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  • Writer's pictureJames Watson

How to Paint Shaker Cabinets: A Step-by-Step Guide

Kitchen remodeling doesn't always mean replacing everything. Sometimes, all you need is a fresh coat of paint to bring life back into your space. In this blog, we're focusing on how to paint shaker cabinets, a project that can significantly transform the look of your kitchen without breaking the bank.

What are Shaker Cabinets?

Shaker cabinets are a timeless choice in kitchen design. Known for their distinctive recessed panel doors, they offer a blend of simplicity and elegance, making them a popular choice in modern kitchens.

white shaker cabinets

Preparation Before Painting

Before you start painting, it's crucial to gather the right materials and prepare the cabinets. Choosing a color might seem daunting, but remember, it's all about complementing the existing elements of your kitchen.

When it comes to paint and tools, opt for a high-quality, self-leveling paint to get that smooth finish. You'll also need a good primer, paintbrushes, rollers, and painter's tape.

To prepare your shaker cabinets for painting, start by removing the doors and hardware. Make sure to keep track of all screws and hinges to ensure hassle-free reinstallation. Cleaning and lightly sanding the cabinets is next – this will help your primer and paint adhere properly.

Step-by-Step Guide to Painting Shaker Cabinets

The painting process requires:

  • Painter’s tape

  • Trisodium phosphate (TSP) heavy-duty degreaser

  • Wood filler

  • 60-grit sandpaper (coarse)

  • 360-grit sandpaper (fine)

  • Sanding block or an orbital sander

  • All-surface primer

  • Durable cabinet paint

  • A paintbrush

  • Four-inch foam roller

  • Drop cloths​.

You'll likely want to use both a brush and a roller when painting your shaker cabinets. A brush is great for getting into the crevices, especially the inside border of a classic Shaker door design. When it's time to paint a larger area, a foam roller will help the paint go on more smoothly, speeding up the process​.

Step 1: Prep Your Cabinets

Don't skip any steps in this makeover job. Painting over existing paint can cause the new cabinet doors to become too thick, causing issues with closing and opening. If you don’t clean the original cabinets, the oils can botch the new paint job. That means you’ll need to remove all hardware, take cabinet doors off their hinges, sand, prime, and then paint​​.

Step 2: Sanding

Never skip the sanding process before painting. Sanding helps fresh paint adhere to surfaces and prevents chipping down the line. Sand twice, first to remove old paint and then to smooth out the wood​​.

Step 3: Primer Application

Apply a coat of primer to all surfaces you intend to paint. Allow it to dry fully. Tint the primer if you are using darker colors.

Step 4: First Coat

Using a brush or roller, apply the first coat of paint. Start from the inner panels, then work your way to the outer frames. The type of paint you use matters. Many brands have special formulations made just for doors, cabinetry, and trim.

These are easy to apply and provide a bit of self-leveling, offering a smooth finish. High-quality latex paint or enamel-based paint should work well and be durable enough for daily wear and tear and routine kitchen cleaning. A gloss or semi-gloss paint will stand up better to cleaning and scratches, providing the most durable finish​​.

Step 5: Second Coat

After the first coat has dried, apply a second coat for a more robust and even color.

Patience is the key when painting shaker cabinets. Don't rush; let each coat dry before applying the next. This entire process may sound like a lot, but once you get started and into a groove, it becomes much easier. After all, cabinet doors and drawers are usually flat, making the process relatively straightforward​.

Reinstalling Your Cabinet Doors and Hardware

Once the paint is thoroughly dry, it's time to reinstall the cabinet doors and hardware. Be gentle to avoid chipping your freshly painted cabinets. Make any necessary adjustments to ensure the doors close properly.

Aftercare Tips

Caring for your newly painted cabinets is crucial for longevity. Use a soft cloth to clean them, and avoid abrasive cleaners. If you notice any chips or scratches, touch up the paint as needed.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Painting Shaker Cabinets

Common errors in painting cabinets include not cleaning or sanding properly, skipping primer, or rushing the drying process. Avoid these pitfalls to achieve a professional finish.


Painting shaker cabinets is a practical and cost-effective way to give your kitchen a fresh, new look. Whether you're updating your kitchen's style or preparing to sell your home, a well-executed paint job can make a big difference.

Don't forget, if the process seems overwhelming or you'd prefer a professional touch, our team of expert kitchen remodelers is always here to help. Contact us today to discuss your project!

Discover Half Price Kitchens

At Half Price Kitchens, we're all about making your dream kitchen a reality without breaking the bank. Our extensive range includes everything from ready-to-assemble and pre-assembled to paint-to-order and semi-custom shaker cabinets, providing you with flexibility and choice. We offer these along with durable countertops in granite, quartz, and more, all at prices significantly lower than our competitors.

Whether you're considering painting your existing shaker cabinets for a fresh look or planning to install new ones, we've got you covered. We understand that a kitchen remodel is a big undertaking, and we're here to help you every step of the way. Why not take a moment to explore our offerings? You'll discover that achieving the kitchen of your dreams is more affordable than you think.

Ready to start your kitchen transformation journey? Contact us today! We're excited to help you create the kitchen you've always wanted, at half the price!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you paint shaker-style cabinets?

Yes, you absolutely can. One of the advantages of shaker-style cabinets is their versatility. A fresh coat of paint can dramatically change their look and feel, allowing you to update your kitchen without replacing the cabinets entirely.

What type of paint is used on shaker cabinets?

For the best results on shaker cabinets, we recommend using high-quality, self-leveling paint. This type of paint will give you a smooth, professional-looking finish. Additionally, it's important to use a good primer before painting to ensure proper adhesion of the paint and durability of the finish.

What color is best for shaker kitchen cabinets?

The best color for your shaker cabinets depends largely on your personal preference and the existing color scheme of your kitchen. However, neutral colors like white, gray, and beige are traditionally popular choices because they tend to complement a wide range of kitchen designs.

What is the most popular shaker cabinet color?

While the popularity of specific colors can vary depending on current trends and individual tastes, white is often cited as the most popular color for shaker cabinets. This is likely due to its clean, timeless look and its ability to match a variety of kitchen styles and color schemes.


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