The Best Way To Paint Cabinet Shelves - Home Decorating & Painting Advice

The Best Way To Paint Cabinet Shelves

Planning on painting your kitchen cabinets? I’m sure you want to paint the cabinet shelves so everything looks professionally painted when you open the cabinet door. Here are a few tricks that will make the process go quickly and the paint go on smoothly.


To Paint Cabinet Shelves You Will Need:

  • A foam roller with a rounded end that is small enough to fit in tight spaces—having a rounded edge will lessen roller line ridges in your paint
  • A 1″ high quality angled brush will get paint right where you need it
  • A gripping primer (since most cabinets are smooth and glossy, the use of a primer like Glidden Stain Blocker Primer will help the paint adhere)
  • A sanding block with a medium grit sandpaper
  • A tack cloth

Kitchen cabinet shelves can get pretty dirty if they store food. Paint will not adhere to any greasy or gooey spots. Sand, scrub, and let dry. Wipe with a tack cloth to make sure all the dirt and crumbs are gone.


Paint one shelf and the space above it at a time, then move on to the next shelf. I look at each section as if I’m painting a room, complete with a ceiling, floor, and walls.

1. “Cut in” with the angled brush, making sure to get the top and sides.

2. Use the roller to roll paint on the top, then the sides. Do the bottom of each section last to catch any paint drips. Let it dry.

3. Repeat the steps to add one more coat. Let dry.
4. Apply paint to the outer edge of the cabinet shelves with the foam roller.

If it seems too time consuming to paint the inside of every cabinet and all of the cabinet shelves in your kitchen, here’s a trick: just paint the inner 1-inch strip right along the inside edge of each cabinet box. It will look nice and neat and still professionally done.

Tip: If you are painting your cabinets white, don’t use the ready-made white that is usually called “Extra White.” It will end up looking too blue on your cabinets. You are better off getting a pure white color mixed, like Snow Storm or Atrium White.
Open Glidden Color Coach
Glidden Color Coach