How To Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets

6:10 PM

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This was a daunting task for me, but our new house had a dark kitchen.  We scored new counters, wood floors, and appliances, but the honey colored cabinets seemed dated to me.  So after reading a bunch of info on painting cabinets, it seemed like a project I could tackle.  It seemed worth the hassle to transform our kitchen so the cabinets would look modern to match the flooring, counter, white tile back splash and appliances.  Another bonus would be to brighten up the space to feel more fresh, clean and airy.
Here's the before, the day we signed the papers.
Oh yes, also the bright yellow paint also made it feel old and musty to me. 

I can't wait, so I'll give you the AFTER right away, before the instructions!
The only thing that changed was the paint on the cabinets and walls.  To me it makes the space look so much newer and up to date.

So if you also need to update your kitchen cabinets for a total kitchen change:

1. Remove all hardware from the doors and drawers 
I put all the knobs in a gallon ziplock bag.
Remove all the doors and hinges.  All the hinges and screws went in another ziplock bag.
2. Wash all the doors and frames with warm soapy water.
I found it easiest to use the sink and really scrub the grime off and rinse the doors well.
Allow to totally dry.

**May need to fill holes/ sand at this point
If you're replacing your knobs/ hardware with new, you'll probably have to fill all the old holes with wood filler at this point, unless your new knobs have the same measurements for holes as the old.
If your cabinets have a thick layer of polyurethane and feel super glossy, you may want to sand them to remove the sealing finish.  My cabinets felt like wood, not plastic, so I didn't sand.

3. Prime
This important according to all my research to use OIL BASED PRIMER! It is thick and stinky, (well you can pay more for odorless but I didn't) and you can only get it off with mineral spirits/ paint thinner.  So it is a pain to work with.  But it is more durable and stain blocking to provide the base for your cabinets.

So I began by laying all the doors face down on a plastic drop cloth.
I started by priming the backs of all the doors, or the "inside" of the cabinet.  I used a good quality roller, Purdy brand that is for flat surfaces--3/8" nap. 
Don't forget to also prime the cabinet frames in the actual kitchen.

*In all my painting these last weeks, I actually could tell a big difference in the quality of rollers.  We used the cheap "economy" rollers for the walls, but on the cabinets and doors, used the high end rollers and it made a difference for a smooth, seamless finish. Also, painting walls, I'd wrap the roller in plastic wrap and use the same one again 4 hours later for the second coat.  But with cabinets, I broke down and used a brand new roller with each coat.  Also with brushes. I actually used a cheap brush for the primer, but used a nice angled brush for paint on the corners of the cabinet doors.***

4. Paint
After primer has dried according to the instructions on the can, paint your first of two coats latex paint.

Everything I read recommended using semi-gloss paint, so it's got enough gloss you can clean them, being in the kitchen, but high gloss shows imperfections more.

So I used Behr semi-gloss paint and the color was Popped Corn.

Once again, I used a brand new fancy Purdy brand roller for each coat.

Behr brand paint has you wait 4 hours before repainting, so 4 hours later, paint your second and final coat.
**Due to the fact I was painting both the inside of the cabinets and the outside, I painted in 2 sessions.
SESSION 1: prime, 2 coats paint on drawers, cabinet frames in kitchen, and backs of cabinet doors on the drop cloth, allowing the doors to dry overnight before session 2
SESSION 2: carefully flipped doors over so my fresh painted backs were now down touching the plastic, which is why it's important to let them dry overnight before flipping, minimizing the chance of ruining your first paint job.
prime, paint 2 coats on fronts of doors, dry overnight.

So for the whole project, with the 2 separate sessions I used:
1 primer cheap-o brush
1 paint nice= expensive angled brush
6 nice Purdy rollers

5. Rehang Doors
It's recommended you wait anywhere from overnight to 5 days before you hang the doors back up to give the paint time to cure so when you're hanging you won't get finger prints or anything imprinted in the paint.  We didn't have a week to wait, so we let them dry overnight and put them back on without any noticeable blemishes to my tedious paint job.

At this point if you're using new hardware, you'd need to drill your new holes on everything, making sure to measure accurately!
Other wise, just rehang all the doors, put the drawers back in, and get all the hardware back on and you're finished!
Once again, just paint makes such a big difference!
Just in case anyone is wondering, the paint on the walls:
Glidden: Gentle Tide

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  1. WOW, what a transformation! It's a brand new kitchen!

  2. What a transformation. Goodness it looks awesome!

  3. A+ Girl, we have to be friends...I love all your projects!

  4. Wow!!!!!!!! My favorite of all your transformations to date!!!!!!!!

  5. What a transformation! I like that you have thought about transforming your kitchen cabinets to match your wood flooring. I love it.
    -Hardwood laminate floors

  6. Looks really fabulous! I am sooo wanting to do mine, but I am scared! LOL You did a great job!

  7. Amazing!
    You should really send those pictures to apartment therapy or designsponge...
    How do you manage all this great projects with a small child?

  8. seriously amazing! i'll call you when we buy a house and i need help fixing it up!

  9. I love are so inspiring. Im going to get started on my kitchen dining table. I may ask you for a few tips.

  10. What a huge difference! Nicely done!

  11. That looks so new, fresh, and bright! I've been following all your makeovers/refurbishing and this transformation is amazing. I'm sure it was worth all the work and painting (though I'm sure you're ready for a LONG break from painting).

  12. I love what a coat of paint does! BEATIFUL job!

  13. Oh. My. Gosh. This is incredible. I love the blue, I love the red, I love the nice clean cabinets, the new light's paint job. This is totally amazing. I bet it makes you so happy to cook/craft in there!

  14. Are you kidding me???? THAT LOOKS AWESOME!! You are amazing!

  15. I want to add my kudos as well.. I'm in the middle of my "oak to white" transformation too.. although I'm doing oil and the long wait, its going to be great when I'm done.. I've had issues with hardware, but we're figuring it out.. a LONG process for sure using the oil and wait times.

  16. That turned out awesome! And thanks for sharing the name of the wall paint. It's exactly what I'm looking for!

  17. Looks great! We just finished doing the same thing to our cabinets. I'm still recovering ;>)

  18. it's gorgeous!! love that color combo. Amazing job!!

  19. Hi ~ I love what you did. I keep saying I'm going to paint my cabinets but its a big and scary challenge. My hat off to you for tackling this job ~ its beautiful.


  20. Excellent read. I like your style...have a good one!/Nice blog! Keep it up!

    cabinet doors

  21. It really is a complete transformation! Excellent work... it looks amazing!

  22. Your "before" looks so sadly familiar. i have the same cabinets in my kitchen as we speak screaming to be painted.... SOMEDAY, I hope to actually paint them!

    For now, I get to admire yours, and I just wanted to let you know that we are featuring your awesome project tomorrow at 5:00 PM. Hope you get some new traffic!


  23. I am visiting from the Remodalaholic Blog!

    I am definitely going to be your new #1 fan/follower! I love your stuff!

    Would you mind sharing where you got your stools? I am in love....

  24. hey congrats on your $100! That is fun! I had to come back to this post and see the before and after again. We are buying a new house and I am totally going to be changing the cabinets in the kitchen. I just might have to send you a picture and see what you think a good choice would be with the counter tops. :) Great job!

  25. It really does seem daunting...I want to do it so badly! Thanks for the step by step...if I do it, I'll totally follow your tutorial. And congrats on the $100!!

  26. I found you on remodelaholic and i am so amazed with your kitchen. i mean, i thought you got new countertops and everything at first glance. i've been dreaming of and dreading painting mine but now that i see the huge transformation from just a little paint, i'm so going for it.

  27. Thank you for posting such a useful, impressive and a wicked article./Wow.. looking good!

    Kitchen Cabinets

  28. What a unique idea! Installing the new Pantry cabinets, suits not only the looks of your kitchen but also your pocket too.

    Ready to assemble cabinets

  29. Very nice, could you reply with the brand of oil based primer you used?

  30. Your wall color is the exact color I've been looking at for my kitchen walls! It looks great!

  31. The cabinets looked so clean after you painted them! White is probably the most commonly used paint on all kitchens. However, it requires great maintenance! Well, one wouldn't paint them white if he or she would just let them rot with all the stains and dirt, right? :D

    Kalona Mincey

  32. I typed in Glidden Gentle Tide and your kitchen came up in the search engine. We also painted our 70's laminate drab brown cabinets; but we had to do some extensive repairs to the laminate first! Your remodel looks great. I am interested in this paint color, but wondering how you would describe it. In your pics in appears to have green hues. Looking for a pale blue/gray.

    1. Crystal: it's definitely a green blue. The swatch looks like a green, but on our walls with our lighting it's more of a blue. I would say it probably wouldn't be what you're looking for if you want a blue gray. More a green undertone in our house. Good luck!

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