How much does it cost to paint kitchen cabinets? We’ve got the answer for you. Painting tired, dated kitchen cabinets is one of the most affordable ways to completely transform the look of your kitchen. Dingy cabinets make the entire room feel dark and uninspiring. Just by investing in some new cabinet paint you can brighten up the space and make it look fresh and modern.
But before you head to the home improvement store and grab the first can of paint you see, it’s important to understand how the costs can add up.
I recently had my kitchen cabinets painted – so I have a good idea of the cost to complete this task. While this is something many DIY’ers would take on, it wasn’t for me! I hired pros and don’t regret it one bit!
In this detailed guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know, from key factors that influence price to budgeting for DIY vs. hiring a pro.
How much does it cost to paint kitchen cabinets?
The cost to paint kitchen cabinets ranges from $200-$600 for DIY to $2000-$5000 to hire professionals, depending on size and complexity. Get tips to save money plus a breakdown of all the factors impacting price in this detailed guide on painting kitchen cabinets.
The Most Important Factors That Determine Painting Costs
While it may seem simple to just grab a roller and slap some paint on the cabinets, there are some key factors that really drive the overall expense of a kitchen cabinet paint job.
The Sheer Size of Your Kitchen
The overall square footage and number of cabinet doors, drawers, and shelving units play a huge role in determining painting costs. Larger and more expansive kitchens simply require more time and more paint to complete the job. Even if your kitchen dimensions aren’t overly large, intricate cabinetry with detailed trim and accents or cabinets that reach to the ceiling will require much more work than plain, flat panel cabinets.
- DIY painters may estimate costs based on linear feet of cabinets or a “per cabinet” rate if doing for themselves
- Professional painters often charge per linear foot of cabinets, or per cabinet door/drawer
- The more cabinets and doors, the higher the total painting cost will be
The Quality of the Paint You Choose
There is an incredibly wide range of paint options for kitchen cabinets, from basic budget-friendly paints that cost $20-50 per gallon all the way up to ultra-premium cabinet paints that run as much as $100-150 per gallon.
While premium paints typically provide better coverage, a smoother more flawless finish, faster dry times, and better durability, even cheaper paints can still provide good results as long as proper preparation and painting techniques are used.
DIY or Hire a Professional Painter?
Deciding between taking on the project yourself or hiring professional painters is one of the most important cost factors. Paying for professional labor can increase your total painting costs by $40-100 per hour.
However, tackling the project yourself requires you to invest a significant amount of time and elbow grease, especially for proper prep work.
If you don’t have strong DIY skills, you also risk ending up with a subpar paint job that has drips, uneven coverage, or other sloppy mistakes.
The Amount of Preparation Work Needed
No matter who ends up doing the actual painting – you or a professional – prepare for the prep work itself to take up a sizable chunk of time.
Properly prepping your cabinets to achieve an ultra smooth finish requires thoroughly cleaning, sanding, fixing any damage, filling holes, removing doors and hardware, and carefully masking/covering any adjacent surfaces.
If your existing cabinets are very worn, damaged, or dated, extra repairs beyond basic prep may be required to get them ready for paint. This extra time spent on prep work gets added to the project’s total cost.
DIY vs Professional Painting Costs
Okay, now that we’ve covered the key factors that influence the price of cabinet painting, let’s break it down by estimated costs for DIY versus hiring professional painters.
For a relatively standard 10×10 kitchen with simple flat panel cabinets, no ornamental trim work, and approximately 25 linear feet of cabinets, you can expect pricing in these general ranges:
In an average 10×10 kitchen with standard rectangular cabinets, expect costs in these ranges:
- DIY: $200-$600, averaging $400
- Professional: $2,000-$5,000, averaging $3,500
As you can see, completing the paint job yourself can save hundreds compared to hiring pros. However, costs for both DIY and professional painting scale up if your kitchen is larger or more complex.
- DIY painting a 20×20 kitchen with 50 linear feet of cabinets: $600 – $1200, averaging $900
- Professional painting costs for a 20×20 kitchen: $2000 – $5000, averaging $3500
Kitchens requiring specialty finishes like glazing, distressing, multi-tone colors, or intricate paint techniques should expect the high end of these cost ranges or potentially above.
Other Factors That Can Drive Up Your Total Costs
While size and paint quality are the two biggest cost factors, here are some additional things that could increase the total expense of your kitchen cabinet paint job:
- Very old existing cabinets that are damaged or warped, requiring repairs
- Super detailed cabinetry with ornate trim, accents and carvings
- Desired specialty paint techniques like glazing, distressing, multi-tone colors, etc.
- A kitchen in overall poor shape that needs extensive prep and fixes
- Kitchen located in a very high cost of living area with pricier labor rates
- Choosing to have the painters also take care of full uninstall/reinstall of doors, drawers, and hardware
- Opting to have the painters move large appliances like stoves and refrigerators
Tips and Tricks to Save Money on Your Cabinet Painting Project
If you’re on a tight budget or simply want to keep your costs down, here are some tips that can lead to major savings on your kitchen cabinet paint job:
- Take on time-consuming prep tasks like sanding, filling holes, removing hardware and doors yourself
- Only hire painters for the actual painting work to minimize labor costs
- Opt to paint the cabinets yourself if you have the skill, patience, and time needed
- Choose a simple all-over cabinet color rather than expensive multi-tone specialty paint techniques
- For DIY, buy high quality angled brushes and microfiber mini rollers for easier painting
- For DIY, purchase a pre-mixed cabinet paint that has primer included to skip priming step
- Clean and degrease cabinets with TSP substitute cleaner rather than replacing boxes
- Use painters tape/paper rather than removing doors and hardware to paint boxes easier
- Buy paint when it’s on sale or at big box improvement stores rather than paint specialty stores
- Purchase some extra paint for touch ups or in case you make mistakes
- Get at least 3 quotes from professional painters before choosing one
- Offer easy access to cabinets by clearing out the entire kitchen of appliances and food items
Proper planning, savvy purchasing decisions, and thorough comparison shopping before hiring a pro can lead to major savings on your kitchen cabinet painting project.
Step-By-Step Preparation Tips for Painting Kitchen Cabinets
Now that you know what impacts the cost of painting your cabinets, let’s talk about how to prep them properly for the paint job. Don’t be tempted to skip any of these steps—good prep is absolutely crucial to getting an evenly painted, professional looking finish.
Remove Cabinet Doors and Hardware
Detaching the doors, knobs or pulls, hinges and handles provides much easier access for painting the cabinet boxes and the door fronts. This does create more work later for reinstallation, but prevents paint slopping onto hardware and reduces painter frustration.
Thoroughly Clean and Degrease All Surfaces
Kitchen cabinet surfaces collect grime, grease and all manner of sticky spills and splatters. Use a degreasing cleaner like TSP substitute to scrub down all surfaces and remove residues so the paint can properly adhere. Rinse with clean water and let dry fully.
Sand Cabinets Lightly with Fine Grit Sandpaper
For the paint to bond tightly, you need to scuff up cabinet surfaces just a bit. Lightly sand all areas with 220 grit or finer sandpaper—just enough to rough up the existing finish.
Fill Any Holes, Gouges or Imperfections
Examine cabinets closely and use wood filler compound to patch over any holes from old hardware, gouges or dents in the wood. Allow filler to dry fully before sanding smooth.
Use Painter’s Tape for Clean Paint Lines
Carefully apply painter’s tape around the edges and seams of the cabinets to protect the walls, countertops and backsplashes. Press tape down firmly and use a utility knife to score clean edges.
Prime Cabinets If Changing Color Dramatically
Priming ensures the new paint color covers evenly and prevents the old color from bleeding through. If changing cabinet color drastically from light to dark or vice versa, priming is a must.
Once you’ve completed these prep steps, your cabinets will be ready for their fresh painted finish.
How to Choose the Best Paint for Kitchen Cabinets
With all the options on the shelves at the home improvement store, it can be overwhelming to choose what paint is best for kitchen cabinets. Here’s what to look for:
Opt for Durable Cabinet Enamel Paint
Look for paint specifically labeled as “cabinet,” “kitchen cabinet” or “enamel” paint. This paint is formulated to be extra durable, scratch-resistant and easy to clean—important for high traffic kitchens.
Consider Oil or Water-Based Paint
Both options work well but have pros and cons. Oil-based paints are most durable and protective but require mineral spirits cleanup. Water-based latex paints clean up easily with water but are not quite as tougH.
Semi-Gloss or Satin Finish
These finishes offer shine while hiding flaws well. Glossier paints showcase drips and imperfections. Choose satin for a slightly subtler shine.
Purchase Good Quality Brushes and Rollers
Don’t skimp on supplies—good brushes and rollers make all the difference for an easy, flawless painted finish. Look for angled sash brushes and high density mini foam rollers.
Buy Paint When It’s On Sale
Hit home improvement stores during sales, especially popular holidays for renovation projects. You can often score 30-50% off quality cabinet paints at these peak times.
Hiring Professional Painters vs Painting Cabinets Yourself
Deciding whether to hire a professional painter or take on the project yourself has big implications for your total project cost. Here’s a full breakdown of the pros and cons:
Benefits of Hiring Professionals
- Flawless, expert results from years of painting experience
- Project completed quicker – no learning curve
- Able to perform specialty paint techniques like glazing and distressing
- No annoyances like drips, uneven coats, or brush marks
- Professionals have all necessary tools and equipment
Downsides of Professional Painters
- Project costs increase substantially due to high labor rates
- Coordination required to schedule painters and be home during work
- You pay more but still must do prep work like clearing kitchen
Benefits of DIY Painting
- Saves hundreds or even thousands by avoiding labor costs
- Complete control over every step in the process
- Sense of satisfaction and accomplishment from doing it yourself
- Ability to take your time – no rushing on a timeline
- Opportunity to customize and get creative with the final look
Downsides of DIY Painting
- Painting cabinets is very challenging – high learning curve
- Much more time-consuming – expect to spend full weekends
- Risk of ending up with a sloppy, amateurish paint job
- Aching neck, back, and shoulders from long hours of painting overhead
- Frustration dealing with drips, uneven coats, and brush marks
As you can see, there are compelling benefits to both options. In the end, it comes down to your budget, skill level, and time commitment. For perfection, hire pros. To save money, take your time and do it yourself.
Is It Cheaper to Paint or Replace Kitchen Cabinets?
When your kitchen cabinets are looking worn out or outdated, you essentially have two options—paint them or replace them entirely. But which choice is the most budget-friendly?
Replacing your cabinets with brand-new ones generally costs anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 or even more for a full kitchen gut job. The expenses include the custom cabinetry, countertops, installation labor, new appliances, plumbing, and electrical work. It’s a huge investment.
In contrast, painting your existing cabinets allows you to refresh the look of your kitchen for a fraction of the replacement cost. As we learned earlier, you can paint cabinets yourself for $200-$600 or hire a pro for $2000-$5000 typically.
Here’s a cost comparison:
Kitchen Cabinet Replacement:
- Budget: $5,000
- Average: $10,000
- High End: $15,000+
Kitchen Cabinet Painting:
- DIY: $200-$600
- Professional: $2000-$5000
As you can see, painting is dramatically less expensive than full replacement. Unless your current cabinets are severely damaged structurally, a fresh coat of paint is usually the much more affordable option for transforming the look of your kitchen.
The one downside of painting vs. replacement is that it doesn’t provide storage or layout improvements. But if you’re happy with your current kitchen layout, paint provides visual impact for thousands less.
Additional Painting Costs to Factor In
When estimating your total budget for painting kitchen cabinets, there are a few additional costs beyond just paint and labor to keep in mind:
- New hardware – If you want to replace your knobs, pulls, or hinges to complement your new paint color, hardware can add $50-$500+ depending on what you choose.
- Countertop touch ups – Some minor touch up paint may be needed where the countertops meet the newly painted cabinets.
- Filler and putty – These supplies are useful for repairing any holes, dings or imperfections prior to painting.
- Painter’s tape – Quality painter’s tape helps protect surfaces from drips and messy edges.
- Sandpaper – From coarse grit for stripping to fine grit for smoothing between coats, have a variety on hand.
- Brushes and rollers – Don’t skimp here. Quality tools make painting much easier.
- Primer – If making a dramatic color change, primer ensures an even coat.
- Clear topcoat – A clear polyurethane coat protects the fresh paint from chips and scratches.
While paint is the biggest expenditure, factor these miscellaneous supplies into your total budget. Little prep materials and tools can add up. Keeping these additional costs in mind will help you arrive at an accurate total project budget.
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s wrap up with answers to some of the most common questions about the cost of painting kitchen cabinets:
Does it make more sense to paint or replace cabinets?
If your cabinets are structurally sound but suffering from ugly outdated finishes, paint is the clear budget choice. Replacing kitchen cabinets entirely can cost tens of thousands while paint may only be a few hundred.
How long does professionally painted cabinets last?
With proper prep and high quality paint, professionally painted cabinets can easily last 8-15 years before needing another refresh. Limit direct sunlight exposure and don’t aggressively scrub surfaces to maximize the finish.
Can I paint cabinets myself if I’m not very handy?
It’s possible for anyone to learn, but expect a challenging experience with a learning curve. If you don’t have experience with home improvement projects, consider hiring a pro.
What kind of paint finish is best for kitchen cabinets?
A satin or semi-gloss finish offers durability and easy cleaning while still providing attractive shine. High gloss can showcase imperfections while flat is prone to scuffs and stains.
Should I remove doors and hardware or just tape off?
Removing provides the most seamless finish since you paint with no obstructions. But taping off hardware is faster. For DIY newbies, start with tape to simplify.
We hope this guide gives you a deeper understanding of the factors influencing cost and things you can do to save money when repainting your kitchen cabinets. With some strategic prep work and smart paint choices, you can give your kitchen a completely fresh look on a reasonable budget.
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