How Much Does it Cost to Paint Kitchen Cabinets?

Are you planning to freshen up your kitchen cabinets with a fresh coat of paint?

New paint can liven up any living or dining space, bringing a new vibe and aesthetic to the table. Your home should be your sanctuary, so taking the time to plan your paint job thoroughly is the key to getting a high-quality final result that you love. 

In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about the costs of painting your kitchen cabinets. Even small home renovation projects like painting can quickly wrack up expenses, so it is highly important to know what types of costs to account for in your painting budget.

Keep reading to learn about the four key factors that impact the cost of painting your kitchen cabinets!

The Average Cost of Painting Kitchen Cabinets 

When it comes to the cost of painting your kitchen cabinets, it can greatly depend on many different factors, from the quality of paint you’re using to the method you have chosen to apply it.

We will discuss the specific factors that can affect the total cost of painting your kitchen cabinets more momentarily, but let’s first begin by considering the core costs involved.

The average costs for your basic kitchen cabinet painting needs include:

  • Paint: Paint can vary in price depending on the quality, color, brand, and other key factors. While each of these factors can be optimized for cost efficiency, the one factor that you cannot control is the amount of paint needed to cover the entirety of your kitchen cabinets. In general, one gallon of paint can cover roughly 300 to 400 square feet of flat, finished surface. Cheaper paints cost on average between $15 to $30 per gallon, while higher quality paints can cost anywhere from $20 to $60 per gallon on average. The total number of gallons you will need depends on the size of your cabinets, but you can expect to need at least 5 to 10 total gallons. 
  • Supplies: Although paint may be the main character in this renovation story, there are many additional supplies needed to complete a kitchen cabinet paint job. Along with the right amount of paint for your cabinets, you will also need several crucial supplies for applying the paint and protecting your floors and walls during the process. At a minimum, you should have a roller paintbrush, a wide handheld paintbrush, a drop cloth for your floor, a paint tray, and masking tape to cover any sections of your walls or wall fixtures you don’t want to get paint on. These items are typically inexpensive, so plan to spend between $30 to $50 total on supplies
  • Labor: If you are planning to do all the painting work yourself, then you can ignore labor costs entirely. However, if you are planning on hiring painting professionals to perform this task for you, you will need to calculate labor costs into your overall painting budget. The rate a professional painting crew charges is going to vary drastically from person to person and company to company. On average, you can expect to pay a rate between $40 to $80 per hour when hiring third-party labor to paint your kitchen cabinets. The total time it takes to paint a set of kitchen cabinets is dependent on the size and complexity. In general, you can expect the task to take a minimum of six hours of work. 

Depending on how many cabinets you have, the type of paint you select, the number of coats needed and whether you DIY or hire a professional painter will determine the cost to paint your kitchen cabinets. If you’re contracting the work out, $2000-$3000 is typically where the quotes will start. For larger kitchens with more cabinets the price will increase.

DIY Painting vs. Hired Professionals: Which is Better?

The biggest expense in any kitchen paint job is easily the labor costs accrued from hiring a professional team. As a result, many homeowners wonder whether a DIY paint job is the better option.

Painting your kitchen cabinets yourself can be beneficial for your budget, but not necessarily beneficial for the quality of work. Unless you have experience as a professional indoor painter, you may not know the specific process needed to not only apply an even coat of paint but also to ensure that paint is as long-lasting as possible and does not accidentally end up on the floors, walls, or kitchen appliances. 

While hiring a professional paint crew can be the costlier option, it also ensures you receive a high-quality paint job that adds to the overall value and aesthetic charm of your home. 

4 Key Factors That Affect the Cost of Painting Your Kitchen Cabinets

Now that we have covered the average prices you can expect when painting your kitchen cabinets, let’s break down the specific factors that can affect the total cost you fork over for this project.

Here are five key factors that impact the total of painting your kitchen cabinets:

1. Cabinet Prep-Work

Before you can begin painting your kitchen cabinets, they need to be prepared for paint.

Unless your cabinets are brand new and have never been touched by paint, varnish, or other finishings, you will likely need to sand down any existing paint on the exterior surfaces of your cabinets. 

Sanding down a cabinet surface prior to painting not helps to achieve a more even color with fewer coats but also provides a smoother surface to work on. 

If your cabinets are in any way dirty or damaged, these issues must be resolved before the painting process can begin. Any leftover dirt, dust, or debris can end up as lumps in the paint and threaten the long-term integrity of the paint as well. As for damage, you should always perform repairs before the painting process so as not to mess up your hard work. 

Once your cabinets are clean, repaired, and sanded, the final piece of prep work is applying a primer. Primer is essential whenever you paint surfaces of any kind, as it covers any minor remaining imperfections and gives you the optimal smooth surface. 

To recap, the prep-work stage of painting your kitchen cabinets can include three main costs:

  • Sanding: If you are painting your kitchen cabinets yourself, plan to pay between $10 to $20 for a pack of sandpaper. If you are hiring a crew, estimate three extra hours of work for sanding. 
  • Repairs: The cost of repairs will depend on the complexity of those repairs.
  • Priming: Like paint, primers are priced per gallon. Primer is typically less expensive than paint, though it can still cost between $20 to $30 per gallon on average. You will likely need at least two to three gallons (or one to two total coats)of primer, bringing the total between $40 to $90.

2. Cabinet Size

The next key factor to consider when painting your kitchen cabinets is the size of your cabinet system. 

As mentioned earlier, one gallon of paint can cover roughly 300 to 400 square feet of cabinet space. However, for painting purposes, you may not be measuring your cabinets in terms of square footage but instead surface area. Though these measurements are fairly similar, you don’t necessarily need paint for the entire square footage of your cabinets — just enough for the surface area of the exterior sides. 

To best calculate this, you should simply measure the height and width of each side of the cabinets you plan to paint. Using these numbers, you can calculate the square footage of each specific side, giving you a clearer picture of how much paint you will need.

For example, imagine a standard two-door cabinet used as a sink base. These cabinets are generally around 35 inches in width, 35 inches in height, and 24 inches in depth. When painting this cabinet, you would only need to worry about the front and sides, as the back, top, and bottom cannot be seen. 

As such, when calculating how much paint you need for this cabinet, you would calculate the square footage only for the sides where the paint will be applied. The front side (35” x 35”) would total 1,225 square feet, while the two sides (35” x 24”) would each have 840 square feet. 

That brings us to a grand total of 2,905 square feet of cabinet space in need of paint. If one gallon of paint can cover roughly 400 square feet, this means the cabinet needs roughly seven gallons of paint. 

3. Cabinet Style

The material and structural elements of your cabinets can impact the total cost of painting them, especially if you are hiring a professional painting team for the job. 

Standard square and rectangular cabinets are always the easiest and most straightforward to paint. Likewise, laminate or medium-density fiberboard (MDF) cabinets require less overall prep work than solid wood cabinets, making them a cheaper option when it comes to painting. 

Of course, if you have taken the time to have custom cabinets built for your kitchen that match your ideal aesthetic, it can be worth the extra money to hire a team that is willing to put in the extra care and effort needed to paint your cabinets with great quality and precision. 

4. Labor & Time

If you have opted to hire a professional painting crew to paint your kitchen cabinets, then you will need to ask about your crew’s specific pricing model for their labor. 

In general, painting crews price projects in one of two ways:

  • By the Hour: For smaller jobs, such as cabinet painting, a painting professional or crew may charge per hour of work. This hourly charge may not include the cost of materials, which may be an additional charge if you choose not to provide the primer and paint needed upfront. However, most professional painters will provide their own supplies (drop cloths, roller brushes, etc.) at no additional charge. 
  • By the Project: For larger projects, it can be better for both the painting crew and the customer to determine a price according to the scope of the project, rather than by the amount of time needed to complete it. Hourly projects are often less planned out, while projects with a flat rate will adhere to much stricter deadlines to ensure the price covers the hourly costs of labor. 

As you seek out the best crew for your paint job, it is vital to ask questions and request quotes whenever possible. There’s no harm in shopping around for the best deals and quality!

Painting Kitchen Cabinets vs. Replacing

If you have done the math and found your kitchen cabinet paint job to be costlier than expected, you may find yourself wondering whether you should just replace your cabinets entirely. 

Here are three questions to ask when deciding whether to paint or replace your kitchen cabinets:

  1. Do Your Cabinets Have Structural Problems? If your cabinets have any serious structural problems that require extensive repairs, it may be time to replace them.
  2. Are Your Cabinets a Good Size for Your Kitchen? Unless you built your home from the ground up, you may not have had a say in what cabinets were installed in your kitchen. If your current cabinets are not the right size or fit for your kitchen, this can be a good opportunity to install a new cabinet system that better fits your home. 
  3. Do Your Cabinets Securely Store Your Kitchenware & Goods? Functionality is just as important as aesthetics when it comes to kitchen cabinets. If your cabinet system is not the best at keeping your kitchenware and non-perishable goods secure, you may want to invest in some higher-quality cabinets instead. 

Replacing kitchen cabinets will cost $5000-$10,000. Again, this needs to be taken with a grain of salt because depending on how many cabinets you replace and the quality of cabinets will dictate the price.

Final Thoughts: The Benefits of Hiring a Professional Cabinet Painter

Although hiring a professional paint crew will always be the more expensive option, it is also the best way to guarantee a high-quality paint job that you are satisfied with.

When choosing a professional painter or painting company to work with, consider these three factors:

  • Price Transparency: If a professional or company is unwilling to be upfront about their pricing model, this can be a major red flag. Always opt for professionals who are willing to discuss pricing and your budget during the consultation phase. 
  • Customer Reviews: There’s no greater truth than what you can find in a company’s online reviews. If you are interested in a company but discover many negative reviews about their quality of work or customer service, it may be best to look elsewhere. 
  • Availability: Finally, look for a company or professional who has the availability you need! There are plenty of fish in the sea when it comes to talented painters, so look for an individual or crew who can work within your ideal timeframe. 

Remember, this is your home we’re talking about! Take the time to plan your kitchen cabinet paint job thoroughly and you are sure to achieve a final result you love.