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

  11. I have orange pine kitchen units.Im not sure if they are varnished.Will I have to sand them or apply your product direct.Can I buy it in any diy stores?

    1. Hi Dawn,

      Firstly apologies for the delay in response, your message was somehow caught in our spam filter. You can apply ESP directly to your kitchen units, just make sure they are thoroughly cleaned and dry first as kitchen units often have a grease layer which will prevent the ESP from working correctly.

      Many thanks,
      The Owatrol Team

  12. I have a glass unit an l would like to paint over it
    As it looks like plastic an is a shiny vinear .can you give
    Me good advice on the right product to use
    Many thanks mary

    1. Hi Mary,

      Firstly apologies for the delay in response, your message was somehow caught in our spam filter. We would recommend using ESP for your glass unit – it allows you to paint on any shiny or non-porous surface. To use it first make sure the surface is clean and dry, then apply the ESP with a brush or cloth. Leave it for 2 hours and then wipe away any excess. You can now paint your unit any time within a week.

      Hope to have been of help,
      The Owatrol Team

  13. Can I use esp on thermofoil kitchen doors?
    In the case where some of its peeled and it’s bare mdf I assume those will not work?

    1. Hi Claire,
      I have passed your enquiry onto our technical team and will have an answer for you as soon as possible.
      The Owatrol Team

    2. Hi Claire,
      You can apply ESP to any shiny, non-porous surface. Where you have bare mdf the ESP will simply soak into the wood and therefore wouldn’t be effective as a primer.
      Hope this helps,
      The Owatrol Team

  14. My kitchen is white melamine finish, I want to revamp by painting doors with melamine paint. Please advise best preparation, and does melamine paint adhere well as I don’t want peeling etc after spending so much time in preparation and then painting. Your advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Hi there Carol,
      To paint melamine cupboards we would recommend applying ESP first to give a surface for the paint to stick to. To do this, you would first need to clean the cupboards with a sugar soap solution and leave to dry fully. After this you would apply the ESP with a brush or cloth and leave it for 2 hours before wiping off any excess. You can now paint the cupboards any time within 1 week – however you are not restricted to melamine paint. With ESP you can use any oil or water-based paint (including varnish) to repaint your kitchen cupboards. If for whatever reason you don’t repaint within the week then you will need to re-apply the ESP before painting.
      If you have any further questions don’t hesitate to get in touch.
      The Owatrol Team

  15. Hi, I have melamine kitchen cupboards which I have previously painted (some years ago) with ‘plactic-y’ melamine cupboard paint. Is ESP suitable for preparing this painted surface for repainting? If so, having applied the ESP, can any type of paint be used, i.e. white gloss? And how would I prepare the small areas where the old melamine paint has chipped off? Thank you.

    1. Hi Jan,

      I have passed your enquiry onto our technical team and will have an answer for you as soon as possible.

      Many thanks,
      The Owatrol Team

    2. Hi Jan,

      Apologies for the delay in response. As long as the surface is non-porous then there should be no problem in using ESP on top of this product. ESP is water based and not an aggressive product and as such will not attack or soften the existing coating. ESP works by penetrating in to the micro cavities on the surface, bonding itself to that surface and creating a micro priming film that a subsequent finish can adhere to.

      ESP can be over coated with any oil/alkyd based paint e.g. white gloss or water based finish.

      With regards to the chipped areas my suggestion is to sand those areas to smooth off the rough edges (i.e. feather in) of the chipped areas. Thoroughly dust it off and apply ESP to the entire area.

      Hope to have helped,
      The Owatrol Team

  16. Hi I’m interested in using your product to repaint a melamine kitchen and dark stained / varnish stair handrail. Will it work on the stairs hand rail and does the product have a strong smell? We have a young family and pets in the house. Thanks .

    1. Hi there Warren,
      ESP is perfect for both of your projects and does not have a strong smell so is fine for use in your family home.
      Many thanks,
      The Owatrol Team

  17. hi my skirting boards are all glossed and yellowed can I sugar soap ,then esp and change to water based gloss or do I still have to use the oil based gloss that yellows a lot quicker many thanks

    1. Hi Gavin,
      If you’re using ESP you can overcoat with a water-based gloss. Make sure you leave the ESP to dry for 2 hours and do the painting within a week.
      The Owatrol Team

  18. Here’s another one for you – I have melamine cupboard doors painted in chalk paint and lightly waxed. Would a coat of ESP prepare these for painting, or is rubbing down required first?

    1. Hi Beth,

      Unfortunately I do not think that ESP will work on top of wax so it would be best for you to strip it back to the melamine before then using ESP directly on the melamine.

      The Owatrol Team

  19. Hi,

    Would esp be suitable to use as a primer for kitchen tiles.
    Planning on painting kitchen tiles to freshen them up. If its ok to use, what would be the procedure.

    1. Hi Olly,

      ESP is suitable for use on tiles, yes. You would first clean the tiles and allow them to fully dry. Then apply the ESP with a cloth or brush and leave it for 2 hours before wiping off any excess. You can now paint your tiles any time in the following week.

      Let us know if you need any further help,
      The Owatrol Team

  20. Hi there,

    Would ESP be suitable on a sheet of melamine which will be bonded to an oven housing? It’s a new oven, but has pyrolitic cleaning, so could get hot?

    1. Hi Anne,

      I have sent your enquiry to our technical team for clarification surrounding the potential heat. I will have a response for you asap.

      Many thanks,
      The Owatrol Team

    2. Hi Anne,

      Unfortunately ESP would not be suitable in this situation as it is not designed to withstand the heat.

      Many thanks,
      The Owatrol Team


    1. Hi Cynthia,

      Unfortunately you cannot use ESP on work surfaces where food is prepared. You can use it for repainting cupboards etc. with no need for sanding but not on food preparation surfaces.

      Many thanks,
      The Owatrol Team

    1. Hi Brendan,
      Can you please give me the name of the product you’re planning to use so I can check compatibility?
      The Owatrol Team

  22. Hi Owatrol Team,
    I am looking to paint over a Formica covered display boxing. I note from the application instructions, that no sanding is needed prior to applying ESP on the surface to be repainted. Please can you confirm if its actually more beneficial not to lightly sand/key the surface before applying ESP or if it may be beneficial to lightly sand/key the surface before applying ESP. Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Kenneth,
      It is not necessary to sand the surface before applying the ESP, it will bond itself and provide a layer for the finish to adhere to.
      Many thanks,
      The Owatrol Team

  23. Hi can I use esp on pine doors,staircase,fireplace surrounds ,& then gloss over with white satin dulux paint

    1. Hi Avril,

      Yes ESP is perfect for your project. Do make sure that you thoroughly clean the surfaces first to ensure they are not greasy.

      Many thanks,
      The Owatrol Team

    1. Hi Caroline,

      ESP is perfect for painting on melamine kitchen cupboards. Make sure you thoroughly clean them first to remove any grease which builds up in kitchens, then apply your ESP.

      If you need any further help don’t hesitate to get in touch,
      The Owatrol Team

    1. Hi George,

      I have sent your enquiry to our technical team and will have a response for you asap.

      Many thanks,
      The Owatrol Team

    2. Hi George,

      It is fine to use acrylic paint over ESP. However, depending on the intended use we should stress that we cannot guarantee the durability of ESP for use on moving vehicles due to the extremities that it will be prone to.

      If you need any further assistance then please don’t hesitate to ask.
      Many thanks,
      The Owatrol Team

  24. hi i live in the republic of ireland and i was wondering if your esp product is availible here and if so what shops stock it.

  25. Many thanks for your reply, i intend to use your esp as specified on kitchen units followed by repainting with acrylic car aerosols, and as long as i keep the surfaces warm with hair drier or other heater it seems to work ok. Thanks again, george.

  26. Hi, I am in the process of re vamping melamine fitted bedroom furniture. I have used esp on the bedside cabinet , cleaned it with sugar soap first then once dry applied the esp with a lint free cloth. Looking at it a few hours later I think it looks as though the esp has not covered properly . Is it ok to wash it down again and re apply the esp. before I apply any paint. Kind Regards, Deb

    1. Hi Deb,
      If you’re concerned about the coverage of the ESP then yes there won’t be a problem with reapplying it before applying your finish.
      If you need any further help then please let us know,
      The Owatrol Team

  27. Hello, I have been researching the process for re-painting my laminate kitchen cupboard doors.

    So….could I follow this process…I want them to be bomb proof when finished!

    ESP first coat, zinsser bin primer undercoat followed by Little Greene intelligent eggshell as many coats as needed to look good.

    I’m wondering if the middle coat of zinsser bin be necessary? Would it improve the strength of the final finish or are ESP and zinsser equivalent style products. I already have ESP but am prepared to apply both for a better finish.

    Thanks in advance. Louise.

    1. Hi Louise,

      There should be no need for additional products, the ESP will provide adhesion to your laminate kitchen cupboard doors and will allow your Little Greene intelligent eggshell paint to apply correctly.

      If you need any further help please let us know,
      The Owatrol Team

  28. Hi
    My elderly mum wants her 1988 laminate MFI kitchen brightening and modernising. The carcasses themselves are perfectly solid with a laminate patterned surface.
    However, the handleless cupboards and drawers have an edging of wood which is used as the openers/handles. After reading all your comments, i see that ESP is not suitable for use on porous wood. How wood you advise to prepare the two different surfaces for an almost perfect match after paint has been applied? ESP on melamine with eggshell paint & sand, undercoat, apply eggshell finish to wooden handles?
    Many Thanks,

    1. Hi Dotty,

      Do you know what finish has been applied to the wood before? Is it just bare wood or is it varnished or anything else? If it has been varnished then you’re fine to use ESP. If it is bare wood then yes we’d recommend sanding and using a wood primer. The ESP will be fine for the melamine.

      The Owatrol Team

  29. I have kitchen cabinets which were originally teak in colour, but were then stained with a rosewood woodstain, I wish to now paint them white.
    If I use a sugar soap , and then ESP as suggested, will I still need to use a primer, undercoat and topcoat to get them to a satisfactory finish of white.

    1. Hi Tony,

      Whilst ESP is going to be perfect for you in that your paint will adhere well without the need for sanding, it won’t alter the coverage of the paint. You’re still likely to need a few coats to get a solid white finish (depending on your choice of paint). It’s up to you how you achieve this but the use of a primer may be wise.

      Many thanks,
      The Owatrol Team

  30. Hi I’m in Australia and don’t seem to be able to buy you product but I did purchase a brand called PSP which does the same thing. Is this the same as your product under a different name.

    1. Hi Tony,

      I’m not aware of ESP being sold under any other name in Australia. For more information about Owatrol stockists in your region you can visit our corporate website where the international distributors are listed.

      Many thanks,
      The Owatrol UK Team

  31. This product seems great. I live in Spain and have a large melamine cupboard to paint. Do you sell here, if not do you know of a similar product sold here? Regards Richard

    1. Hi there Richard,

      Thank you for your query.
      I have been in touch with Owatrol Iberia via Facebook and they have informed me that ESP is indeed available in Spain.
      If you have any further queries about the product, you can find them on social media at or @owatroliberia on Twitter.
      They are a friendly bunch and are quick to respond.

      I hope this was of help.
      All the very best,
      The Owatrol Team

  32. Hi. I have just purchased your ESP and sampled a kitchen unit which is chipboard with a melamine or vinyl covering. Following your instructions, I applied ESP and then painted with Dulux Diamond Eggshell (x2 coats). A week after drying, the paint scratches, very easily, through to the ESP/melamine. Could you please explain why this might be happening? Best regards, Phil.

    1. Hi Phil,

      Thank you for your recent query.

      There are a number of issues that could be causing this scenario;

      1 – The ESP was accidentally removed when wiping over the surface – unlikely but possible.
      2 – Because of the nature of water based paints – they take longer to fully cure (reach full strength) and this is because of the way they dry. How long the paint takes to fully cure depends on the substrate it is applied to, porous or non-porous, the number of coats applied, the thickness of those coats and the drying conditions. Therefore it is perfectly possible that even after a weeks drying you may be able to scratch the paint off, especially if the surface being coated is non-porous for instance. However, if the paint continues to dry through and reach full strength, the harder it will be to scratch the paint and remove to the point that it will be virtually impossible without really digging into the paint surface with considerable force.
      3 – Drying conditions will also effect how long the paint takes to reach full strength. A more humid and damp atmosphere such as a garage will considerably slow the drying process of any paint. Damp weather conditions, as we have had over the past week or so, will increase the humidity level – even inside a property. Irrespective of where the door was coated and left to dry, the current drying conditions will increase the time for the paint to reach full strength.

      I would suggest that the reason you can still scratch the paint off is due to a mixture of points 2 & 3. I suggest that after another 1 – 1 & 1/2 weeks that you should be unable to do so.
      If after that time the paint can still be easily scratched off, then either insufficient ESP was applied or it was wiped when it came time to wipe the ESP over.

      I hope this is of some help to you.

      Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions.

      All the very best,
      The Owatrol Team

    1. Hi Dave,

      Thank you for your query.

      We have a distributor in Spain and their details are as follows:

      Travesera de Gracia 62, 1e-5e
      08006 Barcelona

      Tél. : +34 931 258 868
      Fax : +34 931 060 213
      Email :
      Website :

      I hope this answer was helpful.

      All the best,
      The Owatrol Team

  33. Hi I am trying to find a way to paint melamine slatwall in a retail premises. It is Beech coloured and I am wanting to paint it white. Would ESP be suitable for this? Thank you

    1. Hi Kate,

      Thank you for your query.

      I can confirm that ESP would be suitable to assist with re-painting melamine slatwall. We have had customers use ESP for these types of projects in the past with great success.

      Be sure to follow the preparation instructions thoroughly as this is very important step and will reflect in the overall finish.

      If you have any further queries regarding the use of ESP, please do not hesitate to contact us.
      All the best,
      The Owatrol Team

  34. Hi, can ESP be applied, and then painted over a week to two weeks later? Or does it have to be done straight away?
    Thanks very much

    1. Hi Isobel,

      Thank you for your query.

      ESP may be painted over anytime after 2 hours and up to 7 days later, so 2 weeks would be too long between over-coating and you would need to re-apply the ESP.

      I hope this was helpful.

      All the best,
      The Owatrol Team

  35. Worked exactly as advertised. Thinner than I expected so catch the drips. Used to makeover cupboard doors in kitchen. I cleaned doors with sugar soap and applied as directed. Great finish after 2 coats of paint. Very pleased

  36. I have dark oak kitchen doors and would like to paint them cream, however they have a grain on them and I would prefer not to have to fill and sand to get rid of this! Would ESP solve my problem?

    Thank you

    1. Hi there Mrs Peaker,

      Unfortunately, ESP is used as a primer for shiny surfaces and so any bumps or irregularities in the grain would show through when applying the paint.

      All the best,
      The Owatrol Team

    1. Hi there Vivien,

      Thank you for your query regarding E.S.P

      It depends on the surface in which you are wanting to use E.S.P on. For instance, if you are wanting to use it on a surface such as kitchen cabinets that have a 2 pack finish applied that are shiny and non-porous, then E.S.P should work just fine.
      If, however, you are wanting to use it on a car with a 2 pack finish, then E.S.P would not be suitable.

      I hope this was helpful. Please feel free to contact us again should you require further assistance.

      All the best,
      The Owatrol Team

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *