how to paint your kitchen cabinets

This project is not for the weak hearted. It is not for the inpatient or those low on free time. This is a project that takes forever and makes your back hurt and your house dirty and inconvenienced. All of it. For about a week. Which isn't much considering the massive overhaul the kitchen is going through but juuuust something to keep in mind. You really want to take your time and do this right. No cutting corners allowed! Kitchen cabinets are kind of a really big deal and you don't want to mess up on them or have them look crappy. It's worth it to go slow.
Supplies needed:
A very good primer, we used about a gallon of Zinsser B-I-N.
A very good paint. We used Benjamin Moore Advance in Chelsea Gray in satin. 
Mohair rollers
Paint brushes (the primer we used ruined our brushes so perhaps get ones you won't mind disposing of.)
Drop clothes
Painters tape
Sand paper (150 for rough sanding and 220 for finishing sanding)
Sanding block
Hand sander
Trash bags
Masking tape 
Door stoppers

Then you're ready to get started!

- Clean all cabinet surfaces with Krud Kutter. This stuff is amazing and I can't believe I never heard of it till now. Fronts, backs, sides, tops, clean it all!
- Label every door with its corresponding cabinet using painters tape. Once you remove hardware you can use a marker and write number under hinge. Paint won't go there obviously and once the hinge is in place no one will ever see it. You'll really want to do this step unless you have like three cabinet doors. It will get confusing.
- Remove all doors and drawer fronts and hardware. 

- You'll want to do the actual cabinets first so you can have your kitchen back as soon as possible. I taped garbage bags up inside the cabinets and laid bags over drawer contents to save myself having to empty all cabinet contents. But if removing contents is your thing this is the time to do it.
- Sand all cabinet box surfaces just enough to rough them up. Matt used a hand sander for the flat parts and then went back in by hand with sandpaper for all the trim.
- Wipe down with a wet towel to remove all dust and debris. 

- Prime. 
- Sand once primer is dry, which ours took about forty-five minutes.

- Wipe down with a wet towel to remove all dust and debris. 
- Paint. Our paint said it took 16 hours to dry so we pretty much lost our minds having to wait that long. Thankfully we had all the drawer fronts and doors to do out in the garage!! Where we repeated the same steps as inside just out.... Doing fronts and backs of all. And sides! Six sides each!!!
- Back inside and sand. 

- Wipe down with a wet towel to remove all dust and debris. Remove all trash bags from inside cabinets.

- Paint second coat. Let dry for 16 hours. It was during this time that I cleaned the kitchen of all dust for the THIRD and final time (for this phase). 
- The cabinet doors and drawer fronts took four days to do. One coat per side per day. After that we let them stay in the garage for two and a half-ish days to set so they wouldn't stick to newly painted cabinets. Don't forget to replace the little door stoppers too. We did two per door and even drawers.

- I decided to spray paint all the door knobs while we were waiting for everything to set. Once all was good we replaced all hardware and cabinets and decor. An entirely new kitchen for under $160!

Update: After I took all these photos I decided that I didn't like seeing the original cabinet color on the underside of the cabinets. So Matt then painted that as well. Our living room is a step down type situation and so sitting in there facing kitchen it was sort of obvious. So the undersides are now gray as well.

And here are all the before and after's!
And then soon to be followed by phase two (backsplash) and stage three (flooring). And then maybe a break from home projects for a week or two.



  1. seriously it looks SO much better. all that work was definitely worth it! super detailed :)

    xoxo cheshire kat

  2. Amazing! Just amazing! I am so using this when we finally decide it's time to do ours! Already saved on my bloglovin :)

  3. All that work was so worth it. I'm loving these posts and I am about to tackle my freaking cabinets AGAIN. I'm learning a lot. I didn't sand after the primer.....but it seems as if you did...can I ask why?

    It looks incredible, I selfishly want to the other POSTS NOW!!! haha.

  4. You guys are troopers! Chris and I could never do this. HAHA! But it looks soooo good!

  5. Wow guys, it really makes a big difference huh? Looks awesome!

  6. you know I kind of like the cabinets all without doors! I'd be down for some glass front cabinets myself.

  7. What a difference! They look awesome.

  8. Looks so so good! Can't wait to see final kitchen remodel!

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