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What's the Cost to Paint Kitchen Cabinets?

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Matt is a professional painter who owns and operates his own painting business, specializing in interior and exterior house painting.


The Cost to Paint Kitchen Cabinets Yourself

Whether you're painting them yourself, or hiring a painter, the cost to paint kitchen cabinets depends on several factors including the number of doors and drawers, the application method, the wood species and the type of primer and paint you're using. Cabinet painting does involve more sundries and supplies than a typical wall painting project, however, most of the materials needed aren't overly pricey. The paint and primer is the biggest expense.

What's the Material Cost to Paint Cabinets?

If you're painting oak cabinets, using grain filler, or wood filler, is usually needed. Oak is extremely grainy and looks better painted with at least one application of filler beforehand. Grain filler costs around $20 to $40 per container. I personally use a product called Aqua Coat in the quart size container. One container is typically enough for an entire set of cabinets. An even cheaper option is to use drywall joint compound instead of grain filler.

Cabinet Primer and Paint Costs

The material cost to paint kitchen cabinets yourself can range from $200 to $800. The type of primer and paint you choose will have the biggest impact on the material expense. Latex and oil-based primer are fairly inexpensive and usually cost under $30 per gallon compared to pricier white shellac primer (Zinsser BIN), which costs around $50 per gallon.

Paint and enamel usually costs more than primer, but using high-quality paint for your cabinets improves coverage and durability. Cheap paints are watery and don't cover as good as premium paints. You can expect to pay at least $50 to $60 per gallon for high quality acrylic alkyd enamel. Another option that's becoming more popular in the cabinet painting world is pre-catalyzed lacquer, both waterborne and straight lacquer. These cost around the same amount per gallon as paint. I personally use Sherwood Hi-Bild pre-catalyzed lacquer for my cabinet painting projects.

Cabinet Painting Supplies

You would also need to buy roller sleeves, handles, brushes, drop cloths, and a caulk gun. If you're spraying your cabinets, you can rent a paint sprayer, and you'll also need to buy a fine finish spray tip, which are around $40 to $50 each. Spraying also requires additional materials needed for masking. This includes the 3M hand masker, rolls of masking paper and film and tape. I spray paint my cabinets, but most people are fine with brushing and rolling them. If you spray them, you'll need to purchase at least one extra gallon of primer and paint because spraying consumes more material.

Tools and materials needed for brush and roll application:

  • Cleaner
  • Sandpaper
  • Caulk
  • Wood grain filler (for open grain wood)
  • Tack cloth
  • Foam roller
  • Paint brush
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Drill (for removing doors and hardware)
  • Buckets
  • Painter's plastic
  • Bondo wood filler

Hiring a Painter to Paint Your Cabinets

Buying new cabinets is very expensive and often unnecessary because they can be painted to look brand new. Although hiring a painting contractor to paint your cabinets isn't exactly cheap, I guarantee it's cheaper than buying new cabinets in most cases. Even cabinet refacing can get very expensive. Having your cabinets professionally painted is almost always the better option if you don't want to do the job yourself.

Using an experienced cabinet painter is a must. An experienced painter knows exactly what materials to use and how to do the work correctly. Not all painters have experience painting cabinets, or even want to do this type of work. Find a painter who specializes in this niche service.

I highly recommend finding a painter who sprays cabinet doors and frames, even if you have to pay a little more. I spray all of my cabinets, and the end result looks a lot better than brushing and rolling. A brush and roller creates stippling while spraying does not. There is a huge difference in the finish quality.

Through a painting service, the price to paint kitchen cabinets could cost anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000, all depending on the various factors explained in this article. A big kitchen with over thirty cabinet doors is going to cost more to paint. Applying and sanding grain filler involves additional labor costs. Decorative finishing, like glazing, or distressing the wood, will increase the cost too.

Using two different colors can impact the price as well, at least for spraying. I charge more to spray paint cabinets two colors because it creates a delay in the work flow. When comparing quotes, you'll find that prices vary because every painter uses their own system and different products. It is very important to understand the cabinet prep and paint your painter is offering so you can make an informed decision.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Matt G.