How To Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets For Under $200 Without Sanding


Hi, and thank you for visiting my blog! In this post I’m going to outline the steps I used to transform my kitchen cabinets from wood to white WITHOUT sanding or priming them first and how I managed to stay under $200 for this whole project; my total was $152.37 to be exact! Before you begin, make sure you have adequate space and time to complete a project of this magnitude. My husband helped me a lot and it still took us 3 full days to complete. Without him it probably would have taken me at least a week. As far as space goes, we had to use our entire living room floor, kitchen floor, and kitchen table to lay the cabinets out on. Listen, I’m not one to sugar coat. This project was a pain. Literally. I was not prepared for just how hard this project would be on my body. I was sore in places I didn’t even know existed and by the end I began to understand why contractors charge thousands of dollars for kitchen remodels. The amount of ibuprofen and muscle relaxers I had to consume during the duration of this project just to be able to move the next day is… obscene.

You ready for this, girl? Or guy? You sure? K. Lets begin.

1: Buy the supplies.

Head to your local home improvement store (I go to Home Depot for everything) and pick out the color of paint you want. Whatever color you decide on, make sure it is a satin finish WITH primer in the paint. Do not leave the store without having an employee shake it up for you. Start with one gallon and go from there. We ended up needing to buy an extra one, but I would still start with one. After all, paint isn’t cheap.

I went with the    BEHR Paint & Primer    in the color “Ultra Pure White”. It’s low odor and dries super fast. $30.

I went with the BEHR Paint & Primer in the color “Ultra Pure White”. It’s low odor and dries super fast. $30.

You will also need:

  • 1 roll masking tape (Or a roll of blue painters tape) - $3

  • 1 bottle of Liquid Degreaser ( I used ZEP heavy duty citrus degreaser) - $4

  • 1 bottle of “Klean Strip” Liquid Sandpaper - $9

  • Disposable gloves - $3

  • 6 pack Scotch Brite Heavy Duty Scour Pads - $5

  • Towels and/or dropcloths to protect your floor and counters and to lay the cabinets on while you paint. You probably already have stuff you can use at home.

  • Paint Tray Set. - $12 Whatever set you get, ensure it has a mini roller. I mainly used mini rollers for the front of my cabinets. This helped them have a really clean and seamless finish rather than a ton of unwanted brush strokes.

  • Shop Rags/Towels (to wipe away excess degreaser/liquid sandpaper). - $4

  • Thumbtacks (optional)

  • A hammer

  • A drill and drill bits

  • Knobs and pulls. These are the knobs I ordered from Amazon, and these are the pulls. I’m obsessed. Count your cabinets to ensure you buy enough.

  • Cabinet Installation Template - $10 (optional)

2: Tape off the floor/walls. Then, clean the cabinets.

Once you have taped (taping helps prevent unwanted paint from getting in certain places) begin cleaning your cabinets (front and back) using the degreaser spray and a scour pad. Use a rag to wipe away excess cleaner. I highly recommend wearing gloves during this step. DO NOT remove the cabinet doors until you are finished degreasing and stripping them. To prolong the life of the scour pads, I cut each one in half to ensure I would have enough for the liquid sandpaper. You can also leave everything in your cabinets unless you have to paint the shelves. Luckily, ours were already white.

3: Apply liquid sandpaper.

Wearing latex gloves, pour the liquid sandpaper onto a rag and wipe each cabinet down thoroughly (front and back) using small, circular motions. Be generous with the product and make sure you have a tarp/dropcloths down as this will eat away at whatever it touches. Your cabinets should be noticeably lighter and mildly distressed when done. Use your extra scour pads (if necessary) to really strip them down.

4: Label the doors.

Number each cabinet door with its corresponding shelf. You obviously don’t want to tape the number on fresh paint, so simply move the piece of paper and place it underneath the cabinet door before you paint that side so you can keep track of it. Don’t skip this step!

5: Remove the hinges and drawer fronts.

Remove the hinges using a screwdriver or a drill. If it’s easier, you can loosen the hinges and then remove them completely while the cabinets are flat on the ground. Wrap the loose screws in some masking tape and tape them to the inside of the cabinet where they belong. Do the same thing with the drawer fronts, and number the drawers just like you did the cabinets. You will paint the drawers last, and will also use them to prop some of the doors up off the ground, so tape the numbers directly onto the drawers for now in order to keep track of them.

6: Paint the backs first.

Lay the cabinet doors flat (either on a towel or a dropcloth/tarp) with the back facing up. Then, use a paint roller to apply a thin coat of paint to the entire backside. DO NOT use too much paint as it will drip over the edges and will dry that way. You will paint the edges later, so don’t worry about them. Use a paint brush to get into any creases that the roller can’t quite reach and when the backs are dry you can apply a second coat. It doesn’t have to be perfect; nobody will see the backs. To save time, I began applying a second coat as my husband finished the first coat. Just make sure they’re dry before applying another coat.

7: Place the thumbtacks.

Push thumbtacks into each corner of the door, then flip it over using the tacks to prop the door up off the ground while you paint the fronts. This will prevent any sticking and will ensure you are able to paint the edges. You will probably have to use a hammer (gently) to get the tacks in. The thumbtacks didn’t work on some of the doors because they were too heavy so instead I placed two drawer fronts (just the front of the drawer that you removed previously, not the entire drawer) under each cabinet to slightly lift it off the ground. You can also use boxes, books, or whatever you have around the house in lieu of thumbtacks.

7: Paint the fronts.

Paint the molding first, and any other details. Then, use a regular sized roller to apply a thin coat over the whole front side of the door. On smaller doors, I stuck with the mini roller. Make sure you also paint the sides! Since the door is propped up, this should be pretty easy and using the mini roller will give it a really seamless finish. Allow the first coat to dry, and then apply a second coat. You may need to apply a third coat depending on the original color of your cabinets. If your hinges are visible, you will need to spray paint them silver or white during this time. On ours, and on most cabinets, the hinges are not visible from the outside so we skipped this step.

8: Paint the frames and shelves (if necessary).

Using a roller, paint the frames of the cabinets in your kitchen. While our shelves were white, the frames were wood. Also paint the crown molding and any other area with visible original finish. While I was doing this, my husband was re-attaching the hinges to the doors and once the frames were dry, he began re-hanging the doors while I painted the drawers (back first, then front). I used the thumbtack method for the drawers and it was much easier since they’re so lightweight.

9: Re-attach doors and drawers.

Re-hang any remaining doors and re-attach the drawers. While my husband was doing this, I was going around with my mini roller (that thing and I became BFF’s) and touching up any of the doors/drawers that needed it.

10: Drill holes for the knobs/pulls

Using a cabinet installation stencil, measure and find the center of each drawer and mark with a pencil. Then, find the appropriate location for the knobs and do the same thing. Once your marks are drawn, drill the holes and attach the hardware. Alternatively, you can use a measuring tape and do some math to find the center of each drawer and to find the right corner placement on the doors for the knobs.

That’s it! you’re done! Thank you so much for reading and I hope this post helped you out. If it did, please leave me a comment and also share this post with your friends. Go get yourself some ice cream/pizza/wine/ (or all of the above) and relax. You deserve it.