Paint Stained Cabinets Without Sanding!

8 Materials
$200
4 Days
Medium

Yes, you can paint right over stained cabinets without sanding and get a beautiful finish.

Why should you trust my advice? I worked for Valspar Paint for over 5 years and learned how to apply all sorts of coatings from professionals!
All you need are a few supplies to completely transform your cabinets. The key is the Valspar Bonding Primer, so NO sanding is required!

Supply List:
  1. Painter's Plastic
  2. Frog Tape
  3. Wooster Pro Classic Brush
  4. Brush Cleaner
  5. Foam Roller Multi-Pack
  6. Valspar Bonding Primer from Lowe's
  7. Valspar Cabinet Enamel from Lowe's
  8. 4 Pieces of long and narrow trim pieces of wood. Usually in the trim aisle at Lowe's.

For more details on the supplies used and PAINT COLORS, please follow the link at the bottom to see this post on my website.
Here is my small office BEFORE painting the dark espresso stained cabinets.

Preparation is EVERYTHING, when Painting Cabinets
  • Remove the drawers and doors from the base cabinets.
  • Remove the cabinet hardware. Store each drawer and door in separate labeled small snack bags.
  • Clean the cabinet surface and dust.
  • Apply tape to adjacent surfaces you are not painting.  Make sure you aren't taping on the cabinets!
  • Lay drop cloths to protect surfaces.
  • Place trim wood in an area that is safe and protected from dogs, cats, dust, and kids so your cabinet drawers and doors can dry in peace.
  • Your drawers and doors will be painted while they are on the trim boards.

Here is a picture of what my office looked like as I was prepping for painting.

I haven't covered the floor yet, but notice I taped the carpet, so paint couldn't seep and ruin it. It worked perfectly!
Step 1: Bonding Primer
  • While on the trim boards, using the foam roller prime only one side of drawers and doors.
  • Make sure to coat the edges and corners thoroughly because they take the most abuse.
  • Bonding primer is NOT meant to cover and some of the surface will show through.  What you are doing is "roughing up" the surface so the paint adheres.
  • Try to limit brush marks by painting with the grain of the wood.
  • Next, using the same brush and foam roller prime ALL base cabinet surfaces.
TIP: Wrap brushes in clear plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight, while your first coat of paint or primer is drying.

I've found that the foam rollers are cheap and it's best to start with a fresh one each coat.

Step 2: Bonding Primer Again
  • Flip over your now dried drawers and doors and gently place them primed side down on the trim boards.  DON'T scratch off the bonding primer, if you do touch up!
  • Apply with your brush and foam roller a coat of bonding primer to the other side of your drawers and doors.
  • Next, using the same brush and foam roller you should only need to touch up areas you missed with primer on the base cabinets. 
  • DRY OVERNIGHT! Yes, annoying but you want really good results remember!

Warning; If you are using a dark color, the first coat will look awful.  Don't over apply and don't panic.  Here is what a hand applied 1st coat looked like when I was painting cabinets navy blue. 
IMPORTANT: DON'T Shake the cabinet enamel to mix it up.  Use a stir stick.  Shaking will create bubbles in the paint that will ruin the smooth surface.

Step 3: Apply 1st Coat Cabinet Enamel / Color
  • Try to limit brush marks by painting with the grain of the wood.
  • While on the trim boards, using the foam roller and brush paint only one side of drawers and doors.
  • Next, using the same brush and foam roller apply a coat of Cabinet Enamel to the base cabinets.
  • DRY OVERNIGHT and clean your brush. Toss the foam roller.

Step 4: Apply 2nd Coat of Cabinet Enamel / Color
  • Flip over your now dried drawers and doors and gently place them painted side down on the trim boards.  DON'T scratch off the paint, if you do touch up!
  • While on the trim boards, using the foam roller and brush paint the other side of drawers and doors.
  • Next, using the same brush and foam roller apply 2nd coat of Cabinet Enamel to the base cabinets.

DRY OVERNIGHT and clean your brush. Toss the foam roller.
To speed up the process, I used a paint sprayer on the drawers and doors.
The base cabinets and the sides, were all hand painted.

If you are curious about how a paint sprayer works and want to see a video of me using it, follow the link at the bottom of this post!
2 Coats of Cabinet Enamel Hand Applied
You are DONE painting! Celebrate.

Step 5: Reassemble the Cabinet Drawers and Doors
  • Re-attach doors and drawers to base cabinets.
  • Attach cabinet knobs and pulls.

Warning: If one of your drawer fronts doesn't seem to match the screw holes, try it on another drawer.  I had this issue and my drawer wouldn't close properly, so pay attention as you go.
Here is the final result! There were SO many updates to this space that if you are interested in the entire project CLICK HERE.

All items were DIY: replacing a can light, hanging shades, painting, wallpaper, and contact paper on the marble counters!
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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 22 questions
  • Lisa West
    Lisa West
    on Mar 21, 2020

    Your office turned out beautifully. Question. The room, ots odd with the half wall. Is it off the living room, os it supposed to be a dining area or like a sun ropm area?it's pretty cool spot. Was just curious as to how the rooms connect. I personally thinkn oi ts a great spot especially if you have kids that need an eye in them lol. Any way the shade if blue is very pretty. I also like how the area is brighter. I did notice to is the your childrens art on the wall by the window? It's very cute.

  • Vicki
    Vicki
    on Sep 16, 2020

    Would this process work on wall paneling?

  • Mary McDonald
    Mary McDonald
    on Oct 18, 2020

    Do you feel as though counter height is too high for a desk? You appear low in your chair. Or maybe you prefer it that way

Join the conversation

2 of 54 comments
  • Lori Ward-Laatsch
    Lori Ward-Laatsch
    on Sep 16, 2020

    Wow that is gorgeous!!! And cute fur baby too! I have found some post that they used paint that needs no prep and no primer in most cases. I was shocked and went to Amazon and sure enough there are several brands. Have you or any of the other readers tried any of them? I purchased some samples of a few different brands and tried them on orange pumpkins, thinking that would be hard to cover. They all have worked well so far and they even say you don't need to sand unless you have huge scratched that require filling etc. I am going to give it a go on an old dresser, it has wheels and no draw hardware, so it is an antique. Anyway I have seen some projects here where they did that kind of dresser so that was my inspiration but when I saw someone paint a whole kitchen of cabinets with no prep I was super excited, now I just need to get brave enough to tackle it.


    Again so beautiful!!!

  • Mysterious One
    Mysterious One
    on Sep 17, 2020

    Beautiful job!!! I need to paint kitchen cupboards in my apartment & was dreading the sanding prep—so thank you so much for all this info!!! You’re a lifesaver!!!

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