What Does Cabinet Painting Really Cost?

In Homeowner Tips, Interior Painting, Special Services by Lindsey Mueller26 Comments

Cabinet painting seems to be at the height of popularity. With light-and-bright kitchens being on trend, many homeowners choose to kick off their remodeling project with renovated cabinets. Many have found the cost of painting cabinets to be far more affordable than replacing. With new paint and updated hardware, homeowners can go from dated natural oak cabinets to modern white or gray cabinets.

Unfortunately for homeowners, the cost of cabinet painting is not as straightforward as one might expect. Popular websites that quote the cost of cabinet painting tend to be all over the map at best, and inaccurate at worst. For example, Thumbtack quotes a price range of $1,200 to $7,000. Similarly, Angie’s List provides a range of $1,200 to $6,000. However, for many cabinet painting jobs, the lower end of this range would barely cover the cost of a quality paint, primer, and necessary sundries. HomeAdvisor presents a much narrower price range, $1,662 to $3,780. With all of the different information available, it’s easy to see how consumers may become confused.

So, what should consumers expect?

A fellow painting professional and friend of Sound Painting Solutions, Nick May of Walls by Design in Denver, sought to alleviate some of this confusion by calling upon his network of professional painters across the country. He asked 85 different professional painting companies to quote a price for a particular set of kitchen cabinets, based on these photos:

Interestingly, the highest prices quoted were right here in Washington state. And of the four Seattle painting contractors surveyed, the average quote was roughly $9,300 — significantly more than any of the prices mentioned above. High wages, high cost of living, a booming housing market, and a strong demand for contractors all contribute to higher prices in our city.

As a whole, Nick’s survey illustrates how home improvement websites tend to understate the going price for cabinet painting. Based on his survey of 85 contractors, the average cost of cabinet painting across the country was roughly $4,900. This is a significant difference from the ~$3,000 average that the websites above have suggested.

For more information, check out Nick May’s blog, “The Real Cost of Cabinet Painting”, at the Walls by Design website.

Selecting a Cabinet Painting Contractor

Even in any given city, the price of cabinet painting can be very subjective. Other than price, there are many factors a homeowner should consider when selecting a painter for their cabinet project. These factors may include the following:


Preparation is the first (and most important!) step in the cabinet painting process. All surfaces must be sanded smooth and cleaned/de-greased to facilitate a bondable surface. Without sanding and cleaning, the paint will simply sit on top of the surface. This will likely result in chipping or peeling. A bonding primer should be the next step. Our team likes to use an oil primer, which is very bondable and sands well without gumming up. Additional sanding and filling in between coats will ensure a more uniform surface.

Products Used

It is extremely important to select a durable product intended for millwork and cabinetry. At least two top-coats of the paint should be applied. The consumer will also want to discuss with their contractor the level of sheen of the paint (satin, semi-gloss, etc.). The level of shine will have a big impact on the finished look.

A longtime favorite product of cabinet painters is Benjamin Moore’s Advance. Benjamin Moore has also recently released a new product, Scuff-X, which is their most durable paint yet. It comes in satin and, in limited markets including Seattle, semi-gloss sheen. We have found that it lays out beautifully on cabinetry and trim. As its name suggests, it is also washable and holds up to a lot of wear!

Type of Application

Spraying is often the most desirable option, as it produces the smoothest finish possible, free of any brush lines or roller marks. However, we have found over the years that with proper technique, brushing and rolling can produce a final product that is still beautiful and more affordable. When our clients choose this option, we will use a foam roller to minimize stipple.

Brushing and rolling is more affordable in part due to the extensive masking required when spraying. When spraying, the entire kitchen must be masked off to protect against overspray from painting the cabinet boxes. Contractors should educate their customers about the pros, cons, and cost differences of each method.

To help our clients choose a particular finish, we carry cabinet door samples that demonstrate the differences between a sprayed, brushed, and foam-rolled finish.

Length and Location of Project

It is important for a contractor to communicate in their written proposal or contract how long a particular project will take. Interior home improvement projects will always cause some inconvenience, but cabinet painting can be more severe, as you will have to remove all of your belongings from the cabinet interiors and drawers. You may also be unable to use your kitchen at all. In general, you can expect that a quality cabinet painting job will take several days.

Another consideration is whether the bulk of the project will take place off-site or at your home. Of course, cabinet frames must be painted in place, but with regard to doors and drawers, every painter has a different approach. Sound Painting Solutions typically opts to complete all of the work on-site, so long as space is available. A garage works well for this purpose when painting doors and drawers. This approach ensures that the finished pieces will not be damaged when transporting them from the shop back to your home.

Caliber of Contractor

We encourage consumers to vet potential contractors to ensure that they have prior experience painting cabinets. Other than examining the specifics of a cabinet painting proposal, consumers should make sure that their contractor has a positive reputation in the community and verify that they are licensed, bonded, and insured.

Another item to consider is whether the contractors’ own employees will be performing the job, or if they will be subcontracting the work. Subcontracting can lead to more unpredictable results, as the general contractor has limited control over the sub’s workforce. If they will use employees, the employees must be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. In the state of Washington, companies are covered by the State Department of Labor and Industries. Similarly, it is useful to have some insight into the company’s culture and compensation. Happy employees tend to take more pride in their work, leading to a better result for the homeowner.

Looking for a Cabinet Quote?

A Sound Painting Solutions team member working on a cabinet painting project
A Sound Painting Solutions cabinet project in progess!

If you are in the Seattle area and would like to get a quote on your kitchen cabinets, contact Sound Painting Solutions today. We can present you with samples and upgrade options so you can make a confident, informed decision on the finish of your cabinets.

We are a five-star-rated, quality contractor with decades of collective experience in painting cabinetry, trim, and more!

Learn more about our company at our About Us page.


  1. Thank you for the great info!
    In New York otherwise I would be asking YOU to do the job!
    Now the daunting job of finding a real professional!
    Again thank you!

  2. I just finished spraying our cabinets and was looking for the cost as a justification to the wife for a new guitar…LOL…I was thinking about $4k but other sites were quoting around $2k as you’ve mentioned so I guess that is the discounted price I will quote my wife which conveniently is the cost of the guitar anyway..lol… I would definitely go the DIY route if you can do it. Majority of the skill is in the spraying so if you can master that, the rest if fairly straight forward. A decent sprayer can be had for under $400, quality paint about $300, primer, sandpaper,masking material, etc say another 200-300. All told, can be DIYed for about $1000.

  3. Great article Jeff. I as a cabinet painter I totally agree that the median prices reflected by these sites are low. Depends on the companies who were polled I suppose. But remember, Not all who paint cabinets should paint cabinets.

    1. Hi Peggy, you can paint particle board, but it may not yield the best results. If you do go for it, be sure to use a quality primer like Stix from Benjamin Moore that bonds well to almost any surface. A PVA primer is another good option.

  4. It high cost for me, so I will paint myself instead of professional. By the way keep up the good work.

  5. This article was very informative. This is the first time I have ever thought about painting my cabinets. I just received a quote for painting my cabinets and it came in at $3,800. I thought that was high, but after reading this article, it seems well within the price range. Plus, I did not realize all of the steps it took to prepare my cabinets for painting. This painter also has an excellent reputation for painting cabinets, as well as houses. Thank you for this great article.

    1. One thing that I don’t see mentioned anywhere in this article is filling in the grain on the cabinets. We had several quotes and many came in very low because they were not filling in the grain of the wood. That’s the difference between the cabinets looking like new or looking like ‘painted cabinets’. We have someone that is filling in the grain on all our cabinets and he showed us the difference–it’s huge! Obviously more costly, but worth it in the long run.

      1. Great point! Depending on the wood, filling can make a drastic difference! And indeed, it can significantly impact the price.

    2. Where are you located?
      How many cabinets/drawers did you have painted?


  6. It was helpful when you mentioned in your article how it’s key to use a durable painting product that is intended for use with cabinets or other wooden structures. My spouse and I are interested in getting some new cabinets and painting them, as we want to give our home a DIY type of vibe. We’ll be sure to look into contacting a supplier to see what they have to help us out.

  7. Great article. But with the Seattle market so high priced, is it still a substantially less expensive option vs just replacing the cabinets? I’m trying to decide which route to go..

    1. Thank you, Catherine! We still believe that painting the cabinets is significantly less expensive, as replacing cabinets often also involves replacing the sink / countertops. I would estimate that the savings is usually 50% or more, but it does depend on what else needs to be replaced as well as the quality of the cabinets.

    2. These prices are outrageous! I do general contracting. Remodeled two homes recently … manpower (time) materials (paint and new hardware) probably cost $1500 at the most. This includes taking cabinets down removing all hardware, cleaning, light sanding then painting (spray paint system) and reinstallation.

      1. Based on your IP address, it looks like you are in Tennessee. With all due respect, I’m not sure it is worthwhile to compare Seattle prices to Nashville, whereas the minimum wage here is ~50% higher, housing costs are ~70% higher, and so on. $1,500 also sounds extremely low to me in general, but I can understand how the price would go down if this was just a singular component of a larger remodel. I’m also not sure how the projects you are describing compare to the example in the blog, which makes it more difficult to say.
        Thank you for your comment!

      2. I am a GC and on average when we paint kitchen cabinets in Seattle and surrounding areas it costs $4,000.00 to $6,5000.00. The convertion varnish alone is $115.00 per can. On average hardware is $5.00 -$15.00 per piece and $8.00 per pull or knob to install. I would love to see one of your $1500.00 painted kitchen. Wow, sounds too good to be true.

      3. As general contractors in Bellingham, Washington, we would never never be able to price that low. My guess would be more like $4k for labor, and that doesn’t count supplies.

  8. great article .. agree 100% …we would love to share this with future customers.

    Bryan & April
    Cabinet Cosmetics

  9. Cabinets and kitchens take time. Each piece is a seperate item with multiple visits to each piece along the prep and painting process. From the initial set up, removal process, to the last hinge and door re-installed is a very delicate, time consuming, detailed project. I’m glad you are setting expectations from all of the so called online experts. Nice work guys.

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