Do you fancy jazzing up your kitchen cupboards? This guide will show you how to paint them without having to faff about sanding. Let’s get straight to it!

To paint kitchen cabinets without sanding them, do the following:

  1. Clean the cabinets
  2. Apply a deglosser
  3. Label the doors
  4. Remove the hinges and handles
  5. Remove the shelves
  6. Apply a bond coat
  7. Apply a second coat
  8. Apply a topcoat then
  9. Rehang the cabinets

Skipping the sanding process on your kitchen cabinet refurb will save you time and energy.

But there is a method that you should follow when bypassing the sanding. It will ensure you get the very best results.

Make sure you check out the details below!

Sanding isn’t always necessary when painting cabinets

Painting Kitchen Cabinets Without Sanding

There’s nothing like a fresh coat of paint to spruce up your kitchen cabinets.

But when we think about painting over existing paint we know that often involves sanding. And well, that’s enough to put anyone off the job.

Why does everyone loathe sanding? Well, sanding is messy. There’s no careful way to sand. No matter how you do it, the dust flies everywhere and it’s a real pain to clean up. Not only that but sanding is hard work. It really takes the stuffing out of you.

That’s why I try to dodge sanding like the plague. And you can too!

Are you looking to repaint your kitchen cabinets? Then you’ll be glad to know that you can do so without sanding if:

  • You’re repainting a newly painted surface
  • You’re painting a raw surface
  • You’re painting unvarnished wood cabinets
  • Your cabinets are smooth to touch (but not glossy)

But what if this is not the case with your cabinets? Do your cabinets have:

If so, then you should lightly sand your cabinets before painting them. This will help the paint to bond better to the surface. Plus it’ll give the paint a sleek and professional look when you finish the job.

Ok, so let’s get back to the task at hand, painting cupboards without sanding them. Take a look at the steps below that will help you give your kitchen cabinets the most awesome finish.

To complete this job you will need:

  • A cleaning cloth or sponge
  • A household degreaser
  • A deglosser
  • A scouring pad
  • A pen and a sheet of paper
  • A screwdriver
  • A paintbrush
  • Cabinet paint

1.   Clean the Cabinets

Before you start painting, you have to prepare the surfaces of your kitchen cabinets. So to begin, give your cabinets a clean with a cleaning cloth or sponge and a household degreaser. Scrub the cupboards to remove any dried-on grease or dust from the surfaces.

2.   Apply a Deglosser

Your kitchen cabinets need to be nice and grippy to make it easier for the primer to stay in place. That’s why you need to use a deglosser. It will help to open up the wood cabinet material.

Next, apply the deglosser to a scouring pad and rub it over your kitchen cabinets in circular motions. Allow the cabinets to dry for an hour before you apply the primer. You can move on to steps 3, 4, and 5 while you wait.

3.   Label the Doors

Here comes a really important step. Once you’ve taken the hinges and the handles off of the cabinets, they will all look very similar. Labeling the doors will help you to get them back up in the right places once you’ve finished the job. So, make a quick note of which door goes where on a piece of paper before moving on to step 4.

4.   Remove the Hinges and Handles

I know it’s a pain, but it is really important you remove the hinges and handles from your cabinets. If you do, you will be able to paint easily and more smoothly. You should remove the handles and hinges with a screwdriver. That way, you won’t have to worry about taping around them.

Remove the hinges with a screwdriver and label cabinet doors

5.   Remove the Shelves

You should also remove the shelves from the cabinets. If you haven’t already done so, clean the shelves and apply deglosser to them as we did in steps 1 and 2. Don’t forget to label them too!

After applying a deglosser, allow your cabinets to dry for an hour before you move on to step 6.

6.   Apply a Bond Coat (Allow It to Dry)

Once your cabinets are dry you’ll be ready to apply the bond coat. Apply the paint with a paintbrush in the direction of the grain. If the cupboard surface is completely flat, you could apply the paint with a roller. Allow the bond coat to dry for two hours before you move on to the next step.

7.   Apply a Second Coat (Allow It to Dry)

Once the bond coat is dry you’ll be ready to apply the second coat of paint. Apply the second coat of paint with a paintbrush in the direction of the grain. Allow the second coat to dry for two hours before you move on to the next step.

8.   Apply a Topcoat (Allow It to Dry)

Once the second coat has dried you’ll be ready to apply the topcoat. The topcoat adds sheen and protects the paint layers. Apply the topcoat with a paintbrush in the direction of the grain. Then allow the cabinets to dry completely for 12 hours. Only one layer of topcoat is necessary.

9.   Rehang the Cabinets

The finish line is in sight! Now you just have to put it all back together. Put the handles and the hinges back on the cabinets. Reinsert the shelves. Then reward yourself with a cold beer for a job well done.

What Type of Paint Can You Use Without Sanding?

Most people will encourage you to sand a surface before you start painting. But if your surface has been well-prepared and you have the right type of paint, you may not need to sand it at all.

But what do I mean by a well-prepared surface and the right type of paint? Take a look below to find out.

To prepare a surface for painting without sanding it you must first do the following:

  1. Clean the surface. Get rid of any dust, dirt, or debris before you start painting.
  2. Apply a deglosser or liquid sander to the surface. This will strip back any gloss or sheen on the surface and help it hold the primer in place. The only downside about deglosser is that it is a little whiffy. Try applying it in a well-ventilated area.

For the best results, you must also use the right type of paint. This includes:

  • Bonding primers. These are built to stay on difficult surfaces.
  • Good quality paint. I know it seems obvious, but the better the paint quality, the better the results. Good quality paint sits better, especially if you haven’t sanded your surfaces. Good quality paints have high percentages of titanium dioxide pigment. Make sure you look out for this on the side of the tin.
  • Chalk paint. This paint is known for being good for painting over surfaces that haven’t been sanded. The great thing about chalk paint is that you don’t need to use a primer with it.
  • Mineral paint. This paint is like chalk paint. It’s awesome for painting over surfaces that haven’t been sanded. You don’t need to use a primer with mineral paints.
  • Milk paint. Milk paint is another type of paint that sticks well to awkward surfaces. On your first coat of paint, you will need to use a bonding agent with milk paint. This will give it an extra solid hold.
Choosing a higher quality of paint is more important as you won’t be sanding anything


Painting your kitchen units is a nice way of revamping your kitchen on a budget. But the thought of having to sand the cabinets could completely put you off of the job. If your cabinets are in good condition, you could skip the sanding step altogether!

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Have a great day!