Painting cabinets has become very popular these days. Due to the cost and hassle of replacing cabinets, many homeowners have chosen to paint their cabinets instead of replacing them. This can be a great option for homeowners with structurally sound cabinets who just don’t like the color or finish of their current cabinets.
Many homeowners call us and ask about pricing to repaint their cabinets. They aren’t sure if it’s worth it to repaint the cabinets or just get new ones altogether. I’ve written this article is to help explain what goes into cabinet pricing and also some pros and cons of replacing versus painting, as well as some basic price expectations.
How Much Does it Cost to Paint Cabinets?
Let’s start with deciding if painting your cabinets is right for you, or if cabinet replacement would be a better option. Here are a few factors to consider.
- Are the cabinets in good working condition?
- Do the doors and drawers all open and close smoothly and completely?
- Are there areas that water has penetrated the finish, causing swelling, deterioration, or warped wood?
- Are you planning on replacing the countertops and/or flooring?
- Do you like the style of the cabinets themselves? (Or is it just a color issue?)
- Are you doing other construction related projects in the kitchen?
- What is time frame you are wanting the project finished?
- What is your budget?
Let’s first talk about reasons you might want to consider replacement versus painting.
When replacing cabinets, you must realize that this also will include replacing the countertops and possibly the flooring as well. Even if you are planning on replacing these things, replacing your cabinets still might not be the best choice for you, since painting them is still very affordable compared to replacing them. Now some people just don’t like the style or size or layout of their current cabinets. These factors might push the homeowner in the direction of replacement. Another factor to consider is the overall integrity of the cabinets. If many doors are warped and drawers don’t close properly, your cabinets might be too old and worn to warrant the cost of painting them. There may be other considerations pertinent to the individual homeowner as well, but these are the basic factors that might warrant replacement.
Now let’s talk about why painting your cabinets might be the best solution for you. Most homeowners I talk to just want a different look for their kitchen that is not only affordable, but also easy, less intrusive, and long lasting. If your cabinets are structurally good, you like your kitchen layout, you’re happy with your current countertops, and you just don’t like the old stained (or painted) look anymore, then painting might be the solution for you. Painting cabinets usually takes about a week and is very unobtrusive.
The products available now are extremely safe, hard, and long lasting compared to what was available just ten years ago. Available in any color or sheen, these products made painting cabinets a viable solution for the majority of homeowners. Painting cabinets is also much more affordable than replacing cabinets. Not only because of the fact that you have to replace the countertops and possibly the flooring, but the cost of the cabinets and installation make replacement about 5-7 times more expensive than painting them. A great benefit to painting cabinets is they are very easy to touch up just in case something happens to the finish. And another thing about painting as opposed to replacement is its environmentally friendly. People don’t have to throw away perfectly good cabinets which saves on our planets resources.
How is cabinet painting priced?
There are many factors that come into play when pricing cabinet paint. Each contractor will charge differently according to their process, products, overhead, and warranty, but this article will give you an idea of what goes into quality cabinet painting as well as sub par cabinet painting. In this business, you truly do get what you pay for. There are many different ways to paint cabinets. Some are cheaper than others, and some will hold up much better than others.
Let’s talk about the difference.
There are many paint contractors that approach cabinet painting in the same way as painting walls. They cover the hinges, floors, and countertops, and they brush and roll the cabinets using regular wall paint. As you can guess, this is the cheapest way to paint your cabinets, but it’s also the lowest quality and will most likely start chipping, peeling, or scratching immediately. The contractor doesn’t differentiate between cabinets and other surfaces, and therefore doesn’t change the process (which is imperative when painting cabinets).
Now the contractor that specializes in cabinet painting or at least understands the difference, knows the correct way to paint cabinets to ensure long lasting, beautiful finishes. As you can probably guess, the process is much more meticulous and therefore tends to be more costly than the aforementioned contractor. But as I stated earlier, you get what you pay for in this business. To properly paint cabinets, the doors and drawers must be taken off, and preferably take to a shop to be finished. This allows the contractor to control factors like dust, temperature and protection during painting. This contractor also knows that the only way to ensure proper bonding is to first clean and then hand scuff sand all surfaces prior to any painting. This creates a clean surface that had been deglossed, which is imperative to attain prior to any painting.
The next necessary step is to apply a high quality bonding primer to all surfaces. As you can probably guess by the name, this primer is specially formulated to bond to the current finish. Without this very important step, the paint will most likely peel, chip, and scratch very quickly. Once that happens, it’s very hard to properly fix and make look good again. Some contractors will spray the doors and drawers and sometimes even the frames of the cabinets, and some choose to brush and roll everything. (A lot of times it depends on the homeowners preference). Most bonding primer requires a minimum of 24 hours to dry/cure before a top coat can be applied. This allows the primer to properly “breath” as it does its job to bite into the surface. After this primer has had proper time to dry, a good contractor will caulk and “bondo” any cracks, seams, dents, holes, or scratches. This provides a consistent look throughout and also helps with longevity because it seals any opening that may allow water to penetrate. It’s important to do this step after the bonding primer to ensure proper adhesion of these products. This is a key step in your home remodel journey.
A good top coat is extremely important since this is what will be exposed to touching, cleaning, wear, and use for years to come. The best products dry extremely hard and are resistant to these factors. The best products are usually not water based (which can be a little stronger smelling). Most quality contractors will apply a minimum of two coats to ensure coverage and strength. After adequate dry time, everything is put back together and the cabinets not only look beautiful, but remain that way for years. As you can probably imagine, this process is more meticulous and tends to cost more than the first contractor we talked about. The products are also much more expensive since they are especially made for this type of project.
These examples are twos ends of the spectrum and there are many processes between these two examples. Because of the differences I explained above, the costs associated with painting your cabinets also vary quite a bit. But we can give you an idea of what you can expect to pay for your kitchen cabinets to be painted by a professional.
Let’s think about the average sized kitchen when considering price ranges. I have found that the typical kitchen has between 15-20 doors and 5-10 drawers. You can expect to pay anywhere from $2,000 (for the cheapest lowest quality in the first example) to $3,000 (or slightly more depending on style and layout) for the highest quality.