Yes YOU Can… Paint Your Cabinets!

House hunting… man, that was super fun and not at all a giant reality check!  I told my husband, “I want to stay in Myers Park.  I want at least 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, walk-in closets, 2 car garage, blah, blah, blah…”  Well, come to find out, we totally missed the boat on winning the lottery, which was a huge disappointment, and I had to learn a cold, hard lesson about this thing called compromise… Starting with location and spilling over into my 1989 inspired kitchen. Ugh!  I thought to myself, it’s okay, we can renovate someday. Yeah, someday when we win the lottery… and we all know how that ends. So, when I couldn’t stand to look at my Aztec backsplash and orange-ish wooden builder grade cabinets for one more second, I decided to wait till my husband was away on business, then take matters into my own hands!

Let’s talk about painting cabinets! I know it sounds terrifying!  What if I screw them up?!?!  Then I will have to spend thousands to have them replaced!  Relax… it’s a lot more simple than you think.  First of all… contrary to popular belief, there is no need for sanding!  I can hear you cheering right now!!  Sanding will actually result in a less consistent finish. Don’t bother.

Start by removing all your drawers and doors from the boxes. Do not remove the drawer fronts from the drawers. It is far safer to just tape them off. It is wise to number all the doors, hinges, and even screws to make sure you put EVERYTHING back EXACTLY where you removed it from. If you don’t, it is likely that some of your doors may not close correctly once you’ve finished.

Now, here’s the secret… after removing your drawers, doors and hardware, you must thoroughly clean every last inch with a good degreaser. I love a product called TSP.  You can find it at Home Depot for about $3.

I even like to use a scotch-brite scrubbing pad to clean with.

TSP is a harsh cleaner, so follow the instructions and wear gloves. It acts kind of like an etchant, allowing your primer to strongly adhere to your wooden surface.

Once you have finished cleaning and everything is nice and dry, you can begin priming. I like Kilz primer. You can find the quart size for $8.50 at Walmart or almost any hardware store.

So, there are several ways to get your paint/primer onto your cabinets. Everyone has their opinion and yours may differ from mine. You can spray, roll, or brush. There are pros and cons to each method. Let’s rule out spraying. You would need to buy and airless sprayer and do all kinds of prep work… I don’t want to get into all of that here. That leaves rolling and brushing. Rolling is much quicker and probably a bit easier, but I personally don’t like the stippled texture that the roller leaves behind.  I like to use a brush. My favorite brush is a 2 inch angled Wooster.

I got mine at Home Depot, but again, you can find them anywhere.  I will admit that brushing will leave some stroke marks, but if you take your time, it will be barely noticeable.  I think the sheen of a brush job is much nicer than the stippling from a roller.

To help you decide which method to use, I tried both, and here is a picture of the end results.  (This is the paint, not the primer.  The primer will be much more chalky.)



Like I said, it’s purely a matter of preference.  Let’s be realistic, at the end of the day, you are the only one who will ever examine your cabinets closely enough to notice anyway!

Here’s a picture of the primed cabinets…

I forgot to take a picture of my cabinet boxes while I was priming, but I found a great picture of this guy doing it the way I did. Do your best not to get any paint on the interior of the cabinets or the shelves. It looks much more neat and professional that way.

I also forgot to take a picture of the drawers, but to show you where to tape off and stop painting, here is a picture of them right now…

Make sure you only paint the drawer fronts. It gets messy when you try to paint the whole drawer, inside and out.

Give your primer a couple of hours to dry before you flip your cabinet doors over to paint the other side. I only applied one coat of primer, but two is recommended. It has been about a year since I painted mine, and they have withstood crashes and bangs and collisions with the vacuum cleaner, so if you ask me, one coat was sufficient.

After the primer has dried on your doors, drawer fronts and boxes, go ahead and apply your first coat of paint.  People ask all the time, “Do I need to use special paint for cabinets?”  The answer is a great big NOPE!  I used normal old Glidden Duo interior latex semigloss paint.  It was $20 for a gallon at Home Depot, and I would have been fine with only a quart!  Don’t waste your money on fancy paint!

I advise starting with the inside of your cabinet doors, so if any mistakes are to be made, they will be hidden inside your cabinets. Out of caution, I waited over night before I flipped my doors to do the other side. Repeat this process again with the second coat. While you’re waiting for the first coat of paint to dry on your doors, you can start on your boxes…

I taped off the edges of my boxes and my drawer tracks because I wanted my finished product to be crisp and clean.

Again, I waited overnight for the paint to dry before reinstalling my hardware, doors and drawers. Be sure to put everything back exactly where it was before!  I know this sounds silly, but I promise you will be sorry if you ignore this step.

After your kitchen is all put back together, then you get to pick your new pulls!  That’s the fun part. I searched google for mine because they were so expensive in all the stores around here. I got 40 pulls for about $100!!  I believe I ordered them off Amazon. My favorite company in the whole world!!  Free two day shipping?!?!  Don’t even get me started!!

A word of advice, stick with the original type of pull. If they were knobs, use knobs. If they were bars, use bars. Filling old holes and drilling new holes is not worth the headache!

Here are a couple before and after pictures…



As you have probably already noticed, I also replaced the backsplash.  I will walk you through that process in my next post, “Yes YOU can… Replace Your Backsplash!”

Thanks again for reading 😘


2 thoughts on “Yes YOU Can… Paint Your Cabinets!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s