How to Paint Plywood Cabinets: A Beginner’s Guide.

How to Paint Plywood Cabinets

To paint plywood cabinets, you need to first clean and sand the surface, apply a primer, and then use any paint of your choice. Painting can be done either by using a roller or by spraying the paint on the surface.

It is recommended to use alkyd or enamel paint for a smoother finish. If you wish to transform the look of your plywood cabinets, painting them can be a great option. Before diving into the process, make sure to gather all the necessary tools such as primer, paint, sandpaper, and a paint roller.

Start by cleaning the surface thoroughly and sanding it to eliminate any imperfections. Applying a primer is crucial to ensure that the paint adheres to the surface and lasts longer. After the primer dries, you can begin painting using a roller or a paint sprayer. Using alkyd or enamel paint will give a smoother finish to your cabinets. With these tips, you can easily paint your plywood cabinets and give your space a fresh new look.

Why Paint Plywood Cabinets?

Painting plywood cabinets can transform them from dull to stunning in a budget-friendly way. Whether it’s a refinishing project or a new DIY creation, painting your plywood cabinets can easily be done with a little effort and patience. Follow the proper surface preparation and painting steps to ensure successful and long-lasting results.

If you are looking for a budget-friendly way to give your old plywood cabinets a fresh new look, painting them is the way to go. You can completely transform the appearance of your cabinets by using the right paint formula and tools. However, before you decide to paint your plywood cabinets, it’s important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of doing so. In this post, we will explore both the advantages and disadvantages of painting plywood cabinets.

Advantages of Painting Plywood Cabinets

Painting plywood cabinets has several advantages:

1. Cost-Effective: Painting your cabinets is much cheaper than completely replacing them or buying new ones. This is especially true if you have a limited budget for your remodel project.

2. Customizable: Painting your plywood cabinets gives you the flexibility to choose any color or finish that you like. This means you can match the cabinets to the decor of your kitchen or give them a new color scheme.

3. Easy to Clean: Painted surfaces are easier to clean and maintain than untreated wood surfaces. You can easily wipe down your painted plywood cabinets with a damp cloth to keep them looking clean and fresh.

Disadvantages of Painting Plywood Cabinets

Painting plywood cabinets has a few disadvantages:

1. Prone to chipping and peeling: Since plywood is a layered material, it can be more prone to chipping and peeling than solid wood cabinets. This is why it’s important to use a good primer and sand the surface properly before painting to ensure proper adhesion.

2. Limited Style Options: If you prefer the look of natural wood or stained cabinets, then painting may not be the best option for you.

3. Time-Consuming: Painting cabinets can be a time-consuming process, especially if you have a large kitchen. It requires several coats of paint applied in thin layers and can take up to several days to complete depending on the size of the project.

In Conclusion

Painting your plywood cabinets can be a great way to update the look of your kitchen without breaking the bank. It’s important to carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages before you start your project to ensure that painting your cabinets is the best option for you and your home.

Prepping The Cabinets For Painting

Painting plywood cabinets requires proper prep work before applying paint. Begin by properly cleaning the surface and filling any defects with wood filler. Sand down the surface and apply primer before applying paint for a durable and smoother finish.

Before painting your plywood cabinets, it is essential to prepare them properly. Proper preparation will ensure that the surface is smooth, free of imperfections, and ready to accept paint. There are a few steps involved in prepping your cabinets for painting, including cleaning the surface, sanding, and using filler for any cracks and holes. Let’s take a closer look at each step to ensure you have all the information you need.

Cleaning the Cabinets

The first step in prepping your plywood cabinets for painting is to clean the surface. Cleaning will remove any debris, grease, or grime that could affect the paint’s adherence. You can use a mixture of water and dish soap to clean the surface. Ensure that the surface is entirely dry before moving on to the next step.

Sanding the Cabinets

After cleaning the surface, the next step is to sand your plywood cabinets. Sanding will help remove any rough patches, irregularities, and previous paint or varnish. Use a medium grit sandpaper or an electric sander to ensure the surface is even. Ensure that you sand in the direction of the grain and dust off the surface when done.

Using Filler for Cracks and Holes

Using filler is the final step in prepping your plywood cabinets for painting. If the surface has any holes or cracks, fill them in using wood filler, which is readily available at most hardware stores. Apply the filler to the surface, smoothen with a putty knife or a scraper and let it dry completely. Sand the patched area once it’s dry to ensure it’s level with the rest of the cabinet surface. Dust off the surface thoroughly before painting your cabinets.


By following the above steps, you can prepare your plywood cabinets successfully for painting. Remember that proper preparation is essential to the quality and longevity of your new painted surface. A little extra time and effort in preparation can make your cabinets look as good as new.

Priming The Cabinets

To paint plywood cabinets, it is important to prime the wood before applying paint. This will seal the surface and enable the paint to adhere better, resulting in a smooth and long-lasting finish. It is recommended to use a primer specially formulated for plywood and to apply it in the direction of the top grain.

Priming the Cabinets is an essential step when it comes to painting plywood cabinets. It helps to ensure better adhesion of the paint to the surface, creates a smooth base coat and extends the life of the paint job. It also helps to prevent knots and stains from bleeding through the finish coat. In this section, we will discuss the importance of primer, types of primers to use, and the application process to get the best results.

Importance Of Primer

Primer is an important preparatory step before painting plywood cabinets. It serves as a bonding agent between the surface and the paint, creating a smooth uniform base that allows the paint to adhere properly without peeling or cracking. It also helps to seal flaws in the surface such as holes, cracks or wood grain, and provides a consistent finish.

Types Of Primer To Use

There are different types of primers available in the market, and choosing the right one for your plywood cabinets is crucial. Oil-based primers are recommended for most plywood cabinets. They provide good coverage, are easy to apply, and have excellent adhesion properties. If you are painting over surfaces that have been painted previously, use a primer that is suitable for that type of surface, such as a bond coat or bonding primer.

Application Of Primer

The key to achieving great results when priming plywood cabinets is to follow the application instructions carefully. Below are some tips to help you through the process:

  • Clean and dry the surface thoroughly before applying the primer.
  • Apply primer evenly with a brush or roller in the direction of the wood grain.
  • Don’t apply too thickly or too heavily as this can lead to drips and an uneven finish.
  • Allow the primer to dry completely before applying the next coat or the finish paint.
  • Sand down the surface lightly with fine-grit sandpaper between coats to create a smooth surface and remove any drips or bumps.
  • Apply additional coats of primer if necessary, but make sure to allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next.

Remember to clean up your tools with paint thinner or mineral spirits, as appropriate, after finishing the priming process.

In conclusion, priming is a vital step when painting plywood cabinets. It helps to ensure a smooth, long-lasting finish, and prevents bleeding of knots or stains. Follow the above instructions to choose the right primer, apply it properly and get the best results.

Painting The Cabinets

To paint plywood cabinets, start by cleaning the surface and filling in any gaps with wood filler. After sanding and priming, paint the plywood with a quality paint and add a sealant if needed for added protection. Ensure that you have the correct formula and tools to achieve a smooth finish.

Painting plywood cabinets is an easy and cost-effective way to update your kitchen or bathroom. It can give a fresh new look to your cabinets and add value to your home. However, painting cabinets is not as simple as just applying paint to the surface. To ensure the best result, you need to choose the right paint, apply the correct techniques, and use an adequate number of coats. In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on painting plywood cabinets, focusing on the subheading of painting the cabinets.

Choosing the Right Paint

Choosing the right paint is crucial to achieving a high-quality finish. For cabinets, it is recommended to use a paint with a semi-gloss or high-gloss finish as it can withstand daily wear and tear, moisture, and grease effectively. Before applying the paint, you also need to prime the surface with a high-quality primer. This will help the paint to bond and adhere to the plywood surface more effectively.

Techniques for Painting Plywood Cabinets

The first technique is to sand the plywood surface with fine-grit sandpaper before applying the paint. This will help to create a smooth and even surface for the paint to adhere to. After sanding, clean the surface with a damp cloth to remove dust and debris.

The second technique is to use a brush or a foam roller to apply the paint. Start with the edges of the cabinet and then move on to the flat surfaces. To avoid drips and smudges, apply the paint thinly and evenly in one direction. You may need multiple coats to get a smooth and even look.

Number of Coats Required

To achieve a good finish, it is recommended to apply at least two coats of paint. However, depending on the type of paint and the condition of the plywood, you may require more than two coats. Before applying another coat, make sure the previous coat is fully dry.

In conclusion, painting plywood cabinets is a straightforward process that can refresh the overall look of your home. By choosing the right paint, applying the correct techniques, and using an adequate number of coats, you can achieve a professional finish that will last for years.

Finishing Touches

Achieving the perfect finish when painting plywood cabinets requires some preparation and attention to detail. Start by cleaning and sanding the surface, then apply a primer coat before painting. A topcoat of your chosen color will leave your cabinets looking sleek and polished.

After you’ve painted your plywood kitchen cabinets, it’s time for the finishing touches! These final steps will not only complete the look of your cabinets but will also ensure they last for years to come.

Sealing the Cabinets

To protect your newly painted plywood cabinets from wear and tear, it’s essential to seal them properly. You can use a clear coat sealer or a wax finish to add a protective layer. Apply the sealer with a brush, roller, or sprayer, making sure to cover all surfaces evenly. Let it dry completely before handling or reinstalling.

Adding Hardware

Adding new hardware is an effective way to update the look of your plywood cabinets. Choose knobs and pulls that complement your paint color and style. Consider the size and shape of the hardware and how it will function with your drawers and doors. Remember to measure carefully and drill holes precisely to ensure a polished and professional look.

Reattaching Doors and Drawers

Finally, it’s time to reattach the doors and drawers to your newly painted plywood cabinets. Make sure all hinges and slides are properly lubricated and adjust them as needed to ensure a smooth and silent closing. Test each door and drawer to ensure it opens and closes correctly.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully painted and finished your plywood cabinets, and they are now ready to withstand daily use in your kitchen.

Painted Vs. Stained Plywood Cabinets

Painting plywood cabinets requires proper preparation such as surface cleaning, sanding, wood fillers, and priming. Use any paint of your choice, usually regular latex paint in satin or semi-gloss, to give your cabinets a fresh look. It is best to prime plywood before painting to seal off the surface and prevent paint from soaking in.

When it comes to updating your plywood cabinets, you have two main options: painting or staining. Painted cabinets can give your space a clean, modern look, while stained cabinets offer a more natural, traditional aesthetic. In this article, we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of staining plywood cabinets.

Advantages Of Staining Plywood Cabinets

Staining your plywood cabinets can highlight the natural grain of the wood, offering a warm and classic feel to your space. Stains can also provide a durable finish that resists fading and chipping. Additionally, because stains do not cover the wood grain, they can be easier to touch up and maintain over time.

Disadvantages Of Staining Plywood Cabinets

One major disadvantage of staining plywood cabinets is that the color options may be limited compared to painting. While stains come in a variety of colors and shades, they may not offer the same flexibility as paint in terms of customization. Additionally, stains require a smooth and uniform surface to prevent blotches or streaks, which can be difficult to achieve on plywood cabinets if not properly sanded and prepped.

In conclusion, while staining your plywood cabinets can offer a beautiful and traditional look, it may come with limitations. Consider your design goals and maintenance preferences before deciding between staining or painting your cabinets.

How to Paint Plywood Cabinets

Frequently Asked Questions For How To Paint Plywood Cabinets

Can You Paint Over Plywood Cabinets?

Yes, you can paint over plywood cabinets. Start by cleaning the plywood surface, filling any gaps or holes with wood filler, sanding down the surface, and applying primer in the direction of the wood’s grain. Then, apply your paint using a paint roller or sprayer, and add a paint sealant if necessary.

Use regular latex paint in satin or semi-gloss for a durable finish.

Do You Need To Prime Plywood Before Painting?

Yes, it is important to prime plywood before painting. Priming the surface of the plywood will seal it off, preventing the paint from soaking in and ensuring a smooth, even finish. Apply primer in the direction of the top grain and allow it to fully dry before painting.

Any paint can be used on primed plywood.

What Kind Of Paint Is Best For Plywood?

For plywood cabinets, you can use regular latex paint in satin or semi-gloss depending on the final finish you desire. Semi-gloss is pretty durable without a top coat and is commonly used for cabinets and doors. It is recommended to prime your plywood before painting to seal off the surface of the wood.

Apply your primer in the direction of the top grain, let it dry completely, and then paint with your preferred color.

Should You Paint Or Stain Plywood Cabinets?

It depends on the desired look. If you want a modern, smooth look, paint your cabinets. Paint hides the wood grain. If you want a more traditional, natural look, stain your cabinets. Staining highlights the wood grain. Use the right paint formula and tools for best results.

Priming plywood before painting helps seal the surface.


Painting plywood cabinets can be a fun and rewarding experience for DIY enthusiasts. By following our step-by-step guide, you can achieve amazing results that will last for years. Don’t forget to clean the surface, apply wood filler, sand down, and apply your primer coat and paint in the direction of the top grain.

Whether you prefer a painted or stained finish, make sure to use the right paint formula and tools for plywood. Finally, protect your freshly painted cabinets and enjoy the stunning results.

Md Meraj

This is Meraj. I’m the main publisher of this blog. Wood Working Advisor is a blog where I share wood working tips and tricks, reviews, and guides. Stay tuned to get more helpful articles!

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