November 29, 2016

How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Friends, the day is here! I’m FINALLY sharing the rest of cabinet painting projects as well as revealing how it turned out! I'm sorry that it took me awhile to get it posted but thank you for being patient with me!

 As I’ve vented in the past, when we bought our house I was not all that impressed by our kitchen but I knew that with a little TLC we could make it our own.We don’t have a large budget for refinishing the space, so painting the cabinets has been a GREAT way to update the kitchen without paying a high price tag or replacing all the cabinets. It might have taken quite a bit of time, but if done correctly they will save you a lot of money and should last you for years (or so I’ve been told, I’ll let you know if that is true in a year or soJ )  

Let me remind you what our kitchen looked like before I started painting. Getting to just this point, certainly has been no cake walk as it’s taken us two years to get to this point. So far since moving in we have replaced all the appliances, painted the walls,  got new countertops and added a breakfast bar, got a new sink and faucet, converted the can light into a pendant light over the sink, and installed new backsplash .... and now have painted the cabinets! 

And here they are all finished!! 

So here's what we did from start to finish. The way that I tackled this project was by doing all of the kitchen cabinet doors first and then once they were completely done and curing, I begun working on the cabinet bases. The reason for this is that we wanted the kitchen to stay functioning and the cabinets stocked and appliances in place for as long as possible. 

Lot's of people are always curious about what the timeline looks like for this type of project so here is what my timeline/process looked like. The entire project took me 4 weeks to complete (that includes a week of cure time), and I have a full-time job so I was only able to work on them at night. I also didn't work on them every weekend, so this project could definitely take you a shorter amount of time. 

Days 1 -3: I removed all of the cabinet doors and draw fronts,  and all of the hardware and hinges and labeled them. Next I sanded both the front and back side of the cabinet doors and draw fronts and then cleaned them using my new favorite degreaser and a liquid sander. You can read more about the prepping steps here

Day 4 - 7: Priming.  I spent one day priming the back of the doors and drawers, spent the next day priming the front of the doors and drawers and then gave them a complete day to dry. I ended up only doing one coat of primer on the cabinet door and drawers, but looking back I wish I would of done two coats as it could of maybe let me get away with only two coats of paint. You can read more about the priming process here. 

After the primer had dried I sanded them using a 220 girt sanding block and then vacuumed and used tack cloth to get rid of all of any remaining debris. 

Days 8 - 13: Painting the cabinet door and drawers. For paint, I chose to use Benjamin Moore's Advance paint in Simply White. I ultimately decided to go with this paint because it's specifically made for cabinets, has easy clean up, has a self-leveling mechanism, and from my research of other's who have tackled this project, it seems to be a very popular choice, as well as, it's what carpenters in my local area also use which all made me feel confident in my choice. 

Like I mentioned above I ended up doing three coats of paint on all the doors and drawers. I did all of the backs first, let them dry at 24 hours (per the instructions on the can) and then flipped them over and did the fronts and did that x 3. I made sure that I did the front very last so that if anything scratched while being painted by the wood block raisers, the marks would be on the back and not the front. 

In terms of the technique I used to paint them, I used the same approach as seen in this video here on the blogpost  by Sherry from Young House Love and I've used it before in other projects and it's worked well so I kept with it here. Basically I used a 2 inch brush to apply the paint around the inside edge trim, and then followed up with a mini foam roller to roll the middle inset panel of the cabinet, then the rail and stile portion of the cabinets and then the edges of the cabinets. The edges were the trickiest part for me on both the cabinets and the drawers as ours our slightly rounded which seemed to make dripping more prone. Basically all you want to make sure of is that nothing is puddling together or drip marks, because those will pretty much ruin the "perfect" white cabinets that you have envisioned in your mind. 

After I was done painting, I let them cure in basement for 7 days. The reason  curing is so important is that hardens the paint, making it much harder to chip and also keeps the cabinet doors and bases from sticking together. 

Day 14: Once the cabinets were put in our basement to start curing I begun on the kitchen bases. I put the cabinet doors into the basement so that they didn't get sawdust debris all over them while sanding. 

To begin with the kitchen bases, I first cleared out all of the kitchen cabinets. Actually, I shouldn't say I, because this is where my husband stepped in and gave me some much appreciated help that I desperately needed. One of my followers told me before I started my kitchen cabinets that sometime during this project I would question my insanity, and sure enough that happened and it so happened specifically at this halfway mark because the cabinets were so labor intensive and I couldn't believe I was only half done at this point.  Luckily though, it turned out that the cabinet bases weren't as awful or time consuming so what seemed like the halfway mark was really more like the 70% mark. 

Once the cabinets were cleared, we moved the appliances and started prepping the space for me to sand. We covered everything with plastic drop cloths, including our dining table light fixture and faucet and closed off both entrances to our kitchen also with plastic drop cloths. 

Next I sanded the cabinet bases using my Ryobi finish sander beginning with 60 grit and then going back over it with 220 grit. Unlike the cabinet doors, the base frames sanded up so quickly and I was able to get the bases down to basically bare wood (except for the crown molding), which I was excited about because bare wood means better adhesion to the primer and paint which ultimately means less likely for the paint to chip. Wahoo!!! 

Days 15 - 16: Priming the bases. After everything was sanded, vacuumed and wiped down with a tack cloth I began priming the bases of the cabinets. This time, I did two coats of primer on all of the cabinet bases. 

The way I tackled the cabinet bases is from starting at the top and working downwards. That said I would start at the crown molding, then at the top rail (horizontal piece) then the stiles (the vertical pieces) and then the additional rails. 

Days 17-20: Painting. Once the priming was finished and dry it was FINALLY time to paint the frames. At this point it felt like the light at the end of the tunnel because we were 90% finished. I did two coats of paint on the cabinet frames and only did the exterior of the frames.  You could paint inside the cabinets, but that just meant more work for me. I thought about doing it, but that meant  that cabinet shelves would be more prone to chipping, and plus only I see inside the cabinets and I didn't care at all. So that said, I didn't do them. 

 Days 20 - 27 : Curing. Once painting the bases were completed, it was time to let them cure! 

 Days 20 - 27: During this time, once the cabinet doors had cured for a week I began putting the hinges back on the cabinet doors and drawer in our basement. I also added new pads to the corner of the cabinet doors and drawers to help with keeping things from rubbing together and chipping.

I also added the hardware back on which we just installed soon before beginning this project. We did that so that we didn't have to drill the holes into freshly painted cabinets and risk things from chipping.

After the cabinet bases had cured, I prepped everything to install the cabinet doors back on. In some places, some paint had gotten on the inside of the cabinets so I used nail polish remover to get rid of it.

Once all the cabinet doors was put back on here is how it turned out!!!

What do you think?? Let's just say I'm in love! If you have any specific questions about this project that I didn't answer please feel free to ask in the comments below!! I still have more changes to be made with the rest of the kitchen which I will share later this week, but I'm SOOO happy with how it's looking so far!! Stay Tuned and thanks for stopping by:) 


  1. Looks awesome! This post has given me courage to paint mines.

  2. This is such a helpful post! I want to paint mine light grey but I am afraid that I will ruin something! I think that's i can do it with enough research to be 100% ready. What was the total cost for you, if you don't mind me asking?

  3. Wow! Seems like a lot of work. But well worth it. It's definitely created a huge change in the kitchen making it so much lighter and brighter. I love it! :)

    Lindsey Elyse | lindseyginge

  4. This looks amazing!! I am so jealous and wish I could do this. I might have to show my hubby how awesome it looks since he's the one against it.

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