Cabinet Painting: How Many Coats of Paint on Cabinets Is Normal

calander Mar 7 , 2022 user-icon Nash Painting

Painting your cabinets can truly transform your interior space. Before you embark on this project, however, you should know what you’re getting yourself into. For starters, there’s a lot of prep work to take care of before painting can even begin. And once it’s finally time to paint, you must apply the proper number of coats to deliver a beautiful, lasting finish. But how many coats of paint on cabinets is recommended or “normal?” The answer depends on multiple factors, which we’ll discuss here.

How to Properly Coat Cabinet Painting

Paint Quality Matters

We’ve said it several times before, but it bears repeating: not all paints are created equal. Premium paints feature superior resins and pigments, meaning they adhere more strongly and conceal more imperfections with fewer coats. Simply put, high-quality paints are more substantial (i.e. thicker), so less is needed to coat a given surface compared to a lower-quality alternative. Note, however, that just because you found the best paint finish for cabinets doesn’t mean multiple coats won’t be necessary. On the contrary, most cabinets require at least two coats of paint, even if you’re using the best stuff available (though you may need more coats than this if you’re using lesser products).

Were Your Cabinets Previously Painted?

The current condition of your cabinets also plays a role in determining how many coats you should apply. Just like painting over previously painted walls, painting over painted cabinets often means that fewer additional coats are necessary – that is, if the previous coats are still in decent shape. If, on the other hand, your cabinet’s current paint job is flaking and peeling away, you’ll want to remove these old applications completely and start over on the bare surface. From there, you should treat this project the same way you would as if you were painting brand new cabinets. In other words, you’ll want to prime them properly, which we’ll go over next.

The Importance of Primer

Primer is a special type of coating (usually white) that’s applied before cabinet painting to help with adhesion, durability, and coloration. These coatings seep into the material’s pores, sealing them off so the incoming paint goes on evenly. Priming your cabinets with at least one coat will mean that fewer coats of paint will be needed. All in all, you might consider your primer coats as initial coats of paint – you’ll usually want to apply two coats of primer and one coat of paint (or one coat of primer and two coats of paint), amounting to three coats total.

Color Considerations

Aesthetics are another factor here. In particular, if you’re painting a darker cabinet with a lighter color, you’ll need more coats to fully conceal the darker undertone. Applying quality primer helps with this project, as the white shade provides a stark, neutral backdrop for whatever paint color will go over it.

Can You Apply Too Many Coats?

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.

The Verdict

So, how many coats of paint are normal for a cabinet update? Generally speaking, 2-3 coats total do the trick (primer first, then paint), so long as you keep in mind the quality of paint you’re using, the condition of your cabinets, and how the color in question might interact with the existing color of your cabinets. When in doubt, contact a cabinet painting company you can trust like Nash Painting to help you at any stage of the process. We’ve transformed countless kitchens and interiors across Nashville, Brentwood, and Franklin, TN with our cabinet refinishing services and more. To learn more about us, our services, and our values, call us at 615-829-6858 today!