Can You Use Exterior Paint on Kitchen Cabinets?

Can You Use Exterior Paint on Kitchen Cabinets?

If you want to renovate your kitchen cabinets but are short on time and money, you may be considering using exterior paint. The answer is yes – but there are some things you need to know before you get started! In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of using exterior paint, as well as some tips for getting the best results.

The Benefits of an Exterior Paint in General

Exterior paint is great for use both inside and outside of the home. It offers plenty of benefits, including:

  • Protection against weathering and UV rays – since exterior paint is designed to stand up to outdoor elements, it can protect your kitchen cabinets from moisture, sun damage, and everyday wear and tear;
  • Easy application – exterior paints are usually easier to apply than interior paints because they don’t require a primer coat or multiple coats of finish;
  • Durability – Exterior paint also tends to be more durable than interior paint, so you won’t have to worry about it chipping or peeling off too quickly;
  • Variety of finishes – You can find an array of finishes that can give your cabinets a unique look, including matte, glossy and satin;
  • Quality – Exterior paint is usually of higher quality than interior paint, so it will last longer and may require fewer coats to complete the job [1];

The Benefits of an Exterior Paint in General

The Risks Involved with Painting Cabinetry

Painting your kitchen cabinets with exterior paint can be risky, as it isn’t designed to adhere to the surfaces of cabinets. It may be more likely to chip and peel off, particularly if you don’t do an adequate job of prepping them beforehand. You will also need to use a primer when painting kitchen cabinets with exterior paint, which can increase the chances of chipping or peeling over time.

In addition, using exterior paint on kitchen cabinets carries a risk for other types of damage as well. For instance, it is not meant to withstand high temperatures that could occur near stoves or ovens. Exterior paints are also prone to cracking and fading over time due to exposure to sunlight and humidity levels in the kitchen.

If you do decide to use exterior paint on your cabinets, make sure to read the directions carefully and ask a professional for help if needed. Always test out the paint first in a small area before painting the entire cabinet to ensure that there are no problems with adhesion or fading. Finally, make sure to avoid using high-gloss paints, as they may be more likely to chip or peel over time when exposed to heat or humidity.

Preparation and Pre-Paint Work

Before you begin painting your kitchen cabinets, you’ll want to ensure that the surface is clean and smooth. Any dust or dirt left on the surface of the wood can cause problems with adhesion and paint coverage. You should start by sanding with coarse grit sandpaper for rougher surfaces, then switch to finer grit sandpaper for more delicate work. Then, use a damp cloth to remove any remaining dust from the wood before you move on to pre-paint primers and sealers.

Once all of the dust has been removed and the surface has been smoothed, it’s time to apply a primer or sealer if needed. Primers are used to help create an even-toned base coat on unfinished wood and help reduce the number of coats you’ll need to apply for good coverage. Sealers provide an additional layer of protection and help seal in any oils or stains that may be on the wood. 

Preparation and Pre-Paint Work

When selecting a primer, it’s important to choose one that is specifically made for exterior use, as these will stand up best against the elements outside. The same goes for paint; if you plan to use exterior paint, make sure it has been formulated specifically for outdoor use. This will ensure better results when applied to your cabinets.

Getting Started Painting

Now that your surface is prepped and primed, it’s time to start painting. You’ll want to begin by selecting the type of paint finish you’d like. For kitchen cabinets, a semi-gloss or satin finish is usually recommended for best results. Gloss paints are more durable and easier to clean than flat paints, so they’re better suited for high-traffic areas like kitchens.

Once you’ve chosen your ideal paint finish, mix the paint according to the package directions and use a quality brush or roller to apply the primer in thin coats. To avoid drips and runs, be sure to use light pressure while applying the primer and let each coat dry. If needed, sand lightly with fine grit sandpaper in between coats of paint.

When it comes time to apply the exterior paint, use the same methods as you did for the primer: mix and apply using light pressure, allowing each coat to dry completely before moving on to the next one. Using multiple thin coats will help ensure good coverage and a quality finish.

An Alternative Approach

For those looking for a more creative approach to painting kitchen cabinets, there are other options available. Many people opt to use stencils or wall decals on their cabinet doors and drawers to create unique designs and patterns without having to paint the entire surface. This is also a great way to add pops of color and texture without having to completely revamp your existing cabinetry. [2]

If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can even try experimenting with different types of paint finishes and textures such as metallic paints, glitter, chalkboard paint, or faux woodgrain effects. Whatever route you choose, make sure that it is suitable for exterior use so that it stands up best against wear and tear from the elements outside.

How to Remove and Repair Exterior Paint on Cabinets

If you’ve decided to try using exterior paint on your kitchen cabinets, it is important to know how to properly remove and repair any existing exterior paint.

Start by gently sanding the area of the cabinet where you plan to apply the new paint. Then, use a damp cloth or sponge with a mild detergent degreaser and scrub away any grease and dirt that may have accumulated over time. After rinsing off all of the soap, let everything dry completely before beginning the painting process.

Next, you will need to prepare the surface for painting. Start by lightly sanding again with fine-grit paper so that there are no jagged edges or excess dust particles left behind. You will then need to apply a primer to the surface of the cabinet. Once it is dry, you can begin painting with your chosen exterior paint.

If there are any existing areas of peeling or chipped paint on your cabinets, these must be addressed before beginning the painting process. Use a putty knife to carefully scrape away any loose paint and use sandpaper to smooth down any remaining pieces. After cleaning away all dirt and dust particles, you can proceed with filling in any holes or cracks with wood filler or spackle. [3]

How to Remove and Repair Exterior Paint on Cabinets

Once all of the necessary repairs have been made, it’s time to start applying the new coat of exterior paint – first, prime and then two coats of color should do the trick!

Rub Down

It’s important to give your cabinets a good rub down after you have finished painting them. This will help the paint adhere better and ensure that it lasts for years to come. Use a soft cloth and light circular motions when going over each area of the cabinet so that you don’t damage the surface in any way.

Finally, it is important to remember that exterior paint can be more difficult to work with than regular interior paint due to its higher chemical content. It is best to wear gloves, safety glasses, and a respirator mask while working with this type of paint in order to protect yourself from any potentially hazardous fumes or particles.


It’s also important to be aware of the heating and humidity levels in your kitchen before painting with exterior paint. High temperatures can cause the paint to blister or peel, while too much moisture can make it difficult for the paint to adhere properly. It is best to avoid painting during times when the temperature is above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius) or when the humidity level is higher than 50%.


Remember that exterior paint contains powerful chemicals and therefore it is important to dispose of the leftover paint in an environmentally safe manner. Make sure to follow all local regulations for proper disposal when you’re done!

Using exterior paint on kitchen cabinets can be a great way to give your kitchen an updated look without breaking the bank. Just make sure you know how to properly prepare, apply, and maintain the paint so that your cabinets last for years to come.

What Is Wrong with Using an Exterior Paint Inside?

Although exterior paint is designed to withstand the elements and resist fading, it’s not a good idea for kitchen cabinets.

The main issue with using exterior paint inside is that it tends to be thicker and less breathable than interior paint. This means that if you use exterior-grade paint on your kitchen cabinets, moisture from cooking and steam will likely build up behind the painted surface, which can cause cracking, peeling, and other damage over time. It also contains more volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are chemicals known to contribute to air pollution when they’re released into the air. 

Additionally, most exterior paints don’t adhere well to unfinished wood, so you may find that your kitchen cabinets end up with a patchy, textured finish. To avoid this problem, you should always use interior paint for your kitchen cabinets and opt for either a semi-gloss or glossy finish. This will not only improve the overall look of your cabinets, but it will also protect them from moisture and other damage.

What Is Wrong with Using an Exterior Paint Inside?

Finally, exterior paints tend to be more expensive than interior paints since they are designed to last longer in harsher conditions. If you’re working with a limited budget, opting for interior paint can save you money while still giving you beautiful results that will last.

Accidentally Used Exterior Paint on Kitchen Cabinets?

There’s no need to worry if you mistakenly used exterior paint for your cabinets. There are some things you can do to try and salvage the project. First, check to see if it’s water- or oil-based. If it’s water-based, you may be able to use a mild solvent like mineral spirits to remove the paint. If it is an oil-based paint, then removing it will be much more difficult and time-consuming.

You might also consider sanding down the cabinet surfaces and reapplying a good quality interior latex paint. This will require extensive preparation since ensure that all of the old paint is completely removed before applying new primer and paint. Still, this method should be easier than removing the paint altogether.

It’s also important to keep in mind that exterior paints are designed to withstand harsh environments and may not be suitable for use inside your home, particularly around food preparation areas. This is because they contain higher levels of toxins; when applied to kitchen cabinets, these chemicals can pose a risk to your health. Therefore, it’s best to avoid using exterior paints in a kitchen environment altogether if possible.

If you do decide to use exterior paint, make sure that the room is well-ventilated and that you are wearing protective gear like gloves, masks, and eye protection. Additionally, be sure to use good quality paint that is designed for interior use and finish with a high-quality sealant.

Accidentally Used Exterior Paint on Kitchen Cabinets?

It’s best to stick with paints and finishes specifically designed for indoor use if you want your cabinets to look beautiful and last for years to come.

What Is the Best Paint for Kitchen Cabinets?

When it comes to deciding which type of paint is the best for your cabinets, there are a few factors to consider. High-gloss paints offer a sleek, modern look that is perfect for contemporary homes and they’re very easy to clean and maintain. Satin or eggshell finishes create a muted sheen that works well in traditional or rustic-style homes, and they’re also easy to wipe down.

If you’re looking for paint that will stand up to wear and tear, consider using oil-based paints. These types of paints are more durable than latex and can resist scratches, stains, and heat better than other options. However, they require more time to apply correctly since they take longer to dry. If you’re in a hurry, consider using semi-gloss latex paint as it offers the durability of an oil-based product without taking too much time to apply. 

Besides helping with durability, choosing the right kind of paint is important for getting the look you want. There are dozens of different colors and sheens available, so you’re sure to find something that suits your style. However, if you’re planning on using exterior paint for the job, it’s important to understand the limitations of this kind of product and know how to properly apply it.


Is it OK to use exterior paint on cabinets?

The short answer is yes. However, there are a few things to bear in mind before doing this. Exterior paint is usually designed to be more durable than interior paint and may contain additives that make it resistant to weathering elements such as UV rays, rain and snow. While these additives may make the paint last longer outdoors, they are not necessarily ideal for kitchen cabinets. Such paints also tend to be thicker in viscosity and require more effort to spread evenly without leaving brush strokes or visible ridges.

Also, although exterior paints are usually environmentally friendly when used outdoors, they may contain ingredients that are toxic if ingested or inhaled indoors. Make sure that you purchase low-VOC, non-toxic paint when using exterior paints on kitchen cabinets. Finally, it is important to make sure that you properly prepare and seal the cabinet surfaces before painting them with outdoor paint. This ensures proper adhesion of the new coat and prevents moisture from seeping through in the future. [4]

What kind of paint do you use to paint over kitchen cabinets?

You can use latex paint, oil-based paint, and special cabinet paints. Latex paint is the most common type used for painting over existing cabinets and provides excellent adhesion and durability. Oil-based paints offer better coverage but require more prep work and clean up with mineral spirits or other solvents. Special cabinet paints are formulated to bond directly to the existing finish on your cabinetry, giving you superior coverage in fewer coats without the need for priming. [5]

What kind of paint do you use to paint over kitchen cabinets?

Can you use exterior paint on wood?

The short answer is yes, you can. However, there are some considerations to keep in mind when doing so. Exterior paints are designed for outdoor surfaces and typically contain more resin than interior paints. This makes them more resistant to moisture and also results in a longer-lasting finish. That said, exterior paints also tend to be thicker and harder to apply than interior paints, as well as less forgiving if mistakes are made during the application process.

To ensure your project turns out looking its best, make sure you prepare the wood surface properly before applying any paint. Sanding the wood with fine-grit sandpaper will help create a smooth surface for a uniform coat of paint to stick to. Then, use a primer to seal the wood and ensure maximum adhesion for the paint. Once everything is prepped and ready, it’s time to apply your exterior paint.

For best results, use a brush or roller when painting with exterior paints to avoid any potential streaks or runs in the finished result. As you work, keep an eye out for any drips or excess paint that could potentially ruin your project if left unchecked. When you’re finished, let the paint dry.

What happens if you use exterior paint inside?

Using exterior paint inside your home is generally not recommended. Interior paints are designed to be more durable and able to withstand the wear and tear that comes with being in close proximity to people, pets, cooking, etc. Exterior paints can also be difficult to clean and may not last as long since they usually don’t contain mildewides or fungicides. Additionally, exterior paints typically emit higher levels of volatile organic compounds, which can potentially cause health issues if used indoors for extended periods of time.

As a result, it’s best to stick with interior paint when painting cabinets in a kitchen setting. While an exterior-grade finish may look good initially, it will likely have a much shorter lifespan and require more maintenance than interior paint. Exterior paints can be prone to cracking or bubbling if used in a confined space.

Ultimately, it’s best to avoid using exterior paint on cabinets. Not only will this ensure that the job lasts longer, but it could also help protect your family from any potential health risks posed by VOCs in the long term.

If you’re still determined to use an exterior-grade finish for your cabinets, ensure you take proper precautions when applying the paint. Wear protective gear such as a face mask and gloves, open windows for ventilation, and thoroughly read all instructions before beginning the project. This will help keep everyone safe while ensuring that your kitchen looks its very best.

Useful Video: Painting Kitchen Cabinets – Avoid These 11 Huge Mistakes


In conclusion, it is possible to use exterior paint on kitchen cabinets. But there are many factors that should be considered before taking this approach. It’s important to properly prepare the surface of the cabinets, chooses a quality paint that is designed for outdoor use, and apply multiple coats with adequate drying time in between each layer. Additionally, good ventilation should be used during the painting process to ensure safe fumes do not linger in your home. With appropriate preparation, proper materials, and care taken during the painting process, you can have a beautiful set of kitchen cabinets with an outdoor-grade finish!

If you’re still unsure, then consider talking to a professional painter or contractor for advice. With their expertise, you can rest assured that your cabinets will be painted to perfection and provide a lasting finish. Good luck with your project!