One of the first things we did upon moving into our home 4.5 years ago was paint our kitchen cabinets. It was one of my first big DIY projects, and wasn’t too tricky!
I could write out a complicated tutorial with lots of pictures, but I’m not going to do that. Here is a simple, straightforward guide on how to paint kitchen cabinets. Keep in mind that I am not an expert, but this method has held up for us for 4.5 years!
1. Wash Everything
No explanation needed here. Your paint won’t stick if the cabinets are gross. Clean it all up!
2. Lightly Sand Everything
A coarse grit sandpaper is fine, just grab a block or sheet and lightly go over the doors, cabinets, and drawer fronts.
3. Remove Doors and Drawers
Lay them out in a pattern that resembles your kitchen, maybe even make a map to show you where everything goes back. I drew our kitchen and placed big numbers on each door on the picture. I then laid everything out starting at 1 and up so it was in order.
Once your doors and drawers are removed, remove all of the hardware. If you are using old hinges and plan to reuse them, label them according to the cabinet. I taped the hinge with painters’ tape and write a big number onto it with permanent marker.
4. Make a plan.
Section this project into pieces for the following steps. For example, first do all of your upper cabinets, then the lowers. Once those are finished being primed and painted, then move to the drawers and doors. Sure this is tedious, but you want to do it the right way to ensure it is finished.
Have kids? Here’s our guide to tackling projects with kids around.
5. Coat with one coat of Zinsser Cover Stain primer
We used the Zinsser Cover Stain on our trim and it is a wonderful primer for going over existing stain. You won’t have much bleeding. The only con is that it stinks due to being oil-based.
To be honest, we used regular Kilz primer on our cabinets and looking back, I don’t recommend it for this project. The stain bled through the first coat of primer, the coverage wasn’t as good, and we used more coats. Save yourself the trouble and use Zinsser Cover Stain. (They aren’t paying me to say that.)
6. Paint Your Cabinets
Once your primer has dried, start painting. Follow your plan above and work in sections. Start with your doors, set them on something like cans from your pantry so that they aren’t leaning or on the ground. Then work your way to the drawers, then to the bases.
I do not have a specific paint brand recommendation, but recommend using a semi-gloss or gloss paint since they are easier to clean. We used a paint + primer with two coats, but most sources recommend using thinner coats and more coats.
We used Behr “Ultra White” which was a good match for our white appliances. I normally like brushing things on, but for this project, use a small roller since it won’t leave brush marks.
Apply a coat, give it plenty of time to dry (at LEAST 24 hours. More time if you can.), then get ready for a second coat. Before you apply the second coat, lightly sand any drips. Repeat as you add more coats of paint.
Also, I did not remove everything from inside the cabinets and I did not paint the insides. I was unsure of how the paint would do with dishes and other items being dragged in and out. Looking back, I’m happy we made this call. We have a hutch in our dining room we painted 3 years ago; even though we don’t take stuff out of it too often, the paint hasn’t held up well in there.
7.Give it Some Space
Even if your paint is dry to touch, it can take much longer for it to fully dry. If you are able to, I recommend giving your kitchen at least a week, if not longer, to dry before putting everything back together.
8. Put it Back Together
I realize this does not need explanation, but if I ended the tutorial at 7, your kitchen would look crazy. Put hardware and hinges back in place, put doors and drawers back on. Sit back and enjoy your newly painted kitchen!
9. Prepare for Touch-ups and Cleaning
Congrats, you now have a white kitchen! But you know what else you gained? A dirt magnet.
I’m joking, it isn’t that bad.
But you might find that you clean your white cabinets more often. This is fine by me because if I had wood cabinets, I probably wouldn’t wash them. I need that glaring, dirty reminder in my face to remind me to wipe them down. 🙂 And I would much rather have bright, white cabinets to give me that illusion of clean.
For easy touch ups, grab a small mason jar or baby food container, fill it with paint,and label it with the color and room of the cabinets. Keep it in the kitchen so you can dab paint on easily.
Would you paint your kitchen? Have you?
Have any tips you’d like to add?
I’d love to hear more about your projects in the comments!