How to Sand and Paint Cabinets

Hiring someone to sand and paint your cabinets can end up being quite costly.

Prepping the Cabinets

Consider sanding and painting your kitchen cabinets on your own.Consider sanding and painting your kitchen cabinets on your own.
When your cabinets need an upgrade, consider doing the job yourself. While sanding and painting cabinets can be a time-consuming process, especially if you have a large room filled with cabinets, controlling the quality of the work can be satisfying. Take your time and don't cut corners so that you have an end result you are proud to show off to friends and family members.

Step 1

Empty the room of anything that might get in the way or that you do not want to drip paint onto. Empty the cabinets as well.

Step 2

Tape rosin paper over any counter tops and the floor to protect them from paint and dust. Tape plastic sheets over appliances, large furniture, your back splash and anything else that you do not want to damage. You can also cover your doorways to other rooms with the sheeting so that dust and fumes do not end up covering the whole house.

Step 3

Apply painter's tape to the wall surrounding the cabinets so that you do not get paint on the wall when you paint the cabinet.

Step 4

Remove the handles and pulls from drawers and cabinets using a screwdriver. Remove the cabinet drawers and the doors.

Step 5

Clean the cabinets with an all-purpose surface cleaner and a cloth to remove any grease or grime that may be adhering to them.

Step 6

Fill holes or deep scratches in the wood with wood putty and a putty spatula.

Step 7

Set up a worktable in the room on which you can paint cabinet drawers and doors.

Sanding the Cabinets

Step 1

Start sanding the cabinets with a medium-grain sandpaper, such as #120. Rub the wood with the sandpaper with the grain, removing the cabinets' finish so that your paint will adhere.

Step 2

Finish sanding the cabinets with a finer grain sandpaper, such as #220. Use this fine grain to be sure that you have removed all of the finish on the areas you want to paint.

Step 3

Dust the cabinets with a dry cloth to remove the wood and paint fibers from when you sanded the cabinets.

Step 4

Use a hand-held vacuum to be sure that you have removed all of the dust.

Painting the Cabinets

Step 1

Paint the cabinets, drawers and doors with a coat of oil-based primer. If you plan on painting the cabinets a dark color, choose a tinted primer so that you need fewer coats of paint. Allow the cabinets to dry completely before moving on.

Step 2

Apply a coat of oil-based paint in the color of your choice to the cabinets. Let them dry completely. Paint one side of the cabinet doors and then the other to ensure that the doors do not become smudged or streaked. To get the best finish, lay the door flat, paint one side and allow to dry completely. Then flip it over and do the other side. To prevent drips and streaks from appearing on the outside edges of your cabinets or doors, gently pull your brush toward them. Remove drips from the corner of a cabinet or door by pulling a dry brush over the area.

Step 3

Sand the cabinets and doors between each coat once the paint has dried. Sand lightly with fine-grained sandpaper to smooth the coat of paint and remove any brush strokes.

Step 4

Apply a second coat of paint to the cabinets, doors and drawers. Use long, even strokes so that your brush strokes do not show up once the paint is dry. Allow the cabinets to dry completely.

Things You Will Need

  • Rosin paper
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Painter's tape
  • Screwdriver
  • Surface cleaner
  • Cloth
  • Worktable
  • Wood putty
  • Putty spatula
  • Medium-grain sandpaper
  • Fine-grain sandpaper
  • Dry cloth
  • Hand-held vacuum
  • Oil-based primer
  • Paint brushes
  • Rollers
  • Paint trays
  • Oil-based paint


  • Do not forget to tape off your borders and use a dropcloth.