How to Cover Ugly Kitchen Cabinets


Outdated or just plain ugly kitchen cabinets bring down the appearance of a home. Though you can paint the kitchen and even upgrade the countertops without addressing the cabinets, your kitchen will still have a drab appearance. Ugly cabinets, luckily enough, do not have to be replaced. In fact, just about any homeowner with a weekend to spare can transform ugly cabinets into fresh, modern cabinetry.

Things You'll Need

  • Dropcloth
  • Painter’s tape
  • Screwdriver
  • 80-grit sandpaper
  • TSP (trisodium phosphate)
  • Washcloths
  • Latex gloves
  • Primer
  • Latex-based semigloss paint
  • Paint roller with 1/4-inch pad
  • 2-inch paintbrush
  • Paint tray
  • Remove the cabinet doors and drawers from the frame and place them on a dropcloth in a well-ventilated work area. Remove any hinges or hardware attached to the doors and set them aside.

  • Place a dropcloth in the kitchen under the cabinet area. Place a border of painter’s tape around the cabinet where the wall and cabinet frame meet to prevent paint transfer.

  • Sand the surface of the cabinets with 80-grit sandpaper to remove any protective coating. Sand only until the surface is slightly rough, which will help the paint stick.

  • Wash the cabinet pieces using a solution of TSP and water. Mix the TSP according to the label instructions. Wear latex gloves while working with the TSP. Make sure not to oversaturate the cabinets, and allow them to air dry before continuing.

  • Dip a 2-inch paintbrush into the primer and paint the inside edges of the cabinet frame and door openings. Paint the edge where the cabinet meets the wall as well as the middle stile of the cabinet frame. Always work with the grain of the wood and never move horizontally across the grain.

  • Apply the rest of the primer to the doors and cabinet frame using a paint roller. Work the paint roller with the grain of the wood to prevent drips. Let the primer dry overnight.

  • Apply a thin coat of semigloss latex paint to the cabinet surfaces. Let the first coat dry before applying a second coat. Cabinets must dry overnight before you can reattach the hardware or reinstall the cabinet pieces.

Tips & Warnings

  • Another way to tackle the problem is to cover the cabinets in wallpaper.


  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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