How to paint metal kitchen cabinets

There are many ways to accomplish this, but the final result can be quite different depending on how you do it. For example, I was able to get the look I wanted by doing all of the following steps, others may not need to go that far!

Materials Needed: Rubber gloves, old rags or paper towels, safety goggles (you don’t want to get any of this in your eyes), wire brush.

How to paint metal kitchen cabinets, Zazzy Home

Depending on how much work you want to do and if your cabinets are in good shape or not, you might also need sandpaper (80-150 grit), a primer for metal (if needed), and topcoat paint for metal (found at your local hardware store).

Begin by brushing off the cabinet with your wire brush to get any dust or debris out of the cabinets. Be careful not to gouge the metal; you just want to take off anything loose.

If there is any rust (mine were completely fine), use either steel wool or sandpaper and lightly go over it until smooth again. Ensure all old paint is removed as well; if needed, use sandpaper for this. You might also need to give everything one final wipe down with a wet cloth so that no dirt or dust is left on them before you paint them.

After all the surfaces are clean dry, begin painting! I used two coats of Rustoleum primer for metal because these cabinets didn’t have too much rust, and the previous paint was oil-based. Other primers will work as well and also depend on what you’re painting it on and if there’s any remaining rust.

The topcoat I used was Rustoleum High-temperature enamel which is specifically for metal, but others will work. Make sure to let everything dry completely in between coats (overnight at least).

How to paint metal kitchen cabinets, Zazzy Home

I opted for adding a second color after the primer and before the topcoat. Although this would work just fine without it, having the pop of color adds a fun touch to these cabinets!

A few things to note: if any paint gets on anything that isn’t metal, just wipe it off immediately when it’s wet with water and soap so that when it dries, there will be no chance of rust forming later on. Also, when sanding or wire brushing, use gloves and safety goggles so that you won’t get chipped or peeling paint in your eyes. It may seem scary, but you can get hurt pretty badly if it gets in your eyes!

You’ll want to use a good amount of coats of primer and then continue with your topcoat until you get the desired look! Be careful not to go overboard with the paint, though, because when painting anything in general, it can curl up or be very bumpy if you put too much on at once, so just try to do one good layer after another until done!

If your cabinets are wet, be careful not to touch them too much, or you’ll get streaks. However, this paint dries pretty fast, so it shouldn’t be a big deal! Once done, just let everything dry for a while and then reattach your handles to the front and admire your beautiful new metal cabinets!

Remember that if you have a lot of rust, you might want to do a light sanding before applying any primer, this will depend on how much rust there is, though, so use your best judgment. I wouldn’t recommend priming over all of the rust because it’s usually not very thick. Another coat of primer won’t stick well since this type of primer doesn’t work perfectly with already existing rust underneath. Sandpaper should take away most of the extra rust, so try that out first!

How to paint metal kitchen cabinets, Zazzy Home

What kind of paint do you use on metal cabinets?

Metal cabinets are exposed to the elements, so it is best to paint them with a protective exterior or marine enamel. You can also apply a clear coat enamel to give your cabinets a nice, clean look.

What kind of paint do you use on metal cabinets?

The first thing to determine is if your cabinets are made of steel or aluminum, as this will affect the type of paint you should use. If they are steel, using a metallic enamel will protect them from rust. On the other hand, aluminum doesn’t rust as much as it discolors with time, and regular paints don’t adhere well.

Here is a list of paints that can be used:

-Aluminum and steel: Metallic and clear coat enamel (e.g., Rust-Oleum)

-Stainless steel: Use rust inhibiting primer before applying any standard exterior paint.

-Brass, copper, or bronze: You can use standard exterior or marine enamels, but not all finishes are compatible with these metals, so check the label for recommendations.

These types require at least two coats for good protection, with three being optimal to provide the most protection and longest-lasting finish. Make sure to sand between coats and use a tack rag to remove all dust before applying additional product.

You can also try using spray paint, as this will provide the best protection. Let your cabinets dry for at least 48 hours before you start painting, and follow all instructions on the label of any specific products you purchase.



Meet Jeff. For the last 10 years, he's been repairing and fixing problem homes - from leaky roofs to faulty wiring. He started blogging about his experiences as a way to help others who might be struggling with home repairs, and he's become something of an expert in the field. Jeff is always up for a challenge, and he loves sharing his tips and advice with others. When it comes to home repairs, Jeff knows what he's talking about. So if you're looking for some help and guidance, be sure to check out his latest guide!

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