How To Paint Your Kitchen Cupboards

how to repaint your kitchen cupboards
Photography by Alexis Hamilton for Plain English Design
A fresh coat of paint can transform the look of your kitchen. Here's how to do it yourself in professional style, from the experts at British Standards Cupboards

Our kitchen cupboards are painted pale blue but in an old set of particulars, left behind by the previous owners, they’re deep green – and the whole room has a completely different feel.

This proves how brilliant wooden cupboards are – not only can they be easily revived with a fresh lick of paint when they’re chipped but if you get bored of your kitchen, you can repaint it rather than ripping it out and buying a new one.

It’s shocking how many people rip out perfectly good kitchens – a builder once told me that he regularly finds nearly new kitchens chucked into skips.

If do have to replace your kitchen, however, take a look at British Standard Cupboards, the little sister company of Plain English. They’re reasonably priced and come primed for painting, which means you can paint them in whatever colour you like.

(And then repaint them again when you fancy a change.)

The following advice on painting your cupboards has been sent to us by the guys at British Standard Cupboards.

Plan your painting scheme

There are no set rules when it comes to painting your cupboards, but there are several different techniques you might like to try to create different ‘looks’ in your space:


A Monochrome colour scheme is one in which the walls, woodwork and cupboards are all painted in the same colour.

Most cupboards are painted in an eggshell paint but other finishes can add interest too; gloss can add a contemporary edge creating an interesting contrast with our traditional cupboards.


Another way of bringing unity to your kitchen is to create a tonal colour scheme by choosing two or three colours that work harmoniously together in your space.


You might choose to use your main colour on the exterior of your cupboards with a complementary colour on the inside, or to highlight wall cupboards in a lighter accent colour to give the illusion of space.

Colour Block

For the more adventurous, a colour block technique is a simple way to add interest to an otherwise plain room, colour blocking is when you split the whole room with a horizontal line with one colour above and another below.

Painting your cupboards

Oil-based or water-based paint can be used according to your preference.

We generally recommend using Little Greene oil-based eggshell paint where possible, for its hardiness over time, though if you are not used to using paint then Farrow & Ball’s water-based eggshell is more user friendly and just as hard wearing.

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Where one’s patience is willing we recommend hand painting your Cupboards using a good quality synthetic bush, if possible try Purdy’s.

To achieve a solid looking surface you’ll need to apply at least two coats, and sometimes three. You are looking to build up thin coats of paint, so try to avoid applying too much at once otherwise you may be left with thick ‘ridge and furrow’ like brush strokes.

Alternatively, if using oil-based paint only, you could apply the paint to the cupboards using a small six-inch foam roller, followed by lightly brushing out the paint. We would avoid solely using a roller as this can create an unappealing orange-peel like surface.

For the Average Kitchen you will need –

Around 2.5lt of paint.

Two-inch ‘Purdy’ brush: depending on which paint you are using (there is a water-based or an oil-based version of the same brush).

Soft, dry dusting brush.

Two-inch roll of masking tape.

Two-part filler, found in most DIY shops.

Sand paper: 2m of 120 grit and 2m of 180 grit.

Process –

Using a two part  filler firstly  fill any defects that have occurred from loading/transit/fitting.

When the  filler is dry, sand all surfaces that are to be painted using 120 grit sand paper.

Using a soft, dry dusting brush or vacuum cleaner with brush attachment go over all of the cupboards and the surrounding area, cleaning off  the dust.

Use masking tape to tape up all of the areas that you don’t wish to paint (for example around the base where the cupboards meet the floor as well as the internal edges that you see when you open the cupboards).

Using your two-inch Purdy brush, apply the  first coat of paint.

Once the paint is dry, sand again but this time using 180 grit sand paper and dust off, then apply another coat of paint repeating as necessary.

We recommend applying a minimum of two coats of paint however if a dark colour is being applied over a light base or water-based paint is being used then it usually takes three coats.

Maintaining your cupboards

A little wear and tear from being used and loved is charming, but should you want to refresh your cupboards, simply give the whole surface another coat of paint.

Even if you only have small marks on your cupboards, you should re-paint the whole area (for example a whole door or a whole panel,). Just putting a blob of paint over the mark can often make it stand out more than before.

If you wish to refresh your cupboards then follow steps 2-5 of the ‘Painting’ guide above, but this time apply one coat of paint instead of two.

Ideally, try and use the same tin of paint as you originally used, as different batches of paint can vary slightly in colour. A tin of paint can last many years if the lid is sealed tight, kept indoors and away from frost, so do take care to preserve it well.

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