Cabinet Painting

About our cabinet painting services

Medium oak to white cabinet transformation - April 2020
These are what we like to call standard doors. The edges are mostly flat and only slightly rounded and a single short depth inner panel (or flat doors). These are relatively simple to paint whether done with a sprayer or brush and mohair roller.

Cabinet painting seems to be at the height of popularity. With light-and-bright kitchens being on trend, many homeowners choose to kick off their remodeling project with renovated cabinets. Many have found the cost of painting cabinets to be far more affordable than replacing. With new paint and updated hardware, homeowners can go from dated natural oak cabinets to modern white or gray cabinets.

Following a slow but proven process will give your cabinets a new look and life and the finish will last for years to come and when combined with upgraded hardware you can enjoy the look of new cabinets for a fraction of the cost you would spend replacing them.

Unfortunately for homeowners, the cost of cabinet painting is not as straightforward as one might expect. Popular websites that quote the cost of cabinet painting tend to be all over the map at best, and inaccurate at worst. For example, Thumbtack quotes a price range of $1,200 to $7,000. Similarly, Angie’s List provides a range of $1,200 to $6,000. However, for many cabinet painting jobs, the lower end of this range would barely cover the cost of a quality paint, primer, and necessary sundries. HomeAdvisor presents a much narrower price range, $1,662 to $3,780. With all of the different information available, it’s easy to see how consumers may become confused.

Base pricing

Because of the time and process involved in cabinet repaints there is a base price of $1000 which is an absolute minimum cost. This is due to the length of time required for our cabinet painting process and even doing a very small set requires the same time span as an average size set. For cabinets we typically start pricing at $90 a door and $45 a drawer  which includes a degloss, light sand, bond primer application and up to three coats on the inside of doors and fronts of cabinet boxes and four on door and drawer fronts and exposed side panels of enamel urethane paint and is generally a seven to nine day process when done properly. This covers all the normal cost other than the paint and primer itself.

What about the sides? Any exposed sides or flat surfaces that would be painted are generally counted as a door.

What about the fronts? The exposed fronts are included in the price. We generally go to the inner ‘hinge lip’ of the cabinet but not inside the box.

What about underneath? This is not included in the price as it is rarely done. Since it’s common that lower quality materials were used on the underside of cabinets we generally need to inspect this area to ensure proper adhesion and coating to what may be a totally different surface than the exposed areas.

The price includes what would be considered standard – removing the doors and hardware, one coat of primer on entire door surface, facing, sides and any exposed backs of cabinet boxes and the front plate of drawers and under sink plates then applying up to three coats of top coat, remounting the hardware and rehanging the doors and remounting existing hardware then checking for any needed touchups. If new hardware is to be used it must match the existing mounting holes and may require leveling adjustments by the client afterwards.  It does NOT include the cost of paint or primer however material costs on most cabinet repaint jobs will usually end up in the $200 range or below.

Unlike a flat cabinet door or a single box panel pattern door these raised panel doors feature a short width recessed area which requires a little more time to ensure proper paint application in the recessed area and corners. There is then a secondary lip around the outer edge of the door between the actual flat side and the front.

The two biggest things that can increase prices from this base is when more ornamental features are involved. In the example of the white cabinets we did these would be considered ‘standard’ as there are basically two sections – the outer panel and the inner one. There are really only a few small easy to access ridges or routed edges. The bare wood example on the other hand has a small dip between the panel sections which makes this area more time consuming to paint regardless of if it is done by spray method or rolled mohair technique. Features like this can easily increase the cost per piece however it’s nothing dramatic unless extremely ornamental features are present such as mitered doors.  The other thing of course is your color and sheen choices. For most part we do a satin level sheen which offers a nice clean but not overly glossy finish but the biggest aspect is always the old and new color depths. Trying to take deep dark cabinets to super bright white and super bright white to dark navy blue or similar large color changes will many times require at least one if not two extra coats for full color fill and consistency.

A typical ‘mitered’ door. Because of the ornamental features these can be quite a bit more to paint than standard flat or simple panel doors.

For most other painting of stained wood related items the same process applies such as converting stained wood trim to paint, bookcases/built ins, railings, wood doors and wainscot.

The enamel urethane is a specific product that we use as it offers one of the highest durability levels out of all the similar products we have tested and is one of Sherwin’s top of the line paint brands fortunately cabinets do not require much paint at all so you have the luxury of using a product that retails at 109 a gallon and is what recommend for all cabinet repaint jobs as well as many woodwork projects where applicable.

As one would expect if the surface has already been painted in many cases fresh paint can be applied over the top of the existing if the current surface is sound.

Where do you paint the cabinets?

Cabinets are painted on site so you will need a good area to do this at – in most cases a corner of the garage or basement works fine as we can protect floors and surrounding items and once doors have paint applied they are placed in one of two drying racks keeping the amount of room needed fairly minimal. In cases where spraying may be used we would need enough room to construct a small paint ‘booth’ with plastic and cover the flooring. Typically a 6 x 6 area is ample to do this. Yes we also have a process where the painting would be done inside the home when no alternative is available. The drying rack system takes up about the same amount of space as four cabinet doors.

The prices again are LABOR prices however with our material discounts also available the costs for primer and paint products will generally be $200 or under. Unlike painting walls cabinet work is almost all a labor cost whereas normal house painting is generally more 50/50. The price includes everything else needed.

Do I need to empty the cabinets

The simple answer is yes. Because of the liability issues involved EVERYTHING needs to be removed from cabinet boxes and drawers. In cases where this simply cannot be done the customer is required to sign a liability waiver required by our insurance and even in those cases you would need to have enough removed to have access to the fronts of all the shelves. It may also increase the price of the project for the additional time and prep involved in situations where everything cannot be removed. Since this can be problematic in live in situations we will work with you to make this as easy as possible and advise you of the risks involved. As you can expect we have painted many without being completely empty but we will always urge in doing so at least as long as it takes to paint the fronts of the cabinets which is usually the first 3-4 days of the project.

Do you spray or roll?

Both. In most cases we use an old school brush and roller technique since the time and space requirements for spraying tend to increase the basic costs of painting cabinets in most residential situations. By using special brushes, rollers intended for super smooth surfaces and a high quality paint with amazing leveling abilities the look is almost identical to spray work. When spray work is involved HVLP is normally recommended however we have also used hand held fine finish sprayers when the surface was more imperfect so generally we have to build a spray booth on site in addition to a drying area and have to protect a whole lot more of the inside surfaces to spray the inner boxes and sides. Both require the same amount of proper dry time between coats so spraying typically takes LONGER.


There are several things that we also do which are not commonly requested items but since they have been requested time to time we are including those base prices as well.


Typically we do not recommend caulking cabinet doors. Most doors that this would be done on would be panel doors. Since these are designed to be floating panels caulking can dry and crack causing major issues for your cabinets down the road. While we can perform this work the customer assumes all liability from contraction/expansion that may occur in doing so. The fee for this is $10 per door/drawer/panel.

Cabinet insides

The insides of cabinets is the single most expensive part of painting cabinets as it is normally not requested by most customers. In most cases the base price for the insides of the cabinets is based on door/drawer panel configuration of $30 per additional not including shelves. Shelves will typically run $10-15 per piece. Since insides almost have to be sprayed the surrounding area will come into play greatly based on what has to be covered and protected during the process to protect from overspray.

Hardware change

If you are opting for a knob or handle change that do not utilize the existing hole openings you can opt to have those holes filled and sanded. The process is to do one fill using a professional putty then two coats of bondo glazing putty and sanding. The cost for this is a flat fee of $250 for anything up to 25 pieces. Our price only includes remounting with the existing hardware.

Glass doors

Glass doors run $145 per door due to the additional work and liability of handling the glass panels. There would be an additional charge if the glass has to be professionally removed.

We have tried to cover all the bases but as we always like to remind every job is different and these are best estimate cases of jobs we have done in the past

Multiple colors

You can keep the classic look of white on your upper cabinets and probably your backsplash, but inject some color and personality in your lower cabinets and your kitchen island. If you’re worried that an all-white kitchen will look bland, but a kitchen all in a strong color is just not your dream, then you can literally split the difference by choosing a white or pale neutral for your upper cabinets, and painting your lower cabinets in a rich, or fun, or unexpected color. Because of the extra amount of tools and supplies used as well as the time spend loading and reloading colors we charge a flat rate price of $200 for each additional color.

Other woodwork

The same process is followed for any type of stained/varnished woods, laminates, veneers and other non standard painting surfaces so it is priced in a similar manner. This may include wood baseboards and door frames, doors, handrails and spindles, stair risers and rails and many other wood items. Generally hand rails are priced per spindle, trim by the sq ft but it is impossible to name off all the scenarios and prices that wood to painted surface conversions can happen.

The last thing worth mentioning is..

Cabinet painting gone wrong. Incorrect primer, latex wall paint = stippled disaster.

What happens when someone who doesn’t know how to properly finish cabinets does this type of work.

In this situation almost everything was done wrong. The underlying primer is Kilz 2 which is a standard multi purpose primer. While it’s great for covering a patch in your drywall it has no permanent adhesion factor. These doors were a smooth laminate finish so while the paint is on them the chances that it stays that way long term are quite low. The paint applied over the top is a standard latex wall paint – again not good for cabinets or woodwork. Latex can peel in sheets. Cabinets are always done in a much harder enamel paint and the product we use has an additional urethane layer adding to the durability. Then sadly they were taken outside and laid in the driveway to dry on a windy day.

Same customer but we did their two vanities. Nice smooth clean finish that will last for years.

We did both bathroom vanities for the same customer using our product. They liked it enough that we did a fresh coat of our product on the fronts and exposed panels on the kitchen cabinets to both clean the look up and attempt to as best as we could to lock down the layers underneath it. Sadly once the wrong paint and primer went on there is little chance in a guaranteed repair even if it may hold for years.

Simply put the paint we use retails for about $109 a gal and the primer for about 60. This is no cheap hardware store paint. Because of the quality issues we will generally only work with the Sherwin Emerald line or the Benjamin Moore Advance paint lines on cabinets.