DIY Cabinet Painting GUIDE


  1. In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to successfully transform your cabinets.

    1. A little about us. Colorito is a cabinet refinishing company located in the Phoenix Metro area of Arizona. We’ve been in the business since 2015. The reason all of this is important, is because we’re not writers. This is a real guide made by people in the trenches working to refinish cabinets on a daily basis.
  2. Okay, let’s cut to the chase:
    1. First things first, these are all the tools you will need

      1. Professional painter’s tape. The cheaper kind won’t be as “clean cut” but if you’re on a budget, it will work.
      2. Phillips head screwdriver or a drill. If you don’t have either and are going to buy one, I highly suggest checking the cabinet door screws to make sure you get the correct drill/screwdriver. 
      3. Sharpie marker
      4. A ziploc bag or cup for the screws to be kept safe in
      5. Notepad and pen (paper, ipad, anything to keep track of the doors)
      6. Painter’s plastic or paper for the floors, walls, etc.
      7. Paint brush and small touch up roller (you don’t want to use a big roller because it won’t look as good, so it’s best to use a small touch up roller for a smoother finish) 
      8. Your choice of paint and primer
      9. Sandpaper and/or electric sander
      10. Sponge and cabinet cleaner
      11. Tack Cloth
      12. Boxcutter/knife
      13. Water
      14. A container for water or cabinet cleaning product
      15. Cabinet cleaning product (if there’s tough grease spots on the doors)
      16. Paint scraper
      17. Bumper stickers


  1. Preparation

  2. Alright, now before we get into the masking you’ll need a map for the doors. You don’t want to lose track of which doors go where, and have your cabinets with mismatched doors. So, in your notepad you’ll need to draw out the kitchen. I usually start with the bottom drawers and doors first, then go in and do the upper set. After your masterpiece is done, it is important to number all the doors and drawers. 
    1. Now it’s time to start unscrewing the cabinet doors and drawers.
      1. After you take off a door/drawer and hinges, make sure label with your sharpie where the hinges were and it matches its number on your map. Then place a small piece of tape over that number to keep that label paint free.
      2. For the drawers, unscrew the screws on the inside of the drawer and the front piece should come off. Then you can take out the actual drawer itself and place it aside.
      3. You’ll want to grab a paint scraper and take off the sticker bumpers on the corners of the doors.If there is still a sticker film underneath the bumper, scrape that off as well.
      4. Organize all the screws/hinges and handles in a cup or bag so they don’t get lost.


  1. Masking 

    1. For masking, we like to use a method we call “skeleton”. This makes it so we have tape and plastic to keep the inside of your cabinets free of paint.

      1. First step for taping the “skeleton”, we’re going to use about 6-12 inches of tape at a time to make sure the lines are crisp. This measurement may vary on the sizes of your cabinets.
      2. Place your tape on the edges first with the sticky side facing out. For the bottom side, take your tape and fold it in half long ways with the sticky side facing out. Then you’ll place one half sticky side on the bottom of your cabinet base, and make sure it’s even with the lines in the cabinet and flat. Check that all the corner pieces are sticking together. You don’t want any paint going through that.
      3. Get your plastic or paper ready to fill in the “body”, and cut a piece big enough to cover the skeleton and stick to your tape. It’s better to have a longer piece than shorter, because you can always use a boxcutter to cut off excess plastic. You also want to keep it tight and cover any holes with some tape.
    2. Now you can go in with tape on the floor and walls and tape along the border of your cabinet base.

      1. Place your plastic or paper on the floor, cutting and taping as you go.
      2. If you don’t want to paint over your plug in outlets or lightswitch covers, unscrew them and place the screws and covers safely aside. Then carefully tape over them..
      3. Tape and place plastic along the stove, dishwasher, refrigerator, and anywhere else you don’t want painted. 
      4. You can also tape plastic over your countertops to avoid any paint drippings or spills.
      5. For more information on preventing unwanted paint marks, check out this guide to painting a room without making a mess.


  1. Sanding and Cleaning

    1. Once you have the masking step done, it’s time to sand and then clean the doors. Grease, dust, dirt, etc. can sometimes make its way to the cabinet doors. We want to work with clean doors so the primer and paint will not only stick better but also last longer.
      1. For sanding, it’s easier to use electric sander for the flat side of the doors, and then you can go in the smaller parts by hand with a piece of sandpaper.
      2. I suggest starting with a sandpaper with a grit of —- just to scuff it up a bit. 
      3. After all the doors are scuffed, take your sponge with water and make sure to get any grease off. If there’s a really caked on spot, you can get a cleaner specifically for this and it should be able to clean it off.
      4. Wipe clean with a tack cloth so there is no dust or dirt mixing with the primer and paint and ruin it.


  1. Priming & Painting

    1. As the doors are drying from being cleaned, you can begin to get the primer and paint together. It’s best to use a really good kind so that when you go in with your small roller and brush for the “cut in” and “fill in”, it won’t show as much texture. If you have a cheaper paint, then there will be a more noticeable texture. 
      1. Begin rolling an even layer of primer on the cabinet base and doors. Let dry.
      2. Next, paint an even first layer with the small touch up roller on the doors and cabinet bases. 
      3. For the edges by the opening of the cabinet, go in with a paintbrush and get a nice clean cut finish. This is what we call a “cut in”. This also applies to the doors where the roller can’t reach (creases, corners, grooves, details, etc.).
      4.  Use the “cut in” step with a paintbrush, for other hard to roller places like the base on the ground and by the walls. 
      5. Fill in the rest with the roller.
      6. Let dry.
      7. Go again with an even second coat and get any touch ups with the paint brush.
      8. If you see any spots that have too much paint and look like it’s sagging down, go in with a small piece of sandpaper and sand it down so it’s even with the rest of the paint. Wipe dust off with the tack cloth. Touch up that spot with the roller and paintbrush.
      9. When everything is completely dry, carefully take down the “skeleton” masking tape, plastic, and paper. 
      10. Take off the piece of tape and drill the hinges back on. They should go where the numbers are labelled. 
      11. Drill the numbered doors and drawer faces to their matching cabinet spots. Refer to your map to keep track of where they belong.
      12. If your cabinet doors have handles, you can drill those back on now as well. 
      13. After everything is back in place, get the bumper stickers and put them on the corners of the doors/drawers to prevent any damage.

In conclusion

if none of this seems like your cup of tea, you can take a look at the cost to refinish cabinets to get an idea if that’s the best route to take for your next project.