Painting A Nicotine Stained Kitchen

6 Materials
7 Days

Have you ever shied away from purchasing a fixer-upper because of the state of the kitchen? When our friends asked us to help prep their smoke-stained rental and made the kitchen cabinets look brand new with a coat of paint, we were a bit concerned if it would work. Here’s how Painting Kitchen Cabinets White can transform the look of any dated kitchen.
painting a nicotine stained kitchen
Our friends purchased this flip at a steal simply because of the heavy smoker living there. Structurally this house was in excellent shape, but you were met with a wall of work the minute you opened the door.
painting a nicotine stained kitchen
And the kitchen was the worst of all since it was the hangout spot.
We had our work cut out for us for sure!
painting a nicotine stained kitchen

Did you know that those kitchen cabinets are supposed to be as white as that appliance?

Yeah – it blows my mind too.
painting a nicotine stained kitchen
First we removed all the door fronts and started scrubbing and deglossing them.

Next we did the same to the cabinet bases.
painting a nicotine stained kitchen
After removing the knobs, you see the proof of the white cabinets underneath!

Oooh – weee!!! I was concerned at this point.

This first step is crucial! I took magic eraser scrubbers and washed the cabinets – twice. Then I followed up with Deglosser – which removes old grease and dirt from the cabinets as well as acting as a liquid sander to make the paint easier to adhere.

With the condition of these cabinets – this process took one entire day – 7 hours to be exact.
painting a nicotine stained kitchen
The next day was priming day. We primed the cabinet doors as well as the fronts and inside of the cabinet bases using an oil based primer that covered stains.

After it dries overnight, lightly sand and vacuum off or use a tackcloth to remove any dust.
painting a nicotine stained kitchen
Next we were able to paint the exterior of the cabinets. I had never used Benjamin Moore Advance Paint and wanted to give it a try. It’s heralded as being THE superior cabinet paint.

We let the first coat dry overnight and repeated the sand/clean/paint process again for a second coat.

Grab your britches, because this reveal is a shocker!
painting a nicotine stained kitchen
What a difference, right?

We completed this kitchen in just a week.
painting a nicotine stained kitchen
We replaced the original aged brass hardware with knobs that my friend gave me from her kitchen remodel. The brushed nickel pops against the white!
painting a nicotine stained kitchen
The hinges were tricky. I tried to match the knobs with various spray paints and couldn’t get them to look right with the brushed nickel knobs, so we opted for white hinges.

My only regret is that we weren’t in a controlled environment, so the finish didn’t come out as smooth as I had desired. But with a tight deadline and heavy traffic, stuff getting in the paint was inevitable.

Not only those issues, but as you can tell, the house was very dirty to begin with. I would bet that we would have stuff in the paint just from the circulating air!
painting a nicotine stained kitchen
Another tricky issue was the dishwasher. The plastic had yellowed so bad that it looked more like 70s Harvest Gold than white. I used Soft Scrub with Bleach to whiten it a bit. After about 4 applications over 2 days, this was as white as it got.

Although it’s not bright white, the almond color works with the countertops.

And at least it’s not Harvest Gold!
It’s a full week of work, but well worth the results! Your kitchen can go from these before's to the afters!

painting a nicotine stained kitchen
So did this change your mind like me? I never thought you could get rid of those awful stains. Painting Kitchen Cabinets White are an easy solution to update a space.

  1. Day One: Remove doors and clean the cabinets thoroughly and use a deglosser or liquid sander.
  2. Day Two: Prime the doors and let dry.
  3. Day Three: Lightly sand the doors and tackcloth or vacuum off dust. Apply first coat of paint.
  4. Day Four: Paint the other side of doors.
  5. Day Five: Lightly sand the first coat and Tackcloth or vacuum off. Apply second coat of paint.
  6. Day Six: Second coat paint the other side of doors.
  7. Day Seven: Rehang Doors.
painting a nicotine stained kitchen
It’s a full week of work, but well worth the results! Your kitchen can go from these before's to the afters!
painting a nicotine stained kitchen
painting a nicotine stained kitchen
Wow! This even surprised me. I hope this encourages you to tackle the “I don’t think it’ll work” projects. It’s at least worth the attempt, don’t you think?!

Head over to the blog post below to see more details of this makeover or visit THIS POST to see how we transformed our kitchen for just over $5000 - including appliances!
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Noting Grace

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 6 questions
  • Jaye
    on May 30, 2018

    Very nice job and time intensive. Looks like the ceiling and walls were also painted. I like the cool blue-grey color of the walls. Could you tell us the brand and color? Welp, one room down. How many more to go? I imagine that the rest of the house also needed fumigation and painting.

  • Winsome Walls
    on Jun 5, 2018

    Did you change the light fixture bulb to make it less yellow of a hue as well so that you had more blue in the room to make it even brighter ?

    • Noting Grace
      on Jun 26, 2018

      No - it's the same bulb and fixture. The cabinets were that yellow!

  • Tammy Wood
    on Jun 5, 2018

    WWe moved into an apartment and a heavy smoker lived there, well the landlord painted all the walls but didn't clean them before hand, now every time we take a shower we have to wash the bthrm walls because nicotine is running down them. It's aweful, is there anything we can do to help get rid of nicotine?

    • Rawhide
      on Jul 22, 2018

      Try Greased Lighting. I moved into a rental after a smoker. I was told by a friend to try GL in the dirty bathroom. It worked great! I tried to clean the walls with Spic N Span power, and I rinsed with vinegar water. It looked better. Than my daughter was being silly and sprayed the Greased Lighting on the frame. My mind was blown the nicotine ran off like syrup! There were white slatted doors in the kitchen. I removed them and took them outside, sprayed them with the GL, let it set and then hosed them off. They looked brand new!!! If you use in a closed space wear a mask, GL is strong! I hope this helps. Rawhidrita

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