Do You Paint The Inside Of Cabinets?

Instead of replacing cabinets, you can paint them for a refreshed look at a fraction of the cost. But what if your cabinets look good outside, but they have an unfinished interior or shelves. Is painting the inside of cabinets a solution?

Painting the interior of your cabinets can enhance their beauty, especially if they have glass doors. If you choose to do so, make sure to use the appropriate type of paint, based on the material your cabinets are made of. For the best results, remove the doors and shelves and work from the inside out.

Should I Paint The Inside Of Unfinished Cabinets?

The front or outside of the cabinets is what people see the majority of the time. The doors close and keep everything inside protected. 

Unfinished insides are common as they lower the manufacturing and purchase costs. However, the insides may have a clear protectant coat for moisture resistance and may appear to be finished differently than the painted components.

It is up to you if you want to paint both sides of the kitchen cabinet doors or the interior of the cabinet.

Consider the following before making a decision:

To Paint:To Not Paint:
Cabinets with glass doors will show the inside. Painting will make them look complete. Painting inside of cabinets can be a lot of work, as you may have to remove the doors and shelves, and the items inside the cabinet.
You desire to paint the inside of the cabinets a different color for visual appeal.The inside gets more wear and tear as you open doors and drawers and place things on the surfaces. You will likely need to touch up the paint more often on the inside. You may also get paint chips on your dishware.
You notice the interior every time you open the doors and it bothers you. Painting would give you visual peace.Some paint colors can show grime and fingerprints more easily, so you’ll have to clean them more often.
You are going to change the color of the front of the cabinetry and want the inside to match.

If you decide to paint the inside of your cabinets, read on to learn how to do it using the right paint and methods. Additional commonly asked questions are included below.

6 Must-Do’s When Painting Inside Cabinets

For this project, you must do the following to get the best results.

1. Remove The Doors

Remove the doors and shelves. Keep the hinges, screws, and supports together in labeled bags so you know exactly which door or shelf they go with. 

Make sure you label the shelves and doors as well. This is a good time to replace or reinforce any broken parts.

Removing the doors allows you to paint them on a flat surface, reducing the likelihood of drips and uneven coating. It also makes it easier for you to reach inside the cabinets without the doors in the way.

2. Prepare The Surfaces

Clean the surfaces to remove residue, grease, grime, dust, and so on. Use a cleaner labeled for use on your type of cabinet material.

Fill in cracks or blemishes with wood filler. Follow the product label for drying times. 

Use fine-grit sandpaper to sand all surfaces that you wish to paint. This breaks up any finish, sealer, or old paint and creates a porous surface for the paint to adhere to. 

Use a damp cloth to remove the dust from sanding. If you don’t, the texture of your paint will appear uneven and lumpy.

Use painter’s tape to block off areas that you wish to keep paint-free.

Most cabinetry is made from hardwood, plywood, particleboard, or fiberboard. If you are unsure about how to prepare the surface, talk with a professional at a home improvement store first.

3. Use Primer

If you are painting wood cabinets or covering a dark color with a lighter color, you need to apply a primer first. A primer can also create a fresh surface to paint on regardless of the underneath color.

Match the type of primer to the type of paint you are using. For example, a latex primer should be used with latex paint. The primer must also be formulated for the type of material you’re painting.

Make sure you ventilate your work area.

Some paints come with the primer mixed in, saving you a step.

4. Use Latex Or Oil-Based Paint

Latex or oil-based is the best paint for inside cabinets. Make sure it is the same type as your primer and formulated for the surface you’re painting (wood, MDF, etc.). 

Many opt for a semi-gloss or satin base for its shine, durability, moisture resistance, and ease to clean. Chalk paints are popular options for shabby chic interiors.

If you are going to match the color to the front of the cabinet, bring along a door or piece of trim. Or, use this sample piece as a reference for a contrasting color. 

If you’re not sure which paint to choose, ask a paint professional at the home improvement store for their suggestions on what paint is best to use for your cabinets.

5. Apply Paint In Thin Layers

Paint in thin layers and allow it to dry before adding a second coat. Refer to your paint’s label for drying times. Oil-based paint takes a lot longer than latex to dry. 

The thicker the paint is on the surface, the longer it will take to dry, and it may chip or suffer from blemishes more easily with use. Thin applications of paint will settle into the surfaces much better, creating a more durable surface.

Paint the removed shelves and doors on a flat surface, with a protective tarp on the floor.  

Paint the interior of the cabinet working in the back and top first, moving down and towards the opening. 

Use a small paintbrush for the seams and corners. Then, use a small paint roller to blend in the brushstrokes as you paint the larger surfaces.

Generally, oil-based will be dry to touch in six to eight hours, and ready for a second coat in 24 hours. Latex paint is dry to touch in one hour and ready for another coat in four hours.

6. Allow For Dry Time

Do not hastily put everything back in after painting. It may take more than a full day before it is dry enough to carefully set items back. 

Even if the paint is dry to the touch, you need to take care not to bump or chip at the painted surfaces. 

Paint goes through a curing process where it hardens on the surface. Oil-based paints will take approximately seven days to cure, whereas latex takes around 30 days.

If the work area is humid, drying times will take even longer. Refer to your paint’s label for the specifics on the paint you chose to use.

You may consider leaving the doors off to avoid wear and tear on these moving surfaces until the paint is fully cured.


What color should the inside of kitchen cabinets be?

The color of the inside of kitchen cabinets can be any color that you desire. You do not need to paint the inside of the cabinets the same as the outside.

Consider if you want a matching or neutral color that complements the exterior. You could use a bold or contrasting color for a visual effect every time you open the doors or peer through glass inserts. 

Can you spray paint the inside of kitchen cabinets?

Spray painting is an acceptable option for painting the inside of kitchen cabinets. It will allow you to apply paint smoothly. Choose an oil-based or latex spray. It is recommended to prep the surface and use a primer before spraying paint.

Since sprays are aerosolized, make sure all other surfaces are covered and the room is ventilated. Wear a mask and protective eyewear.

Alternatively, you can use a paint sprayer to apply a smooth coating. Follow the steps above but use a paint spray gun instead of a brush and roller. 

Before using a paint sprayer, check if your paint is suitable to use with the gun. Generally, paint sprayers work with water-based emulsions, but oil-based paint may be too thick for the purpose.

Do you paint the inside of kitchen drawers?

Kitchen drawers are not normally painted inside. However, you can do it if you wish. You will need to remove the shelves and then clean, sand, and prime them before painting.

Key Takeaways

Kitchen cabinets are not supposed to be painted inside upon installation. However, you can paint them if so desired and choose any color that you want.  

You must prepare the surface and work area before painting to ensure the paint adheres and dries well for a smooth finish. 

We hope this article helped you decide if you wanted to paint the inside of your kitchen cabinets. Perhaps you will be inspired to paint the bathroom cabinets next!

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