Should You Paint the Inside of Your Kitchen’s Cabinets?

I was recently wondering if I should give my kitchen cabinets a paint lift when the following thought occurred to me “Should I paint the inside of the kitchen cabinets as well, seeing that I’m going to paint the outside of the cabinets?”

It led me to gather information on this internal question and I am here to share my findings with you.

Whether or not you paint the inside of your kitchen cabinets is a personal choice and preference. Kitchen owners do it to preserve the cabinets and for aesthetic reasons, such as creating contrast using different colors. See-through cabinets and open-shelf designs should be painted.

People are visual creatures. We use our eyes to process data and form conclusions. If you can view your kitchen cabinets’ insides from the outside, then maybe you should paint it for the sake of uniformity.

cosy kitchen

It is harder work than painting the outsides but well worth the effort. This article will discuss the best paints to use on certain kitchen cabinets and a step-by-step guide to help with the painting process.

Why Paint The Inside Of Your Kitchen Cabinets?

It comes down to a personal aesthetic choice. Painting the inside of your kitchen cabinets will give it a more uniform look when you open the doors.

If you can see inside the cabinets due to a glass cabinet door, or if your cabinet is an open shelf in design, then painting it would make perfect sense and be aesthetically pleasing.

Some people like to stay updated with current design trends and use different colors to add contrast to their kitchen and cabinets.

The use of contrasting colors works especially well when applied to open shelving used in the kitchen and kitchen cabinets with doors, for that matter.

Adding some sophistication can usually be created by doing small things to certain areas in your kitchen.

Seeing that a kitchen is a room where a lot of time is spent, it’s normally a good idea to make it visually engaging. This includes making sure that the kitchen floor is always sparkling clean.

Nothing stops you from painting your cabinets’ insides, except that it is harder work than painting the cabinets themselves.

If your kitchen feels old, painting the cabinets, inside and out, will be the cheapest way to create a “new” kitchen without actually replacing anything in it, preserving the cabinets for future use.

What Paints To Use When Painting The Inside Of Kitchen Cabinets?

painting inside of kitchen cabinets

Right, so you are fully committed to painting the inside of your kitchen cabinets, so now we have to figure out what type of paint is needed for your specific cabinet.

Not all cabinets are made out of wood, so it’s important to identify the type of cabinet you have in your kitchen and then match the best paint type to use on that particular cabinet type.

Wood Cabinets

If you happen to have wood cabinets in your kitchen, you are in luck because they make great candidates for painting.

Sanding the surface will help to prep it for the paint creating a better bond and smoother finish.

If your wooden cabinets are stained already or have a glossy finish, you will need to get through the finishing layer first by using sandpaper or liquid de-glosser.

If you find that the wood cabinets are bare (without any previous sealers, stains, or paint), it will require very little to no sanding. The following paint options are available to spruce up your kitchen’s look:

Water-Based Paints

Water-based latex- and chalk paints are very popular choices when painting kitchen cabinets (inside and out.)

Water will clean up any spills or painting mistakes, so there is no need for mineral spirits.

The insides of the cabinet may absorb a lot of paint, so adding a primer first will ensure that coverage is even and adequate.

When done with the paint job, it is recommended that you apply a water-based polyurethane sealant to protect the paint from scuffing, scratches, dents and keep the paint from peeling.

If you decide to enhance the wood features only without painting, you can apply the sealant only. Water-based polyurethane sealant:

  • Quick to dry, leaving a clear layer
  • Leaves no odor
  • It gives the wood a more natural look

Oil-based Paints

Choosing an oil-based paint will ensure that coverage is even and luscious; however, be wary of using these paints:

  • They are difficult to clean (will need mineral spirits on hand to clean up any spills or painting mistakes)
  • It’s high in VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds), which makes them dangerous to breathe in
  • They are in the process of being banned from being sold in some states (California).

Hybrid Enamel Paint

Another excellent option that you can try is hybrid enamels, known as Acrylic Alkyd Paint, which gives you an oil paint’s beautiful finish with the easy clean-up of water-based paint. The best of both worlds regarding paint all merged into one.

MDF Cabinets

If you have MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) kitchen cabinets, then you will need to prep them properly before applying paint:

  • Seal the edges (very porous) of the MDF using drywall compound (if it does not have a finished surface).
  • For the first coat use an oil-based primer (water-based primer can swell the surface.)
  • Paint the cabinets with water-based latex/chalk paint without having to worry about moisture absorption.

Laminate Cabinets

Laminate kitchen cabinets are a little trickier to paint than their wood and MDF counterparts.

The material is normally printed plastic adhered to a base layer and is a very slick medium to work with.

The best idea is to get a laminate-specific primer and paint, as these products are specifically designed to bond to shiny surfaces.

You will be required to sand the surface before applying the laminate-specific primer. When the primer is dry, you will need to sand the primed surface before applying the laminate-specific paint.

Make sure to use sandpaper with high grit (150-180) as you don’t want to sand through the laminate surface.

Overall, painting the inside of your cabinets makes it easier for you to keep them clean and remove grease or other usually difficult to remove gunk.

How To Paint The Insides Of Your Kitchen Cabinets In 8 Easy Steps

kitchen cabinets

Following the steps listed below will hopefully make the task of painting the insides of your kitchen cabinets a little less time consuming and easy to do:

Step 1: Clear Out The Kitchen

Start by clearing out all the cabinets that you are going to paint. Move all the items to an adjacent room or space.

You don’t want to get paint on grandma’s porcelain set, or even worse, your favorite Star Wars coffee mug or that brand new Keurig coffee maker (even if it’s an alternative to it).

Step 2: Open The Windows

Open all the windows in the kitchen area. You don’t want the smells of primers, paints, and sealants congregating in your work area.

Step 3: Take Cover

Take a plastic sheet/tarp and cover the floor area, sink area, counter area, stove area, and any areas where paint could land up.

Painting the insides of kitchen cabinets is back-breaking work, and when done, you don’t want the extra hassle of cleaning the rest of your kitchen as well.

Step 4: Remove Cabinet Doors

It might seem too much of an effort; however, when your arm starts hitting the doors when you paint, you will quickly remove them in any case. It would be best if you had ease of access and no irritations with this job type.

Step 5: Cleaning Time!

Take your time and start thoroughly cleaning the insides of all the cabinets, making sure that they are dust-free and ready for the primer.

Step 6: Prime Time

Make sure that you have the correct primer for your wood type:

  • Oil-based primer works well with cherry and maple wood (tight-grained wood)
  • Water-based primer works well with ash and oak wood (open-grained wood)

Proceed to paint a coat of primer to the insides of the cabinet.

Step 7: Sand And Repair

When the primer is dry, use a 220-grit piece of sandpaper, and start sanding down the insides of the cabinets until smooth. If you find any cracks, then use some latex caulk to fill them, let them dry, and sand these areas to a smooth consistency.

Step 8: Paint

Proceed to paint the insides of your cabinets. Make sure to cover all the corners and sides, top to bottom.

Consider adding a sealant to the mix-this will lock in the paint and preserve your cabinets in the future. Allow drying before reattaching the cabinet doors.


The choice to paint or not to paint the insides of your kitchen cabinets is a personal one. Purchase the right paint for your specific kitchen cabinet type, and the war is half-won.

The easy steps listed above will assist you with the painting process making light work of a job that many people don’t seem interested in.

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