7 Terrific Ways to Remove Paint from Cabinets (2023)

The internet is booming with DIY renovation hacks, and more and more homeowners are desperate to give their wood cabinets a makeover. Home improvement projects are a simple way to give your space a fresh look on a budget. If you’ve been desperately searching for details on how to remove paint from old cabinets, this guide is for you.

Follow our instructions step by step to remove old paint from kitchen cabinets successfully. Giving your home a new makeover is a daunting task. Homeowners want to make sure that they are doing everything properly so that it looks clean and professional.

It’s possible to remove paint from cabinets without sanding machines, but don’t let the following practices intimidate you.

Although using chemical paint strippers and sanders requires a lot of safety, these are the most powerful tools for stripping layers of paint from woodwork.

7 Terrific Ways to Remove Paint from Cabinets (1)

Table Of Contents

  1. Safety Precautions before You Remove Old Paint from Kitchen Cabinets
  2. How to Remove Paint from Cabinets
  • Prepping to Remove Old Paint from Kitchen Cabinets
  • Sanding Kitchen Cabinets
  • The Easiest Way to Remove Paint from Wood Cabinets
    • DIY Paint Stripping
  • Stripping Paint with Mineral Spirits
  • Remove Paint from Cabinets without Sanding
  • Removing Small Paint Spots
  • Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Safety Precautions before You Remove Old Paint from Kitchen Cabinets

Paint stripper is a powerful chemical and requires you to protect your eyes, skin, and lungs. Before trying these paint removal tactics, put as many safety measures into place as possible.

Always wear protective eye goggles to protect them from splashing liquids. Only wear long pants, long sleeves, chemical-resistant rubber gloves, and closed-toe shoes to prevent burns when working with these chemical-based products.

Work in well-ventilated areas with open windows and wear a respirator to not breathe in too many fumes or chips of lead paint.

(Video) Removing Paint from Kitchen Cabinets | Chemical Stripper vs. Heat Gun Methods

Lastly, fill a bucket with water, dish soap, and a clean rag so you can quickly wipe away any splashes or messes. Use this simple DIY degreaser for kitchen cabinets will help the paint come off faster. Once you have all your protective gear in place, you’re ready to refinish your cabinet doors.

Of course, if you are getting mold off wood in addition to paint, you need to employ a cleaner like bleach or vinegar.

How to Remove Paint from Cabinets

Before you start to remove old paint from kitchen cabinets, prepare yourself mentally that this project might take some time. By the time you prep, strip the paint, sand, and apply new paint, it may be days, weeks, or even months later.

This time frame depends on how much time you commit to the work. It’s going to take a lot of muscle power and determination, but it’ll leave you with beautiful new cabinetry and the knowledge of how to strip paint like a professional.

Prepping to Remove Old Paint from Kitchen Cabinets

The first step of learning how to remove paint from cabinets is prepping the space. Use a screwdriver to detach all cabinet doors and drawer fronts, as well as the hardware. Don’t forget to remove spray paint from metal parts like hinges and knobs if there are spots on them.

Spread a couple of drop cloths across the floor or your work area. This step is critical when working on vertical surfaces that are not removable.

Place the drawers and doors across a couple of sawhorses so that they’re easier to work on. After your workspace is prepared, put on all safety gear and get ready to work.

Sanding Kitchen Cabinets

Sanding is one of the most straightforward ways to remove paint from wood. Start by removing the paint’s hard exterior with coarse-grit sandpaper to lift the paint’s surface.

Clean up the excess debris with a clean cloth, and take fine grit sandpaper to sand the rest of the paint job until only the raw wood is exposed.

Sanding machines work well for large, flat areas and speed up the sanding process, but hand sanding smaller, more intricate areas ensures you get every speck of paint off the cabinets.

The Easiest Way to Remove Paint from Wood Cabinets

Combining sanding with a chemical paint stripper is one of the quickest ways to remove layers of paint from kitchen cabinets. Most chemical strippers contain methylene chloride. This chemical burns skin and requires a lot of attention to prevent injury.

(Video) Stripping Paint Off Furniture Shouldn’t Be This Easy???🤯 #DIY #satisfyingvideo #furnituremakeover

When possible, use a more gentle paint stripper like Citristrip. Citristrip has a more mellow smell and doesn’t contain any methylene chloride, so it is safer to use.


(Video) Easy Cabinet Paint Removal || No Chemicals Required!

DIY Paint Stripping

  • Sandpaper
  • Citristrip
  • Paintbrush
  • Plastic wrap


Use the sandpaper of your choice to remove the top layer of sealant on the cabinets. Once the top layer is gone, dip a paintbrush into the Citristrip and spread a layer over the surface of the drawers and doors.

Cover the surface with plastic wrap and let it sit for 15 minutes. Remove and discard the plastic. Grab a paint scraper and place it in the center of the door.

Apply a little pressure and scrape the layers of paint off the wood. Apply another layer of the paint remover and scrape it off again until all the color is gone. Sand away small imperfections and prepare your cabinets for a new paint job.

Stripping Paint with Mineral Spirits

Mineral spirits are an excellent option when learning how to remove paint from cabinets. It is also safe to use on tile, laminate, and linoleum that have spots of splattered paint on them.

Start by dipping a paintbrush in the mineral spirits and spreading it along the entire surface of the cabinet doors and drawers. Let the solvent sit for 20 minutes.

Use either a metal scraper, like a putty knife, or a plastic scraper, like an old credit card, to lift the paint layers from the wood. Apply and strip as many layers as necessary until the paint is gone.

Remove Paint from Cabinets without Sanding

It’s not always possible to remove paint from cabinets without sanding them. More often than not, the paint is too tough to cut through without buffing away some of it.

If you think it’s worth a try, you might be lucky enough to remove paint from cabinets without sanding away the layers. Start by cleaning the cabinetry and removing grease from kitchen cabinets.

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Dish soap and water is sufficient if you don’t have stronger cleaners. Pour a small amount of liquid deglosser onto an old washcloth and rub it onto the cabinets in circular motions.

Allow the solvent to dry before you begin to refinish your kitchen cabinets with a fresh coat of paint.

Removing Small Paint Spots

Accidents happen, and many homeowners find themselves in situations where they are completing a painting project and notice that some splashed onto their cabinets’ varnish. It is possible to remove paint stains without stripping the varnish.

Use a heat gun to soften the paint stain, which makes it easier to remove. Wet a cotton swab or ball with nail polish remover. Rub the damp cotton on the paint spots until it lifts. Wipe the affected area with a wet rag and allow it to air dry.

Painting Kitchen Cabinets

You’re ready to paint the cabinets once all the paint layers are stripped and the wood surfaces are sanded down to a smooth finish. Avoid buying oil-based paints that take too long to dry. Latex paint is user-friendly and gets the job done quicker.

Prime the wood before applying your paint color. Use either a brush or paint sprayer and apply several thin, smooth layers of paint, ensuring that each layer is dry before applying another.

Once the paint is dry, apply at least two layers of clear coat and let them dry before putting the cabinets back together.

It’s remarkable how only a fresh coat of paint transforms the look of a room. Whether on the walls or kitchen cabinets, refinishing them with paint is a simple way to upgrade your home, increase its value, and transform it into the home of your dreams.

It takes some preparation and labor, but all your hard work is worth it when you set your eyes on the finished product.

7 Terrific Ways to Remove Paint from Cabinets (2)

If learning how to remove paint from cabinets helped you create the kitchen of your dreams, share these strategies for stripping paint on Facebook and Pinterest.

(Video) How to Strip Paint from Wooden Furniture


What removes paint from wood cabinets? ›

A chemical paint stripper is only intended to lift the paint away from the wood, so you will need to wipe away loose paint with an old rag or cloth. Use a paint scraper to remove any paint that is still partially stuck to the wood, but make sure to take your time to avoid damaging the wood.

Is it better to strip or sand kitchen cabinets? ›

Sanding works well for a large, smooth surface; however, sanders have more trouble with intricate shapes. Stripper works for odd angles, but it's sticky and may require multiple attempts if you're stripping several layers of paint.

How do you strip cabinets without sanding? ›

If you don't want to sand before you prime, use some mineral spirits and a rough sponge to clean and lightly rough up the cabinet area you're painting. This doesn't open up the wood cabinet material as much as sanding but does get you some additional grippy area for the primer to adhere to.

Will vinegar damage painted cabinets? ›

Avoid Using Vinegar and Olive Oil Mixtures

Vinegar is an excellent all-natural cleaning solution for tough grease stains and grime, but it can also strip the paint and varnish off of your kitchen cabinets.

How do you remove dried latex paint from wood cabinets? ›

For latex drips, try denatured alcohol or a product like Goof-Off, both available in paint and hardware stores. “Soak a rag—not a towel, but a microfiber rag or similar—with the solvent and rub carefully, so you don't harm the wood finish by mistake,” says MacMillan.

What is the best tool to remove paint from wood? ›

Use a paint scraper, putty knife or specialty scraper to remove the softened paint, being careful to not gouge the wood. Reapply the paint stripper to detailed or problem areas. Scrub the entire project with nylon brushes or abrasive pads to remove all traces of the old finish and the stripper sludge.

How do you remove paint from cabinets without chemicals? ›

If you have small metal items covered or splattered with paint like door, cabinet or furniture hardware or outlet covers, baking soda and boiling water can make paint removal simple. When the objects are heated, the metal and the paint expand at different rates causing a break in the bond.

Is it best to roll or brush cabinets? ›

Cabinet Painting with a Roller & a Brush

On the fronts and backs of drawers and doors, you can use a roller. This will apply the paint in a more smooth and even manner and is much faster than only using a paint brush. Then, use a brush for touching up small areas or for hard-to-reach spots.

Should I strip cabinets or paint over? ›

Can you just paint over cabinets or should you strip them? When the existing finish is a clear coat, the best course of action is to strip the finish down to the bare wood before painting. This eliminates a potential adhesion problem between the old finish and the new paint.

How do you make old wood cabinets look new? ›

Saturate a small cloth with the FEED-N-WAX Wood Polish and Conditioner and wipe evenly all over the wood surface. Let wax stand for at least 20 minutes and then wipe off all the excess. There you go, just like brand new!

Is Deglosser better than sanding? ›

If you're working on a piece of furniture with a lot of etched detail, using liquid sandpaper/deglosser may save you a lot of time and provide the best results. Manually sanding your item with sandpaper can be very time-consuming and requires a lot of manual labor, depending on the size of the item you're refurbishing.

What happens if I don't sand cabinets before painting? ›

The risk you run with not sanding is that your new paint job will chip almost immediately after it's dried. For most experts, like Dan McRorie of Fitzwater Interiors, creating a smooth, even surface is the single most important part of the project—even if you're going from a stain to a color.

Can you use Dawn dish soap on kitchen cabinets? ›

Whether your cabinets need a quick wipe down or a full-on deep cleaning session, some of the best cleaning supplies are already in your kitchen! Simple solutions of dish soap and water can do wonders for cleaning away grease, splatters, and food messes. Dawn® Platinum makes cleaning kitchen cabinets So Dawn Easy!

Is Murphy Oil Soap good for kitchen cabinets? ›

Murphy® Oil Soap gets deep into grime to break up dirt particles and it's safe to use on wood products like cabinets.

Why are my kitchen cabinets sticky after cleaning? ›

The most common cause of sticky cabinets is built-up grease and grime. Even if you regularly clean your cabinets, a thin greasy layer can accumulate over time. The build-up can become thick and difficult to remove, so you might feel that your cabinets are still sticky after cleaning.

What is the best remover for dried latex paint? ›

Krud Kutter® Latex Paint Remover is a proprietary solution that removes fresh or dried latex paint from a variety of surfaces. Perfect for cleaning paint spills or roller splatter. The biodegradable, low VOC formula will remove even old, fully cured latex paint.

Does hydrogen peroxide remove latex paint? ›

Often used as a nail polish remover, hydrogen peroxide is also equally adept at removing paint. We recommend using gloves and keeping the room well vented if you are indoors.

What is the cheapest way to remove paint from wood? ›

Caustic paint removers take off most finishes and are particularly good at getting rid of thick layers of paint and varnish. They give off fewer fumes than solvent-based paint strippers, are cheaper and tend to work faster.

Does WD 40 remove paint from wood? ›

Removing Paint From Floor Using WD-40

Irrespective of how stubborn they are, if you want to remove paint stains from your floor, WD-40 Multi Use Product gets the work done in a few minutes.

Will apple cider vinegar remove paint from wood? ›

The vinegar won't magically make the paint disappear, but it can soften water-based paint splatters so you can scrape them away. Be sure to use only cleaning vinegar, not white distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar and don't mix it with other products.

Can I use Dawn to clean my cabinets for paint? ›

Dish soap and warm water, along with a microfiber cloth, is the best solution for cleaning a painted cabinet. Dish soap will effectively remove any food-related grime.

Will Goo Gone take off paint? ›

Graffiti or over spray of paint can be especially difficult to remove from a porous surface like brick. Goo Gone Graffiti Remover is specifically formulated to loosen spray paint and make it easy to wash away ... even on brick.

What household items can remove paint? ›

Fortunately, most paint splotches can be cleaned up with a few handy household cleansers and tools—rags, alcohol, nail polish remover, and sometimes just plain water—along with a bit of elbow grease.

What is the fastest way to sand cabinets? ›

Your best bet is probably an orbital sander. You could hand sand your cabinet, but it will take a lot of elbow grease. You may even want to use both. An orbital sander can make quick work of the bulk of the cabinet door, but a sanding block or sanding sponge can help you cover any grooves or tight spots by hand.

Can you use CitriStrip on kitchen cabinets? ›

CitriStrip. This stripper works just as well as any toxic version, but won't burn your skin off. That's always a plus in my book. For 9 cabinets and 9 drawer fronts I went through 2.5 64 oz ones.

Can you strip cabinets with oven cleaner? ›

There are many different methods to stripping furniture, but one of the easiest is using oven cleaner to remove the finish. Yes, you read that correct, oven cleaner will remove the stain from furniture! This unexpected method actually works really well.

Should cabinets be gloss or satin? ›

Kitchen walls and especially kitchen cabinets require a paint finish that's tough, easy to wipe down, and attractive. Satin and eggshell paint finishes work well for kitchen walls, while semi-gloss proves best for kitchen cabinets.

Do professional painters spray or roll? ›

Many professional painters use sprayers because the prep time is not a huge time sink for them. But, some professionals can roll paint incredibly fast and evenly too. When rolling, you can put paint on thicker so it requires fewer coats.

How do you paint cabinets so they look professional? ›

  1. Step 1: Gather painting supplies. ...
  2. Step 2: Remove cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and hardware. ...
  3. Step 3: Clean the cabinetry. ...
  4. Step 4: Use wood filler to repair scuffs and nicks. ...
  5. Step 5: Sand the cabinet doors. ...
  6. Step 6: Apply a coat of primer. ...
  7. Step 7: Sand the cabinet doors again. ...
  8. Step 8: Paint the kitchen cabinets.
Oct 15, 2022

What sandpaper to strip cabinets? ›

Once your cabinets are clean and dry, use a 100 or 150-grit sandpaper to roughen up the surface of the cabinets. Cabinet paint won't adhere properly to a smooth or shiny surface. You don't need to completely remove the prior finish, just rough up the surface enough to give the primer something to stick to.

How long does it take to strip and paint kitchen cabinets? ›

On average, it takes anywhere from a weekend to a full week to complete a kitchen cabinet paint job. This includes time for prep work, painting, and drying.

Can you put too many coats of paint on cabinets? ›

You certainly don't want to skimp on the number of coatings you apply to your cabinets, but you also don't want to go overboard. Slapping on too many coats of primer or paint during cabinet refinishing can hinder adherence, interfere with proper drying, and result in strange lines and patterns on the finished surface.

Is oak trim outdated? ›

Flooring, railings, doors, trim, baseboards, cabinets… you name it. Here in the 21st century, golden oak is no longer in demand, and it can immediately make a home feel tired and dated. Thankfully, there are some simple steps you can take to refinish or replace your oak features.

Are oak cabinets outdated? ›

Oak is a hardwood and, if properly cared for, can still be used in contemporary kitchens. However, the typical orange oak finish of decades past can look dated in today's kitchens. It may not make sense for you to replace your old wood cabinetry only for aesthetic reasons, especially if they're still in good condition.

Is oak coming back in style? ›

Nowadays oak cabinets are making a comeback in the kitchen. In some cases, homeowners are refacing their old honey oak cabinets to give them fresh new life. They're replacing dated cabinet doors with new Shaker style cabinet doors.

Is TSP the same as Deglosser? ›

TSP is a powerful cleaner that can remove the gloss from not only paints but other sensitive surfaces. However, its primary function is cleaning, not deglossing.

Does TSP work as a Deglosser? ›

Jasco® TSP No-Rinse Substitute is a liquid concentrate and one-step cleaner and deglosser. Removes grease, grime, smoke, food stains, crayon, mildew stains, wax, wallpaper paste, cooking oils and creosote.

Can I use rubbing alcohol as a Deglosser? ›

Use 91 percent rubbing alcohol, a degreaser/deglosser that evaporates and won't leave a residue behind.

Do you have to sand cabinets before restaining? ›

To prepare for staining, you'll want to sand everything – drawer, doors, and frames – lightly with a high grit sanding block. Again, you're not trying to remove the old stain. You just want to rough up the surface slightly so that the new stain can adhere.

Is it better to paint cabinets with a roller or brush? ›

Cabinet Painting with a Roller & a Brush

On the fronts and backs of drawers and doors, you can use a roller. This will apply the paint in a more smooth and even manner and is much faster than only using a paint brush. Then, use a brush for touching up small areas or for hard-to-reach spots.

Why don't you paint the inside of cabinets? ›

Painting the insides of cabinets is not a common practice, and here's why. Most kitchen cabinets are already stained or sealed on the inside to protect against wear and tear. Manufacturers realize that you will be storing things like cans and cooking utensils inside of the cabinets, so the insides need to be protected.

Do you have to sand off old paint before repainting cabinets? ›

Do you need to sand cabinets before painting? Skipping this time-consuming step is a surefire way to lead to a messy finished product. Sanding helps fresh paint adhere to surfaces and will help prevent chipping down the line. It's also better to sand twice (first to remove old paint, then to smooth out the wood).

Can I just paint over old paint on cabinets? ›

Wood, wood-laminate and metal cabinets usually can be repainted without difficulty. Plastic laminate cabinets might not accept a topcoat of paint — those that can be refinished often require special paints and techniques, and results can vary.

Can you sand old paint off cabinets? ›

Start with coarse 80-grit sandpaper in a manual hand sander or power sander. Using enough pressure to remove the paint but not so much that it damages the wood. Move to medium 150-grit abrasive and finish with fine 220-grit, brushing away dust from the surface each time you change paper.

Do you need to strip painted cabinets before repainting? ›

Can you just paint over cabinets or should you strip them? When the existing finish is a clear coat, the best course of action is to strip the finish down to the bare wood before painting. This eliminates a potential adhesion problem between the old finish and the new paint.

What happens if you paint cabinets without sanding? ›

Proper cleaning, deglossing, and using good-quality cabinet paint are key to painting cabinets without sanding. What happens if you don't sand cabinets before painting? If you don't sand cabinets before painting, at worst the paint will chip or peel. At best, the paint will remain solid and durable for years.

What kind of paint do you use on already painted cabinets? ›

Latex paints are water-based and super easy to apply, last a long time, and, depending on the formula, can even be scrubbed clean. Their VOCs are low, they dry quickly, and you can even use them on previously painted cabinets.

Will painted kitchen cabinets go out of style? ›

The quick answer is that, no, they are not going out of style. In fact, cabinets painted white is still considered one of the timeless styles inside the kitchen. The problem with other colors is that you run the risk that the color your cabinets are painted in usually becomes less popular over time.

What grit to sand paint off cabinets? ›

Painted cabinets should get a thorough sanding with 120-grit paper, but no matter the finish, do a final pass with 220-grit. Use a sanding sponge to dig into any tough areas that need special attention or corners that are hard to get with your sander.

What sandpaper is best for removing paint? ›

Attach 40- to 60-grit sandpaper to a sanding block or palm sander to remove paint. This is coarse grit, so it can damage the wood if you apply too much pressure. Rub the sandpaper over the wood with the grain of the wood to remove the old paint.

What grit sandpaper for repainting cabinets? ›

Once your cabinets are clean and dry, use a 100 or 150-grit sandpaper to roughen up the surface of the cabinets. Cabinet paint won't adhere properly to a smooth or shiny surface. You don't need to completely remove the prior finish, just rough up the surface enough to give the primer something to stick to.

What is the cheapest way to do kitchen cabinets? ›

If your goal is to update the look of your existing cabinets, the cheapest route is to simply reface them. This process involves either stripping the stain or paint from the existing cabinets and adding new stain, varnish or paint; in some cases, you might even want to refinish the cabinets with a stick-on veneer.


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