Can I paint over wood-grain cabinets?

Wood Grain Cabinet

Can I paint over wood-grain cabinets?

We’ve had clients ask if it’s possible to paint over wood grain. The answer is yes, but if you want professional results, it’s not a do-it-yourself project. Let a professional contractor with experience handle it.

Painting kitchen cabinets can save you tens of thousands of dollars – and the aggravation (and time) of replacing them. Outdated wood-grain cabinets can be transformed into beautiful painted cabinets in any color. There are some caveats, though.

Painting over the grain

To paint wood-grain cabinets, you’ll probably want to disguise the grain with a smooth-painted finish for a professional look. But to achieve that, the cabinet surfaces must be very carefully prepared before painting. The heavier the wood grain or the more “rough” the knots, the more careful preparation is required. With meticulous preparation, a smooth finish is possible. And that’s why working with an experienced painter matters!

The painter will fill in any surface dings and apply primer. Once they’ve prepped the surface, they spray on the paint rather than rolling or brushing it.

The type of cabinet wood grain influences the prepping and painting process. Get those right, and the results can be impressive. Get it wrong, however, and the cabinets won’t look professional.

About wood grains

There are a few things homeowners should know about wood grains and cabinets. Wood grains come in three types: light, medium/heavy, or knotted. Each takes paint differently.


Light Grain

Light grain woods have the smoothest surface, making them the easiest to paint over while obtaining the smoothest results. If you want to know what type of wood grain you have, run your hand over the surface. You likely have a light-grain wood if it feels smooth without any ridges. Light grain woods are maple or cherry.


Medium to Heavy Grain

Medium to heavy wood grains look more prominent, and you can feel the grain if you run your hand over these cabinets. The wood is walnut, hickory, and golden or red oaks. Compared to light-grain cabinets, they have a bolder stain color with a robust orange tint. Medium to heavy wood-grain cabinets have declined dramatically in popularity, making them type one of the most requested for painting over.


Knotted Wood Species

All woods have some knots or heavy natural spots, but some have more than others. For example, knotty alder and rustic hickory have more prominent knots and were popular 15 to 20 years ago. The knots can often feel rough, while the rest of the surface feels smooth. Like heavier-grained woods, they’ve largely fallen out of favor in most designs.



We hope you better understand how we can transform wood-grain cabinets into painted cabinets. The key is working with an experienced painting contractor who can achieve a smooth, smooth finish.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Awards and Recognition

Alternate Best Pick Ribbon
Member of Painting Contractor Association


Featured on houzz