I admit it: I love Pinterest, and I especially love looking at kitchens on Pinterest. But I’m surprised how often I see pins about painting kitchen cabinets because when you weigh the hassle involved in painting vs. replacing, it seems that replacing makes more sense. Let’s look at reasons why people choose to paint…and why maybe they shouldn’t.

Painting kitchen cabinets: the cost and the labor
People say they plan on painting kitchen cabinets because they want a new look but don’t want to spend the money on new kitchen cabinets. That makes sense except that time is money, and it takes a lot of time to paint your kitchen cabinets.

First, there’s the prep work. All the doors must come off. The hardware must be removed. The old paint or stain has to be removed or sanded off, and any dirt or grime removed. The surface must be clean, clean, clean or the new paint won’t adhere to it. Invest in really good quality paint, because it will take a beating in the kitchen.

Then there’s applying the paint. First you apply the primer, then sand that, then apply two coats of paint, sanding between coats. Some people say you have to use a sprayer so you don’t have brush marks and that adds another layer of complexity and work as you tape off practically your whole house to make the spraying a possibility!

Then when you’re finally done, you put everything back together. In addition to taking a lot of time, painting cabinets also takes up a lot of room, and you won’t be able to use your kitchen during this time. Plus, not all cabinets can be painted.

And if you don’t have the time to do all of this work, you’re going to pay someone to do it, and that won’t be cheap.

Replacing kitchen cabinets: the drawbacks
If you’re considering painting kitchen cabinets, it might be only a temporary fix. If the cabinetry is not right, why paint it? It could be it’s not configured well for your kitchen so cuts down on storage space. It could be it’s old school and lacks modern amenities like clever storage solutions or pull out drawers behind the doors. Maybe there’s wasted space where you could add a pantry if you got new cabinets instead. Or maybe you don’t even like the looks of the cabinets you currently have. Does it make sense to invest all that time and money in painting over something you don’t even like?

Painting kitchen cabinets: the color
Then there’s the color. Some people assume they have to paint their kitchen cabinets to get a particular color, but a kitchen cabinet manufacturer with a color-matching programcan do the same thing. And when the kitchen cabinet manufacturer applies the color, it will be with the right kind of paint—durable and made to last in a busy kitchen.

Painting kitchen cabinets: really the solution?
If you’re considering painting kitchen cabinets vs. investing in new ones, make sure you do the math. Add up all of the costs including the labor hours and the time you’ll be without a kitchen (which means eating takeout). Weigh that against the costs of semi custom cabinets that can be exactly the style you want, with all the modern amenities, and built to last—with finish built to last as well.

And if the painting wins, go for it! Just make sure you understand the real costs of painting rather than replacing before you start.