How to Paint your Kitchen Cabinets

How to paint your kitchen cabinets

Earlier in the year I shared how painting our kitchen was on our 2018 bucket list. Well, spring break from school landed me with ten days off and tons of motivation to get things moving.  In case you haven’t seen it before, here is our teeny, tiny kitchen before we painted:

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In just about 4 days for about $150, I painted these cabinets (and walls) to create a fresh and fun kitchen that I’m absolutely in love with. Here’s how I did it…

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Step 1: Label all cabinets with painter’s tape.

Kitchen cabinets

I labeled mine “U1”, “U2”, “U3”, etc. for the upper cabinets and “B1”, “B2”, etc for the bottom cabinets. Honestly, I really don’t have that many cabinets so I probably could have figured out the placement without the labels, but for those of you with a lot of doors and drawers, things can get really confusing when everything gets removed and you have to put it back.

Step 2: Remove cabinets and hardware

Wanna see a super exciting video of me using my electric screw driver to take down this cabinet? Hold on to your hats. It’s riveting. In 3…2…1….

Step 3: Clean Cabinets!

I used Krud Kutter spray, paper towels and rubber gloves for this step. This stuff is AWESOME. Using a spray was so much easier and faster than having to pour chemicals on a rag or on the cabinets themselves.  I’ve heard this step was super tedious for some people but it was seriously so easy. So easy, and yet so gross at the same time. So much grease and grime were on these cabinets. They honestly looked amazing when I was done, I almost just left them unpainted. Skipping this step is a big no-no because your paint will not stick to the cabinets when they’re covered in grease. Take the extra minute or two and use one of these multi-tool scrapers to get the tough-to-reach grime in the corners of your cabinets. You’ll be glad you did. You’ll also use that tool for many other tasks when painting your cabinets.

Painting kitchen cabinets

Step 3: Sand

I used a fine grit sanding pad for this step. Because these cabinets were never painted,  I just wanted to sand down enough of the finish to get rid of the shine and give my paint something to hold onto. After a bit of sanding on both sides, I vacuumed the doors with my shop-vac and wiped them down with a microfiber cloth to make sure all the sand particles were gone.

Step 4: Primer.

I used bonding primer so my paint would really adhere well to the cabinets.  For actually applying the paint, I used a 4-inch paint roller with a fine finish high-density foam roller pad for all my cabinet work. As well as an angled Purdy paint brush for cutting-in all the corners. An angled brush is key here. Don’t paint without one.

After applying a coat of this to all the cabinet boxes, doors and drawer-fronts, I called it a day. I wanted to really make sure the primer was dry before moving onto my top coats.

Step 5: Sand, Paint, Dry, Repeat.

After your primer is fully dry, you can begin painting with your cabinet paint.  I used Benjamin Moore Advance paint in a satin finish for the top cabinets. The color I chose was Simply White. I used the same color when painting the bookshelves in my living room and loved it, so I went with it again for the kitchen. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have helped me decide on the blue I chose for the base cabinets. After much deliberation, I went with Dusty Cornflower, also by Benjamin Moore.  It’s absolutely beautiful and I am SO happy with this choice.

I ended up doing at least two coats on everything, and in some places, three coats. For this part, patience is key. Do not rush painting. Take your time and allow a day in between coats of paint to dry.  If you take the extra time to sand and vacuum between coats, you’ll end up with a super smooth and fabulous finish. My cabinets are sooo smooth now. And there aren’t any bumps or drips on them- you would think they were spray painted.

Step 6: Put everything back together and enjoy!

This part is so rewarding after all your hard work. There’s nothing better than screwing in that last cabinet door and standing back and admiring all you have done. For days after I finished painting, I would just walk in the kitchen and gaze at the cabinets. They look amazing- and I did it myself! What a proud moment!

How to paint your kitchen cabinets

And if you’re thinking, “Wait, did she get more cabinets?” The answer is yes, I did! And some countertop that we will also use to replace the existing countertops. This wasn’t in our original plan for the year, but you know how renos go. Once you start one thing, the dominos start to fall. Stay tuned for more on our kitchen as we continue to add finishing touches on a budget! And good luck to those of you painting your own cabinets! I hope I’ve made things a bit easier for you! Be sure to comment below with your before and afters so I can admire your work as well!

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