Painting kitchen cabinets is quite the process for a homeowner to take on themselves, but plenty attempt it all the time. It goes beyond the simple purchase of soft-bristled brushes, painter’s tape, and drop cloths.

In this article, we will answer one of the most popular questions in this area. Can you paint kitchen cabinets without sanding?

Or better yet, should you?

Keep reading to find out.

Can I Paint Kitchen Cabinets without Sanding?

can i paint my kitchen cabinets without sanding

Yes, you can paint kitchen cabinets without sanding. While I would never recommend this to any of our customers, there’s nothing stopping you from doing it.

But the underlying question here is, should you paint kitchen cabinets without sanding?

The answer is a very definitive no.

There are a number of good reasons why sanding before painting your kitchen cabinets should be an almost required step in the process.

Sanding your kitchen cabinets is the surest way to create a smooth paint surface.

This is important because the last thing you want after going through all this work is for your paint job to turn out bumpy or uneven.

bumpy and uneven paint

You may be asking, why it would turn out bumpy? It’s simple.

Over the years of holiday parties, family dinners, and late-night snacking, your kitchen cabinets have been through a lot.

And all of that wear and tear has left them with a few dings, scratches, and other imperfections.

These other imperfections might include grease build-up or paint chips barely hanging on to your cabinet surface.

You need to sand your cabinets to get rid of these imperfections and create a smooth paint surface.

If you don’t sand your kitchen cabinets before painting them, you run the risk of paint not adhering correctly or evenly.

And we all know that would be an enormous shame after putting in all this work

What Happens if You Don’t Sand Cabinets Before Painting?

What Happens if You Don't Sand Cabinets Before Painting

As we just discussed, if you don’t sand cabinets before painting them, you ultimately trap all the dirt and grime under your coat of new paint. While the color will look new and fresh, the blemishes of what lies beneath will be clear to anyone to see.

Besides these visual distractions in your kitchen, you also make it hard for the paint to strongly adhere to the wood. And in time, this new paint job will start to peel.

It might not happen right away. But eventually, all that trapped dirt will work its way out from under the paint and cause it to bubble up and flake off.

So while you may have saved a few hours by not sanding your kitchen cabinets before painting them, you’ll likely end up having to repaint them much sooner than you would have if you had just sanded them in the first place.

Can You Just Paint Over the Cabinets?

Can You Just Paint Over the Cabinets

If you’ve decided you still don’t want to sand your kitchen cabinets and accept the risks, then you can just paint over the cabinets.

The best way to do this is to remove your hardware and doors from the cabinet boxes. Then, thoroughly clean the surfaces where the paint will be applied. This gives you at least a little comfort in knowing you’ve removed as much dirt and grease as possible without sanding.

Once the cleaning process is complete, you can begin to paint over the cabinets as they are.

How Can I Refinish My Kitchen Cabinets without Sanding?

How Can I Refinish My Kitchen Cabinets without Sanding

Above we gave you the overview approach to painting over the kitchen cabinets.

But just because you aren’t sanding them down, there is still some more in-depth work to be done.

To successfully refinish your kitchen cabinets without sanding, you’ll need to follow the steps below:

  1. Remove cabinet doors and all hardware from doors and cabinet boxes.
  2. Have a clear system in place to know which cabinet doors go where, which direction they face, and where the hardware should line up so you don’t have unlevel cabinet doors.
  3. Wash and scrub your cabinet doors and cabinet boxes to remove any lingering grease, loose paint chips, and tiny blemishes. You won’t get it all without sanding, but do your best to clean a clean and smooth surface. You can use some warm water and soap or even pick up a more abrasive cleaning solution if you want.
  4. Prime your clean surface area! Sure, you could just paint over the old color but even just a single layer of primer can really help your new paint choice pop and give it a chance to grip onto the surface area.
  5. Paint over the cabinet surface area once the primer is dry (or after cleaning if you skipped priming). Depending on your paint, you may need additional coats to get the best look.
  6. Reattach the hardware (or install new hardware) and hang your cabinet doors in place.
reattach kitchen cabinet hardware

That’s it!

The cleaning of the old cabinets will help extend the life of the newly painted cabinets. Just be aware that it won’t last as long as it would if you had sanded.

Is Sanding Necessary Before Painting Cabinets?

Is Sanding Necessary Before Painting Cabinets

The short answer is no, you don’t need to sand your kitchen cabinets before painting them.

But we would highly recommend taking the time to do so if at all possible.

It’s a messy job, but in the end, it will save you time and money by not having to repaint as often. Plus, your paint will have a better chance of lasting and looking great for years to come.

However, there are some painting products that promise a sand-free approach to using their paint.

painting products without sanding

So if you’re set on not sanding, there are some paint options available that may be able to give you the results you’re looking for.

I’ve used some of these products in the past and they look great when first applying the paint and letting it dry, but I can’t speak for their longevity.

And honestly, I have trouble believing they work as well as they promise.

Before You Go

I want to wish you luck if you’re doing your own painting on the kitchen cabinets. It’s a laborious process and takes some patience to be sure.

painting requires patience

I can’t stress enough that sanding your kitchen cabinets before painting should be a given if possible.

But, if you’re really set on skipping this part of the process, the steps we laid out above should help you get the most out of your paint.

And if you haven’t started just yet, you might want to consider the option of cabinet refacing! It’s a smooth process that makes your existing kitchen cabinets look newer than if you had just painted over them.

If this is something you want to learn more about, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!