Should I Paint Walls Before Installing Kitchen Cabinets?

Should I Paint Walls Before Installing Kitchen Cabinets?

Remodeling the kitchen can be an exciting but also stressful endeavor. You have to think about the type of cabinets you want, what color you will use, what sort of primer you should use, etc. But you also have to consider the sequence, as getting it wrong may undo all of your hard work. So, when should you paint the walls of your kitchen? 

It is better to paint the kitchen walls before installing the cabinets. This allows for a clean and even paint job. It removes the need to mask and paint around the cabinets. Additionally, you get to address any issues with the drywall beforehand. Just remember to do some touch-ups after the installation. 

Now, when to paint the walls often come down to preference. So, in this article, we will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of painting before and painting after. Hopefully, by the end, you will have a better idea as to what sequence you personally prefer. 

How Do You Paint Kitchen Walls? 

Should I Paint Walls Before Installing Kitchen Cabinets?

Painting the kitchen walls can be part of a remodeling project or it could be the makeover for a new kitchen. Either way, this endeavor can be a lot of fun, if you know what you are doing. So, here are some tips for painting your kitchen walls: 

Planning and Selecting 

Of course, the first thing you need to decide on is the color of the paint. This could make or break the entire project. So, choose the paint that you feel most comfortable with. 

Then map out the area you need to paint. A brand new kitchen is akin to a blank canvas, you have much more freedom. You do not need to mask or cover much of anything. If you want to remodel without removing the cabinets, you need to properly outline the places that need the paint. 

Clean the Walls 

Any used kitchen is sure to be greasy, with many markings and bruises. It is only natural that this would happen. So, before you can paint anything, you need to properly clean the walls.  

One of the best products for cleaning greasy walls is TSP or tri-sodium phosphate. Mix warm water with an adequate amount of TSP. You can also use a vinegar solution to remove molds from the walls. Use a scrub to peel off the unnecessary substances. Then rinse the wall with clean water for a thorough wash. 

If the wall is fresh, you normally do not need as much rigorous cleaning. But you can still do a light wash to be absolutely sure. Also, allow the walls to dry completely before painting. 

Prime the Walls 

Bare drywall has a nasty tendency to absorb moisture, which can slowly erode the walls over time. No matter how much you paint over it. If the walls underneath are fragile, the color will not last. 

So, you need to apply a quality primer on your walls before you pick up the paintbrush. The primer will protect your walls from moisture and provide a solid base for the paint.  

Cover and Mask Other Surfaces 

New kitchens will likely not have any other decorations or structures. But if there are already cabinets and counters installed and you do not want to remove them, then you need to sufficiently mask them with plastic. 

Moreover, use a cover on your floor so that no paint stains the kitchen floor. 

Paint the Ceiling First 

It is best to start with the ceiling. This way, you do not get unwanted splatter on a freshly painted surface. 

Paint the Walls 

If the wall is large enough, you can use the roller to paint quicker. Use it to reach the very top of the walls. 

For more narrow spots, use a paintbrush. This allows you to paint tight areas and apply a tidy finish. Remember to brush off the excess before you paint. 

Do You Paint Before or After Installing Kitchen Cabinets? 

Should I Paint Walls Before Installing Kitchen Cabinets?

There is no set rule for this and often comes down to your personal choice. Different home decorators will have different preferences. 

However, painting the kitchen walls before you install the cabinets is the better choice in most scenarios. This saves you the trouble of masking and covering all of the cabinets. So, the painters can do a much cleaner job. You also get a better look at the walls and then decide on the color for the cabinets. 

With cabinets already installed, you have to be extra careful with the paint job. It can easily result in paint accidentally splattering onto any uncovered surface. 

Additionally, painting without the cabinets grants the opportunity to fix any issues with the drywall. This is relevant for people looking to renovate their kitchen on the whole. And a fresh batch of primer and paint can go a long way in protecting your kitchen. 

Now, many people will want to avoid the hassle of removing and reinstalling the cabinets.  And placing the cabinets after you painted the walls can lead to some bruising on the paint.   

Despite some drawbacks, installing the cabinets after painting the walls often leads to the best result. 

How Long Should You Wait to Hang Cabinets After Painting? 

So, you decided to install the cabinets after you painted the walls. But how long should you wait before you do so? 

Typically, it takes oil-based paints 6-8 hours to become dry to touch and latex-based paints 1-3 hours. But the curing process can take up to several weeks. 

Now, the curing process ensures that the paint is dry enough to resist scratches and bumps. And installing cabinets will result in some rough action on the walls. So, you should give the walls enough time to cure properly. 1-3 weeks of curing is a minimum. 


Renovating the kitchen is an exciting time for any homeowner. Just be patient and give enough time for everything to settle. Otherwise, you risk undermining your hard work. 

Gui Hadlich

Hi there! I'm Gui. I've had to move 12 times in the last 6 years, and I've learned a thing or two about moving, decorating, and buying and selling furniture. I've started Budget Friendly Furnishing with the intent of helping people furnish their homes in style without having to break the bank!

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