To DIY or not to DIY? That is the question. That is almost always the question. You can certainly paint your kitchen cabinets yourself. As long as you know that it’s a labor- and time-intensive job that, if done wrong, can be a pretty big screwup. I recently redid the cabinets in my newly purchased home, and despite liking to DIY all the things, I paid someone to do it—partly to have it done before we moved in and partly because it would have been impossible for my little girls to keep their hands off the drying cabinets if I did it myself! It was fairly expensive, but well worth it to move into a house with sparkling white cabinets instead of the previous outdated wood-toned ones.
That being said, it’s not free to paint your cabinets yourself, either—besides your time, you’re buying materials that a contractor might already have on hand.
Figuring out how much a painting project will cost depends on a few considerations. Here goes.
1. The Layout of Your Kitchen
The bigger the kitchen and the more cabinets you have, the more expensive it’ll cost to paint them—no matter what. If you’re DIYing, it means more materials, and if you’re paying someone to do it, it means higher labor costs, too. For yourself, the cost of paint is the biggest variable. (One gallon can typically cover one coat of 400 square feet. What does 400 square feet look like? We painted this kitchen pictured above using about half a gallon of paint.) If you hire a pro, their estimate—whether doing it by hand or with a sprayer, usually a matter of preference of your painter—will either be by linear foot of cabinetry or calculated by the number of doors and drawers you have (say, $100 per door and $25 per drawer) as an indicator of how much work it’ll take.
2. Your Materials
You have to pay for paint (and painter’s tape, brushes, rollers, drop cloths, and more) no matter what. So your base cost—whether you do it yourself or hire someone—will be at least a $200 or upwards of $600, depending on the brand of paint and other supplies you buy. While you might be tempted to save wherever you can, Chris and Lexi Dowding, Michigan-based professional painters behind SwatchOut, warn not to skimp out here: “You get what you pay for in terms of materials,” they point out. So while it may seem a little crazy to pay $50 per gallon of paint instead of $25, it could save you from redoing your cabinets sooner.
3. Where You Live
Just like rent, groceries, and almost everything else, you’ll pay more to have someone paint your cabinets if you’re in a big city and less if you’re further out. According to service locator site Thumbtack, the range of opening prices quoted for the service range from $400 to $1,550, with the median price being $950. Porch has a calculator, too, where you can change a few variables to get an estimate—it gave a range of $630 to $1,400 for a 200-square-foot kitchen in Upstate New York, with the higher end seeming more accurate.
Full disclosure: I paid $1,050 to repaint my kitchen here in Raleigh, North Carolina, which felt like a pretty good deal for how much work went into it. And Dowding says $2,300 is average in his area (near Lansing, Michigan), but that he’s never charged more than $3,000 for a job.
Have you painted your kitchen cabinets? Did you DIY the job or hire a professional?