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How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets Without Sanding

Freshly painted kitchen cabinets

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Are you looking to have a kitchen makeover without the tedious sanding process? You’re in luck!

Sanding can be very messy and time-consuming, particularly when dealing with wood or shutters. It might also damage your cabinets when done without care.

However, when painting your cabinets, whether laminate or your bathroom cabinets, you can generally skip out the sanding step. That sounds like way too many reasons to have no option but to find a way around it. How do we go about it?

Well, continue reading this guide, and we will provide you with a detailed guide on How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets Without Sanding.

If you want to paint your kitchen countertops, we have a separate guide that you can check out!

What Paint is Best for Kitchen Cabinets?

The paint you choose for your bathroom will vary in type and amount of pigment.

As your kitchen is a place that needs to withstand your everyday culinary endeavors’ such as heat, steam, grease, and water, you must pick out a paint that is moisture and heat-resistant.

The last thing you want is a paint that absorbs water. If possible, choose a satin or semi-gloss paint finish, as these will help to deter the steam. Furthermore, a satin or semi-gloss finish will create a surface that can easily be wiped off.

Oil-based paints

Oil-based paints are more potent and have a beautiful finish. However, this makes its application more complicated than other paints.

Oil-based paints have a longer drying time in between coats. The recommended drying time can take up to 24 hours.

Well, only a few are willing to spend a few days cooking in the living room and storing the cabinet contents elsewhere.

They also release VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that can cause adverse health effects such as dizziness, shortness of breath, and irritation. This is especially dangerous when painting around cooking utensils and food.

Latex paint

Latex paints are the best choice for painting kitchen cabinets due to their low VOCs and quicker drying time. This means you could return to your routine in one weekend while your cabinets have a new look.

As much as latex paints are water-based, new formulas make them better at withstanding good scrubbing and cleaning.

Latex paints, however, require good preparation, unlike oil-based paints. If not handled the right way, the final finish could show variances in the texture or look.

Choosing the Right Brushes

A variety of paintbrushes, for article how to paint kitchen cabinets without sanding

Even with the right paint, the choice of brush and how you apply the paint matters.

As this is a small-scale project, you will need a 4 “–6” roller, a 2.5” angled paintbrush, and a 1.5” angled paintbrush. You can also substitute the roller with a 4-inch paintbrush.

The smaller brushes let you paint all crevices and allow precision when painting cabinets with curved designs. They are also easy to handle, with fewer paint drips at the edges.

The roller and 4” paintbrush allow quick and smooth painting over large surfaces. This can be at the back of your cabinet doors or even the interior.

Rollers and the wider brushes may have paint leaks at the edges, which may be covered up by using the smaller brushes to even them out.

Go for a medium-thickness brush that isn’t too stiff but not too soft. This will give you more control.

Oil-based paints work well with brushes made from natural bristles, while latex paints work well with brushes with synthetic bristles.

Nylon or polyester bristle brushes work with both paints if you have no other option. These will also ensure the even distribution of your paint and give you more precise lines.


When learning how to paint kitchen cabinets without sanding, the right choice of primer will help your paint job last longer. A primer creates an even surface and a good base for the paint to adhere to.

When painting over new wood, use a high-quality primer, and when painting over stained wood, use a stain-blocking primer.

An oil-based primer will give you the perfect surface to paint on without sanding. It works with latex paint and oil-based paint and is best for damp conditions, making it suitable for your kitchen.

The oil-based primer can also be tinted if you work with very light or dull colors.

When painting over stained wood, use a tinted primer to ensure that the old stains do not show through the new paint coat.

Do not use latex primers with oil-based paints. The paint will expand and contract at a different rate than the primer, causing the paint to crack or peel.

?Bear in Mind: Latex primers produce less harsh smelling odors compared to oil-based primers that release VOCs.

Guide: How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets Without Sanding

Gather the necessary supplies.

painter tools, brushes, roller, painters tape

For this project, you will need a few household items and other items that you will have to get from your nearest hardware store or online.

  • Rosin paper or tarps
  • Painter’s tape
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paint.
  • A primer
  • Liquid de-glosser
  • Cleaning agent
  • Protective wear
  • Scrapper

Step One: Prepare Kitchen

Paints generally contain VOCs at varying levels. Removing any food, crockery, and cutlery from the kitchen is essential.

Use rosin paper or a tarp to cover the kitchen floor and countertop to prevent paint from splattering all over, and hold it down with painter’s tape. This is also the surface where you’ll paint the cabinets to collect excess paint on the rosin paper.

As you work with potentially hazardous chemicals, ensure your workspace is properly ventilated. Avoid places with direct sunlight and strong winds.

Step Two: Prepare Cabinets

Use a screwdriver to remove the cabinet doors from the cabinets. Unscrew the hinges and store them with their screws to avoid confusion later.

?Hot Tip: To make assembly more straightforward, you should arrange the cabinet doors in front of the cabinets to which they will be attached. You can also number your cabinet which will make reassembling easier.

Don’t forget to remove the cabinet handles, or you can cover them with painter’s tape to keep them from becoming damaged while painting.

Closely analyze the condition of the cabinets and the doors; if the wood has rotted or is damaged, working with them might be more challenging, and you may have to replace them.

If you notice any peeling paint, use a scrape to remove any paint, but avoid scraping harshly; otherwise, the wood underneath may be damaged. This could also be done using the sharp edge of a knife.

Clean the surface you plan to paint thoroughly using a cleaning agent like TSP. This will remove the dirt and grease accumulated from the daily kitchen activities.

⚠️Caution: Read the label on your primer carefully, as some primers do not work well after the surface is cleaned with TSP solution.

Step Three: Apply a liquid de-glosser

Liquid sander de-glossers make painting without sanding possible—they strip away paint, varnish, and even grease and grime.

It is, therefore, necessary to choose an excellent de-glosser to prepare your surface before painting. In this case, go for one that strips both varnish and paint for your convenience.

Oil-based de-glossers contain more VOCs compared to water-based ones.

? Don’t Forget: Take necessary caution when working with de-glossers by wearing a mask, safety goggles, and rubber gloves.

  • Clean the surface to be painted thoroughly using warm water and dish soap or TSP solution.
  • Apply the liquid de-glosser using a lint-free cloth or paintbrush along the direction of the wood grain.
  • Please take out a clean rag and wet it slightly. Wipe over the surface after the required time. This is mostly after around 30 minutes, while some products work immediately.

Step Four: Apply a Primer

A man preparing to prime his cabinets

A primer serves as the foundation for your paint. The quality of your paint job heavily depends on how you prime the surface.

A primer saves up on the amount of paint used because some paint is absorbed by the painted surface most of the time. It also allows for the smooth application of paint due to its even surface.

Use a paintbrush to apply the primer in short, smooth strokes. Apply enough and even it out, but don’t put too much as this will create drip marks and paint spots.

Apply the primer in the direction that the wood grain follows.

If the first coat of primer is transparent, you might want to add another primer layer after the first one has dried up.

Once your primer is cured, you can begin the painting process. Always check your primer label or manufacturers’ guidelines for correct drying times.

Step Five: Paint the surface.

Mix the paint with the appropriate solvent and pour some onto a paint tray. Thinning the paint makes it more dense, so less paint is used.

Paint along the wood grain to prevent the paint from breaking as it expands and contracts.

If you don’t want to paint the interior of the cabinets, you could use painter’s tape to cover the surfaces. Painter’s tape offers a quick and easy application and removal process.

Using a roller

Rollers make painting over large surfaces easier. Put the roller on the paint tray and roll the paint on a few times to evenly distribute it on the roller.

Start by painting from the top downwards, using quick and short strokes. Apply a thin and light coat, and don’t be tempted to add more paint.

Ensure your paint is dry before adding another layer of paint. You should add extra coats until you achieve the color you were going for. Adding more paint between layers before it dries up causes the paint to break.

Using a paintbrush

You can use a 4-inch brush to paint on the larger surfaces. Dip the larger tip of the brush into the paint on the paint tray.

Paint in short and quick strokes from top to bottom. This is because the paint drips downwards as you paint, and you’ll get to paint over the drips.

Use the small angled brushes to get paint into crevices and the edges. This ensures a precise paint distribution.

Let the paint dry as indicated on the paint label. Paint dries from the surface down, and a dry look or feel doesn’t necessarily mean that it is ready.

You can add another third layer of paint to resist the harsh heat and steam in the kitchen.

?Key Insight: A good paint job takes one layer of primer and two layers of paint, but this depends on many things, including the handling of the paint.

Step Six: Reassemble your Hardware

Your paint has finally dried up, and you have a ready cabinet. Assembly is quick, but care is needed not to damage the paint layer.

If you think your hardware accessories, like the screws and hinges, are old, you can replace them. Use a screwdriver to assemble everything back together.

Labeling and knowing where everything goes makes this process easier and quicker.

Remove the tarp and rosin paper and carefully store or dispose of the paint. If you have various paint spots in your kitchen that you may have made by mistake, here is how to remove them.

  • For oil-based paints, dip a piece of cloth in a mineral spirit like turpentine and gently dab or rub the spot.
  • For latex paints, dip a piece of cloth in some warm water and gently dab or rub the spot till the stain comes out.

Clean your kitchen surfaces with your home cleaning agents to get back to cooking with your new kitchen look.

Top Tips and Tricks: How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets Without Sanding

Our tips and tricks for article how to paint kitchen cabinets without sanding
  • To cover up wet drip marks from the roller, use a paintbrush to even them out.
  • If you have dried up drip marks, use the edge of a knife or a scraper to gently remove them and add a thin layer of paint to cover the blemishes.
  • You can add a topcoat to the paint layer to make it tougher, especially if you use latex paints.
  • Before painting, you can use the back of the cabinet doors to test the final look of the paint before applying it.
  • Start painting from the back of the cabinet doors to gain some painting experience before getting to the main parts, like the front.

Now your kitchen cabinets are looking rejuvenated, why not add a fresh coat of paint to your tiled floor to complete the look! We have the perfect guide for you here!


  • Is there a difference between shiny and dull paint?

    Many paints generally have a different look depending on the type and amount of pigmentation.

    Flat or matte paint is the dullest, while gloss paint is the shiniest. Eggshell paint is duller compared to semi-gloss paint.

    Matte paint is hard to clean but conceals flaws. Gloss paint is easy to clean but reveals flaws.

  • Sanding vs. De-glossing?

    Both methods can be used to strip away existing varnish and paint. However, we recommend sanding if you have an uneven wood surface or filling in holes on the wood surface with wood filler.

  • Is it worthwhile painting kitchen cabinets?

    Painting any piece of furniture will be more cost-effective so, if you are on a tight budget, then painting is an economical choice. Also, a fresh coat of paint allows you to rejuvenate your item quickly!

  • What finish is best for kitchen cabinets

    The more rigid the finish, the better, so semi-gloss or glossy are the best finishes. Matte or eggshell finishes are widely impractical- as it’s in your kitchen, you want a surface that can be wiped over as well as high durability.


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