Whether you are having new cabinetry built or installed, or you are painting your cabinets as a home renovation, there is always the question – to paint the inside of drawers or not? There are certainly advantages and disadvantages to painted drawer interiors, but it all comes down to your preference and budget at the end of the day!

It is up to personal preference whether you leave the insides of your wooden drawers natural or paint them. Painted drawer interiors are luxurious and look beautiful but are expensive, as they use more paint, time, and labor. Oil-based paints with a strong odor should not be used inside drawers.

A little bit of paint can make a big difference. Painted drawers look elegant, polished and give your cabinets a customized finish. Suppose you are fortunate enough have a professional carpenter handling your kitchen renovation. In that case, you will have the option to leave the drawers with a natural, sanded wooden finish or painted to match the exterior of the cabinets. Which is better?

Painted Drawers Are an Optional Extra

Painting the outsides of drawers and cabinets correctly is a very tedious, time-consuming task. First, the wood must be sanded and cleaned, then it is painted with a primer which usually takes about half a day to cure. A few coats of paint are applied and left to dry thoroughly between coats to ensure durability. Finally, a top coat is painted on, and the cabinets and drawers can be reassembled and installed.

The time and labor involved in painting the insides of drawers make it very expensive. If you are paying a cabinet maker for custom built-in cupboards, you will have to assess if you are willing to pay extra for a luxury finish. Do it if your budget allows, but it may be a better idea to invest that money in other décor or appliance upgrades.

On the other hand, if you are giving your kitchen a dramatic DIY makeover and painting the cabinets and drawers, you can go to the trouble of painting the insides of the drawers yourself. It is guaranteed to satisfy you every time you open them. Consider it an act of self-care!

Paint the Inside of Drawers Correctly, or Not at All!

While painting the insides of drawers is lovely in theory, if it is not done correctly, you will regret ever doing it. Unless you commit the time and effort to this extra step in the renovation project, your newly painted drawers will be scratching, scuffing, and chipping in no time.

Not to mention, if you do not clean the drawers and sand them down properly before applying the paint, your new drawers may have a rough, uneven texture.

What Paint to Use Inside Drawers

Drawers that are heavily used, like those in the kitchen that store utensils, need to be painted with paint that sets and cures hard.

Painting interiors of drawers white is very trendy, but it can be impractical, as the light color shows every speck of dirt and dust.

Latex enamel paint is best to use on the insides of kitchen, bathroom, and kid’s furniture drawers. It has a hard, durable finish that can withstand daily wear, scratching, chipping, or denting.

Oil-based polyurethane paints give off a strong odor. Try to avoid these paints for bedroom or kitchen drawers, where you definitely do not want your food or clothing to smell of paint thinners. Look for a primer, paint and top coat that has low fumes.

Water-based acrylic paint is also suitable for use on drawer interiors, as they are odor-free and can give a modern, matte finish.

Tips for Painting Your Drawers Like a Pro

  1. It is vital to clean the inside of the drawer thoroughly before painting. Use a general-purpose detergent and a wet cloth to clean away any dirt. Prepare the interior of the draw so that paint will apply smoothly.
  2. Remove the drawers to clean and paint them. It is not a good idea to paint the insides of the drawers and then slide them shut to dry. The paint needs good ventilation to dry properly and in a good time.
  3. If your drawers have deep scratches or chips, use putty to fill these in and sand them until they are flush with the surface. Use sandpaper to prepare the drawers for painting. This will refresh your old drawers and ensure a smooth, tidy painted finish.
  4. Paint the interiors of drawers differently from the exterior or paint each drawer a different color! The more creative you get, the more custom and bespoke the finished product will be.
  5. To give the inside of wooden drawers a protective finish while sticking to the natural color, paint them with a clear satin lacquer. Shellac is a great, long-wearing option that dries odor free.

When Not to Paint the Inside of Drawers

If, like most people, you are content with unpainted drawer interiors, then use the money you save to put towards other home upgrades that would benefit you more significantly. You can save over $1000 by not painting them! That could get you some new kitchen knives, more expensive backsplash tiles or better kitchen lighting.

Do not paint the inside of your drawers as an afterthought when you are repainting all your cabinets yourself. It is a tedious, time-consuming undertaking that needs to be done correctly. Otherwise, the results will not be good.

What Material Is Inside the Drawer?

Cabinetry often has white melamine shelving and drawers. Even when sanded and primed, this material does not take very well to paint. It is difficult to get a consistent, smooth coat of paint.

Wooden cabinets are the best to paint. A fun way to upcycle vintage wooden furniture is to give it a fresh coat of paint, including the inside of drawers! Painting wooden surfaces yield better results than painting synthetic materials.

Alternative Ways to Revamp Your Drawers

Painting the insides of your drawers is mainly for aesthetic reasons, and there are other ways to add a custom finish to your drawers.

If your drawers are wooden, a natural, sanded, and waxed finish is beautiful, combined with a paper lining on the bottom, in the color or pattern of your choice. You can add a pop of color and style to your drawers without the commitment and expense of paint. You can splurge on trendy wallpaper or use gift wrapping paper. Stick it down with double-sided tape.

Another way to give your drawers a style update is by changing up the hardware. Vintage knobs and pulls are common at antique sales and yard sales, or go for something modern and minimalist. It can make a big difference to the look of your cabinets and drawers.

You may also like: How Much Value Does a New Kitchen Add?


While painting the inside of drawers is not functionally necessary, drawers are often coated inside with a clear, glossy lacquer. Painted drawers look elegant and polished.

The time, effort, and extra paint required to paint the insides of drawers make them an expensive optional extra if you are paying for a professional to do your cabinet renovation.

If you are painting your cabinets yourself, you can take the extra time to paint the drawers using latex enamel paint or water-based acrylic paint. Avoid using oil-based polyurethane paints, as they have a strong odor that will linger and transfer to whatever you keep in the drawer, like clothes and food.

Always finish with a protective, low-odor top coat. It will give your DIY makeover a polished, customized finish and ensure that your painter drawers are durable.

Write A Comment