How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets Without Sanding

Last Updated on September 9, 2023 by Ernest Godia

Are your kitchen cabinets looking tired and worn, desperate for a makeover? You might be tempted to hire a professional or consider sanding them down before painting. But the latter can be daunting, especially for cabinets with several components to refinish.  

What if you could achieve stunning results without all that sanding hassle? Yes, you absolutely can! 

In this step-by-step guide, we’ll walk you through how to paint kitchen cabinets without sanding, making it a DIY project that anyone can tackle. 

Let’s dive right in.

Can you paint kitchen cabinets without sanding?

Indeed, you can paint your kitchen cabinets without sanding. Undoubtedly, sanding is the holy grail of every wood-finishing project. However, with technological advancement and innovation, some products supplement sanding and deliver equally excellent results. 

Read along as we uncover the products you can use in place of sandpaper to prepare wood for painting.

How to paint kitchen cabinets without sanding

If you’re having reservations about what we’re suggesting so far, here’s a preview of the process: Apply oil bond to a microfiber cloth and use it to wipe down your kitchen cabinets. Then, mix the oil bond into a gallon of latex paint and brush it on your wooden surfaces. Let it dry completely before recoating.

As simple as it sounds, there are crucial details to the process that you ought to know before starting your project. We’ll cover them in detail in the steps below. But first, here’s a list of the supplies you will require.

Tools and materials needed

  • Paint
  • Primer
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paint roller
  • Paint tray
  • Pyramid triangle risers
  • Dish soap
  • Warm water
  • Sponge or cloth
  • TSP cleaner
  • Screwdriver
  • Painter’s tape
  • Drop cloth or plastic sheeting

How to prep and paint kitchen cabinets without sanding

The first order of business is preparing the area where you’ll carry out the paint job. In this case, it can be your kitchen or the garage. Line the floor with a drop cloth to catch any product spills. Also, ensure it’s well-lit and has enough air circulation.

Step 1: Remove Cabinet Doors and Hardware

The first step is to take down your cabinet doors and hardware. Using a screwdriver, carefully detach them from the cabinet frames. This will make the painting process much more manageable, allowing you to reach every nook and cranny.

Be sure to store the hardware accessories in a zip-loc bag and keep them in the cabinet whose door you’re painting. You can also label the cabinet door with post-its so that it’s easier to track which parts go where when reattaching them.

When done, place the cabinet boards on an elevated surface, like paint triangles. But if you have a workbench or sawhorses, use them.

Step 2: Clean the cabinets thoroughly

Cabinets are the most trafficked surfaces in a home, whether in the bathroom or the kitchen. That said, clean them thoroughly to remove all the grease and hand oils on the stress areas and any food stuck on the bumper.

Use warm, soapy water to clean every inch of the cabinet fronts and remove stains. Alternatively, you can use a degreasing product like Simple Green and a microfiber cloth to remove grease and grime buildup. 

If you have TSP instead, that too will work efficiently to clean your cabinets in readiness for paint. Mix a cup of TSP powder into a gallon bucket of warm water.

Meanwhile, ensure you have your nitrile gloves on because the TSP solution can dry out or irritate the skin on your hands. 

Rinse the surfaces well with clean water and let them air dry completely.

Step 3: Fill any imperfections

Inspect your cabinets for any imperfections, like holes or dents. If you find any, use wood filler to patch them up. 

Once the filler dries, only sand the filled areas with fine-grained sandpaper and wipe the dust with a damp cloth.

Step 4: Apply painter’s tape

This step only applies if you paint your kitchen cabinets with attached hardware. You would also use tape if you were trying to achieve a two-tone effect on your kitchen cabinets. 

Step 5: Degloss the cabinets

This is the first alternative to sandpaper that we mentioned earlier. A deglosser, or liquid sandpaper, is designed to dull a glossy surface and create a subtle textured surface for the paint to bite onto. 

Pour a bit of the deglosser onto a rag and use it to wipe down the finished surface. Work in circular motions, switching the soiled rag to a cleaner side until you cover the entire surface. 

A worthy alternative, especially if you plan to paint with latex paints, is to use oil bond. This water-based paint additive is designed to clean, degloss, and pre-prime finished wood surfaces.

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Dampen a lint-free cloth with the oil bond and wipe it on the painted surface. Once done, let the surface dry for an hour or overnight before painting.

Read also: Can you paint over varnished wood?

Step 6: Apply bonding primer

If you use the oil bond, you won’t need the primer. However, liquid sandpaper can take the paint well, but it won’t hurt to reinforce the paint’s adhesion with a bonding primer.

Remember to use a primer with the word ”bonding” in this case. Otherwise, regular wall primers won’t give you the results we’re shooting for. Then, you can simply roll or brush the primer to coat the wood cabinet, working along the grain. 

Allow the primer coat to dry completely for as long as the manufacturer recommends.

Step 7: Paint the Cabinets

All the prep work pays off in this step. Stir your chosen paint to distribute the pigments evenly. Then, transfer the amount you need onto the paint tray and get your roller and paintbrush out. 

A high-quality brush to apply a smooth and even coat to your cabinets is essential. Start with the inner edges and corners, then move on to the larger flat surfaces. A paint roller can be a lifesaver for these larger areas, giving you a flawless finish.

Now, with the oil bond, add 16 ounces of it to a gallon of latex paint and mix well. Then brush or roll it to coat your cabinets in thin, even coats. 

You can also opt to spray your kitchen cabinets. Just thin the paint well and apply it as the manufacturer recommends.

You may need 2–3 paint coats to achieve full coverage. Just make sure to allow sufficient drying time between coats. 

See also: Does paint dry darker or lighter in wood?

Step 8: Apply top coat

After the kitchen cabinet paint has dried completely, usually within 24 hours, apply a top coat for added protection and durability. Use a water-based top coat compatible with the primer and paint, and ensure it dries fully before reassembling your cabinets.

Step 9: Reattach cabinet doors and hardware

With the painting and drying complete, it’s time to assemble your cabinets. Reattach the cabinet doors and hardware carefully. Remove the painter’s tape from the painted kitchen cabinets and do any necessary touch-up work.

However, if the door handles or knobs are faded, you can replace or paint them too. Use metal spray paint in a color that blends well with your painted kitchen cabinets. 

Best paint for kitchen cabinets without sanding

The best paint for painting kitchen cabinets without sanding has to be the Beyond Paint all-in-one refinishing paint. This paint bonds, primes, and seals your cabinets in one go. This means all you have to do is clean your cabinets, brush, roll, or spray the paint.

It contains low VOC, meaning it’s safe to use around your pets and the rest of your family members who wouldn’t care to mask up. It also cleans up with soap and water in case of accidental spills. 

Beyond paint also contains up to 4x the pigment load, guaranteeing superior coverage and a long-lasting finish. This nano pigment technology also means you can paint up to 12 cabinet doors with just a quart-sized container.  

Even though it offers 20 colors for kitchen cabinets, finding the perfect shade for the heart of your home should be hassle-free. You should be happy to know they have a cabinet makeover kit that contains everything you would need to refurb your kitchen.

Related post: Can you paint wood furniture with wall paint?

How to paint kitchen cabinet doors

Painting cabinet doors can be trickier than painting cabinet frames, but you can achieve a professional look with the right approach. Here’s a quick guide:

  1. Lay the cabinet doors flat on a clean, covered surface.
  2. Follow the same cleaning, priming, and painting steps as mentioned earlier.
  3. Use a paint roller for the flat panels and a brush for the edges and corners.
  4. Let the doors dry thoroughly before reattaching them to the cabinets.

How to paint kitchen cabinets like the pros

If you’re aiming for a truly professional finish, here are a few tips to take your project to the next level and paint your kitchen cabinets professionally:

  1. Be patient, and allow each coat of paint to dry properly before applying the next.
  2. Use quality paints and tools: High-quality brushes, rollers, and paints make a noticeable difference in the final result.
  3. Don’t skimp on coats of paint or primer. Applying multiple thin coats is better than a single thick one.
  4. Use a paint sprayer. If you can access a paint sprayer, use it to achieve an incredibly even and smooth finish.
Results when you paint kitchen cabinets without sanding

Best roller for painting cabinets

When choosing a roller for painting your cabinets, try this 4-inch paint roller. This foam roller is an excellent choice for creating a smooth finish on the wood surface. The 4-inch nap length is perfect for painting your cabinet doors and drawers quickly and efficiently.

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How to paint kitchen cabinets without brush marks

Brush marks are the least attractive thing on a painted surface. Although invisible from a distance, you can’t unsee it once you know they’re there. To avoid them, try these tips:

  1. Invest in brushes designed for smooth finishes.
  2. Try to brush in the same direction as the wood grain for a smoother look.
  3. Add a floetrol paint extender to the paint to prolong its drying time, enhance the self-leveling capacity, and even out brush strokes.
  4. Use foam rollers to paint your cabinets instead of brushes.
  5. Thin the paint accurately and spray it on the cabinets for flawless coverage.

Maintenance and care tips for newly painted cabinets

Congratulations! Your kitchen cabinets are now beautifully transformed. To keep them looking their best for years to come, follow these maintenance and care tips:

  1. Wipe down your cabinets regularly with a damp cloth to remove dust and food spills.
  2. Use mild, non-abrasive cleaners to prevent damage to the paint finish.
  3. While opening and closing the cabinet doors and drawers, handle them gently to avoid chipping or scratching the paint.
  4. If you notice any nicks or chips in the paint, touch them up promptly to prevent further damage.
  5. Consider using cabinet liners to protect the interior surfaces from wear and tear.

In the spirit of sprucing up your home, determine whether it’s best to paint or stain your deck.

Final Take on Painting Kitchen Cabinets Without Sanding

And there you have it—a comprehensive guide on how to paint kitchen cabinets without sanding. The painting process is easier thanks to oil bond and liquid sandpaper alternatives.

The painting process and technique remain the same. The only tweak is the product mentioned, which cuts out potential hours upon hours of sanding.

So don’t let the sanding process deter you from updating your kitchen cabinets and creating a space that’s uniquely yours. 

If this post helped you with your kitchen revamp project, please share your results with us in the comments below.

Happy painting!

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