How to Paint Stock Cabinets

You can paint over stock cabinetry with just a few hours of work.
You can paint over stock cabinetry with just a few hours of work. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

Stock cabinetry refers to any prefabricated, factory-built cabinetry. These cabinets come in standardized sizes for quick installation. Stock cabinets are a good choice for many homeowners because they are designed to be low-cost yet durable. Unfortunately, customization options are often limited for stock cabinets. One way to customize boring stock cabinets is with a fresh coat of paint. With the right painting knowledge and tools, your stock cabinetry color options are limitless.

Things You'll Need

  • Liquid deglosser
  • Rag
  • Screwdriver
  • Plastic sheet
  • Painter's tape
  • Synthetic-bristle paintbrush
  • 2 medium-nap rollers
  • Natural-bristle paintbrush

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Wipe down the stock cabinets with liquid deglosser and a rag. Stock cabinets come prefinished with a slick exterior, and this glossy coating doesn't accept paint easily. Don't sand a stock cabinet exterior, as many feature thin veneers that are easily damaged. Liquid deglosser should be all you need to make the surface matte enough for paint coverage.

Remove the cabinet hardware, including the hinges. Most prefabricated cabinetry hardware is removable with a screwdriver.

Place loose doors and drawers on a plastic sheet for easier painting.

Stick painter's tape to wall surfaces and countertops in case of stray brush strokes.

Apply general-purpose primer to the cabinets, doors and drawers. Use a synthetic-bristle paintbrush for more precise control around edges, and use a medium-nap roller for larger cabinetry surfaces. Wait for the primer to dry before proceeding. Some general-purpose primers take up to 12 hours to dry, so you should consult the primer's container for the manufacturer's recommended drying times.

Paint the cabinets, doors and drawers, using high-gloss oil-base paint. Glossy finishes are easier to keep clean, a very important feature for kitchen and bathroom spaces. Use a natural-bristle paintbrush for tight spaces and a new medium-nap roller on the main expanses.

Apply a second coat of paint once the first coat dries, usually in two to three hours.

Remove the painter's tape, reattach the hardware and reinstall the drawers after the second coat has dried for at least 24 hours.

Tips & Warnings

  • Work in a well-ventilated area when painting.


  • “Transforming Your Kitchen With Stock Cabinetry: Design, Select, and Install a Custom Look at the Right Price”; Jonathan Benson and Sherry Benson; 2010
  • “Black & Decker Complete Photo Guide to Home Repair”; Thomas G. Lemmer, Brett Martin, Karen Ruth; 2008
  • “Home Repair That Pays Off”; Hector Seda; 2009
  • “Room for Improvement”; Barbara Kavovit; 2005
  • “Creative Homeowner Ultimate Guide to Home Repair and Improvement”; Michael McClintock and John Wagner; 2006
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