Paint Cabinets or Replace Countertops First: Expert Advice

Painting cabinets or replacing countertops can be a great way to give your kitchen a facelift without breaking the bank. However, homeowners may be unsure about which one to tackle first. Should you paint the cabinets before replacing the countertops, or vice versa? There are pros and cons to each approach, and it ultimately depends on your specific situation and priorities.

Before you start planning your kitchen renovation project, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. First, evaluate your budget and determine how much you can afford to spend on the project. Painting cabinets is generally a more affordable option than replacing countertops, but keep in mind that the cost can add up if you hire professionals or need to purchase high-quality supplies and tools. Additionally, think about the impact that each option will have on the overall aesthetic appeal of your kitchen. Consider neighboring finishes, such as flooring and lighting, and how they will be affected by your choice.

Key Takeaways

  • Before starting your kitchen renovation project, evaluate your budget and determine your priorities.
  • Painting cabinets is generally a more affordable option than replacing countertops, but costs can add up.
  • Consider the impact that each option will have on the overall aesthetic appeal of your kitchen.

Considerations Before Starting

When deciding whether to paint cabinets or replace countertops first, there are several factors to consider. Two main considerations are budget and planning, and whether to do the work yourself or hire contractors.

Budget and Planning

Before starting any remodeling project, it’s important to establish a budget and plan accordingly. Painting cabinets is generally less expensive than replacing countertops, but both options can vary greatly in cost depending on the materials and labor involved.

When creating a budget, consider the cost of materials, such as paint or new countertops, as well as any additional expenses, such as hiring contractors or purchasing new hardware. It’s also important to factor in any unexpected costs that may arise during the project.

Planning is also crucial to the success of any remodeling project. Take the time to measure the space and ensure that the materials you choose will fit properly. It’s also important to consider the overall design of the room and how the cabinets and countertops will fit into that design.

DIY or Hiring Contractors

Another consideration when deciding whether to paint cabinets or replace countertops first is whether to do the work yourself or hire contractors. While painting cabinets can be a DIY project for those with some experience, replacing countertops may require more specialized skills.

If you choose to do the work yourself, be sure to research the proper techniques and materials needed for the job. It’s also important to have the necessary tools on hand and to take safety precautions when working with power tools or chemicals.

Hiring contractors can be a good option for those who lack the time or expertise to do the work themselves. When hiring contractors, be sure to research their credentials and read reviews from previous customers. It’s also important to get multiple quotes and to establish a clear timeline and budget for the project.

Overall, when deciding whether to paint cabinets or replace countertops first, it’s important to consider your budget and planning, as well as whether to do the work yourself or hire contractors. By taking the time to carefully plan and budget for the project, you can ensure that the end result meets your expectations and stays within your budget.

Painting Cabinets

If you’re considering painting your cabinets, it’s important to choose the right paint, prepare properly, and follow the right process to ensure long-lasting results. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Choosing the Right Paint

When it comes to painting cabinets, you want to choose a paint that will be durable and long-lasting. Look for a paint that is specifically designed for cabinets, as these will be more resistant to wear and tear. You will also want to choose a finish that is easy to clean and maintain. Semi-gloss or satin finish paints are good options for cabinets, as they are easy to clean and will resist stains. Matte finishes are not recommended for cabinets as they are not as durable as other finishes.

Before applying the paint, it’s important to use a primer. The primer will help the paint adhere to the surface of the cabinets and will ensure a smooth finish. Look for a primer that is specifically designed for cabinets, as these will be more effective than general-purpose primers.

Preparation and Process

Preparation is key when it comes to painting cabinets. Start by removing all the cabinet doors and hardware, and clean the surfaces thoroughly with a degreaser. Sand the surfaces to remove any old paint or varnish, and then wipe them down with a tack cloth to remove any dust.

When you’re ready to start painting, use a brush or roller to apply the paint in thin, even coats. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying times between coats. Once the paint is dry, you can reattach the cabinet doors and hardware.

Touch-Ups and Maintenance

After painting your cabinets, you may need to do some touch-ups from time to time. Keep some of the leftover paint on hand so that you can touch up any areas that become scratched or chipped. To clean your painted cabinets, use a mild soap and water solution, and avoid using abrasive cleaners or scrubbers.

In conclusion, painting your cabinets can be a cost-effective way to give your kitchen a new look. By choosing the right paint, preparing properly, and following the right process, you can achieve long-lasting results that will look great for years to come.

Replacing Countertops

If you’re considering replacing your countertops, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are some sub-sections to help you navigate the process.

Selecting Countertop Material

There are a variety of materials to choose from when it comes to countertops. Some popular options include granite, quartz, marble, and concrete. Laminate countertops are also a budget-friendly choice. Each material has its own unique characteristics and benefits, so it’s important to do your research and choose the one that best fits your needs.

Installation and Care

Once you’ve selected your new countertops, it’s important to have them installed by a professional to ensure they are properly secured and level. After installation, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for care and maintenance. This may include using a mild soap and water to clean the surface and avoiding harsh chemicals that can damage the material.

Impact on Kitchen Aesthetics

Replacing your countertops can have a significant impact on the overall aesthetic of your kitchen. Choosing a material that complements your cabinets and flooring can help create a cohesive look. Additionally, selecting a countertop with a unique pattern or texture can add visual interest to the space.

In conclusion, replacing your countertops is a great way to update the look of your kitchen. By selecting a material that fits your needs, properly installing and caring for the countertops, and considering the impact on the overall aesthetic, you can create a beautiful and functional space.

New Cabinets Vs. Refacing

When it comes to upgrading your kitchen, one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is whether to install new cabinets or reface your existing ones. Both options have their pros and cons, and the choice you make will depend on your budget, the condition of your current cabinets, and your aesthetic preferences.

Pros and Cons

New Cabinets

Installing new cabinets is a more expensive option than refacing, but it has some significant benefits. For one thing, you’ll have the opportunity to completely customize your cabinets to suit your specific needs and taste. You’ll also be able to choose from a wider range of materials, finishes, and hardware.

Another advantage of new cabinets is that they can increase the value of your home. If you’re planning to sell your home in the near future, investing in high-quality cabinets can be a smart move.

On the downside, new cabinets can be a significant expense, especially if you opt for high-end materials or custom designs. Installing new cabinets can also be a more time-consuming process than refacing, which can impact your kitchen remodel timeline.


Refacing your cabinets is a more affordable option than installing new ones, and it can be a good choice if your existing cabinets are in good condition but need a cosmetic update. Refacing involves replacing the cabinet doors and drawer fronts, and covering the exterior of the cabinets with a veneer or laminate.

One of the biggest advantages of refacing is that it’s a relatively quick and easy process. It can be completed in just a few days, which means you’ll be able to use your kitchen again sooner.

Refacing is also a more environmentally friendly option than installing new cabinets, as it reduces waste and conserves resources.

On the downside, refacing won’t address any underlying structural issues with your cabinets. If your cabinets are in poor condition or have significant damage, refacing may not be a viable option.

Impact on Kitchen Remodel

Whether you choose new cabinets or refacing will have an impact on the overall look and feel of your kitchen remodel. New cabinets can completely transform the space, giving it a fresh, modern feel. Refacing, on the other hand, can give your kitchen a more updated look without completely changing the layout or design.

Ultimately, the choice between new cabinets and refacing will depend on your budget, the condition of your existing cabinets, and your personal preferences. Consider the pros and cons of each option carefully before making your decision.


In conclusion, the decision to paint cabinets or replace countertops first during a kitchen renovation or remodeling project ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences.

If you are working on a tight budget, painting your cabinets can be a cost-effective way to update your kitchen without breaking the bank. Additionally, painting your cabinets before installing new countertops can make the painting process easier and less messy.

However, if your countertops are in poor condition or you simply want to upgrade them, replacing them should be your priority. It is important to note that installing new countertops before painting your cabinets can help protect your cabinets from damage during the installation process.

Ultimately, whether you choose to paint your cabinets or replace your countertops first, the end result should be a beautifully updated kitchen that meets your needs and enhances the value of your home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it cheaper to paint cabinets or replace countertops?

The cost of painting cabinets versus replacing countertops depends on various factors such as the size of the kitchen, the quality of materials used, and the complexity of the job. Generally, painting cabinets is a more affordable option than replacing countertops. However, if the cabinets are in poor condition or outdated, it may be more cost-effective to replace them altogether.

Should I paint cabinets before or after installing countertops?

If you plan to replace your countertops, it’s best to paint your cabinets first. This way, you can avoid getting paint on your new countertops during the painting process. Additionally, by painting your cabinets first, you can ensure that the color scheme of your cabinets matches your new countertops.

Can you replace countertops before cabinets?

While it’s possible to replace countertops before cabinets, it’s not recommended. This is because the cabinets provide support for the countertops, and removing the countertops before the cabinets can cause damage to the cabinets. Additionally, if you replace your countertops before your cabinets, you may end up with gaps between the cabinets and the new countertops.

Do I need to replace cabinets when replacing countertops?

No, you don’t necessarily need to replace your cabinets when replacing your countertops. If your cabinets are in good condition and you’re happy with their style, you can simply replace your countertops to give your kitchen a fresh look. However, if your cabinets are outdated or in poor condition, it may be worth considering replacing them as well.

Can granite be replaced without damaging cabinets?

Yes, granite can be replaced without damaging cabinets. However, it’s important to hire a professional to do the job to ensure that the cabinets are not damaged during the process. Additionally, the weight of granite countertops can cause stress on the cabinets, so it’s important to make sure that the cabinets are strong enough to support the new countertops.

How to paint kitchen cabinets?

To paint kitchen cabinets, you’ll need to follow a few steps. First, remove all cabinet doors and hardware. Then, clean the cabinets with a degreaser and sand them down. Next, apply a primer and let it dry. Once the primer is dry, apply your chosen paint color and let it dry. Finally, reattach the cabinet doors and hardware. It’s important to note that painting cabinets requires a lot of prep work and attention to detail, so it’s best to hire a professional if you’re not confident in your abilities.