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How to paint your kitchen cupboards

The tools and steps needed to transform your kitchen cupboards and breathe new life into a room

By House & Garden | November 12, 2021 | Kitchen

When it comes to the kitchen, a total renovation is a big undertaking. However, if the bones of your kitchen are already good and all the cabinetry is in decent shape, simply painting your kitchen cupboards can be a dramatic facelift that makes your kitchen feel brand new. It's not that hard to do yourself, though it can take a little time and you want to do it carefully and precisely to avoid drips and paintbrush marks on the final coat.

Brands such as British Standard cupboards can easily they can be customised with colour when you buy them new, to give them a sense of belonging within your home and every British Standard Cupboard is primed ready for painting, which means you can skip the boring bit and jump straight to the fun 'colouring in'. Whether you're refreshing an existing design or customising a new one, here's how to paint your kitchen cupboards.

Painting your cupboards

Oil-based or water-based paint can be used according to your preference. Oil-based eggshell, such as that by Little Greene, is good for hardiness over time, though it can be a little more tricky to get right. If you are not used to using paint then Farrow & Ball's water-based eggshell is more user friendly and just as hard wearing.

Hand painting your kitchen cupboards using a good quality synthetic bush – if possible try Purdy's – is the best approach. To achieve a solid looking surface you'll need to apply at least two coats, and sometimes three. You are looking to build up thin coats of paint, so try to avoid applying too much at once otherwise you may be left with thick 'ridge and furrow' like brush strokes. Alternatively, if using oil-based paint only, you could apply the paint to the cupboards using a small six-inch foam roller, followed by lightly brushing out the paint. Avoid solely using a roller as this can create an unappealing orange-peel like surface.

For the average kitchen you will need:

Around 2.5lt of paint

Two-inch 'Purdy' brush, depending on which paint you are using (there is a water-based or an oil-based version of the same brush)

Soft, dry dusting brush.

Six inch foam roller.

Two-inch roll of masking tape

Two-part filler, found in most DIY shops

Sand paper: 2m of 120 grit and 2m of 180 grit


Remove your kitchen cupboards from the cabinets and place them in a well-ventilated place to paint.

Using a two part filler firstly fill any defects that have occurred from loading/transit/fitting.

When the filler is dry, sand all surfaces that are to be painted using 120 grit sand paper.

Using a soft, dry dusting brush or vacuum cleaner with brush attachment go over all of the cupboards and the surrounding area, cleaning off the dust, then wipe them clean with a clean cloth.

Use masking tape to tape up all of the areas that you don't wish to paint (for example around the base where the cupboards meet the floor as well as the internal edges that you see when you open the cupboards).

Using your two-inch Purdy brush, apply the first coat of paint.

Once the paint is dry, sand again but this time using 180 grit sand paper and dust off, then apply another coat of paint repeating as necessary.

We recommend applying a minimum of two coats of paint however if a dark colour is being applied over a light base or water-based paint is being used then it usually takes three coats.

Maintaining your cupboards

The beauty of painted cupboards is they can easily be revived with a fresh lick of paint. A little wear and tear from being used and loved is charming, but should you want to refresh your cupboards, simply give the whole surface another coat of paint.

Even if you only have small marks on your cupboards, you should re-paint the whole area (for example a whole door or a whole panel). Just putting a blob of paint over the mark can often make it stand out more than before.

If you wish to refresh your cupboards then follow steps 2-5 of the painting guide above, but this time apply one coat of paint instead of two.

Ideally, try and use the same tin of paint as you originally used, as different batches of paint can vary slightly in colour. A tin of paint can last many years if the lid is sealed tight, kept indoors and away from frost, so do take care to preserve it well.

Written by Charlotte McCaughan-Hawes.

This article originally appeared on House & Garden UK.