Decorating Before the Kitchen is Fitted

Updated May 19, 2024 | Posted Dec 7, 2021 | Professional insight, Miscellaneous | 3 comments

As a decorator, I’m often asked to paint the walls and ceiling in a kitchen before the kitchen has been fitted. This usually happens on a re-fit, or a new build. Builders understand the process when a new kitchen is being fitted, homeowners do not. I thought I’d take a little bit of time to take you through the process as I see it.

First off, it would be pointless to finish decorating the room before the units are fitted. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, no joiner in the world can carry out a kitchen fit without damaging the paintwork on the walls, it doesn’t matter how careful he or she is!! Plus, it is normally a decorator’s job to caulk between the units and walls prior to painting.

So, if the decorating in a kitchen cannot be completed before the units go in, why are we even having this conversation?


Decorating Before the Kitchen is Fitted


Ideally, you should carry out some decorating in a kitchen before the units are fitted. Maybe not the finish coat, but certainly some. I like to mist coat any bare plaster before the kitchen installation. This means you are sealing the walls and ceiling, which will make completing the decorating work a lot easier further down the line.


You can use diluted emulsion for your mist coat. A lot of decorators use contract matt as it allows the plaster to breathe. You should apply two coats to the ceiling and one coat to the walls in your kitchen.

If you know what colour the walls in your kitchen are going to be painted, it will give you a further advantage is you use that as your mist coat. This will make cutting in around your kitchen units a lot easier. If not, just use white.

It also makes sense to get the messy prep work out of the way too. I like to prime any bare woodwork, fill, then get the sanding done. This process tends to cause dust, which should be avoided after the kitchen has been fitted.

And that’s when I generally leave the job until after the other trades have finished their work.


What Products to Use to Paint your Kitchen


Any contract matt should be fine for your first coat, but it’s good to know which paint products you are using to finish painting your kitchen and check to see what primer the manufacturer recommends. Most people use durable matt or eggshell as a ‘finish’ on kitchen walls.

If you’re using contract matt for the first coat in your kitchen, then I’d recommend either Armstead or MacPherson Eclipse. Both products are cheap and do the job brilliantly.

As for tools, paint generally drags when you’re applying it to bare plaster. For this reason, you should use a long pile roller and a brush with a thick stock. Using the correct tools for the job will make painting your kitchen easier.

The Purdy Colossus roller is perfect. I can’t think of any better. Click here to see online prices.

As for the brush, any good quality emulsion brush is fine, providing it isn’t too soft. Purdy Monarch Elite XL is perfect! Available online by clicking here.


Coming Back After the Kitchen Fitter has Finished


Providing you have carried out the steps outlined above, finishing the decorating work after the other trades have finished should be nice and easy. First caulk around the units to fill the gaps. Then cover all units with Cover All and sheet your floor. After that, it’s just a case of painting the room as you normally would. Just take extra care when working around a new kitchen so you don’t damage anything.

Updated May 19, 2024 | Posted Dec 7, 2021 | 3 comments

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Cupit has been in the decorating industry since 2002 and has mostly worked as a Trade Decorator in the domestic sector (peoples’ homes). Self-proclaimed “product geek”, Mike has a passion for paint and decorating tools. Mike now spends most of his time testing paint products and tools, comparing them to similar products on the market, and blogging about the industry in general.


  1. Richard

    First coat walls and even finish ceiling b4 kitchen installation.
    It is easier however not great if it’s a joiners workshop with no dust extraction when kitchen fitted.
    Definitely a quicker method.

  2. Mark

    Good advice, We always finish ceiling and walls first however, Then after kitchen is fitted we usually go back and touch up using the Graco Ultramax hand held unit, Great piece of kit that you should have for quick touch ups and the odd small ceiling etc where space an time is short

  3. Phil

    Great advice, definitely go in and mist first, I leave the top coats for after kitchen installation. Reason I do it this way is because most kitchen fitters or chippies will leave unavoidable marks on the walls such as chips, bangs and pencil lines. Tilers will leave grout and adhesive and usually there is alot of caulking and filling to do on newly fitted skirtings and architraves. Always a bonus if you can get the plumber to leave the rad off the wall until you’ve finished!


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