. Shellac is a form of naturally produced resin, which acts as a sealant and prevents water and wood tannins from damaging the newly applied paint.

Once you have completed these steps, the cabinets are now ready to be painted a colour of your choice. Use a paint roller for the larger flat areas, and a brush for the edges and final touching up.

Usually only the front and edges of kitchen cabinets are painted, but you may wish to paint all the sides and areas.

If you are planning on painting more than just your kitchen cabinets, read our advice on how to paint your living room or bedroom for £100.

What colour should you paint your kitchen cabinets?

painted kitchen cabinets

Colourful kitchens have surged in popularity over the past year, with navy, green, yellow and red units proving popular with homeowners.

Consider using light, bright colours to liven up a small or dark kitchen.

Try painting sample colours onto some paper and sticking it to the wall, then move it around the room at different times of the day to see if you like how it looks.

There is a vast array of paint options for your kitchen cabinets and cupboards. Popular options are specialist cupboard paint that will provide a gloss, semi-gloss or satin finish.

If you are unsure what type of paint to go for, have a look at our kitchen design ideas for inspiration.

Kitchen cupboard paint guide prices

The guide prices provided below are intended to give you an indication of how much paint might cost you.

Primer paint prices

Retailer Product Approximate coverage Price Approximate price per m2 of coverage
Screwfix Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Based Primer Sealer 1 Litre 12.5m2/litre £18.99 £1.51/m2
Toolstation Bedec Aqua Advanced Primer & Undercoat White 1 Litre 13 to 15m2/litre £19.83 £1.53 to £1.32/m2
Brewers Albany Super Primer Undercoat Charcoal Grey (Ready Mixed) 1 Litre 15m2/litre £21.17 £1.41/m2

Gloss paint prices

Retailer Product Approximate coverage Price Price per m2 of coverage
Toolstation Crown Contract High Gloss Paint Brilliant White 1 Litre 16m2/litre £11.01 £0.69/m2
Screwfix Dulux Trade High Gloss Paint Pure Brilliant White 1 Litre 18m2/litre £13.99 £0.77/m2
Brewers Johnstone’s Aqua Gloss Colour (Tinted) PPG1098-1 Milk Paint 1 litre 12m2/litre £25.14 £2.10/m2

Satin paint prices

Retailer Product Approximate coverage Price Price per m2 of coverage
Toolstation Crown Contract Quick Dry Satin Paint Brilliant White 1 Litre 15m2/litre £12.59 £0.84/m2
Screwfix Dulux Trade Satinwood Paint Pure Brilliant White 1 Litre 17m2/litre £20.99 £1.24/m2
Brewers Johnstone’s Satin Finish Colour (Tinted) PPG1098-1 Milk Paint 1 Litre 20m2/litre £26.40 £1.32/m2

If you don’t have the confidence or time to paint your kitchen cabinets to a professional standard, find painters and decorators near you using Which? Trusted Traders.

All paint prices are taken from retailer websites, 15 June.

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