Should I paint my kitchen cabinets?

5 considerations to help you decide if you should reface your cabinets or just replace them altogether:

Lots of people start the new year by planning ahead – vacations and cities to visit, personal goals to accomplish and ultimately the changes to their home in the coming year. At the top of the home list is almost always (unless you’ve recently renovated) a kitchen or bath upgrade.

One of the most common questions I get is whether to reface or remodel cabinets. The answer is simple – it depends on your current situation… To help make the right decision I’ve made a list of the top 5 considerations to help you evaluate and decide. Super excited you are going to upgrade your kitchen this year!

1) Age

Age: it’s an important number

Consider when your cabinets were installed in your home. Are they original? Have they been painted before? Is the age impacting functionality?

Cabinets built prior to 1980 are usually better constructed with all wood materials. As long as there is minimal wear and tear, painting might be a good option.

If your cabinets are old and they have already been painted it is likely time to replace. Painting over old paint is almost always immediately noticeable. The imperfections from the first repaint are amplified.

Figure 1

Unfortunately, older cabinets aren’t frameless or “full access”, meaning you might have lots of wasted space. If you are shifting dishes around a middle strip of wood in your cabinets (Figure 1), or your hinges are on the outside, you should consider new cabinets.

Figure 2

New cabinets also utilize all of the space by fully casing the doors. If you can see hinges on the outside, you are wasting precious space. Although these cabinets are all-wood, the outside hinges and frames make this kitchen prime for new cabinets (Figure 2).

2) Quality

Just like buying a new bag – quality & functionality matter

The quality and functionality of your cabinets might be the biggest determining factors into your design to paint or replace. If your cabinets aren’t well made to begin with and are in bad shape it doesn’t make financial sense to paint them. Here are a couple of tips to find out:

  1. Are there obvious chunks in the wood that cannot be sanded smooth?
  2. Do the doors align?
  3. Do any of the doors or drawers have water damage or warping?
  4. Are the drawers plywood and beginning to bow?
  5. Is anything broken beyond repair?
  6. Are the insides of the cabinets particle board that looks cheaply made and is starting to sag?
  7. Are all of the cabinets functional and being utilized?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions you may consider getting a quote on new cabinets. The old adage of “throwing good money at bad” definitely applies when making an investment in your home.

3) Look & Feel

Look & Feel: Will it break your brain?

Brand new cabinets will always look better. Painted cabinets will never ever be perfect (less so if the cabinets are low quality or really old). It is important to know if you can live with these imperfections or if they will “break your brain”. Painted toe kick (bottom base of cabinet), as an example, is likely to get beat up and could chip.

I haven’t included a personality test here but you should know deep down if you are this person. Did you cringe when reading about chipped toe kick above? Do you only notice what’s different? Can you distinguish tiny differences in construction, wall hangings, paint, etc that others seem to gloss over? Does it bother you? Will it bother you to open your cabinets and have the interior look vastly different from the outside?

If paint imperfections will gnaw away at you then price new cabinets. If not, you might be in great shape to paint or have them painted.

4) Time

Actual time & time as money 

Time as a consideration fall into two distinct categories:

  1. Time: this is the actual time it will take for you to have your project completed.
  2. Time as $: how much of your time are you willing to invest before you wish you would have just paid someone else. Your time is worth money too.

Painting cabinets yourself is not a small undertaking. Research accordingly but assuming you remove most items, remove the doors and hardware, sand the existing cabinets, paint (2 coats), dry, rehang doors and reattach hardware the project will take more than a weekend. A small to medium size kitchen could take 3-5 days.

Having a professional paint your cabinets will still take a few days but your time won’t be spent doing it.

New cabinets are installed in a day. Way less time invested but potentially more money. Which leads us to…

5) Cost

Cost: because a new kitchen isn’t free

Cost should be a consideration when making your decision. Painting yourself is the least expensive option. Hiring a painter is more. New cabinets will cost more.

I recommend pricing all the options to help inform your decision. New all-wood cabinets are not the small fortune you may think them to be. Hiring a really great painter is not inexpensive. Knowing the cost difference will ensure you are happy with your final decision.

Regardless of your decision ,you should view your project as an investment into your home. A new kitchen increases the value of your home. How exciting for you!

Click the article below to hear from experts on the return on investment of a new kitchen.

Ready to price new Cabinets?

Cabinets Now has designer cabinets for your dream kitchen or bath at unbeatable prices. We offer FREE design consultation and would love the opportunity to remodel your kitchen.

Visit our showroom at 920 Talon Drive in O’Fallon Illinois.

Or call us at 618-726-7620