Published on May 1, 2020

Giving the cupboards a revamp is high on every kitchen renovator’s wish list, but there are a lot of question marks to navigate before ever picking up a paintbrush. Chief among them is the budget. If you’re wondering how much it actually costs to paint kitchen cabinets, it turns out the answer is highly subjective—so we’re here to demystify the process. 

The reason there is no one set price tag comes down to the sheer number of factors involved: Room size, layout complexity, and quality of supplies all matter. If you’re going the professional route, Thumbtack reports the average national cost for painting cabinetry is $1,200 to $7,000, based on its database of contractors. Paintzen has a specific formula to determine the price: “We look at the number of doors and drawers, versus square footage, as the most important component,” explains senior director of B2C sales Meghan Stewart. For something with 10 doors, she estimates a cost of $2,000; 25 will set you back around $3,200; and for 35 to 40, you’re looking at anywhere from $4,200 to $4,500. While the amount clearly varies, you definitely won’t have to worry about purchasing any supplies directly—hiring a pro includes everything from sanding to reinstalling the fronts.

Since you aren’t paying for labor, DIY’ing the project will generally be less expensive, but expect to spend more time shopping around for things like primer and drop cloths. You’ll have more flexibility with the prices of those, too, depending on how much you’re willing to splurge—for argument’s sake, we figured out the minimum you can expect to shell out for each item. Happy painting!

The Prep Tools

Sanding Sponge: $2+

After cleaning off any grime, the first step in refreshing kitchen cabinets is making sure you have a totally blank, smooth slate. To do this, you’ll need a sanding sponge. A pack of four, like this one from Amazon, which comes out to $1.75 each, should be enough for many projects to come—they’re reusable. 

Drop Cloth: $3+ 

Choose between canvas or plastic: The former is more sustainable and longer-lasting, but if you only have a small space to cover and don’t foresee more paint updates in your future, a plastic one will do just fine. Use it to protect the floors and any surfaces you don’t want to risk getting splattered. 

Painter’s Tape: $4+

You’ll need something to hold that tarp down, right? This specialty adhesive won’t leave sticky residue behind and it’s a must if you want to try a fun treatment (eyeliner borders, anyone?). 

Roller: $8+

Typically, you buy each component separately: The handle is something you’ll use again and again, while the fluffy cover should be swapped out for each new DIY. If you do a little digging, though, you’ll be able to find a full set; this one even comes with a refill. Since the surface area for most doors is way smaller than a wall or ceiling, look for a smaller version that can really cover every inch. 

Paintbrush: $4+

For the spots the roller can’t reach, you’ll need a brush. Choose one that’s small and angled to really get into every nook and cranny. 

The Main Event

Primer: $17+/gallon

Pick an all-purpose interior primer to ensure each coat will glide on smoothly. Anything water-based is a safe bet, though it’ll depend on the type of wood you’re dealing with. If you’re not sure, ask the experts at your paint store what they would recommend. 

Paint: $25+/gallon

The last step is also the priciest. Sheens matter—a flat will generally be more affordable than an eggshell or satin finish—and given that you’ll need a minimum of two coats, you might be buying more than one can. As for brands, each one has its own unique formula and amount of pigmentation that corresponds directly to cost; higher pigmentation means a heftier price tag, for example. Per PPG’s guidelines, one gallon covers about 400 square feet, so use that to determine how much you’ll need for your kitchen cabinets. When in doubt, overestimate; you can always use the extras for smaller DIY projects. Might we suggest a door mural

See more kitchen cabinet stories:
Cream-Colored Cabinets Are the Dose of Warmth Your Kitchen Needs
5 Upper Kitchen Cabinets to Fuel Your Reno Dreams
How to Finally Organize Your Kitchen Cabinets—for Good, This Time

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