repaint your kitchen cupboards

Repainting kitchen cupboards with no sanding using ESP

We love stumbling across customers using our products on DIY and decorating forums and even better when people are recommending them to others! We found this discussion at SingleTrack in which many DIYers and professionals were offering advice to a home DIYer looking to repaint their pine kitchen cupboards. They initially planned to use a high street brand of cupboard paint but after much discussion and many recommendations decided to follow a different path.

Why not use cupboard paint?

As suggested by many of the users on SingleTrack, if this customer had used cupboard paint they would have had to first clean all the surfaces with a sugar soap solution, then painstakingly sand every nook and cranny, then apply a primer and finally apply up to 4 or 5 coats of cupboard paint…making this a very long and laborious job!

How to get your kitchen cupboards repainted quickly

Instead of sanding all those intricate details, there is a better and much quicker way! First, it is still necessary to clean all the surfaces with a sugar soap solution and allow them to dry thoroughly. This is because kitchen surfaces can become very greasy (even in the cleanest of kitchens!) and this will prevent the paint from bonding well. However, once this is done rather than beginning the long and very laborious task of sanding, simply use Easy Surface Prep (ESP) to prepare the surfaces for painting.


ESP is Owatrol’s wipe-on wipe-off product which prepares shiny or non-porous surfaces for painting in just 5 minutes – even tricky melamine cupboards! To use ESP you simply apply it to the surface using a brush, roller or cloth and leave it for 5 minutes. Then wipe off any excess ESP using a clean cloth and allow 2 hours before painting. Your paint will adhere strongly to the surface with absolutely no need for any sanding or priming – perfect! You can now apply your paint any time up to a week after using the ESP but be aware that if more than a week has passed you will need to apply the ESP again.

Really, no sanding AND no priming?

Yes, really. ESP creates a strong film on the surface which allows paint (both oil and water based) to adhere to with no need for priming first. This customer chose to use a Farrow and Ball eggshell paint but your choice of finish is entirely up to you. Just be sure to apply it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. ESP is particularly useful for getting paint to adhere to those tricky surfaces without sanding such as painting melamine kitchen cupboards or bathroom tiles.

Before and After Repainting the kitchen cupboards

As you can see, the finish this DIYer has achieved is great and they have had to do no sanding or priming – even on the intricate areas of paintwork. It just shows that it’s not always necessary to fork out thousands for a new kitchen – don’t be put off from revamping your current kitchen by the thought of weeks of work with tedious sanding. Just use ESP and save yourself so much time.


The customer was absolutely thrilled with the results and had this to say:

That ESP stuff is like liquid gold!

One of the other forum users giving advice to use ESP said:

I wouldn’t paint a kitchen without it.

Don’t forget you can buy ESP direct from Owatrol with next working day delivery.

Owatrol Team
About Owatrol Team

Our team are ready and willing to support you with your requirements whether it is protecting your newly laid deck or renovating a luxury yacht, whatever the application Owatrol has the solution you are looking for.

86 thoughts on “Repainting kitchen cupboards with no sanding using ESP

  1. sounds good… Ive got stained very dark units. Will it do them? And where can I buy ESP off the shelf? B&Q? I’m near London

    1. Hi there,
      In answer to your questions ESP can be applied to any non-porous/smooth/shiny surface. The best place to purchase off the shelf is either Brewers or Leyland SDM – alternatively of course you can order direct from us and we can deliver next working day.
      Any other questions please just ask!

      Many thanks,
      The Owatrol Team

    2. Hi like some previous people have commented. I want to use ESP to pain mummy cabinets but some doors have pealed completely off leaving mdf underneath. So basically I have a max of smooth lamented doors and cupboards but exposed mdf.

      If I got sealer to seal the surface of the mdf first would I be able to use ESP over it to avoid the need of sanding prep.

      I would imagine ESP would go over it if the sealer on the mdf had dried?

      Would greatly appreciate your thoughts as I’ve been putting this off for a long time and ESP would really make life easier

      1. Hi there Tim,

        Apologies for the delay in reply – we were waiting to hear back from head office.

        As long as the sealer creates a non-porous surface and is 100% dry then yes ESP can be used.

        All the best,
        The Owatrol Team

  2. Hi
    I’m planning on painting my kitchen cupboards and I have heard some really great things about ESP. If I used ESP would I then need to use a special kitchen paint on the cupboards to stop the paint peeling off in time with cooking and steam etc?

    1. Hi Charlene,

      In answer to your questions ESP is ideal for this application as long as the cupboards are non-porous/smooth. With regards to the paint, we are not in a position to recommend a paint as this is for the manufacturers to advise on. What I can say is that any oil or water-based paint can be applied to ESP.

      Many thanks and any other questions please get in touch!
      The Owatrol Team

  3. Hi,
    Please can you advise if the ESP product is suitable to use on solid oak kitchen cupboards?

    Many Thanks

    Mrs Brumby

    1. Hi Mrs Brumby,

      We can confirm that ESP is definitely suitable for use on solid oak kitchen cupboards.

      Many thanks,
      The Owatrol Team

  4. Hi , the laminated covering has come off of all cupboard doors in my kitchen ,
    will your product work on my smooth surfaces of the doors .

    1. Hi Mark,

      Yes ESP is perfect for preparing smooth surfaces for painting and so should work well on your kitchen cupboard doors. Be sure to clean them thoroughly first to remove any greasy residue which builds up easily in kitchens.

      Many thanks,
      The Owatrol Team

  5. Hi

    With ESP do you need to apply an undercoat before applying the paint, or do you just paint straight onto ESP? Im using Farrow and ball paint.


    1. Hi Lauren,

      There is no need to use an undercoat specifically because of using ESP but if it is a situation where you would normally use an undercoat or primer (e.g. painting a light colour over a dark one) then you can do so.

      Hope this helps!
      Many thanks,
      The Owatrol Team

  6. How durable is esp. I mean, usually you would key the surface before priming etc. If you don’t need to sand, will esp just chip off in the long term?

    1. Hi Paul,

      ESP bonds paint and varnish to all shiny and smooth surfaces – prepares and primes in one so no need for sanding – – this means that dependent on the paint used it shouldn’t chip. See below for instructions for application:

      Surface Preparation

      First clean and dry all surfaces to remove oil, grease and other contaminants and remove any loose and flaking old finish. For oily, greasy, waxed or varnished surfaces prepare by scrubbing with a green scourer or 00 steel wool soaked with ESP. Wipe clean after 5-10 minutes then follow the standard application instructions.


      Apply ESP generously with a clean, dry, lint free cloth. If ESP crawls or separates, the surface is not clean. Wipe off ESP and re-clean according to above directions before continuing. Leave to stand for 5 minutes then lightly wipe over the surface in one direction with a clean cloth to remove any excess ESP. Allow to dry for 2 hours. When dry, ESP may be left up to 7 days before applying the finish. If this time has passed, re-apply ESP as directed before painting.

      Many thanks,
      The Owatrol Team

  7. Hi,
    I used ESP on my kitchen cupboards and doors, but some parts especially the handles, have stayed sticky, as though the paint hasn’t dried… What have I done wrong, and how can I fix it?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Stephanie,

      Can you give us some more information about this – have you applied your paint yet or is it the ESP which seems sticky?

      The Owatrol Team

  8. Can I use this to prepare wood that has been woodstained for glossing – skirting, doors, window/door frames ? Or for a well-known brand of white flat pack furniture also for glossing ?

    1. Hi Mark,

      Yes ESP is perfect for preparing both of those surfaces for glossing. You can use it to adhere water-based and oil-based paints as well as varnishes. It’s good for use on those flat-packed furniture units too!

      The Owatrol Team

  9. I have very inexpensive cabinets that you buy from a big box store and assemble yourself. would this product work for those?

  10. I’d like to use a primer, to cut costs of layers of expensive paint. Is there a particular primer you would recommend to use after ESP?

    1. Hi Heidi,
      You can use any primer after applying ESP, there isn’t a specific one we’d suggest but there are many manufacturers who produce appropriate primers. Just ensure that you apply the primer within a week of using the ESP (any time after 2 hours). You also need to ensure that any primer you use is compatible with your planned finish, whether that be oil-based or water-based.
      Hope this helps,
      The Owatrol Team

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