By Gene and Katie Hamilton

One of the biggest bangs for your decorating buck is painting kitchen cabinets. It can be a dramatic facelift, especially when you give a fresh new look to old wood cabinets with a dark finish. After the cabinet, drawer fronts and hardware are removed, the real work begins with sanding, deglossing and priming the surfaces. When they're completely smooth, they're ready for a topcoat of paint. You can leave some items inside the cabinets, but leave plenty of space to easily work on the frames.

A painting contractor will charge $555 to prepare, prime and paint 150-square-feet of base and wall-hung wood cabinets with one coat of alkyd paint. This includes labor and material. You can do it yourself for $60, the cost of the materials - sandpaper, deglosser, primer, paint and brush - and earn an 80 percent saving. It'll cost more in time and money to paint the interior of the cabinets because the insides have much more surface to cover than the outside.

For the best results, spend more time preparing the surfaces than actually applying the paint. Remove the door fronts and drawers and set them up on a sturdy, flat, horizontal work surface for painting so the paint can level and dry to a good, hard surface. Remove the hardware, and if there are damaged areas or hardware holes to fill, use a wood filler. Then sand the patched areas smooth before painting, which may require more than one application. Money spent on new hardware and pulls will give the cabinets a nice new look.

Wrapping up, given the average cost to paint kitchen cabinets you can compare the price of a contractor’s bid with doing it yourself. For a local cost input your ZIP Code.

Cost updated 2013

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