A step-by-step guide to painting kitchen cabinets without sanding to give you a professional finish for less time and money.
Even when you’re tackling a stressful kitchen renovation yourself, there are some steps that are relaxing and fun to do.
Like sketching the diagram of what you want to build or looking for new cabinet hardware in the home store. Or even painting your own subway tile backsplash.
But does anyone actually look forward to endless hours of sanding cabinet doors?
Not me! And not you, either.
But after this tutorial, you’ll learn to love this part of the process, especially when I show you how sanding can be done quickly and easily, without a lot of manual work.
Plus, I have a bonus section on how to mix your own custom paint color!
When we first moved into our home, I updated our kitchen cabinets without replacing them by adding trim to the fronts of the doors.
And because I added trim to the doors, I had to paint the cabinets. I ended up sanding the door to prep for paint. The end result was beautiful but I didn’t enjoy all the sanding.
Fast forward about five years to where we removed a wall between our kitchen and living room, creating an open floor plan.
By removing the wall, we could now move our dining room table out of the kitchen. This allowed us to add more cabinets but I would need to paint the cabinets again.
And that meant more sanding!
But this time, I wanted to try something new and looked for a way to paint the cabinets without sanding.
Can you paint over kitchen cabinets without sanding?
Yes, it is possible to paint cabinets without sanding. With the right supplies, you can get your cabinets ready in less time than manual sanding and still get a professional finish.
Let’s get into it!
Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links or referral links for your convenience. It is a way for this site to earn advertising commissions by advertising or linking to certain products and/or services, click here to read my full disclosure policy.
How to paint kitchen cabinets without sanding
- Krud-Kutter No-Rinse Prepaint cleaner TSP Substitute
- Liquid Sandpaper
- Behr Urethane Alkyd Satin Enamel
- Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 primer
- 220 grit sandpaper (you will want to lightly sand between coats)
- Kitchen sponge
- Paint sprayer (we used the Magnum X5 Airless Paint Sprayer)
- 2” angled paint brush
- Foam roller
- Buckets (optional – if mixing paint)
- Measuring container (optional – if mixing paint)
- safety glasses
- face mask (for dust)
- ear protection
You can print the material list and instructions below.
Step 1: Clean the cabinets
I started by removing all the cabinet doors from the kitchen.
Then, I cleaned the cabinet box and cabinet doors with Krud-Kutter No-Rinse Prepaint cleaner TSP Substitute. This cleaner prepares the surface prior to painting to improve paint adhesion.
SIDE NOTE: I lightly sanded some areas of the door with 220 grit sandpaper wherever any hardware was, to give me a smooth finish.
Afterwards, I used a kitchen sponge to clean the surface of the door with the cleaner.
I also wiped the door with a dry rag to remove any dirt from my sponge.
Step 2: Apply Liquid Sandpaper
Here’s a step you don’t want to skip if you want to make sure the cabinets are fully prepped for paint.
After cleaning the cabinets, I wiped Liquid Sandpaper onto the cabinets in a circular motion. This wonderful product is both a degreaser and a deglosser.
Step 3: Prime the cabinet
After allowing the Liquid Sandpaper to dry for a couple hours, the doors were ready for paint and primer.
SIDE NOTE: For this paint job, I am using Behr Urethane Alkyd Satin Enamel (mixed and white) and Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 primer.
I placed an old sheet on the floor of our garage, then used plastic cups to hold the doors off the ground.
SIDE NOTE: One day, I would like to try hanging the doors up to paint, as seen in this video by Paint Life TV called Spraying Cabinet Doors Hanging.
Then I applied primer to all the cabinet doors with my paint sprayer. You will want to spray in smooth, light, even coats, as if you were using a can of spray paint.
I applied two coats of primer to both the front and back of the doors.
During the drying time, I applied painters’ tape to the edges of the cabinets. Then I used a paint brush and roller to prime the kitchen cabinet boxes.
I first cut in around the edges with a 2” angled paint brush.
Then, I used a foam roller to prime the larger areas.
Finally, I applied two coats of primer to the cabinet boxes.
Step 4: Mix paint for custom color (optional)
When I painted my kitchen cabinets the first time, I couldn’t find the exact color I wanted so I mixed my own colors for a unique blend. I wanted this color again but the paint store couldn’t match it for me so I needed to mix my own paint at home.
So here’s how to mix paint to give you a custom color.
SIDE NOTE: I am only mixing two colors: Iron Mountain by Behr (dark color) and White by Behr.
First, you need a bucket large enough to hold all the paint you plan on mixing. I am using a 2-gallon bucket because I only need two gallons of paint for this project.
Start by pouring a small amount of the darker paint color into a measuring container; this lets you measure and control how much paint you add. Pour this into the larger bucket.
Then, depending on how much lighter you want the darker color, pour some white paint into the measuring container. Add this to the larger bucket, then use a paint stick to stir the two paints together.
Are you happy with the color? Adjust it if you need more white or dark.
TIP: It’s helpful to test the paint on a sample board and allow it to dry (paint dries at a different color).
Keep adding more paint and mix until you have the color you want.
You should have an idea of the ratio of colors so you can mix the right amounts in the large bucket to give you the gallons of paint needed for the project.
Step 5: Lightly sand doors
I know this is a tutorial without sanding but you will want to lightly sand the primed doors to remove any bumps from the primer.
Use #220 grit sandpaper to make the doors smooth.
After sanding, use a dry cloth to wipe away any dust or particles from the door.
Step 6: Apply paint
Apply the paint to the cabinets the same way as the primer – smooth, light, even coats.
I recommend at least two coats of paint per side but depending on the paint color, you might need more coats. For example, my upper cabinets were painted white and I applied three coats of paint to give me the finish I wanted.
Step 7: Install cabinet doors
After allowing the paint to fully cure, reinstall the doors to the cabinet boxes.
Now,step back and admire your freshly painted kitchen cabinets that required almost no sanding!.
TIP: Read the instructions on your paint can to find out how long to leave your paint to cure.
FULL PROJECT VIDEO:
Are you someone that does better with visuals? Check out the full project video below and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube so you don’t miss out on future projects!
I hope this tutorial will help you save time and energy when you paint your kitchen cabinets.