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Kitchen Cabinet Painting Costs (Including Money-Saving Tips)

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Nothing transforms a room more than painted kitchen cabinets.

Knowing the average costs to paint kitchen cabinets is crucial when working towards a budget. Keeping the price you pay to a minimum helps your bank balance and ultimately saves you money.

We answer the question, “How much does it cost to paint kitchen cabinets,” and bring you the best hints and tips to help you save money.

How Much to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Most painters charge $3 to $10 per square foot or $30 to $60 per linear footage. The hourly rate tops out at $20 to $50, and you should factor in 75 percent of the final bill as labor and material costs. Doing the prep work yourself takes about 35 hours for a typical 225-square-foot kitchen. You can save a packet if you do this work yourself.


How Much Does It Cost to Paint Kitchen Cabinets?

The price you pay depends on what paint you use, the size of your kitchen, and whether you get it done professionally or take the DIY approach.

The cost to paint cabinets ranges from $400 to $8,000 for an entire kitchen, with the average settling at around $2,100. The lowest price is for materials and doing the work yourself, while the top end is for hiring a handyman.

The higher price reflects materials and labor costs, accounting for 75 percent of the final bill. If we break down the costs even further, you will pay between $3 and $10 per square foot and $50 to $100 per door.

Kitchen Cabinet Painting Cost Calculator

Once you know the breakdown of costs, it is easier to calculate the overall bill. As we said before, it largely depends on the size of your kitchen and the work you want to do.

Next, you need to look at the number of doors you have. Most professionals charge $50 to $100 per door and $120 to $170 per cabinet. Small drawers average out at $25.

The average cost per square foot is between $3 to $10 and $30 to $60 per linear foot (length only).

Here’s a handy guide:

Measurement Average Price Range (Incl. Labor and Materials)
Square foot $3 to $10
Linear foot $30 to $60
Per drawer $20 to $30
Per door (door exterior only) $50 to $100
Per cabinet (incl. cabinet interior) $120 to $170
Per hour $20 to $50
Per day $200 to $500

Factors Affecting Kitchen Cabinet Painting Costs

There are always variables when you undertake a home improvement project. Accurate costing minimizes these risks, but other factors can negatively affect the price.

Preparation

The intensity of the prep work adds to the costs. Adding in the time it takes to sand, strip off the old surface, and make repairs increases your overall spending. If you want a price per square foot, expect to pay between $5 and $10.

You could save money by doing the prep work yourself, but only if you are confident that you will improve the cabinets rather than make them worse. Given that most contractors charge between $20 and $50 per hour, the level of prep work could increase costs dramatically.

Remove the doors, hinges, and door hardware yourself. This is easy to do and a lot cheaper than paying a pro to do it.

Painting kitchen cabinets ranges from $900 to $3,800, and that figure includes sanding, repairing, and smoothing rough grain doors. These require putty before applying the primer and paint, adding another $2 to $3 per square foot.

Size of Kitchen

The bigger the kitchen, the more cabinets, and the higher the costs. Most professionals measure the length and width of your kitchen to get the square footage. Then they factor in the number of cabinets, drawers, and glazed units.

If you have a small kitchen, you can be confident that the price will be at the lower end of the scale, but larger kitchens will cost you more.

Paint Type

Different paints work better in different environments. Kitchens are high-moisture areas thanks to cooking steam, grease, and food splatters. Gloss paint is the hardest wearing and can be scrubbed clean.

This makes it a perfect candidate for your kitchen cabinets. However, gloss is also the most expensive because it contains a high level of resins and binders that give it such durability.

Top Tip

Matte paints are cheaper because they scuff easier and stain quicker. You might consider using matte on the walls and ceiling, but you may need something hardier for kitchen cabinets.

Oil-based paints leave a rich surface covering, but you might get brush marks. Water-based paints dry smoother with fewer surface marks, but they are less robust to grease, moisture, and stains.

Spray Painting Vs. Brush

The advantage of using spray paint is you get a super smooth finish because you apply the paint in thin layers. The paint coats more evenly, and there is no cleanup of brushes to contend with.

Spray painting is also better for getting into tight spots and awkward angles. However, professionally spray painting your kitchen cabinets costs more than applying the paint with a brush.

Upper cabinets cost between $35 and $40 per linear foot, and lower cabinets $80 to $95 per linear foot. Compare that to $30 to $60 for brushing on the paint, and you will increase your costs dramatically.

If you want a mirror-like finish, go for spray paint, but if costs are a significant factor, painting with a brush is the cheaper option.

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Cabinet Design

Standard kitchen cabinets cost between $50 and $100 per door, $25 per drawer, and $120 and $170 per complete cabinet. The design of your kitchen influences the price because intricate cabinet doors are harder to prep and paint.

Plus, if you have glazed inserts in your doors, protecting them from paint splatters takes time and effort, which adds to your bill.

Surface Area

Your contractor will estimate the price by square footage or linear footage. Whichever way they cost it, the greater the surface area, the higher the price.

The national average kitchen size in the US is 225 square feet, making your final bill somewhere in the region of $675 to $2,250.

Color

White is still the most popular color because it is cheaper than pigmented paint and makes the room look fresh. There is a trend for chalk paint, like this Rust-Oleum Linen White.

The simple way to look at it is the more color the paint has, the more expensive it is. Just like glossy paint contains resins and binders that increase the cost, so does pigment.

Most paints and primers cost between $20 and $50 per gallon and cover 400 square feet. This does vary depending on the texture and design of the cabinets.

Repairs

Take a look at the cabinets and assess the level of damage. Scuffs, scratches, dents, and cracks all add to the costs. The more time your contractor spends repairing your doors, the more they will charge.

If you can handle prepping the doors, filling the cracks, and smoothing the rough grain, make the necessary repairs yourself.

It costs between $5 and $10 per square foot to perform repairs, including stripping and filling. If you add putty into the mix, it increases the price by $2 to $3 per square foot.

Size of Cabinets

Rather than focus on total surface area or the actual size of your kitchen, let’s use the cabinet sizes as a cost estimator. This handy chart puts you in the picture:

Door Size Average Cost (Incl. Labor and Materials)
12-inch lower cabinet (one door) $50 to $80
24-inch lower cabinet (two doors) $110 to $130
30-inch upper cabinet (two doors) $120 to $150
30-inch basin sink cabinet (two doors) $130 to $170
48-inch lower cabinet (two large doors) $220 to $260

Glazing

Glazing cabinets costs between $10 and $25 per square foot. For an average-size kitchen measuring 225 square feet, the costs could be $2,250 and $5,625.

If you keep the existing glass inserts, your decorator will need to tape them off using Frog Tape to protect against paint splatters.

Cost of Painting Kitchen Cabinets Vs. Refacing Vs. Replacing

There are cost variations to consider when deciding which route you take. Knowing which is the cheapest and most effective method of revamping your kitchen cabinets helps you budget.

Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Painting your kitchen cabinets costs between $400 to $8,000, depending on whether you undertake the work or hire a professional. The price per square footage comes in at $3 to $10, and the linear footage ranges from $30 to $60.

Refacing Kitchen Cabinets

Refacing involves replacing the cabinet skin. Applying new veneers over the cabinet surface creates a fresh new look and color. You should expect to pay between $4,200 and $8,100 for a kitchen reface.

Replacing Kitchen Cabinets

This is, by far, the most expensive option. Replacing the cabinets costs $3,200 to $8,500 for mid-quality units, and $12,500 to $18,100 for high-grade cabinets.

Is Painting Kitchen Cabinets Worth It?

Closeup of Woman Holding Paint Brush and Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Painting your kitchen cabinets is a great way to transform the look of your space for very little money. It is far cheaper than refacing or replacing the cabinets, and you get instant results. Breathe new life into your kitchen and release your creative side.

Take Note

You should only consider repainting if the cabinets are in decent condition. If your old oak kitchen is rotten, with multiple cracks and damage, it might be better to replace it.

Painting cabinets is also a great way to add value to your home because the kitchen is the most expensive room in the house. It is also the heart of any home, so making savings while increasing value is a wise move.

Cost of Hiring a Professional Vs. Painting Yourself

You will spend $200 to $600 if you opt for the DIY approach. That covers all the materials and tools. The obvious saving is in labor costs because that makes up most of the expenses.

Considering that the pros charge between $20 to $50 per hour or $120 to $170 per cabinet, you can make substantial savings. A complete kitchen repaint could stretch from $900 to $3,800, but averages $2,100.

However, doing the work yourself is time-consuming, and comes with no guarantees, whereas the professionals stand by their work.

Plus, your kitchen will look so much neater with a professional finish. So, unless you are super confident in your abilities, it might be better to go the pro route.

A typical 225 square foot kitchen will take you upward of 22 hours to complete a paint job. Think of the time you’ll save by hiring a professional.

How Difficult Is It to Paint Kitchen Cabinets?

Painting kitchen cabinets is quite a significant undertaking. While the actual painting process is simple enough, the prep work is immense. And that is where it gets complicated.

You must have super smooth surfaces if you want the paint to look its best. That means investing hours in the prep work to get it right. It will take you 35 hours to complete the preparation for a 225 square foot kitchen.

Tips for Hiring a Professional Painter

So, you’ve decided that hiring a painter to complete your kitchen cabinets is the route to take. But how do you know that the pro you hire is any good? Here are a few pointers.

Check References

References and past work are sure-fire ways of securing reliable contractors. What other customers say is important because it measures the quality of their work.

A great place to start is online, or you could contact previous customers to ask about their experiences. Also, ask to see examples of their work.

Ask Family and Friends

Ask the people closest to you for recommendations. Maybe your brother has just painted his house, or are your parents repainting their kitchen as we speak? Nothing is more powerful than a recommendation.

It might also get you a better deal because the painter is aware they got the job through a recommendation.

Check the Contract

Understanding what the company will do as part of the contract is vital. It’s also important to know what they expect of you. Misunderstandings are commonplace and usually result from not checking the agreement before signing it.

Know the Difference Between a Quote and an Estimate

The two are easily confused. A quote costs the work and is a fixed sum. If the project costs $2,000, that is the amount you have agreed to pay, and not a penny more.

Get quotes rather than estimates because you have the security of knowing the final amount. An estimate is a minimum figure for the work, but is subject to change. So, if the job takes a few days longer, that will reflect in the final bill.

Ask About the Warranty

Every tradesperson worth their salt is happy to guarantee their work. If they refuse, this should be a red flag that they are not as reputable as they first seem. Most will offer a one-year warranty against defects, but some offer two and three years.

Ensure you see a written copy of the guarantees before signing the contract.

Be Clear in Your Aims

Clarity is crucial to avoid misunderstanding from the start. If you are ambiguous in your goals, the decorator will be unclear and deliver a job below standards. Research colors, finishes, sheens, and other materials to impart precise information.

Set a Deadline

Deadlines deliver your goals and reduce frustration. Knowing the timescales means everyone is on the same page. You might be able to build in financial penalties if the work overruns.

How to Save Money on Painting Cabinets

We all like to save some money. It makes us feel like we’re winning at life. And when it comes to your new kitchen paint job, there are some things you can do to reduce costs.

Do the Prep Work Yourself

Employing a painter to do what they are good at makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is getting them to do the prep work. You will pay a premium rate for work you can tackle yourself.

Remove the doors, hinges, and hardware and fill cracks and dents with wood filler. This Goodfilla Water-Based Wood Filler is an excellent example of the products available.

Don’t forget to sand the filler before you apply a primer layer.

Use Painter’s Tape

Painter’s tape should be your best friend when painting kitchen cabinets. It stops paint from bleeding onto surfaces that you want to keep clear. This is especially true when you are painting around glazed panels.

Use the Right Tools

Don’t let the tools be the reason why you fail. If you use a roller for the flat panels, this Pro-Grade 10-Piece Mini Roller Set is a great choice because it comes with extra roller naps.

Always have a one-inch, two-inch, and four-inch paintbrush on hand, and use 220-grit sandpaper.

Choose the Right Paint

The right paint for the task makes a real difference. Glossy paints are more hardwearing and easier to wipe clean. Satin sheens are an in-between finish, part-way between gloss and matte; they offer some of the hardiness of gloss with less shine.

Draw a Plan

Draw a plan of your kitchen and label the doors and drawers to know where they go when you have finished. Use painter’s tape to stick the numbers to the cabinets and doors.

How Long Does It Take to Paint Kitchen Cabinets?

You need to set aside 30 to 35 hours for the preparation work and at least 22 hours for the actual painting process. This is based on the national average 225-square-foot kitchen.

FAQs

How Much Will It Cost to Paint My Kitchen?

The national average square footage for kitchens in the US is 225. Working on the basis that most contractors charge between $3 and $10 per square foot, you will pay $675 to $2,250.

How Long Do Painted Kitchen Cabinets Last?

Your newly painted kitchen should last between eight and 15 years. This is based on the prep work being done correctly and laying down a minimum of two layers of paint.

Can I Paint Kitchen Cabinets Without Sanding?

You can paint kitchen cabinets without sanding as long as you use a deglosser, like this Clean-Strip Liquid Sander. It removes old varnish and grease, and prepares the surface for primer or paint.

Should You Paint the Inside of Cabinets?

You can if you want to, but no rule says you must. If the inside of the cabinet is in poor condition, it might be useful, but otherwise, there may be no point.

How Can I Make My Kitchen Look Expensive On a Budget?

Painting your kitchen cabinets transforms old and tired kitchens into showpiece rooms. Adding a few expensive accessories like designer cabinet handles enhances that “high-end” feel.

You can also invest in a new countertop to complete that faux expensive remodel.


The Final Say

So now you know how much it is to paint kitchen cabinets and the cost difference between doing the work yourself or hiring a pro. Painting kitchen cabinets might be daunting but investing in the prep work is half the battle. Get that right, and you’re on the home stretch.

It takes planning, and it takes time, but painting your kitchen cabinets is incredibly rewarding.

Headshot of Mark Weir

About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.