Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing vs. Painting
Interior House Painting

Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing vs. Painting

Posted on March 31, 2022

As our families grow and seasons change, we often feel the need to give our spaces a makeover. The good news is there are ways to help your kitchen keep up with your changing times: refinishing or painting your cabinets. Whichever you choose, you can rest assured that a fresh look in your kitchen goes a long way to making your home reflect you, your family, and the friends you invite to sit around your table. In this article, we’ll take a look at the difference between cabinet refinishing vs. painting and help you decide which is the best option for your kitchen.

Should I Paint or Refinish My Kitchen Cabinets?

There are two core differences between refinishing and painting your kitchen cabinets: the process and the desired result. For most homeowners, the most significant difference between refinishing and painting your cabinets is the process. If you plan to DIY, know that both avenues require a lot of time and energy. However, you’ll need to invest more of both if you plan to refinish your kitchen cabinets.

If you are happy with the layout of your cabinetry and the condition of the material, you might want to simply refinish them. On the other hand, if you want to create a dramatically new look and paint your cabinets to coordinate with your existing decor, you might want to paint. Overall, how you choose to give your kitchen cabinets a boost depends on what you currently have in your kitchen and what you want your kitchen to look like at the end of the process.

What You Need to Know About Cabinet Refinishingcabinet refinishing

The process of refinishing your cabinets generally takes 3-5 days. Of course, this varies depending on the amount of square footage you have to cover as well as the amount of time you have to dedicate to the task each day. Here are the general steps to get a great finish:

  1. Sand the Surface: Begin by sanding every surface of the cabinets using an electric sander or hand-held sandpaper, or you can choose to strip the wood chemically.
  2. Stain the Wood: Apply a stain to your wood cabinets. Use a fine bristle to apply the stain to the cabinets. Make sure you then wait a few minutes for the stain to set before using a clean rag to wipe off excess stain. After that, wait for the stain to dry.
  3. Apply the New Coats: Apply at least two coats of compatible varnish or polyurethane, using either a sprayer or a high-quality brush. Sand the cabinets lightly between coats for a smooth, durable finish.

Pros of Cabinet Refinishing

  • If you have solid material on your cabinets currently, refinishing may cost you less.
  • Refinishing kitchen cabinets is a great way of enhancing the beauty of material already in your home.
  • Refinishing usually lends itself to minimal mistakes.

Cons of Cabinet Refinishing

  • Sanding your cabinets creates a lot of dust. Unless you decide to strip your wood cabinets chemically, there’s no getting away from the clouds of dust this method leaves behind. Make sure to wear the proper protective gear.
  • Requires specialized tools, such as a sander, that average homeowners might not have access to.
  • The project can be very time consuming.

Our Expert Guide to Cabinet Paintingcabinet painting

Cabinet painting is a great way to create an entirely new atmosphere in your home. The main reason homeowners chose to paint is because they like the layout of the kitchen, but would like a mood change. After all, the color in our homes can greatly affect our moods!

Kitchen Cabinet Painting Process

  1. Prep the area: Remove your cabinet doors and prep your painting area.
  2. Smooth the Surface: Spot-sand any protruding surfaces in the primer and caulk any open seams or dings, dents or scratches with a putty knife. The more detailing you do in this step, the smoother your cabinets will look in the end.
  3. Apply the Paint: Get to painting! Depending on the type of paint you choose and the color you’ve selected, you may want to add a second or even a third coat.



For a closer look a the cabinet painting process, check out our video below:


Pros of Cabinet Painting

  • Painting kitchen cabinets can be relatively inexpensive when compared to other kitchen cabinet upgrade options.
  • Leaves you more options for a final look in terms of color, finish and aesthetic.

Cons of Cabinet Painting

  • Time-consuming to prep your workspace for a quality finish.
  • DIY painted cabinets may scuff, crack and chip faster than a professional application.

Painters Tip: Choosing a paint finish can be difficult since you have 4 main choices: flat, eggshell, semigloss, and gloss. Check out our guide on choosing the perfect finish to make the right choice for your kitchen.


Picking Kitchen Cabinet Finishes

After you’ve decided how to tackle your cabinets, now comes the fun part—picking your finishes! 

First up is your color palette. Are you going for a clean, crisp look or an English cottage aesthetic? Deciding the overall feeling you want in your kitchen will help guide your color palette.

Next is your paint finish. You’ve got 4 main choices: flat, eggshell, semigloss, and gloss. There are a lot of factors to consider, so check out our guide on choosing the perfect finish.

Finally, your cabinet hardware. Sometimes, your choice of hardware can have the largest impact on your overall upgrade.

Check out these helpful resources to guide your decision-making:

Kitchen Cabinets | Sherwin Williams

2022 Kitchen Design Trends

Refinishing vs. Painting Your Kitchen Cabinets: Let the Pros Help

Even with all the right information, taking on the task of kitchen cabinet painting on your own is a massive endeavor. We recommend you work with CertaPro Painters® and the Power of Pro to get the kitchen of your dreams. CertaPro Painters® are experts on all of the best practices to update your kitchen cabinets. Our kitchen cabinet painters offer a wide variety of services and take care of everything from start to finish. You won’t have to worry about a thing! Call our local painters or fill out our free, no-obligation form to get started on your cabinet refinishing and painting project.