How to Mask Kitchen Cabinets for Painting

How to mask kitchen cabinets for painting isn’t hard and will result in a beautiful job without any overspray landing on your walls, fixtures or appliances.

The first step to getting your cabinets back to their original glory is to sand or strip them of the old finish or paint.  The next step is to mask off your kitchen to make sure that paint spray doesn’t get on anything other than your cabinets. 

Read on to learn how to mask off cabinets and your kitchen for spray painting. 

how to mask kitchen cabinets for painting
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How to Mask Kitchen Cabinets for Painting: Supplies and Tools Needed 

Most folks have these supplies lying around their home so there’s no need to spend any extra cash getting your kitchen cabinets masked off.  Once you’ve removed your cabinets doors and hardware you can start masking off your cabinets to be painted.   

Painting cabinets like a Pro means using the same techniques you see being used by professional painters.  If you want results that good, solid prep, a cabinet paint sprayer, and good quality paint are KEY. 

Remember: there is no magic bullet or miracle painters’ tape that will make your cabinet prep any easier or the painting go any faster.  Prep is a time consuming step that, when done right, will make sure your painting job is much easier.  The devil is in the details.   

Don’t forget to number your cabinets when you remove them for painting. It makes putting them back on SOOOO much easier!

Supplies and Tools for Masking off Cabinets for Painting 

Here is our quick supply list to grab to make sure you have everything you need to mask of your kitchen right the first time. 

First Things First: Masking Your Floor 

To keep overspray from landing on your floor, you must cover it in plastic sheeting.  You will need to cut the plastic sheeting or newspaper to match the dimensions of your kitchen floor.  Then, you tape together the sections.   

Using a durable tape here like regular masking tape or duct tape is important.  This prevents the sheeting from coming loose and exposing your floor to paint droplets. 

It also stops the sheeting or newspaper from lifting and creating a hazard that you might trip on.   

Make sure to get the sheeting/paper underneath your appliances too.  Paint overspray is so small, any bit of airflow will blow the paint into any nook and cranny you’ve left unmasked. 

When masking the part of your floor that is near the cabinets, ditch the regular tapes and opt to use the green/yellow frog tape against the base where your cabinets meet the floor.  This will prevent any paint bleed through and make sure to not damage your paint or cabinets. 

Second: Seal Off Your Doorways and Air Vents 

Make sure you’ve turned off your furnace or air conditioning system before you start painting.  Paint droplets are so small they will get into your air system and could land on anything in your house! 

Make sure you mask off the furnace and/or air conditioning vents to keep any particles from making their way into your system. 

Third: Your Appliances, Fixtures, Countertops and Walls 

How to mask off your kitchen cabinets for painting includes covering your appliances and fixtures in plastic sheeting, newspaper or rosin paper.  This includes your stove, fridge, microwave, range hood, sink, faucet and anything else you can think of that’s built in that you don’t want to get any paint on.  

Don’t skimp out on the material that you cover your appliances in, paint WILL find a way in if you do. 

Cover those countertops and any backsplash to protect them from paint too.  Remove your light switch and plug covers and mask off the holes in the walls.  Don’t forget to mask off your walls as well. 

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Last but not least: Masking off Your Cabinets 

Here comes the real work!  Masking off cabinets isn’t hard, but it’s definitely time consuming.  But, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful, professional looking cabinets! 

Start with removing all the hardware including handles, knobs and hinges. If you’re replacing the hardware, you can just get rid of the old stuff.

If you’re reusing the old hardware, don’t forget to label it so that you can put it back in the same spot when you put the cabinet doors back on. This way you ensure a perfect fit after you’ve completed your paint job.

To Start masking, begin with the top cabinets and work your way down.  Since we recommend only painting your cabinet boxes, let’s learn how to do just that. 

Make sure to use the green/yellow painters tape to prevent bleeding.  If all you’ve got is masking tape go ahead but make sure its 1.5 inches or greater in width so its wide enough to stick to both your cabinet boxes and your plastic sheeting or newspaper.      

Run the tape all down the inside of your cabinet boxes, sticking it to the inside lip.  Leave about an inch or more exposed so there is enough to attach and stick on your plastic sheeting. 

Repeat this to all of your cabinet boxes.  Now, you can either buy a hand masker for the next step or you can just use elbow grease if you don’t have one. 

Measure out your cabinet spaces, both the width and the length.  Then, using a measuring tape, measure out your pieces of plastic sheeting to fit the empty space in your cabinets from end to end and top to bottom.

You’ll need one piece for each of your cabinets that your painting.  Cut out each piece of sheeting and get ready to stick it onto the masking or painters’ tape. 

Once your plastic sheeting or newsprint is cut up, start sticking it to the tape on each of your cabinets.  Make sure the sheeting is really stuck on there to keep overspray from getting onto anything other than your cabinets.  Inspect and make sure you’ve gotten all the holes covered.  Otherwise, cover it up with a piece of tape. 

Should You Paint the Inside of Your Cabinets? 

There are 2 types of people here.  Ones that are thinking about painting the inside of their cabinets and ones that are only painting the boxes and cabinet doors. 

Most folks recommend against painting the inside of your cabinets.  The paint just doesn’t hold up to the type of heavy use seen on the inside of cabinets.   

Unless you have glass cabinet doors, or the color of the cabinets and the inside will clash, skip painting the inside of your cabinets. 

Another idea is to replace your shelving with shelving that matches your new cabinet paint, and just paint the sides of the inside of your cabinets.  Either way, it’s a ton of work that may go unappreciated and we say skip it entirely. 

When Should I remove Painters Tape?

Wait until the paint is dry to the touch. This can take as little as an hour in dry climates, or much longer in humid climates. Read our detailed post on how long paint takes to dry here.

How can I get a clean paint line when masking off my cabinets?

To ensure a clean paint line when masking off your cabinets, apply the tape carefully and press it down firmly with your fingers or a putty knife. Be sure to trim the tape as needed with a sharp utility knife for a precise fit.


How to mask kitchen cabinets for painting is key to getting those Pro results that you are working hard for. 

Give your kitchen an affordable make over in your spare time and make everyone think you got an expensive renovation!  Don’t renovate: REPAINT!                     


What paint sprayer should I use to paint my cabinets?

Check out our detailed post HERE for reviews and discussion about the best cabinet paint sprayers.

Can I reuse painter’s tape for multiple coats of paint?

It’s not recommended to reuse painter’s tape for multiple coats of paint, as the tape may lose its adhesion and allow paint to seep under the edges. It’s best to use fresh tape for each coat of paint to ensure a clean and crisp paint line.

What type of tape should I use to mask off my kitchen cabinets?

You should use painter’s tape, which is specifically designed for masking off surfaces during painting. Painter’s tape is easy to apply and remove, and it won’t leave any sticky residue or damage the surface of your cabinets.