Using Enamel Paint for Repainting Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen cabinets are essential in defining a kitchen’s style. Since cabinets are your kitchen’s cornerstone in function and design, they greatly influence its overall look and feel with their design, color, and finish.

Repainting vs. replacing cabinets:

  • Repainting cabinets – This is a cost-effective way to refresh the kitchen’s look without the expense and hassle of a complete renovation. It allows a quick update to the color scheme and style while preserving the existing cabinet structure.
  • Replacing cabinets – This option is more expensive and labor-intensive but offers a complete kitchen transformation. It’s ideal when the cabinets are structurally unsound or the homeowner desires an entirely new layout and design.

Overview of enamel paint

What is enamel paint?

Enamel paint dries to a hard, durable, and typically glossy finish. It is known for its excellent coverage and resistance to wear and tear, making it a popular choice for surfaces that require a tough, resilient coating.

Enamel paint’s unique properties and advantages for kitchen cabinets

  • Durability – Enamel paint forms a robust finish that can withstand frequent cleaning, moisture, and temperature changes, which are common in kitchens.
  • Smooth finish – It provides a sleek, polished look that enhances the aesthetic appeal of kitchen cabinets.
  • Ease of maintenance – The hard, glossy surface of enamel paint is easy to clean and resistant to stains, making it ideal for high-traffic areas like kitchens.

Benefits of using enamel paint

white enamel paint

Durability and longevity

  • Resistance to chipping and scratching: Enamel paint forms a hard, protective shell that withstands physical damage.
  • Longevity compared to other types of paint: It maintains its appearance and protective qualities for a long time, reducing the need for frequent repainting.

Finish and aesthetics

  • High-gloss, professional look: Provides a smooth, shiny finish that enhances the visual appeal of surfaces.
  • Various colors and finishes are available: Offers numerous options to match any design preference or project requirement.

Easy maintenance

  • Simple to clean: Surfaces painted with enamel are easy to wipe down, maintaining their look with minimal effort.
  • Stain-resistant properties: Resists common household stains, keeping surfaces looking fresh and clean.

Preparing for the project

Painting kitchen cabinets can give you a high return on a fairly small investment if you’re willing to put in the work yourself. For best results, prepare kitchen cabinets for enamel painting with the following tips:

Gathering supplies

To prepare for painting kitchen cabinets with enamel paint, you’ll need the following materials:

  • Enamel paint
  • Primer
  • Brushes and rollers (high-quality)
  • Sandpaper (various grits)
  • Drop cloths
  • Painter’s tape
    • Screwdrivers (for removing cabinet doors and hardware)
    • Cleaning supplies (degreaser, cloths, water)
    • Wood filler (for any imperfections)
  • Paint trays
  • Stir sticks

Safety precautions

Ventilation and protective gear

  • Ensure the area is well-ventilated by opening windows and using fans to disperse fumes.
  • Wear protective gear such as masks, gloves, and safety goggles to protect from inhaling fumes and skin contact with chemicals.

Handling of enamel paint and associated chemicals

  • Follow all manufacturer instructions for safe handling and disposal of enamel paint and associated hemicals.
  • Store chemicals in a safe, well-ventilated area away from heat sources and out of reach of children and pets.

Step-by-step guide to repainting kitchen cabinets

A. Removing cabinet doors and hardware

Proper removal techniques:

  • Use a screwdriver or drill to remove screws from hinges and hardware.
  • Support the door while removing the final screws to prevent damage.

Labeling and organizing hardware for reassembly:

  • Label each door and its corresponding location with masking tape.
  • Place screws and hardware in labeled bags for easy reassembly.

B. Cleaning and sanding the cabinets

Cleaning techniques to remove grease and dirt:

  • Use a mixture of warm water and detergent. The other option is to use a degreaser.
  • Scrub surfaces with a sponge or cloth, then rinse and dry thoroughly.

Sanding process for optimal paint adhesion:

  • Sand all surfaces with medium-grit sandpaper (120-150 grit).
  • Wipe off dust with a tack cloth or damp rag.

C. Priming the cabinets

Importance of primer:

  • Primer ensures better paint adhesion and durability.
  • It also helps to cover stains and provides a uniform surface.

Application tips and drying times:

  • Apply a thin, even coat of primer with a brush, roller, or sprayer.
  • Allow primer to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions (typically 1-2 hours).

Painting the Cabinets with Enamel Paint

Techniques for a smooth finish:

  • Brushing: Use high-quality brushes and long, smooth strokes.
  • Rolling: Use a small foam roller for flat surfaces.
  • Spraying: Ensure even coverage and maintain a consistent distance from the surface.

Recommended number of coats:

  • Apply at least two coats of enamel paint for full coverage and durability.
  • Let each coat dry completely before applying the next.

Drying and curing times:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s drying time between coats (usually 4-6 hours).
  • Allow the paint to cure fully before reassembling the cabinets, which may take several days.

Reassembling and final touches

Modern Kitchen

Reattaching cabinet doors and hardware

Reinstallation tips for a seamless look:

  • Ensure all painted surfaces are completely dry before handling.
  • Use a level to align doors accurately.
  • Reattach hardware (hinges, knobs, and pulls) using the same screw holes to avoid misalignment.
  • Adjust hinges to ensure doors hang evenly and close properly.

Touch-up and finishing details

Addressing minor imperfections:

  • Use a fine brush for touch-ups on small chips or scratches.
  • Match the paint color exactly for seamless repairs.

Adding protective topcoats if necessary:

  • Apply a clear polyurethane or acrylic topcoat for added durability.
  • Choose a finish that matches the desired sheen (matte, satin, or gloss).
  • Follow manufacturer instructions for drying and curing times.

Tips for maintaining painted cabinets

Now you can enjoy your newly painted kitchen cabinets! But it doesn’t stop there. You should maintain the cabinets to keep them looking good and new for years through these easy-to-do tips:

Regular cleaning and care

Best practices for cleaning enamel-painted cabinets:

  1. Use a soft cloth – Clean with a soft, damp cloth to avoid scratches.
  2. Mild soap solution – Mix mild dish soap with warm water for regular cleaning.
  3. Avoid abrasives – Steer clear of harsh chemicals and abrasive cleaners.
  4. Dry thoroughly – Always dry cabinets after cleaning to prevent water damage.
  5. Regular dusting – Dust cabinets frequently with a microfiber cloth to maintain their appearance.

Addressing wear and tear

Quick fixes for minor damages:

  1. Touch-up paint – Keep a small amount of matching paint for touch-ups on scratches and chips.
  2. Wax crayons – Use a wax repair crayon in a matching color to fill tiny nicks.
  3. Furniture markers – Utilize furniture markers to disguise minor scuffs and scratches.
  4. Nail polish – Clear nail polish can seal small chips to prevent further damage.
  5. Regular inspection – Frequently check for and address minor damages to prevent them from worsening.


Repainting your cabinets can magically transform the look and feel of your kitchen. It allows you to add a fresh and modern look to your home. It’s a rewarding project that boosts your kitchen’s aesthetic appeal and value. 

If you’re ready to revitalize your kitchen but prefer professional results, consider contacting our expert team at Custom Painting, Inc. to ensure a flawless and long-lasting finish. If you live in Fremont and the surrounding areas and need professional house painting services, call Custom Painting, Inc. at 925-866-9610 or message us here for a free estimate. Take the first step toward your dream kitchen today!