Painting cabinets has become the hottest thing in interior painting since sponge painting. No, I take that back…it is MORE popular than sponge painting! And for good reason. There is no better way to update your kitchen, than by painting your cabinets.
But what you really want to know, is how much will it cost to paint my cabinets? Well, before I jump into the cost, I want to give you a little background on the different elements that go into painting your cabinets. The biggest expense in painting cabinets is not actually the paint. As a painting contractor, I can tell you that the materials don’t even make up 10% of the project’s cost. Because of this alone, you are better off buying the best products to do this project. We like to use Advance, by Benjamin Moore. I won’t go into all the details of why this product is so bad-ass, but my top reasons are:
- It was created for painting cabinets and trim– In fact, we hand out the Advance brochure to every cabinet customer because it explains the process so well.
- It dries very hard- Benjamin Moore calls it “a hard, furniture-quality finish”- this is a super durable product.
- It dries AND cures fast- In Colorado, it dries to the touch within minutes, and cures (reaches its optimal hardness) in just two weeks. That means you can use your cabinets sooner.
- Low VOC- VOC are all those harmful chemicals that you don’t want to be around. This means it is safe for your kids and pets to be around.
The other very important product you need to know about is the paint primer. Using the right primer for painting your cabinets will make or break your project. We love Stix, which is technically under the INAL-X brand, but is still made by Benjamin Moore. It is a bonding primer, which is different from a general primer (used for painting raw wood), a PCA primer (used for drywall), or a stain blocking primer (like Kilz classic). This product will literally stick to glass. If we don’t use the right primer and create a good foundation, it doesn’t matter what top-coat or finish paint we would use on your cabinet painting project. At Walls by Design, we apply a minimum of two coats of Stix to all surfaces before painting.
If the paint you use is not the most expensive portion of your cabinet painting project, then why is it so expensive? It’s the labor. If you are going to paint them yourself, then you could literally paint your cabinets for less than $500, with buying all the tools needed. But, if you are going to hire a company, you are paying for the professional experience they have (or the lack thereof, if you choose the wrong company). At Walls by Design in Denver, CO, we paint more kitchen cabinets than about 98% of the painting contractors across the country. We have learned by doing things the right way (AS WELL AS LESSONS LEARNED FROM DOING THINGS THE WRONG WAY), and we know how to properly prep and paint cabinets. This is how we can confidently offer our exclusive Lifetime Warranty, and provide free touch-ups once a year.
So seriously, how much does it cost to paint my cabinets?? Okay, I hear you. Let me jump to brass tacks. I actually know from talking to painting contractors all across the country, how much it costs to paint your cabinets. I surveyed some painting friends of mine, and this is what I found:
The Cost to Paint Kitchen Cabinets Across the US:
Number of paint contractors that responded: 85
Number of states represented: 30
The average price to paint cabinets in the US: $4,909.78
Most expensive state/price: Washington/$8,361.57
Least expensive state/price: Illinois (southern/rural)/$3135.00
Highest price in US: $10,310/Seattle, Washington
Average price in California: $5,792.86
Bottom line: it is cheaper if you live in a rural area, and the Pacific Northwest is the most expensive region.
I would say, here in Colorado, we are fairly average priced compare to the rest of the country, but you will still find a big range depending on your project. Here are FIVE main factors that make a difference in a cabinet painting bid:
- Number of cabinet doors
- Number of drawers
- Linear feet of paintable boxes
- Type of wood
- Experience level of the painting contractor
The first three factors I believe are fairly self-explanatory, but here’s a quick run down in case you’re new to cabinet terminology. Some contractors charge the same amount “per piece” meaning they don’t differentiate between door or drawers. At Walls by Design, we do, because there it is more time consuming dealing with door hinges, and there is more surface area to prep than a simple drawer face. Linear feet of boxes can be slightly subjective, but it will include the interior of any cabinets that need to be painted as well (if you have any glass doors, we would paint the interior of those boxes).
How Wood Affects Cost
Type of wood matters to us, because we have a different process for open grain cabinets (such as oak) vs. closed grain (like maple or cherry). Also, if you have a dark stained cabinet, they will sometimes require an additional coat of stain-blocking primer.
The next factor on labor cost, the painter contractor’s experience level, and their processes determine hows everything will be painted. Hand-painted? Sprayed? And where will all of this happen? Some painting contractors have a shop where they can take the cabinet doors to paint. Others will create a work area in either your garage or kitchen. This sounds easy to most homeowners, but to build a proper “tent” to work in, takes about 8 to 10 hours. It entails erecting a plastic, sealed, tent where all surfaces are protected (walls, ceilings, and floors) to keep dust out and keep paint droplets in. At Walls by Design, we have solved this problem for the majority of our customers by bringing a mobile spray booth to each home in the form of a 20’ trailer. This enables us to be super-efficient, and avoid either transporting cabinet pieces offsite, or creating a spray-booth onsite. Our customers love this!
The most underappreciated factor in painting cabinets has got to be experience level. I think most homeowners believe that just because a painter owns a brush, that they are capable of any type of painting project. And this is just not the case. The average number of cabinet sets painted per week by the contractors I surveyed (same group as above), is just 3-4 sets per week, whereas, at Walls by Design, we paint at least twice that amount each week. Experience and systems are everything. It means we know what we can do, and what we can’t, and we stand by our work by providing a Lifetime Warranty on our projects.
I am sure there are a lot of other factors, but these are the main factors that play into the cost of painting your cabinets. If you live in or around the Denver Metro area, we would love to help you.