Do You Paint the Inside of Kitchen Cabinets? (Painting Guide)

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Painting kitchen cabinets can be expensive, so every decision about this task should undergo careful consideration. Do you paint the inside of kitchen cabinets or leave them as they are? It’s a dilemma rarely discussed, but the answer is more complex than personal preference. 

Lucky for you, our resident woodworkers are here discuss the upsides and downsides of painting your kitchen cupboard’s interior. 

Why Paint the Inside of Your Cabinets: A Good Idea or Not?

Applying interior paint is an excellent idea, especially if your kitchen cabinet doors have open shelves or glass-front designs. By painting inside cabinets, you can create a more consistent appearance in the kitchen layout. 

kitchen shelves

You should also consider painting cabinets to hide imperfections in the wood surface. The paint finish can cover discoloration caused by frequent usage, water leak, and spills.

Why It’s a Good Idea Painting Your Cabinets’ Interiors: 5 Main Points

Since not all kitchen cabinets come with open constructions or clear doors, it’s easy to skip this process. However, we’d like to elaborate on the perks you’ll miss if you decide not to have painted cabinets inside and out. 

1. It Creates Contrast

Painting the inside of kitchen cabinets doesn’t mean you have to pick the same color as the exterior. 

If you ask our resident woodworkers, it’s the perfect opportunity to add contrast between the cupboard’s interior and exterior aesthetic.

Depending on your personal preference, you can paint the kitchen cabinet interiors with a color that’s the exact opposite of the exterior. 

kitchen countertop and empty cabinets

If the cabinet door and frame have darker colors, the inside kitchen cabinets should look good with a neutral tone. 

2. To Match With Your Cabinet Doors

Irrespective of personal preference, the overall aesthetic harmony of your kitchen cabinets depends on ensuring that the doors and the paint inside the cupboards are consistent.

Although we don’t discourage you from choosing a different paint color for additional contrast, you should select the same tint to give the kitchen cabinets a uniform look. 

3. For Appeal or Display Purposes

Typical cupboards often have hidden kitchen cabinet interiors, so many homeowners wouldn’t bother painting them. However, that’s not true for open-shelved and glass-front designs.

cabinet interior painted blue

Since these kitchen cabinets have exposed interiors, mismatched paint chips can ruin the overall appeal of your home’s interior. 

4. To Satisfy Your Personal Style/Preference

Painting kitchen cabinets is no different from other parts of your home. Consider your preference before deciding if you should paint the inside of the cabinets. 

Some prefer neat and consistent aesthetics, while others don’t mind if the paint chips in their cupboard interiors don’t match. 

5. To Avoid and Protect Your Cabinets From Rotting

If you’re dealing with wooden kitchen cabinets, your chances of encountering decayed wood [1] are very likely.  

man pouring water

So instead of letting the bare surface withstand frequent spillage, applying paint chips on kitchen cabinet interiors can protect wood against rotting and corrosion.  

Important Things to Consider Before Painting Kitchen Cabinet’s Interior

It Doubles the Work (Time-Consuming)

Upgrading and maintaining your kitchen is already a ton of work. If you add painting the inside of cabinets into the mix, anyone can tell it’s time-consuming. 

Unlike exterior parts, the inside of your kitchen cabinets includes hard-to-reach areas. So it’s not rocket science to figure out that you’ll spend a few hours painting the interiors, especially if you’re not using a spray gun.

And even if you’re spray painting hard-to-reach corners, you still have to let cabinets dry before they can be safe for usage.

You may not know, but applying paint to kitchen cabinet interiors with a brush or roller requires more than two coatings. 

kitchen cabinet

Remember that these layers must undergo a proper curing process based on the manufacturer’s instructions, adding to the overall procedure time. 

Messy for Spraying

It’s not really a matter of whether you paint the inside of kitchen cabinets, but how to do it properly. Accomplishing this task without making any mess is next to impossible, mainly because the inside of your kitchen cabinet has limited space. 

Spraying paint over an enclosed area will cause blowback and unsightly splatters. It’s also harder to get a smoother finish as the process has higher chances of leaving paint runs. 

Paint Wears Off Faster

There are a few reasons why people would advise against painting the inside of your kitchen cabinets, and one of them is paint films wear off faster on such surfaces. 

kitchen cabinets painted beige

Since these spaces have more exposure to friction, the best you can do to prevent this is to paint them with semi-gloss products to resist scratches. 

Costly (You’ll Need More Paint)

The amount of paint you need to apply depends on how big the cabinets are. However, regardless of the size, you should know that spraying paint on surfaces will cost more than brushing or rolling. 

Glass Doors

If your cabinets include glass doors, don’t apply a different paint color from the exterior. It’s easy to try something new for the sake of contrast, but remember that the glass will illuminate the interior of your cupboard. 

You can remove glass doors using a cordless drill if you don’t like how it reflects your cupboard’s color. 

kitchen cabinet doors

However, it’s also worth noting that not all glass attachments are removable. Because of this, we recommend masking the cabinets before the paint colors are completely dry. 

Makes Masking Easier

The beauty of applying paint through spraying is you don’t need to mask the door openings before the application. Thanks to this, the process will be shorter than when using brushes or rollers. 

It Fixes an Old or Bad Paint

Fortunately, painting is an easy fix to a bad paint job. All you need to do is scrape and sand the surface before repainting it for a new look. Let it dry completely to yield a protective layer for the wood.

Bothersome/ Difficult to Accomplish

Painting the interior of cabinets is more challenging than you think. It requires patience and skill, so not everyone can execute this task properly. 

kitchen cabinets painted white

Whether you’re applying water or oil-based paints, using the same color for the interior and exterior will make your cupboard look like a store-bought installation. 

Painting the Inside of Your Kitchen Cabinets: Process Guide

Materials/Tools You’ll Need

Step #1. Prepare Your Kitchen for Remodeling

Before painting, don’t forget to remove kitchen items or foods around the space. You must cover the floor, countertops, and other appliances with plastic sheets to avoid staining them with paint or primer. 

preparing work area

Step #2. Empty Your Kitchen Cabinets

Next, remove anything inside the cupboard and keep them away from the area of restoration. 

Once the space is empty, run a damp cloth over the surface to eliminate dirt and other residues. Let it dry before jumping to the next step. 

Step #3. Detach Cabinet Doors and Drawers

After that, remove the doors and drawer frames using pliers or screwdrivers. The tool you’ll need for this process will vary depending on your cupboard’s hinges. 

We don’t recommend painting over them as it can cause potential damage to the part. 

Step #4. Sand the Inside Surfaces (Apply Caulk if Necessary)

If you see cracks or other imperfections on the surface, you can apply caulk to cover it. Let it dry according to the recommended label before grabbing the 220-grit sandpaper to smoothen the material. Know more how long caulk takes to dry here!

sanding block

Can You Paint Kitchen Cabinet Interiors Without Sanding?

While some oil paint products can stand alone without sanding, no one can deny that this process guarantees maximum adhesion. Unsanded surfaces have higher chances of peeling off paint film over time. 

Step #5. Apply Painter’s Tape to the Cabinet Edges

If you can’t remove the doors, cover their hinges with painter’s tape to avoid getting paint on them. You can also stick it to the cupboard’s edges for better painting results.

Step #6. Don’t Forget the Primer

Besides sanding, adding primer helps the paint stick better to the surface. This process also prevents the application from bleeding and causing unnecessary stains. 

You’ll have no issue applying it with a roller or brush if you follow the instructions in its manual. 

Step #7. Now, Coat the Insides with Paint

We don’t recommend oil-based paints for kitchen refurbishing because of their volatile organic compounds or VOCs. If you can find any, buy latex painting products because they don’t carry toxic odors. 

painting materials

The drying time per coat may vary per product, so checking the labels for instructions is crucial for better results. It would help to let it cure completely before exposing the surface to kitchen items. 

Should You Paint The Interiors of Cabinet Doors?

You can leave the cupboard door unpainted. However, it still depends on your preference. If you add it to your painting repertoire, don’t forget to remove these parts for better application. We will only encourage painting the door inside if they are detachable. 

Should You Paint the Interiors of the Kitchen Drawers?

You can paint drawer interiors, but it’s not a common approach. If you ask us, going overboard with drawer interiors is only worth it if you want to achieve a specific aesthetic or style. 

Satin vs. Semi-Gloss: Which is the Better Finish for the Interior of Kitchen Cabinets?

While satin finishes offer more durability and gloss to cover imperfections caused by high-traffic usage, semi-gloss paints can stand better against mildew and mold. 

Rust-Oleum Water-Based Gloss Finish

And since cupboard interiors are often in high-moisture settings, it should work better than satin or matte paint. 

Recommended Readings:

Spray Paint vs. Brush: Which is Better for Kitchen Cabinets?

In reality, spray paint does the job faster than brushes, even with cupboard interiors. The only problem is that this process will incur additional costs because of the spray equipment and all the masking you must do to prevent accidental staining. 

Now, how do you paint the inside of kitchen cabinets with minimal staining accidents? The short answer is using a brush. Besides its lower price, it’s also widely available and suits detailed painting. 

Crucial Mistakes to Avoid When Painting the Interiors of Your Kitchen Cabinet

Skipping Primer Application

One of the most common cabinet painting mistakes is not applying primer over the surface. It may seem trivial, but this process helps the paint stick to the wood better and makes the finish more durable. 

mixing oil-based primer
Does Painting Cabinet Interiors Require Priming?

Priming is optional if the surface is in good condition. However, you must remember that its application builds the material’s foundation for the paint solution. 

If you’re coating a light cupboard, one primer coat should suffice. You can opt for two coats if the surface is darker, but you must ensure the previous application is dry. 

Failing to Detach the Hardware (Drawers, Doors, etc.)

Not removing door parts will keep the interior enclosed and blocks airflow. Because of this, the drying duration may take longer than expected. 

Not Labelling the Doors & Hardware Correctly

When you detach hardware from the cabinets, each part must have a label to avoid confusion when putting it back together. 

Putting Thick layers of Paint

Newbies may think thicker paint layers are better for protection, but the truth is it slows down the drying process. 

paint brush

Skimping the Drying Time

Follow the product’s instructions for drying and curing to avoid markings and chippings. It should only take an hour or two to have a dry painted surface, but the curing procedure will take days. 


What color should the inside of cabinets be?

The color for the inside of the cabinets should be white or neutral to make the interior look spacious. You can also use a paint color contrasting your exterior frame, but you must ensure it complements well. 

What’s the best paint to use for cabinet interiors?

Latex paint is the best product to use for the inside of the cabinets. This option dries faster and carries less toxic fumes than its oil-based alternatives. 

Is sealing required after painting the inside of the cabinets?

No, sealing the painted surface isn’t mandatory. However, applying a sealant prevents wood chipping for surfaces often exposed to high traffic. 

How do you cover the inside of kitchen cabinets?

You must clean the interior first with mild soap and water. After drying the surface with a rag, you can choose between painting or using shelf paper. The painting process should go smoothly, especially when applying self-leveling paint. 

Suggested Readings: 


If you do paint the inside of kitchen cabinets, you’re giving your kitchen a fresher and updated look and also provide additional protection to the cupboard’s surface. However, this decision remains dependent on your preference as a homeowner and woodworker. 

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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