How to Easily Paint Kitchen Cabinets You Will Love
Learn how to easily paint kitchen cabinets you will love and admire for many years. I’ll teach you the right tools for the job and the complete how-to process.
A big “Thank you” to Wagner for sponsoring today’s post.
If I can only teach you one thing from this whole post it’s to never under estimate the power of paint. One simple can of paint can give you a completely different look. Just like the HUGE transformation of my own kitchen cabinets. This makeover project may seem a bit overwhelming, but I promise you. If I can do it…so can you!
And I’m even going to make it easier for you because I’ll share with you all my tricks and tips I learned along the way.
Plus, I’ll talk about the tools/supplies you need and share my step-by-step process. My goal is to teach you how to easily paint kitchen cabinets that you will love to see. Every. Single. Day.
So I’m going to start this tutorial off by telling you how to select the right products for the job.
Selecting the Right Primer
The primer is the foundation of your paint job so you want to pick a quality primer. Especially if you have builder grade cabinets like mine.
I used a Sherwin Williams multi-purpose latex primer. I found this primer to stick well and cover with ease. I’ve talked with many professional painters and this is their primer of choice.
Selecting the Right Tools
To achieve painted cabinets that you will really love, you need the right tools for the job. Here are all the items I used for this project: (disclosure: some affiliate links used )
- KRUD Kutter (to remove all the grease and grim off my cabinets)
- Paint Sandpaper (for after primer and paint)
- Orbit Sander
- Wagner Flexio 890 Hvlp Paint Sprayer Station. (for cabinet doors and drawer fronts)
- Small Roller (for cabinet frames)
- A Paint Brush (for cabinet frames)
- Paint Trays (for cabinet frames)
- Paint (I used Benjamin Moore Advanced — color Chelsea Gray)
Selecting the Right Paint
Now that I’ve talked about the right primer and tools for painting, it’s time to talk about the actual paint!
For my project I chose Benjamin Moore Advanced Interior paint in Satin (in Chelsea Gray). The reason I picked this particular brand and line is because it acts like an oil base paint.
It’s self-leveling (no brush strokes), blocks stains, reduces wood grain raise (great for builder grade cabinets) and seals great for durability. But it also acts like a water base with easy soap and water cleanup. low order and low VOC. It’s just fantastic and I couldn’t be more happy with how my cabinets turned out.
Now that I’ve shared the details on selecting your tools and supplies, I’m going to share the step-by-step on actually painting the cabinets.
I started by removing all the cabinet doors and drawers from the kitchen frames.
TIP: Place the cabinet hinges in a simple ziploc bag and then insert that bag inside the correlating cabinet. They will be safely stored until you rehang the doors.
Then I placed all the doors and drawer fronts out in my garage. I wiped them all down with the KRUD cleaner to remove all grease and grim.
My next step was to sand them all, lightly. The reason for this step is to remove any shine or varnish off the doors and drawers so the new paint can absorb into the wood.
So although this sounds like a HUGE step it only took me about an hour to lightly sand them all down.
After the sanding was finished, I vacuumed and wiped down each and every door to remove any trace of dust. You do not want little dust particles in your primer because you’ll see it show up in the finished paint.
Now it was time for the really fun stuff….spray painting! This is where my favorite new painting tool came into the picture…my Wagner Flexio 890 Hvlp Paint Sprayer Station. This sprayer was amazing from the very beginning.
I love how everything you need (all nozzles, cups, hose and cord) is housed in this sturdy holder.
I also loved how easy it was to use. The powerful x-boost turbine can spray any coating, including primer or unthinned paint. That feature is awesome cause who’s got time for thinning paint.
This paint sprayer station also comes with two different nozzles. One is a detail finish nozzle for smaller projects (like painting cabinets) and has a smooth finish. The other is the iSpray nozzle for large projects (like home walls) and has a light texture finish.
Be sure to pay attention to your nozzles. I’m just saying at one point I may have grabbed the wrong one and did some painting. OOPS! Don’t be like me!
So, using the detail finish nozzle, I filled up my cup with primer and prepared to change the look of my cabinets forever. I started spraying the primer on the back side of the cabinet doors and drawers first.
TIP: Start with the back so you finish the whole painting process on the front. Then it’s less likely to nick or scrape any paint. No one will really study the inside of your cabinet doors right…but the outside. 😉
I stopped mid paint on this door to show you how fine of mist the sprayer applies. It makes for a super smooth surface. Just beautiful!
I spray painted all the doors and drawers and let them sit for about an hour, then flipped and sprayed the other side. I gave each side one coat of primer.
Once completely dry I had a few areas that needed some sanding. For this step you don’t want to use regular sandpaper…use prograde sand paper made for paint. It will smooth out any mistakes like accidental splatters and drips without taking off the primer or paint.
After everything was primed, it was time to repeat those same steps, but with my Chelsea Gray paint. Starting again on the back side…I spray painted each door and drawer. Then I let them dry for up to 48 hours before flipping to paint the fronts. I gave each side two coats of paint.
TIP: While waiting between coats…start priming and painting the frames.
It’s important to give newly painted cabinet doors and drawers plenty of time dry. So I decided while they cured I would prime and paint my frames.
I taped everything off, including a tiny bit of the inside of my cabinet shelves (see blue tape in picture below) to catch any accidental paint marks. I painted everything I could with the roller first because it gives a really nice smooth coat. Then I went back with the angled brush to cover any areas missed.
I allowed that to dry overnight then I repeated the same process but with my paint.
And that’s pretty much the process. It took me about two weeks from start to finish because I did this all on my own. But as you can see… the results are well worth it! From boring builder grade cabinets…..
To fabulous painted cabinets that I’m going to love for years!
A few more before and afters for you to see the magnificent power of a wonderful paint sprayer and some simple paint….
If you want to learn how I easily added height to my kitchen cabinets, check out this post here….
I also have a great tutorial on how I installed the kitchen subway tile! Click here to see the complete tutorial.
UPDATE: If you would like to see the details on the whole kitchen makeover, check out this post here…
I also have a great post on the ways I organize my new kitchen found HERE:
I hope this post inspires you to beautify your own kitchen cabinets.
If you have any question, please ask away and I’ll try my best to answer them.
Fabulous job! A couple of years ago I completely stripped my builder oak cabinets down to bare wood, restained (4 coats), and polyed (2 coats), so I know how much work is involved! We’re currently building a new house, doing the interior work ourselves, and I am in the paint planning process for trim, doors, and cabinetry. Your post will come in very handy. However, I have a question about the BM Advance enamel. I recently purchased a test quart in the satin finish, and it is slick-as-glass shiny! Your cabs look great though, like a satin finish should. Do you think it’s the spray process, or the grain of the wood (as opposed to the slick masonite surface I’m testing on)? I also tested the SW ProClassic enamel in semi-gloss (they can’t make the color I’m testing in their satin), and it’s about the same shiny as the BM satin. I really hate shiny, and am about to have a breakdown between testing colors and trying to find the right sheen!
Thank you, Anita! My cabinets have a nice shine, but I wouldn’t say high “glass shine”. It may be the difference is the wood you are using, hard to know for sure. I totally understand your frustration with finding the right mix of color and sheen—it’s almost like mission impossible! 😉 But I would suggest to try a few more samples, and when you find that right mixture…it will POP! Good luck!
Do you paint the insides??
No, Wendy. I skipped that step. Just didn’t really matter to me. I may paint the inside of one set of cabinets because I’m thinking of updating the cabinet doors with glass inserts. So there I would have to paint the inside. We will see…I’m just always thinking of a new project. Drives my husband crazy! LOL 🙂
Are your cabinets all wood or only the door fronts are wood. My builder’s grade cabinets sides are veneer and was wondering if mine will come out like yours.
Hi Stephanie! My cabinets are all wood, no veneer. I would suggestion to get a special primer that is for veneer if you are going to attempt painting. Hope that helps! 🙂
We are in the process of updating our 90’s kitchen. I think I finally convinced my husband to paint our oak cabinets ! Would you still do everything in the same sequence or would you do the counters/floors after painting?
Hi Sara. Actually, painting the cabinets was the last step I did in my kitchen remodel. The process for my kitchen remodel went like this: removed old counter tops and inserted farmhouse sink, installed new counters, installed back splash, installed added height to existing cabinets, installed hardwood floors, then I painted the cabinets. I don’t know what style of counters you are getting, but mine are Quartz— they were heavy. They had to cut into the drywall in places to install them…so it makes a mess! And your paint job can easily get chipped/nicked/scratched if you do it first. Just my perspective. 🙂 Good luck on the update!
Great tips, Laura. Your cabinets turned out beautifully!
Thank you so much, Mary Beth! 🙂
Great tips! Yes, paint can completely change the look of your cabinets-we did it ourselves a few years ago and loved it!!
Thanks, Linda! It’s just so amazing…the power of paint!
Did you sand and use the Krud stuff on the frames as well before priming?
Yes, Tamara. I did. I didn’t use the orbit sander though, just a simple sand block. 🙂
This transformation is amazing! I wish I would’ve had this paint sprayer when I did my cabinets!
WHat a gorgeous makeover!! I need to get this sprayer for a bathroom cabinet makeover!
Thanks, Heather! That spray painter is fabulous! Pick one up and you’ll knock out your bathroom cabinets super fast. 🙂
Awesome job! We’ve been considering cabinet update options and now seriously thinking about painting…thanks for your explicit tutorial!
The 48 hour drying time on the doors, was that per coat? Or did you apply both coats then dry 48 hours per side?
Kim, that was per coat. I’d spray once…let dry for 48 then flip and do the other side. 🙂
I know this will seem like a redundant question but for the paint. You sprayed the back then let it dry 48hrs. Flipped it over painted the front, let dry 48 hrs then repeated the process one more time? So a total of 8 days? Just confirming.
Yep, Joanne. You don’t have to wait as long between coats. I was in the middle of painting the indoor cabinet frames and it worked perfectly on that time frame. I figured a little extra dry time wouldn’t hurt. Hope that helps. 🙂
Are your cabinets wood? Can you do this on particle board cabinets?
Sherry, my cabinets are oak wood. I’m not sure about particle board. I think you would need a special primer for that type of surface, so you may want to start there. 🙂
Did you use a top coat like a polyurethane or just primer and paint only?
Also, how are they holding up? Any nicks or scratches? Anything you would have done differently?
Sorry about all the questions, but is nervous about tackling this job.
Hi Lily! No, I didn’t use a top coat and they seem to be doing fine. I have a toddler boy who isn’t very easy on my cabinet doors and they still look great! I was very nervous to paint mine too. But every day I walk into my kitchen and see my grey cabinets, I’m so glad that I did. You can do it! 🙂
Hello, your kitchen looks great! I’m curious if they held up well after a year with no top coat or if you suggest adding one now?
Thanks, Kat! Yes, I think it has held up great over the years. (I actually have a post in the works about this very topic!) But yea, I would still skip the top coat even now. 🙂
Hi! Thanks for sharing this with the world, I find your post SUPER helpful throughout and very detail-oriented-so thanks!!
Quick question, I am very interested in doing my cabinets– and have the time in the summer to do it right and not rushed. Question: After the 2 coats of paint, did you punt any ‘sealers’ or anything like that? I keep finding other bloggers/pinterest tutorials that mention that but noticed you didn’t.
Also, how long have you had yours and how are the holding up? Any extra advice/recommendations are super appreciated!
Hi Maria! I’m so glad you found my post helpful! No, I didn’t add a sealer. They seem to be holding up just fine without one. I’m going on almost a year with mine and they look just as good as the day I painted them. Good luck to you!
Love it, you’ve proven that you do not need to destroy perfectly ugly cabinets, oh I mean lovely builder grade cabinets. Thats it keep onrecycle reuse renew. The kitchen is beautiful.
Thank you so much, Mary! 🙂
Hi Laura. I was just wondering if you have any tips on the actual spraying process that you can share? My spray skills have extended only to a timber fence! Another point of note, I have looked at the product reviews for this sprayer, and here in Australia they have been mostly negative – with many people citing problems with clogging and uneven spray. They also recommend diluting the paint, irrespective of what it says on the Wagner website. I’d like to hear your thoughts, from a female perspective, as most of the negative comments I mention have come from men! Thanks so much and Happy New Year to you all! ~ heather
Hi Heather! I was so intimidated to use the sprayer…but once I figured out the correct nozzle, the paint really went on like butter. My tips would be to go slow and keep the sprayer in a constant movement across the doors. This will help you keep a super fine mist coverage and a spray job that looks really professional. Practice on some cardboard first and get a feel of how the sprayer works and how the paint comes out. Oh, and I didn’t dilute my paint and my sprayer didn’t clog once. I really loved my sprayer but it’s the only sprayer I have ever used, so I don’t have anything to compare it too. Hopefully, my tips will help you…if you have any more questions, come back and let me know! Good luck!
I like grey kitchen cabinets more than the usual brown one. You did an awesome work, how much money you spend on painting this kitchen?
Thank you, Anna! I think the total cost of paint and products was right at $100. 🙂
The kitchen renovation is beautiful, and the new look of the cabinets (and sink, and countertops, and backsplash) is very updated and modern. However, pretending that this was all just “the power of paint” when it was really a minor renovation is a little disingenuous at best.
Thank you, Peter, for your nice comments about my whole kitchen remodel. I understand why you felt the before and after pictures were so dramatic. Since painting my cabinets was the absolute last step in the whole kitchen remodel, I was unable to display a before and after of just the cabinets painted. I think we both can agree, that the single act of painting can make a world of difference in any room. 🙂
Where did you get the handle hardware??
Hi Reanna! I got the cabinet hardware from D Lawless Hardware. 🙂
What size are the cabinet pulls? I love the size!
Thanks! I used a combination of these sizes: t-pull(44mm), 64mm, 96mm, 160mm and 192mm. I love look of different sizes! Hope that helps. 🙂
Looks great, you’ve inspired me to paint my cabinets! How much paint did you have to buy?
That’s awesome! It took me about two gallons of paint and one gallon of primer. 🙂
Looks fantastic! Great job!
Did you have someone modify the cabinets under your sink to accommodate the new sink or did you do it yourself?
Hi John! Yes, I cut the cabinets trim myself and ordered new cabinet doors to fit the smaller space. 🙂
Laura – Kitchen looks great. Stumbled on your blog though a google search, was looking for info on the exact paint sprayer and paint you used. Was reading the manual for the sprayer and it says not to use latex or oil based paint through the smaller finishing gun – you’re saying you had better results and no issues running the BM Advance through the finishing nozzle un-thinned? Did you have any issues fitting the hinges back in the holes on the doors after they were painted?
Hi Bob! I did use the BM Advance with the sprayer (without thinning) and had no problems. The paint sprayer worked great and I really can’t recommend the BM Advance enough — it just gives such a smooth professional finish. I had no issues at all with reattaching my cabinet doors. None. Hope that answered all your questions. If not, don’t hesitate to send me more! 😉
Hey I was wondering what type of pendant light that is over your sink? I love it.
Hi Kristen! I got that pendant light at Lamps Plus a few years ago. And unfortunately it is no longer available. They do have some that are similar, so you might find something you like if you search their website. 🙂
Oh my goodness! Amazing work!! They look beautiful! I’m thinking of doing my kitchen cabinets now that you’ve inspired me. Some of the cabinets are shiny and grimy. I was wondering, should I bother cleaning them or will the sanding take it off? Also, should I sand all the shininess away? Your help and tips would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you so much!! My advice would be to take the extra step and give them a good cleaning. I scrubbed mine down before sanding. I wanted to be extra sure to get all the grim and gunk off the cabinets. 😉 And I believe sanding took almost 100% of the shininess away. Good luck to you!
Thanks for the post, it has been super helpful for me! I already purchased the same sprayer before I stumbled upon your post and had been wondering if the BM Advance line would be okay. Glad you loved it! I am now in the middle of painting and I’m noticing the paint doesn’t seem to be going on as smoothly as the primer. Do you know what settings you used with the fine detail sprayer? The directions say to use the max settings for thicker paint. Also, do you happen to have a close up of the finish so I can compare to mine? I was thinking it would be completely flat and not sure if my expectations are too high.
Thanks so much!
Hey Tailia, I sent you a message on Instagram hopefully giving you some great tips. 🙂
thanks again for sharing your beautiful kitchen. When you sanded in between the primer and paint coats, did you use the orbital sander or did you sand by hand?
Hi Nicole! I just sanded by hand with a sanding sponge. 🙂
Hi! I am using a Wagner Flexio 3000 to paint my cabinet doors. I just finished the 1st cost of paint. Did you can your paint gun after every coat or did you leave the paint in the paint gun container? Thanks!
Hi Shanna! When I painted my cabinets, I let them dry or cure for at least 24 hours between coats. So after I applied I coat, I cleaned the paint sprayer and let it completely air out before another use. Hope that helps! 🙂
What kind of orbet sander did you use.
Can you send me a picture?
Hi LeeAnn! This is the link to the exact sander I used and own: https://amzn.to/3C9h4tT Hope that helps!
I love this inspiring post! Question about your kitchen update process steps: remove and replace sink, replace countertops, paint cabinets. When did you replace your appliances? Thanks so much!
Hi there! We actually replaced the appliances in two phases. First phase was when I did the original kitchen update and we upgraded the refrigerator and the dishwasher. Then the second phase, we upgraded our stove and microwave. It would have been great to do them all at once, but the budget didn’t allow for it. 🙂 Hope that helps!