Want to freshen up existing cabinets but not sure if you can paint over them? Well friends, you’re in luck. See our exact process on how we repainted our kitchen cabinets without sanding them all down first.
Originally posted March 2018 • Updated December 2023
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About this time two years ago I painted our kitchen cabinets. It was a huge learning project and one that left me with much to be desired. I was happy with how it all turned out but there was a paint sprayer debacle and some issues with the paint chipping from the glaze…needless to say, not a seamless operation.
Anyways, once we wrapped up the project, I vowed to shelve the cabinet painting for good and wash my hands of it.
And then I started finding our home style and getting more comfortable with making design decisions and realized the cabinets needed to change.
But was it possible to repaint painted kitchen cabinets without sanding and not have it look like crap?
I knew that if I had to sand down everything, it was going to be a no-go. So, I made a trip to the hardware store and had a nice heart-to-heart with the paint guy. I triple-checked with him that if I bought this product, sanding would not be required.
I had to hold myself back from doing a happy dance in the aisle and practically ran out of the store with my loot.
Of course I was a little skeptical going into the whole thing and I do have a few disclaimers to walk through, but overall, this process has worked like a charm.
Tedious? Yes, absolutely.
But the results were well worth it because, hello. No Sanding.
Repainting Painted Cabinets: The Supplies List
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- Sander deglosser
- Cotton cloth or paper towels
- Latex gloves
- Paint brush
- Paint roller
- Paint roller handle
- Paint tray
- Paint (I loooveeee Dutch Boy Cabinet & Trim paint)
How to Paint Over Painted Cabinets – The Prep
Repainting painted cabinets centers around the prep work. And then, it’s painting as usual.
The prep? It all starts with the deglosser.
Grab a paper towel or dry washcloth and pour some of the deglosser on the towel. Then, using a circle motion, rub it on the cabinet, working in sections.
Once it feels like there isn’t any deglosser left on the towel, pour some more on another side and repeat the process all over again until the entire cabinet is done.
I know, right? How awesome is that?
After deglossing alllllll the cabinet doors and frames, it was time to paint.
How to Paint Over Painted Cabinets – The Painting
For the actual painting of the doors part, I used a smooth roller for the center and border, and then an angled brush for the inside trim.
For the base, I used the same smooth roller.
Since the original paint color was cream, I passed on the primer and ended up doing about two to three coats on everything.
In addition to painting the cabinets, I also spray painted the hinges a matte black and took the plunge and bought a package of matte black knobs.
I’ll admit, I was super intimidated to install the handles and then the Heavens parted and I found this genius tool.
The Repainted Kitchen Cabinets Reveal
Okay, enough of the tutorials.
Ready to see the newly painted kitchen?
I am pretty much in love.
A few miscellaneous mentionables….
We have a lovely splotch of old wall color from where Brett removed a section of cabinets for the pantry door. It’s added charm and probably won’t be painted over. Mostly because I am debating changing the paint color entirely and partly because it’s barely noticeable and we’re only a year…or two… from a full kitchen reno. 🙂
I only purchased one pack of the black cabinet knobs and opted to put them only on the cabinet doors. If inspiration strikes, we may add them to the drawers but more than likely it’ll stay this way.
I used regular Behr paint on the kitchen island and the garbage door is already starting to chip. I’m not sure if it’s because of the type of paint, because it’s the most used door in the kitchen, or because it’s repainted and not adhering properly.
I was in demo mode and removed the decorative piece above the kitchen sink. That exposed a pretty ugly light so we ended up switching it out for two black overhead lights.
The white cabinets definitely show off the spills and stains wayyyy more than the cream color. However, I have been able to wipe off all of the things without any of the paint coming off. Another reason I LOVE the Dutch Boy cabinet and trim paint.
I think I would recommend repainting painted cabinets as a temporary solution only. Not that it doesn’t work because it does. It just doesn’t look as refined and perfect as newly painted and/or entirely new cabinets would. I knew going into this that it would temporary, which means I let the perfection mindset slide a little. Yes, I still love it and I am SO happy that it’s done. But I am also glad it’s not a permanent fix.
We’re REALLY done with the kitchen now until the actual renovation. I know, I know. We said that a few times already. BUT, if you’re not happy, a few coats of paint goes a long way and really, it was totally worth it. 🙂
All our best,