Can you paint hinges on cabinets?


Can you paint hinges on cabinets

Giving your kitchen a little refresh can breathe new life into the space. But one look at the costs for brand new cabinet hardware, and your budget renovation dreams can come crashing down. Replacing all those hinges, pulls and knobs adds up fast – easily $300 or more for just the basics!

What if I told you there’s a budget-friendly hack for updating dated or mismatched cabinet hinges? Yep, with some elbow grease and the right materials, you can transform those old hinges with a simple can of spray paint. It’s an affordable DIY that can drastically improve your kitchen’s look.

But is painting cabinet hinges really a viable option? Or is it just asking for chipped paint and regrets down the road? I’m spilling all the details on if and when you can (and should) repaint your cabinet hinges for a flawless pro-level finish.

Is Painting Hinges Right for Your Kitchen?

Before deciding if this budget DIY is right for you, carefully evaluate the current state of your cabinet hinges. Here are some key factors to consider:

Hinge Type:

  • Overlay Hinges: One of the most common styles where the hinge is visible and exposed when the cabinet is closed. An easier painting candidate.
  • Inset Hinges: More complex since the hinges are concealed inside the cabinet frame when closed. Less room for error in spraying tight spaces.
  • Concealed Hinges: These are totally hidden, so likely not worth trying to paint unless you can easily access and remove them.

Condition of Existing Hinges:

  • Chipping or Worn Finish: If existing paint/finish is already compromised, painting over won’t help. May need to be replaced.
  • Working Condition: Do the hinges still open, close, and adjust smoothly without sticking or binding? Any extensive repair needed?
  • Rust or Deep Pitting: Surface rust can sometimes be prepped away, but severe corrosion may mean hinges are too far gone.

Future Plans:

Are you refreshing kitchen cabinets you’ll keep long-term? Or just adding a budget band-aid until you’d prefer to replace everything in a few years?

If you plan to install all new cabinets and hardware soon, the effort of properly prepping and painting hinges may not be worth it. But for cabinets you’ll live with long-term, it can prove a cost-effective DIY.

Don’t rule out painting just yet! With some patience and the right prep techniques, most standard overlay hinges in decent condition can likely be repainted without issue. Just be realistic about any hinges that are excessively corroded, stuck, or require hinge pocket modifications.

Tools & Materials You’ll Need

Tools & Materials You'll Need

Having the right supplies is key for getting a smooth, long-lasting paint finish on your cabinet hinges. Here’s a checklist of must-have tools and materials:


  • Drill or Screwdriver (for hinge removal)
  • Stiff-Bristle Toothbrush
  • Wire Brush
  • Degreasing Agent (I.e. Simple Green, Krud Kutter)
  • Slow Cooker or Large Pot (for degreasing soak)
  • Protective Gear (gloves, respirator mask)
  • Plastic Tarp or Cardboard (to stage hinges)
  • Paint Sprayer or Spray Cans
  • Painter’s Pyramids or Boxes (for organizing hinges)


  • Sandpaper (80-120 grit for light scuffing)
  • Degreasing Solution (I.e. TSP Substitute)
  • Rust-Inhibiting Etching Primer (for metal surfaces)
  • Satin or Semi-Gloss Spray Paint (rust-resistant metallic formula)

Don’t try using that leftover latex wall paint – trust me! For proper adhesion and a durable finish, you’ll want to use a primer and spray paint specifically formulated for metal surfaces prone to future rust or wear.

An etching primer helps the topcoat really grip onto hinges. For the color coat, opt for a satin or semi-gloss acrylic enamel in your desired sheen (just avoid flat/matte which can highlight imperfections). Rust-resistant metallic paints are ideal.

Having an extra rag or two on-hand never hurts either when dealing with cleaners and paints. Ensure your workspace is very well-ventilated as well.

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Remove, Clean & Prep Hinges

Remove, Clean & Prep Hinges

The most tedious – yet crucial – part of painting cabinet hinges is the prep work. Investing ample time into properly removing, cleaning and lightly roughing up the hinge surfaces ensures your paint coats will adhere and last.

Here are some steps for this meticulous phase:

1) Removing Hinges

First thing’s first – you’ll need to remove every single hinge using a drill or screwdriver. Enlist an extra set of hands to keep cabinet doors from going rogue on you as you remove each hinge’s screws.

Pro Tip: Clearly label which hinge goes to each cabinet using numbered pieces of painter’s tape. You’ll thank yourself later!

As you go, place each set of hinges and their screws in separate plastic bags or containers to keep them all organized.

2) Deep Cleaning & Degreasing

Think those hinges look clean? chuckles Just wait until you see the built-up grime and cooking grease that comes off after this degreasing soak!

Fill a large pot or your slow cooker’s crock with very hot water and a generous amount of a heavy-duty degreasing cleaner like Simple Green. The hotter the better to help dissolve stuck-on crud.

Fully submerge your hinges and screws, putting smaller pieces in a metal mesh basket or tied in cheesecloth so they don’t get lost. Let them soak for at least 1-2 hours.

One by one, use a stiff-bristle toothbrush to thoroughly scrub every nook and cranny of each hinge until grease and gunk is fully removed. For any extra stubborn areas, break out a wire brush.

Hinges that appeared relatively clean will now shine like brand new after this deep scouring. That built-up gunk was just waiting to compromise your beautiful new paint job, so this step is essential.

3) Drying & Lightly

Once your cabinet hinges are squeaky clean, you’ll want to allow them to fully air dry. Lay them out on an old towel or paper bags, rotating them regularly to get full exposure. Give them at least 24 hours to ensure no moisture is trapped inside barrel hinges or tight spaces.

When completely dry, it’s time for a light sanding using 80-120 grit sandpaper. This helps rough up the existing surface so your primer really bites into the metal. Don’t go crazy – just enough to dull the existing shine and texture.

Pro Tip: For tight hinge interior areas, try folding a piece of sandpaper into a cone shape to sand inside barrel hinges.

As you sand, you may notice areas you missed during the degreasing step. Just take the hinge to your utility sink and give it another quick scrub before continuing.

After sanding, wipe down each hinge thoroughly with a clean rag to remove any remaining dust or grit. Your hinges should now have a nice matte, etched surface that’s ready for paint.

Apply Primer & Paint

Apply Primer & Paint

With all that intense prepping done, the fun can finally begin! But before you break out those gorgeous new cabinet colors, listen up – properly priming your hinges first is non-negotiable. This extra step is critical for ensuring your paint coats adhere seamlessly and resist chipping or wear, especially on those all-important moving hinge parts.

Set up your spray staging area in a well-ventilated space using a large tarp or thick cardboard sheets. Be sure to wear proper safety gear like respirator masks and gloves.

Start by spraying your etching primer made for metal surfaces. Shake the can vigorously and hold it 6-8 inches away from your hinge surface as you apply the first thin, even coat using a steady sweeping motion.

Don’t rush and blindly spray – take your time getting full coverage on the front, back, edges and any interior spaces of each hinge. The key is applying multiple light coats rather than one heavy coat that risks drippage.

Allow the primer to fully dry per manufacturer instructions before rotating your hinge pieces and applying another light coat for full 360° coverage.

Once primed, it’s finally time for the main color coat! Load your sprayer with your metallic spray paint pick in satin or semi-gloss sheen. Apply in the same manner as the primer – thin, even coats with ample drying time in between.

Patience is key here – don’t try cutting corners! You’ll likely need at least 3-4 light coats, rotating each piece to get every angle and interior space fully coated without drips or excess buildup.

Use painters’ pyramids or small boxes to minimize areas you’ll need to re-spray the underside. Seeing all those outdated hinges slowly transformed by your new glossy color will have you smiling!

Pro Tips:

  • Apply paint in thin coats about 12 inches away and keep the can moving for an even coat
  • Allow proper drying time between coats (check can for details based on temp)
  • Remove hinges from staging area after each coat to look for light areas to re-coat
  • Do a light sanding with fine grit paper between final coats for ultra-smooth finish

And with that, your once dingy, dated hinges have an amazing new lease on life! With proper prep and careful application, your painted hinges should have an impressively durable, factory-quality finish.

Just be sure to allow them a full 24-48 hours of drying time before installation. The lingering fumes alone of putting cabinet doors back on too soon could leave an unpleasant smell for weeks.

Reinstall “New” Hinges

You’ve made it to the home stretch! After all that meticulous prep work, your patience is about to pay off in a big way. It’s time to rehang those doors and marvel at your brand-new looking cabinet hinges.

Gather up each individual door, referring to your numbered labels or layout notes to easily identify each hinge’s original position. For any overlay-style visible hinges, test the positioning on your cabinet frame before final reinstallation to ensure proper clearance and a uniform look.

If certain hinges seem slightly misaligned when the door is hung, make small adjustments by slightly loosening the hinge screws. Then, retighten the screws for a perfectly flush fit. With inset hinges, double check that doors open, close, and adjust smoothly.

Finally, work your way around each cabinet securely reinstalling every screw back into its original pilot hole. Stand back and do a double take – don’t those refinished hinges look flawless?!

There’s nothing quite like that first swing of the door showcasing your handiwork. Give it a few test opens and closes, then step back and take it all in. A little elbow grease and $20 in supplies just completely transformed your kitchen!

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The Pros and Cons of Painting Cabinet Hinges

Like any DIY project, painting your cabinet hinges has both advantages and drawbacks to consider. Let’s dive into the pros first:


  • Cost Savings: Replacement hinges can cost $3-$10+ per hinge, not including labor. Painting is exponentially cheaper, around $10-20 for primer and paint.
  • Refreshed Look: Dated or mismatched hinges can make even new cabinets look stale. Painting allows you to customize hinges to your color scheme.
  • Spares Hassle: If new hinges require different drill holes, painting eliminates needing to repair, patch and repaint those areas. It’s easier than realigning everything.
  • Eco-Friendly: Reusing and repurposing existing materials is a more sustainable option than replacing perfectly good hinges.
  • Ability to Customize: Love that trendy matte black hinge look? Or maybe you want a pop of color to accent your kitchen? Painting allows you to get creative.

Let’s be real – new cabinet hardware adds up quickly. Why drop $100+ when a $8 can of spray paint can breathe new life into those old hinges? It’s a smart budget solution.

On the other hand, painted hinges do have some potential downsides:


  • Finish May Not Be Seamless: Even with proper prepping, painted hinges won’t have the same seamless factory finish as new hinges.
  • Potential Chipping: The moving parts of hinges make chips and wear more likely over time compared to stationary painted surfaces.
  • Prep Work Required: Thorough cleaning, degreasing, and sanding is a must for proper paint adhesion. It’s labor intensive.
  • Spraying Technique: Getting full, dripless coverage on all hinge areas takes practice with a sprayer. Sloppy application shows.
  • Not For All Setups: Extremely stuck/corroded hinges or unique installations may not be good candidates for painting.

So while painting cabinet hinges is achievable for many, it may not be worth the effort in all scenarios. You’ll need to inspect your existing hinges and weigh the pros and cons based on your situation.

Bonus Tips & Maintenance

  • Even with diligent prep and spraying, painted hinges may develop slight chips or wear over time in high friction areas.
  • Regular light touch-ups with a brush are an easy fix for these areas.
  • Use the same or a similar brush-on version of your paint to re-coat worn areas.
  • Keeping a small sample jar of your paint on hand makes touch-up jobs quick.
  • Painted hinges are durable but won’t last as long as factory-finished hardware.
  • Expect to redo the painting process every 5-7 years due to chipping or discoloration.
  • Significant chipping or adhesion problems sooner than expected may indicate an issue with initial surface prep.
  • Using a degreasing solution and etching primer formulated for metal is essential.


Painting cabinet hinges is a cost-effective way to refresh your kitchen’s look without the expense of new hardware. While it requires thorough prep work and careful application, the results can be impressive with proper techniques.

Painted hinges offer significant savings, customization options, and an eco-friendly approach by reusing existing materials. However, they may not achieve the same seamless finish as new hinges and can be prone to chipping over time.

Evaluate the condition of your hinges and consider your long-term plans before deciding. With patience and the right materials, painted cabinet hinges can provide a durable, attractive update to your kitchen. Regular touch-ups will help maintain their appearance and extend their lifespan.

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