Painting Kitchen Walls: Everything You Need to Know

A lick of paint is the perfect way to refresh your kitchen design. Whether you’re installing a new kitchen or you want to upgrade your existing space, painting your walls can breathe new life into this much-used area of your home.

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If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve put together everything you need to know about painting your kitchen walls from start to finish.

Kitchen wall painting

Before you bring out the paint trays, it’s important to remember that kitchen wall painting is a little different to decorating the rest of your home. Kitchens are busy areas, and you’ll likely use yours for various activities. From cooking and baking to parties and crafts, some of these activities can be messy, too (no matter how careful you are).

Your kitchen paint needs to be durable and preferably wipeable. Many paint manufacturers have kitchen-specific mixes, meaning these paints can withstand the demands of a busy kitchen. Be sure to check with your chosen paint company before picking a favourite colour. You might be disappointed if they don’t offer the right shade in a kitchen-friendly mix.

How to paint your kitchen walls

Painting your kitchen walls is an easy way to upgrade your space. However, there are some things you need to think about before getting started.

Choose your colours

Picking the perfect colour isn’t always straightforward. Your favourite shade on the paint card or colour chart could look totally different in your space. It’s always a good idea to test your samples on your walls before painting a more extensive area.

See how your paint colour changes with the light and whether it looks different in your space (for example, north-facing rooms can make certain paints appear cooler).

Clean the walls

A great paint finish is all in the preparation. This is especially important in kitchens, where your walls might have a layer of grease, grime, and errant cooking splashes. Before you begin painting, be sure to clean and prep your walls with sugar soap or a dedicated detergent.

Prep the room

Kitchen painting prep is essential. You’ll want to mask off areas that are not being painted (like woodwork, switches, and tiles) before you get started. It may be a good idea to cover your cabinets, appliances and flooring with plastic sheets to protect them from splashes and spills. It’s worth taping these down too.

Choose your tools

While painting prep is essential, the tools you use are crucial too. Choose good-quality brushes and rollers, as these will help you achieve the perfect finish. Lower quality options can leave fluff or bristles on your painted surface, affecting the final look.

Cutting in

Smaller areas, like around light switches or door frames, are often best painted with a brush. This is called ‘cutting in’ or ‘edging.’ Some professional decorators do this without the aid of masking tape. Still, it’s best to use tape if you’re less confident. This helps you reach areas that are too small for your roller to reach accurately, ensuring a crisp line around your transition points.

Start from the top

It’s often easier to start from the top when painting your kitchen, as you won’t affect your freshly painted areas with splatters from above. Start from the top of your room and work your way down if you can (remember to use ladders safely and avoid painting alone if you’re working at heights).

Paint the woodwork

Painting your kitchen walls is a great way to update your space, but it’s essential to think about the woodwork too. Consider updating your skirting boards, window frames, architraves, and other areas simultaneously (they could look tired against a freshly painted wall). Remember to choose a wood-friendly paint and follow the same prep steps before you get started.

Choosing your kitchen wall paint colours

Picking the perfect paint can be a challenge, particularly as they can look completely different in your home (and at other times of the day). Using a mood board is an excellent place to start. This can help coordinate with your cabinets, tiles, and accessories. As well as digital mood boards, it’s worth putting your materials together in real life too. This helps to see how they interact with different lighting, making sure they all go together well.

Remember to think about how your kitchen wall paint colours work with your overall aesthetic too. Specific colour schemes suit particular interior design styles, so it’s helpful to consider how a favourite colour contributes to the ambience.

Staying on top of trends

It’s a tricky balance. Many of us want an on-trend kitchen that feels up to date while still maintaining a timeless appeal that will last for years to come. Trends do come and go, but certain elements and features never go out of style.

Some tips for staying on-trend yet timeless include:

  • Keeping a consistent colour palette. Avoid choosing a bold design if the rest of your home is neutral. Bring in elements and shades from elsewhere in your space to help your kitchen feel coherent
  • Add small on-trend pieces. Instead of investing in large, expensive items that may date, add smaller items to stay on-trend. For example, your storage jars, small appliances, or ornaments can all help your kitchen feel up-to-date without a significant investment
  • Create a focal point. Whether you use paint, furniture, or accessories, a focal point helps to anchor your space. This helps to keep your kitchen feel aesthetically pleasing without investing in items that might date
  • Use patterns carefully. Bold patterns are a fun way to add interest to your space, but they can be a sure-fire way of dating your home too. Pick timeless patterns, like florals, stripes or plaid, to avoid your kitchen feeling dated

The benefit of painting your kitchen walls is that you can change them reasonably quickly. It offers the opportunity to get creative with colour while having the option to re-paint when you want to. If you’re keen to introduce patterns, you could experiment with stencilling or taped designs with various paint colours.

Prepping your kitchen walls for painting

Once you’ve chosen your perfect paint colour, it’s time to prepare your walls. The key to achieving a professional finish is always in preparation, so it’s worth spending the time getting everything ready before taking a roller to your kitchen walls.

Fill any gaps and holes

Whether you’ve had pictures hanging or there are areas of wear-and-tear, it’s essential to fill these in before you start painting. Choose the correct type of filler for the job, then smooth it using a flat-edged filling tool. Allow time to dry before moving on to the next step.

Sand

If you’ve filled in areas, it’s essential to sand the surface smooth before you start painting. Be sure to sand down the filler, so it’s level with the wall.

Clean the walls

Even if you don’t need to fill and sand, cleaning your walls is an important step, especially in the kitchen. Using sugar soap or a specialist detergent, wipe away any grease, grime, and dirt. Be sure to dust thoroughly; disturbed dust can affect your freshly painted kitchen’s overall finish.

Treat any mould

Kitchens are often humid, and washing up splashes can lead to mould and mildew. If there is mould in any areas you plan to paint, be sure to treat these before you begin painting. Seek advice from a professional to remove any mould safely.

Mask off

Masking areas you don’t want to paint is essential; don’t be tempted to skip this step!

Place masking tape around light switches, sockets, skirting boards, architraves, and other areas you don’t want to paint. Remember that splashes and splatters can happen, no matter how careful you are. Using masking tape can also help you achieve a clean line at transition points, which will help your job look professional.

Cover up

As well as placing masking tape around your space, it’s a good idea to cover up your cabinets and flooring. Plastic dust sheets often work well for this, although any type of large sheet or covering material will do too. Be sure to tape them down to avoid movement when painting your kitchen walls.

Selecting the type of paint for your kitchen walls

Kitchens are busy areas, so it’s crucial to choose a paint that can withstand the demands of cooking, washing, and general family life.

Consider the finish

There is a range of interior paint finishes to choose from, ranging from matt to high gloss. Mid-sheen finishes, like satin or silk, tend to fall somewhere in the middle. Traditionally, mid-sheen or matt finishes are used on walls, while gloss works well on woodwork.

Think about how reflective you want your walls to be, and plan accordingly. Most paint manufacturers have colours in a range of finishes, making it simple to find the perfect shade in the finish you want.

Choose kitchen specific paints

When painting your kitchen walls, it’s essential to choose the right paint for your space. Colours with a wipeable finish are traditionally chosen for kitchens, like eggshell, satin, or silk. However, if you’re keen on a matt finish, there are kitchen-friendly matt paints available. It’s best to check with your manufacturer before getting started.

It’s usually best to choose kitchen-specific paint if possible, as these are designed for a busy kitchen’s demands.

Think about the effect you want

As well as the practical considerations, it’s equally important to think about the effect you want to achieve in your space. Whether you prefer a sleek and straightforward modern aesthetic or a warm and inviting classic style, the paint finish you choose will inevitably interact with your overall look.

It might be worth thinking about the natural light you have available too, particularly if you have a small space. Mid-gloss paints often work well in compact rooms, as they help to reflect the light to add spaciousness. Larger areas can benefit from bold hues, as they create anchor points that add a feeling of intimacy.

Choosing your dream kitchen from Magnet

Whether you’re thinking about paint colours for your new Magnet kitchen or you’re at the start of your journey, our expert design team are always on hand to help you transform your space. Try out our free kitchen design tool to get started, or book a consultation to talk about your design with our professional team.