Painted cabinets in long-term rentals/flips

7 Replies

Has anybody tried this? The cabinets are in great shape but they're so dated. I'm not so much looking for economic reasons to "just leave them the way they are" haha, I already know that's what I "should" do. They need to be updated to get a good price, so the question is, is painting cabinets really worth the effort? And, do they last?

I often paint the kitchen and bathroom cabinets white. Its cheaper to paint the cabinets than to replace them. Also, its easy to touch up paint between tenants.

If the cabinets are dated, you might try re-facing the cabinet doors and then painting them. I had worn "1980s style" cabinets in one rental. I re-faced the doors (changed from 1980s style to Shaker style) and painted them. They looked great.

If you do it, do it well, and probably don't try to do it yourself, usually when I see this in a house for sale it is done poorly and makes the cabinets look worse and more low quality than they did before.  I have not done this in a rental, usually if your cabinets are dated the rest of the kitchen is too and it is time for an upgrade.

My husband and I tried this. We painted old cabinets white. Within a year they began chipping. We are usually handy and we thought we followed the proper steps so I was surprised how quickly they peeled. We ended up just changing out the cabinets ourselves because they looked terrible as more and more paint came off.

Perhaps if you hire a professional you would get different results.

Hi Brian, I hope you don't mind me sharing my opinion here. I've designed a few kitchen reno's where we repainted the cabinets and replaced the hardware. In my opinion - use the paint to cover blemishes and hide ugly, outdated wood (like red oak), just don't layer it on til it looks like a wedding cake.

But, in my experience... the hardware is the money-maker. It might sound dumb but it's the shiny accent that'll catch a potential tenant's eye, and it's the piece of the kitchen that they'll actually be touching every day. A really simple, modern bar pull like the one linked below from HD costs a little more than the bottom of the barrell, but we're talking $3.50 vs. $1, so it won't break the bank.

Simple Bar Pull

Brass pulls on dark grey or navy blue cabinets, or nickel on white is guaranteed to impress a potential tenant. Bottom line: if a tenant sees "trendy", they won't be thinking "cheap". Just replace the knobs every 10 years.

P.S. to Amy Beth's point of the paint chipping: Get a painter to give you a quote or walkthrough and ask what kind of paint he thinks is on the cabinets. Certain paints can't be layered over other types of paint. I.E. using oil over latex. A good painter will know what you're dealing with and what kind of paint to use to cover it, or he can tell you what's already there and you can do a google search to see what you should use to paint them yourself. Good luck!

All great info, thank you everyone

I have painted cabinets in two of my properties and it worked well. Prep is key - you must use primer and sand between coats and all the other stuff you want to skip or it will peel and look awful. Mine have held up well and completely transformed the kitchens for a fraction of the cost to replace just the doors. It’s a lot of work though.

Originally posted by @Brian Orr :

Has anybody tried this? The cabinets are in great shape but they're so dated. I'm not so much looking for economic reasons to "just leave them the way they are" haha, I already know that's what I "should" do. They need to be updated to get a good price, so the question is, is painting cabinets really worth the effort? And, do they last?

 IF you do it, you have to do a good job - I have never painted bathroom vanity. Have painted old oak cabinets - its a good amount of effort, I always weight this option to replace or paint if they are good solid cabinets - if old and trashed they go in the dumpster

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