Painting kitchen cabinets can significantly spruce up your kitchen and customize the space to your taste. But do you paint the inside of kitchen cabinets during this home improvement exercise?

Since the kitchen cabinet interiors are mostly hidden out of sight, painting them is optional. However, so going has its fair share of benefits.

While most people leave the inside of their kitchen cabinets unpainted, especially because it is not a simple task, their choices should not influence yours.

Instead, consider weighing the benefits against the challenges of painting this part of the kitchen cabinets and decide from there.

Do You Paint the Inside of Kitchen Cabinets?

Yes, painting the inside of your kitchen cabinets is always a good idea, even though it may be a challenging task. It may require removing the cabinet doors and dealing with hard-to-reach areas, but the rewards often outweigh the challenges.

Why Should You Paint the Inside of Cabinets?

People who avoid painting the inside of their kitchen cabinets do so to escape the complexities of the process. However, they miss out on the many benefits of choosing to paint this section of the cabinets.

Read along to learn why you may want to rethink skipping painting the kitchen cabinet interiors.

Painting can help create contrast

Contrast is an important design choice. For example, if you want to spruce things up a bit, you may want a bright interior to contrast beautifully with a darker exterior and vice versa.

If this is the result you want to achieve, painting can be ideal. You simply choose a color that is directly opposite the exterior color of your kitchen cabinets on the color wheel, and you are good to go.

Painting is an excellent way to match the cabinet doors

If you prefer your kitchen looking uniform from the inside out, how better to achieve that than with a splash of new paint?

Painting allows you to choose the same paint color for the cabinet doors and the inside of the cabinets. This is a great way to create a more cohesive look in your kitchen.

You can paint for display purposes

Matching the color of your kitchen cabinet doors with the interiors can be especially helpful if the doors have see-through windows. The interior paint helps create uniformity even as you look through the windows.

Alternatively, you could have a favorite color that you want to be displayed in your kitchen. In that case, you can opt to paint the interiors with that color to treat people to it. This is particularly suitable for cabinets that have an open or glass front.

The design allows you to effortlessly show off your favorite color, which necessitates painting its interiors.

You can paint to satisfy a personal preference

Much of the interior design choices we make for our houses or living spaces are inspired by our personal preferences. The kitchen cabinet interiors are no exception.

You could opt to paint these interiors because you can, and you prefer them painted. Doing so can therefore satisfy that individual preference.

You could paint to protect the cabinets from decay

Kitchen cabinets always come with sufficient protection against moisture and other elements that could cause the wood to decay. However, it never hurts to err on the side of caution.

So you could opt to paint the interiors just to add an additional layer of protection, especially if the chances of frequent spillage in the cabinets are high.

The added layer of paint can go a long way in waterproofing the wood and protecting it from possible decay.

How to Paint the Inside of Kitchen Cabinets

Painting the inside of kitchen cabinets involve a significant amount of elbow grease, but it becomes fairly straightforward if you know the steps to follow. More importantly, you need to have the right supplies for the job.

Materials and tools for painting inside of cabinets

  • Paint
  • Primer 
  • Caulk (optional)
  • Brush 
  • Sandpaper 
  • Drop cloth 
  • Painter’s tape 
  • Hand gloves
  • Screwdriver or cordless drill 
  • Pliers (optional)
  • Rags   

Painting kitchen cabinet interiors step by step 

Once you have everything ready, you can begin the process. Always countercheck to ensure everything you will need is available to avoid having to stop midway.

Step 1. Prepare the kitchen for the remodeling task 

Your kitchen may have various food items or food preparation material lying around. You need to put away all of that and reorganize the space for the remodeling task. 

You may also need to cover the countertops and other fixed kitchen appliances to avoid staining them with the paint and primer or making them dirty with the sanding dust. 

Additionally, cover the floor with a drop cloth or plastic sheeting. This will help collect the wood dust and any spills during the project. 

Step 2. Empty the cabinets 

You cannot paint inside the cabinets with their contents. So start by removing all the things stored in the cabinets and keeping them somewhere safe. Take everything out of the cabinets and leave them empty.  

Once they are empty, clean the cabinets thoroughly to remove all the dirt and accumulated dust. You can use a damp rag to wipe the interior surfaces to prepare them for the paint job. After removing all the dirt, let them dry completely. 

Step 3. Remove the cabinet doors and drawers 

While the cabinets dry, you can take apart the doors and drawers. This part may require using tools like screwdrivers and pliers, depending on the type of hinges your cabinets have. 

Painting over handles and hinges affects the way your cabinet door functions. You also need to uninstall it to avoid it getting in the way and making you less efficient.  

Once you unhinge and remove the doors, you will need to keep from reattaching them until the final coat dries.

Ensure you label everything you have detached for easy reassembly later on. You need to indicate where everything was before taking it apart. This will help you avoid any mix-ups. 

Step 4. Sand the interior surfaces and apply a caulk where necessary  

First, inspect the surfaces for any cracks or grooves. If there are any, caulk them up to seal the cracks. In this case, your project will take a bit longer because you must wait for the filling material to dry up completely.

While applying the caulking material, ensure you read the label and allow it to dry for the recommended time. 

You could also use wood putty to fill cracks and holes in the wood, but caulk is generally the preferred sealing material for cabinets and kitchen projects.  

After the sealing material has dried and the surfaces are completely dry, use 220-grit sandpaper to scuff up the surfaces you want to paint. Do not sand too deep; you just need to scuff them up to improve adhesion and make them smooth enough for the finish. 

Step 5. Apply a painter’s tape to the edges

Use painter’s tape to cover the hinges, edges, and any parts that you do not want the paint on. Covering these sections with the painter’s tape will help you achieve professional-looking results with ease. 

Step 6. Apply a primer  

By now, you should have chosen the right primer and paint for the job. You can always discuss your preferences and options with your supplier or expert beforehand. Let them help you choose a compatible primer and paint that will suit your project.

Priming is essential as it helps the paint stick better. It can also block stains from bleeding through the paint coat. 

You can use a paint roller or paintbrush to apply your chosen primer. First, ensure you have a high-quality natural-bristled brush. Then follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding drying times and the number of coats.    

Step 7. Apply the paint  

The chances are that you will use latex or acrylic latex paint for your cabinets. These paint types are water-based, making them low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

This quality means they do not emit a lot of toxic fumes that may linger around the kitchen long after application. Such fumes and strong smells are usually associated with oil paint and sealer and are unsuitable for use in the kitchen. 

Regardless of the type of paint you have selected, your application methods may be limited to using a brush or roller unless you choose an aerosol. Ensure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and allow each coat to dry completely before recoating. 

After applying the final coat, leave the print job to dry completely. The drying time may be anything from 24 to 48 hours. However, the paint may need several days to cure fully. 

We recommend allowing it to dry for a day or two longer than the stipulated drying time before reattaching the parts you removed before painting.  

Mistakes to Avoid When Painting Kitchen Cabinet Interiors 

Painting the interiors of kitchen cabinets takes a bit of work, so the last thing you want is to get unsatisfactory results. 

Thankfully, knowing what to do and what to avoid can help you achieve the desired results. You have learned about what to do in the previous section. Now here are some of the common cabinet painting mistakes to sidestep.

Skipping the primer 

Priming helps ensure the paint sticks, making it more durable. Failing to apply a primer can result in chipping or problems with stains bleeding through the paint coat. This can spoil your paint job. 

Failing to remove the doors 

Removing the doors will increase the scope of the work, but it is essential in helping you achieve better results. Leaving the doors intact can also delay the drying of the painted surfaces by reducing airflow. 

Not labeling the doors and hardware properly

It can be challenging to remember what was where during reattaching the hardware. Labeling them always helps you remember everything more easily.  

Applying thick layers of paint 

Thin coats of paint dry more quickly. Applying thick layers can result in drying problems, making the project take longer than desired. 

Skimping on drying time

If you do not let the cabinets dry for long enough, you may easily end up with marks and paint chips. The painted surfaces will often dry to the touch within a few hours but may take several days to cure fully.

You need to find out from the supplier how long the curing process will take so you can let them dry properly.

Is Satin or Semi-Gloss Better for Kitchen Cabinets?

Satin finishes tend to be relatively durable in high traffic areas and hide imperfections better than glossier finishes. However, they are more vulnerable to mildew and mold and less versatile than semi-gloss finishes. 

Since kitchen cabinets are located in high moisture environments susceptible to molds and mildew, semi-gloss paints are better. Meanwhile, matte paint is impractical for kitchen cabinets.

Do You Have to Prime Cabinets Before Painting?

Priming cabinets is essential when changing the type of paint or painting over natural wood cabinets. However, it is optional if you are repainting with the same type of paint on the painted cabinets.

Painting the Inside of Cabinets: FAQs

Should I use a brush or roller to paint cabinets?

Using a roller when painting kitchen cabinets is a lot faster than brushing the paint. However, the roller fabric tends to create a bobbly texture on the painted surface, making rollers unsuitable for gloss paint. Brushing often gives better results for wood but may require a professional to use.

How many coats of primer do I need to paint cabinets?

Cabinets usually require only one coat of primer. But you can apply two coats if the cabinets are very dark, allowing the first coat to dry fully before recoating.

What is the best primer for painting cabinets?

Oil-based or white shellac primers are the best for painting cabinets. Ensure you sand the surfaces to remove any gloss before applying the primer for better adhesion.

Can you spray paint the inside of the kitchen cabinets?

Absolutely. Spray painting is among the easiest ways to apply paint to the kitchen cabinet interior. It simplifies the painting process, making painting hard-to-reach areas and down-facing surfaces easier.

Can I paint my kitchen cabinet interiors without sanding?

Painting the inside of kitchen cabinets without sanding is possible but not recommended. Sanding helps ensure a better, smoother finish while also promoting better adhesion. To paint without sanding, ensure the surface is unvarnished wood or one that has been recently painted.

When painting cabinets, should I paint the inside?

Painting inside kitchen cabinets is optional since the wood already comes with protection against oil vapors. However, doing so can add spruce up the space and add visual stimulation to the kitchen.

What is the best paint for inside cabinets?

Latex paint is widely regarded as the best option for painting kitchen cabinets since it dries quickly and has lower VOC levels.


Many people skip painting inside kitchen cabinets because it is time-consuming. While this may be the easier alternative, painting the cabinets can bring numerous benefits.

We hope this tutorial helps you complete your project successfully.

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