This post contains some affiliate links. Do you have ugly kitchen cabinets that need a makeover? This tutorial shows you How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets to give your kitchen a facelift on a budget.
Last week I shared with you how I transformed my kitchen cabinets from flat doors to my all time favorite – Shaker Style Cabinets! Today I’m going to share with you some tips and How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets of your very own! Confession. I didn’t take many pictures of this process because it just looked like white paint on a door no matter what stage of the process I was in.. So I’ll just share my tips and tricks with you today, and a few before pictures I have! : )
– Kilz Oil Based Primer
– Enamel Paint
– 4″ Foam Roller
– Painter’s Pyramids
– Paint Brush
– Orbital Sander
How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets
After you have built your doors, you can move on to the whole painting process. I did the exact same thing to my cabinet bases as I did to my doors. I think I was able to get away with one less coat on the bases though ; ) You just have to keep painting until it looks good.
Preparing to paint kitchen cabinets
Before you begin painting you want to make sure you have filled in holes or gaps with wood filler or caulk (use where appropriate), sanded down, and have wiped everything clean.
First, remove all hardware and shelves, and scrub them clean. You want them as clean as you can get them. For my cabinet bases, I took some rough grit sandpaper and sanded everything down as best I could, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Then go over it with a finer grit to smooth it all out. Then wipe everything down with a damp cloth and vacuum up any sawdust. You don’t want any sawdust left or the paint won’t adhere correctly.
Once all your prep work is done, it’s time to prime. Use OIL based primer. It stinks, it sucks to clean up, but it is SO much more durable and it adheres WAY better! I am in the process of painting all my trim, and since it’s next to carpet I use a water based primer, and while it gets the job done, I can truly say oil based is better!
Start off brushing in all corners and edges of your door (or cabinet), working around your trim. Then use your 4″ foam roller to roll the remainder of your doors/cabinets. Let this dry.
Now Sand it all down with 220 grit sandpaper. Yes. We will be sanding in between every coat. Don’t hate me, but it really does make it prettier! Make sure you wipe everything down after each time you sand!
Now apply a second coat of primer, let dry, and sand again.
Paint Kitchen Cabinets
After that is taken care of we can move on to the actual painting. For the cabinet paint you need 100% enamel paint. It is durable, and it just has a great finish! It’s still water based, so clean up is easy, yay!
Just like with the primer, start off brushing any corners and edges, then roll the paint on. Make sure to fix any paint drips. Once dry, sand it down again, and wipe clean.
Repeat this process until you have a total of 3 coats OR until you are happy with the results. You might get lucky and only need 2 coats.
On your last coat, no need to sand ; ) If you see any paint drips on your last coat you can use a sanding block to help remove them, you might need to dab a little paint over that to smooth it out, and fix any other needed touch ups.
Now give yourself a HUGE pat on the back and enjoy your beautiful cabinets!
To see more of my kitchen, you can check out my Kitchen Tour, and catch up on the kitchen progress and how to DIY a remodel!
UPDATE: My NEWEST Kitchen progress can be found HERE
amanda cutler says
Did you sand by hand or use an electronic sander for your cabinet bases and cabinet doors? I have an electric and would love to use that, including between coats of primer and paint as long as it won’t mess things up.
I used an electric sander for most of it, but I did use just a sheet of sandpaper for some of the hard to reach areas. Definitely go with the hand held sander. Mine is a random orbital one… if yours is just one of the square ones, make sure you go with the grain of the wood though : ) Have a great night, and let me know if you have any other questions!
Do you have to remove the cabinet fronts and drawers before painting?
Why do you paint the cabinets and then sand the paint off? What kind of paint roller do you recommend? Also when sanding the paint coats, how deep do you sand it?
Hi Shellie, You don’t actually sand the paint off. You will need to use a very fine grit sandpaper, which will just simply smooth everything out and create a nice surface for the next layer of paint to adhere too. You won’t sand your final coat. You won’t need to sand very deep in between paint coats, but you will want to make sure to get a good sanding on the wood to remove any previous finish. I suggest using a foam roller because it helps to avoid the brush streaks when painting with a brush… a regular roller is meant for walls and will just kinda push the paint around on wood cabinets. Let me know if you have any other questions!
I love how these turned out! Fabulous work. What color white did you choose? Also, did you tile that beautiful subway tile backsplash?
Hi Anna, I painted them with Behr’s Decorator’s White, which is a pretty bright white. I did do the backsplash :) I don’t have a tutorial for that one though, but it’s pretty easy and subway tile is very simple to work with! Have a great weekend!
Hi! Im getting ready to paint my doors, and I was wondering what you meant by 100% enamel paint? Do you just ask for this at the counter rather than wall paint? Thanks! Megan. [email protected]
Hi Megan, I’m not entirely sure what the difference is, I was just told by a friend who works in the construction industry to make sure the paint is 100% enamel. I believe most of the Behr paint is, which is just regular wall paint. Since I’m just going off the word of a friend, I think the reason being is that some of the cheaper paints aren’t 100% enamel. But you should be able to find the paint you need at any hardware store, the employees working in the paint department knew what I was talking about when I asked for it! Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions!!
Great job, they look awesome. Did you paint the interior of the cabinets as well? I have seen tons of exteriors painted but am wondering about the process/outcome of interior painting.
Thanks so much! I did paint the interior! I did the same thing on the inside, except one less coat since I wasn’t quite as worried about it looking completely flawless, but you wouldn’t even know it just looking at it.
I am in the process of painting my cabinets white but I’ve found that I can still see the wood grain which I am not fond of. I am using a latex paint and a paint brush. Should I try a roller? Do you have any suggestions on how to get a smooth finish with no visible wood grain? Yours look fabulous!
Unfortunately getting rid of that wood grain entirely is hard to do. I used a satin paint instead of a high gloss. The glossy ness tends to pick up those crevices quite a bit more than the satin. I would definitely use a roller. Paint brushes will drag any paint out of those crevices as well leaving them more visible. But to completely get rid of the wood grain there is a “high build” primer you can use. It’s pretty expensive though (which is why I decided against it) but I was painting the inside and out of cabinets. If you just want it on the outside it might not be too costly, unless you have tons of cabinets ; ). But I would suggest the small foam rollers. That’s what I used! And the satin paint. I also did 2 layers of primer, and 3 coats of paint…. that did help hide some of my grain as well! Hope that helps! Good luck on your kitchen!
How long would you say this whole painting process took you? I know you had a little more time building the border on the cabinet doors, but I’m curious to see how much of a time commitment this is. Were you able to do it in one weekend, or did you have to avoid your kitchen for longer?
Hi Elise, oh gosh… I had to do it in so many short periods of time because of all my kids. I pulled all my doors of first and emptied cabinets. Then I focused on the base cabinets so I could get everything put back together. I lived without doors for a few weeks because adding the trim and the extra sanding is definitely what took me the longest! If you were just painting I did 5 coats all together and each coat has to dry a few hours in between then sanding so the dry time is what gets you. If you can lay out all your doors and do the base cabinets and doors at the same time, you could maybe do it in a long weekend if you work pretty much all day. I’d say it’s more realistic (for me) if you did the base cabinets in one weekend and the doors in the next. I hope this kinda helps… I was doing so many other things in the middle of painting the cabinets it’s hard for me to say exactly ; ) But it took my over the course of a month probably. But that’s because I’m generally working on 3-4 projects at a time because of blogging! Let me know if you have any other questions along the way!
Can I do the same thing if I am not sure if my cabinets are solid wood? When we redid the kitchen years ago, the boxes were ready made.
I would think so. Just make sure you use an oil based primer, and you might still need to rough the surface up with a fine grit sandpaper. I’d try and figure out what kind of material they are though just to be sure before diving in to such a big project ; ) Lt me know if you have any other questions! : )
What color did you use on the wall? I love the blue strip up above the cabinets. :)
Thanks! It’s Palladian Blue from Benjamin Moore : ) We love it too!
Hi how do you put the silver tiles on the side of the cabinets? I love them
Hi Charlotte, I just used double sided duct tape, but to be honest you might want to use a little glue as well because the steam did make mine start to pull away a little and I ended up putting a bit of glue back here ; ) Thanks for stopping by!
where are your knobs and drawer pulls from?! Kitchen looks great!
Hi, I was just wondering how you laid your doors out? I hear that is a make or break thing. Did you finish all of the fronts then flip and do the backs? Thanks and they look great!
Laura Copp says
did you ever try a paint sprayer to cut down on the time?
I’m not sure if someone already asked this, I haven’t read through every comment………. Did you paint the insides of your cabinets also?
Veronika Dalton says
I really want to do this to my kitchen. The shaker style looks so good, and I really like the drawer pulls. But I don’t have an electric sander, and with 18 cabinet doors… I don’t think my arms are prepared for this. I guess I’ll have to borrow one!
Hi, I’m just wondering, did you use a top coat at all? Verathane or wax to seal the cupboards?
Yes, she posted she had painted and sanded the insides as well….just one less coat.
Outdoor Kitchens says
Extraordinary employment, they look marvelous. Did you paint the inside of the cupboards too? I have seen huge amounts of outsides painted yet am pondering about the procedure/result of inside painting.
Dusti Bourne says
Okay, that’s it! I am officially chalk painting some ugly old wood furniture in my kitchen! Thanks!
Hi, if you used an oil base primer, can you use a latex paint on the cabinets. I thought that would cause the paint to peel off.
That is what I’ve been reading in my research as well!
Westly Smith says
Thanks for the tip to paint the doors first. For me, it’s just hard to know where to start. My wife wants me to paint our kitchen cabinets. I agree with her, they look old and we need something new in our house. This should help out a lot!
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Repairs should be done before you even consider selling it. It may cost a lot or a little but definitely a good start in acquiring more interested buyers.
erin patrick says
This was so helpful to me!! I have a kitchen with severely outdated forest green and white cabinets and painting is pretty much my only option for updating at the moment but I was super intimidated! I think that I can do this now after reading your post! :)Thanks for sharing!!
great job, thank you Concerning using the Kilz Oil Based Primer- I once tried to paint with this primer and it was drying so fast that I had to take it all down. Can you expand about this product? I keep reading about it in various post as a good product.
Jessie Rogentine says
Roughly how much would you say this remodel cost you minus the appliances? So for the paint, tile, counter tops and flooring. I really want to do this to our kitchen but not sure if we can budget it. Thank you!
Lorraine Castellano says
Our kitchen cabinets look like they are made of fiber board with a veneer that looks like thin contact paper stretched over it. They are all “framed” out. The coloring on all of it is like a dark oak. I want to paint them. What preparation and paint would we use for this type of surface?
We are in the process of painting our cabinets white and love the drawer pulls you used. Can you please tell us where you got those?
I bought some from wayfare!
Richard A. Blake says
It is good Post to read. If you can do it yourself , you should. However if you are not assured that you can do it, it’s always better to get assistance.Keep sharing your thoughts.
Great job! Really good information. Also, I love your gas range. You have great taste!
This is really a useful post when it comes to choosing cabinets for the kitchen. I think your post will help us to choose the right cabinets and paints for our kitchen. Thanks
I am very much a visual learner. I like how you posted this blog together with a picture. It is much clear and understandable.
fernando Lopez says
thanks for the tip you get very good job
Roofing Company says
We are looking to paint the cabinets in my sister-in law’s house. Great info. Thank you for sharing. I’ll pass on this article to her!
Remodeling AZ says
Great article Ashley – I run a remodeling business Arizona and come across some pretty beat up and old cabinets – ill recommend your page for tips for customers who are on a budget! ;)
Loft Ladder Installation says
Excellent tips, thank you for sharing!
Paint Spraying Guide says
These look really good Ashley, you may just have inspired me to tear my kitchen apart before Xmas!
Great job, thanks for the inspiration. Carly xx
Imperial Design Center says
This article had some great information about how to choose cabinetry for any project. https://imperialdesigninc.com/
Great job. Cabinets look great! All of your tips are spot on, and that’s coming from a professional painter! http://www.fmpainter.com
Andy Shepard says
Your advice to consider the storage space, locking system, and material of the cabinets would be important. This could ensure that you’re able to have them customized for your kitchen so that they’ll match the style and provide the storage you need for your items.
Yes, thank you so much! I am going to follow your directions to the “T”. Starting this weekend!
Bethany Birchridge says
I love that you mentioned to clean the kitchen cupboards and sand them before painting. My aunt recently redecorated her kitchen and you the back corners look a bit rough. Something I like to do when sanding is go in with a paintbrush and sweep up as much excess as possible.
Plumber Anderson says
We’re just about to start remodeling our kitchen! Great Article!
Brandon from https://www.andersoncountyplumbing.com
Hi. Beautiful redo! I am getting ready to tackle my kitchen. And paint those ugly wood cabinets I own. What color did you paint your cabinets? So many whites to choose from!
Kalia Floors says
Excellent tips, it’s very helpful. I’m glad you are passionate to share this thing with us. Thank you.
Sam Kresslein says
Perfect timing! Going to paint my kitchen in the next few weeks, and you really laid out all the steps in detail. Super helpful :D thank you for your sharing
Myself and my wife were thinking about buying a whole new kitchen, but looking what you have done, we may be better off just painting the kitchen units & cabinets!
Logan Antonio says
Nice tips. It is very informative post. I am searching this information from few days and I found this information on your blog. Your blog is very informative. Thanks for sharing this information with us. Keep posting and keep sharing like this.
Using oil based primer is huge and a mistake I see a lot of would-be DIYers make when they’re first taking on a painting project. Great post!
Elite Cooker says
I think it provides a huge idea on painting kitchen cabinet. Actually,I love the way you go. Thanks for sharing your valuable opinion!
Derek McDoogle says
I did not know the fact that for the cabinet paint you need 100% enamel paint. I’ve never done this before so I think it would be better to call a professional this time. From my point of view, my kitchens cabinets might need to be replaced.
I read out your article and I got some good idea about kitchen cabinet painting. It’s an amazing tips about kitchen cabinet painting Really its help me to improve my kitchen environment.
Thanks for your amazing tips.
Brandon F says
I have painted my kitchen cabinets recently so can attest to the fact that using oil based primer is the way to go. It’s the foundation that so important. On top of that we used outdoor semi gloss paint from Dunn Edwards. Was told the resin inside outdoor paint helps the paint to withstand more than interior semi-gloss.
A great idea about kitchen painting. I think your idea is far enough to design my kitchen cabinet.
Thanks for your amazing tips. Keep sharing!
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Todd Davis says
Great Article! I have read few other article on this topic and found yours. Thank you so much for sharing awesome guide. Looking more guide from you. Keep up the good work.
Trevion Johnson says
That paint sure looked pretty lame if you ask me. Much better paint if you simply spray it. Cabinet doors should be sprayed.
Thanks for nice tips! Myself and my wife were thinking about buying a whole new kitchen, but looking what you have done, we may be better off just painting the kitchen units & cabinets!
boston painters says
Excellent choice of colors is a must for painting your kitchen cabinets.
I am currently working on our kitchen and counters. This is a lovely idea! :)
Great post! Thanks for this great share.
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Always apply paint in thin, light coats, but be sure to cover all areas. Thin coats leave fewer visible brushstrokes and dry more quickly. Don’t lay the finish on thickly and don’t overwork the brush — too many brush strokes will create air bubbles in the finish, leaving bumps and pits when it dries.
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A good painter can work wonders with a brush, but for most of us a mini roller is a great alternative when painting kitchen cabinets.
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Wood cabinets are ideal for painting, but any surface that can be scuffed with sandpaper can be painted. … Special cabinet paints are available that provide a smooth finish, but any high-quality paint should work. Make sure your paint is acrylic, not vinyl. Acrylic latex-based paint is durable and easy to clean up.
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