Preparing Your Kitchen Cabinets To Be Painted

Jun 9, 2023

What To Do to Prepare to Have Your Kitchen Cabinets Painted

In order to avoid any issues and to have the smoothest experience possible, there is a short list of items we ask each of our clients to go through prior to a cabinet painting project. These are all simple housekeeping items that our clients can do the day or night before our team arrive to begin the prepping phase.

General Decluttering

In order to mask off the countertops and ensure all of the tape lines adhere properly, we ask that our clients do a quick declutter of the countertops and floor space around the cabinets. Again, to ensure nothing breaks, or gets lost or covered in paint, it’s best to either clear off the countertops entirely, or push the appliances towards the backsplash if it’s too hard to move, so that we can cover it all with poly. Doing a quick wipe down of the counters also helps ensure the tape adheres properly, preventing overspray. 

What Content To Remove 

You do not have to empty your cabinet boxes. The only boxes that need to be completely empty are those with glass doors, or shelving units, as those interior panels are sprayed. Otherwise, once the cabinet doors from the main boxes are removed, we mask off the front face and edge line of the box, allowing you to leave the contents inside. The only things you should clear out before this stage, are any dishes or food items you may want for the rest of the day/evening. Once we begin masking, the cabinets will be inaccessible. This is a prepping protocol that applies to every project, and so to save you significant time and energy you can simply keep your cabinet boxes filled, as they are. If there are any changes to our prep protocol, our team will speak directly to the homeowners as needed.

Clearing Some Drawer Space 

For drawers, it is helpful if there is some working space of at least a few inches to get our drill into position to remove the drawer fronts. Especially for master bathrooms, if there are any sensitive items that you don’t want us to handle, clear those out prior to the project start. Clearing out your drawers entirely is not necessary; we simply require enough working room to get to the mounting screws on the inside front panel of the drawer box. 


To avoid causing damage to flooring, appliances themselves or the kitchen space in general, we ask that our clients move the refrigerator out of the kitchen space, and set it aside in a spot that will work for 2-3 days. Unless you have a SubZero or other style of built-in fridge, the vast majority of fridges are on wheels and have visible side and top panels around it. For this reason, we like spraying the inside panels of the fridge box as they will often show through. Other appliances, such as your stove and dishwasher, are entirely up to the client. We often won’t spray those panels as they are never seen; however should the client move these appliances we will spray any panel we have access to. Please note, to avoid any and all risk, Distinctively Paint will not move or handle any large appliances in your home.

Planning to Be Away 

Even though modern paint and primer are as high quality and safe as ever, sprayed lacquer still produces a significant amount of chemical smell and dust. Our prepping procedures ensure most of the spray is contained to the work area, but the lacquer smell will permeate through the home for the day. We are obligated to ask all our clients to prepare to be out of the house for at least 24 hours the day of painting, as the smell is intense and our spray team wear 3M respirators on the job. The decision to stay is ultimately up to you, but we do insist that staying away for the spraying period is the best option, if possible. We understand not every client has the ability to sleep elsewhere, as such we will do our absolute best to contain the project and make the home as comfortable as possible – sometimes changing the product we use if required.

Note that for Distinctively Paint – any product we use is both low VOC and low HAP according to Canadian Environmental regulations.

How Long Will My Kitchen Be Out of Commission 

For standard sized kitchens, say 20-35 doors, we aim to have most of the prep done in one day, finishing the prep and spraying the project the next, and de-prepping (if possible) the same day as the spraying. Depending on the size and scope of the job, sometimes the spraying or de-prep and cleanup will extend another day. Ideally, your kitchen will only be truly out of commission for 2-3 days, at which point the only work left to be done is installing and taking care of any fine-tuning. The kitchen will be useable essentially right after the spraying is completed. 

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