How to paint cabinets without Sanding?

How to paint cabinets without Sanding?

Painting raw cabinets or repainting used cabinets is an easy task to perform yourself. But people have varying opinions and experiences regarding painting with or without sanding. While sanding would help remove unwanted materials from the cabinet surface, cabinets can also be painted without performing this function.

Skipping sanding would help avoid moisture from entering the surface, which would have eventually ruined the cabinet. To do so, you should clean your cabinets with soap and water, followed by mineral spirits. The cabinets should then be de-glossed and primed to start with painting.

It must be noted that prepping the cabinets is one of the most vital procedures when painting them without sanding.

How do you prep cabinets for painting Without Sanding?

Sanding is the process of using abrasive cloth or paper to smooth out a surface to prepare it for painting. The sanding process removes imperfections from the surface, making it suitable for the paint to stick to it. But many people prefer painting their surfaces without performing this process.

If you plan on painting your cabinets without sanding, you must perform the steps mentioned below to prepare your surface.

  1. Remove all the doors, drawers, and hardware.
  2. Remove the things inside your cabinets if you plan to paint the inside of your cabinets.
  3. Clean your cabinets, drawers, doors, etc., with soap, water, and mineral spirits using a sponge. Cleaning the surfaces would help eliminate all the grease, finger oil, and dirt.

Ensuring that the sponge has a rough texture will help make the area you plan on painting rough, which will ensure that the primer has a grip on the cabinet’s surface. This process would not be as effective as sanding but would open up the surface to some extent.

  1. Use wood filler, sand, or spackle to fill any holes that would not be used after painting.

How To Paint Cabinets Without Sanding?

To make your paint look like professional cabinet paint but without the hassle of sanding, follow the following steps after prepping your furniture:

Number your Cabinets and Their Parts

After removing your cabinets, drawers, and hardware, make a diagram of your furniture. Make sure you tape them with corresponding numbers to make it easier to replace them after painting. While working on a specific door or drawer, keep a record of the numbers to keep track of the placement of each drawer or door.


Clean your cabinets, drawers, doors, etc., with liquid sandpaper or cabinet deglosser. Cleaning would ensure that all the products used before, including older coats of paint, are wiped down completely, and the surface is ready for painting.

Using a de-glosser would eradicate the need of priming cabinets or sanding the cabinet surface. During the de-glossing process, wear gloves and rub the cabinet deglosser in the same direction as the grain using a scouring pad.

Then, clean the surface using a wet cloth and then a dry cloth to ensure that all the liquid has been removed and the surface is matte. Let the surfaces dry for an hour or till dry.

Use a Primer

Apply 2 thin coats of a heavy-duty primer when priming kitchen cabinets immediately after using deglosser and before painting your cabinets. Now your cabinets are ready for painting.

Bond Coat

Get the paint tinted according to your choice. Apply the first coat on your cabinet frames using a 2 inches synthetic brush. The paint should be applied in the same direction as the grain. Smooth out the edges to ensure no dripping paint before setting it aside to dry. Let the frames air-dry for 2 hours or until fully dry.

Second Coat

Apply the second coat to your cabinets after the first coat dries up fully. Let this dry for 2 hours too, or until fully dry.


After the first two coats have been applied and dried up fully, you should apply the topcoat. This is the final protective coating for your cabinets, providing protection and shine to them and making them durable. This coat would require a minimum of 2 hours to dry up.

If your cabinets are made of wood, you should prefer a flat finish topcoat over a gloss finish as it would reflect lesser light and reduce grains’ visibility. Usually, 3 coats of topcoat should be applied to prevent yellowing.

Paint your Hinges

To give a full new look to your cabinets, do not forget to paint the hinges. You can also use spray paint for them. This is an economical option compared to buying new hardware and would not be required to drill new holes.

Buy new hardware (optional)

If your old hardware tools have rusted or you want your hardware to match your cabinet color, you can buy new hardware.

Finish Up

After you are done with painting your drawers, doors, and hinges, and everything has fully dried up, fix back the drawers and cabinets, and attach the old or new hardware.

Should I Use a Brush or Roller to Paint Cabinets?

Using a brush for painting is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of refurbishing kitchen cabinets. Brush painting is a tedious task that also creates brush marks, especially using acrylic paint.

These marks give a rustic look to the cabinet, which does not give a flawless factory finish to cabinets. Brushes can be used for painting if the surface is made of wood, as the brush strokes would not show.

Even though these shortcomings make people look for other options, it must be appreciated that painting using a brush provides strong adhesion and control, ensuring that the paint sticks to the cabinet properly and reduces the chances of peeling and fading.

Painting cabinets using rollers is faster than using brushes to paint the surface. The roller’s fabric might create a bobby finish on the cabinets, unlike professional cabinet paint. This texture is inappropriate if using glossy paint as it would reduce the durability and turn satin.

Choosing the correct roller size is imperative to give a smooth finish to your cabinets and prevent an orange textured surface. 1/4th inch foam rollers or roller cover must be used for effective results. These rollers are perfect for walls, cabinets, wooden furniture, and metal surfaces.

While both the above means of painting have their pros and cons that have been discussed above, you can also use a combination of rollers and brushes when refurbishing kitchen cabinets.

While rollers can be used for painting the cabinet doors and large, flat areas, paintbrushes can be used for spots that are hard to reach or spots that need touch-ups. This efficient technique would give a smooth, factory-like finish to your cabinets in a short period.

What Happens If You Don’t Sand Cabinets Before Painting?

While surfaces like cabinets can be painted without sanding, it is a process that carries great importance. The sanding process makes priming kitchen cabinets and painting them easier and prevents peeling and chipping off of paint. Sanding can be performed before the base coat or during every paint coat. If you do not sand your cabinets, the following issues may be faced.

Contaminates are not removed

If you don’t want to sand cabinets before painting, contaminants, including grease, dirt, oil, etc., would be pressed down on the cabinets, affecting the furniture’s quality and durability in the long run.

The paint would not stick

If the cabinet surface is not sanded, it would be covered with dust, grease, oil, and dirt, making the surface glossy and not allowing the paint to stick to it. To prevent this issue, cabinet surfaces must be cleaned to remove dust and sanded to ensure the paint adheres to the surface.

Primers, also known as liquid sandpaper, can also be added to the cabinets to make the surface rough and make the painting process easier and quicker.

Lesser Durability and Rough Finish

If sanding is not done on surfaces, they will not give a smooth finish after being painted. These surfaces will also not be durable as the paint would chip off very quickly, which would require frequent painting jobs.


Painting cabinets is an easy and cheap method to give an instant makeover to your home, especially the kitchen in your home. You can paint your kitchen cabinets without sanding them by priming cabinets and using a cabinet deglosser.

This should be followed by the usual painting process using a small roller or paintbrush. The disadvantages of not sanding have also been discussed for you to decide whether you want to go through the trouble of sanding or painting your cabinets without it.

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