DIY Cabinet Transformation

9 Materials
$125
2 Months
Medium

Hi friends! I know there are already a million cabinet painting tutorials out there, but I'm so happy with the way my cabinets turned out and with the durability of the paint I used that I just HAVE to share it! I am going to preface this tutorial by saying painting your cabinets is not a quick and easy project though - it's time consuming and a whole bunch of work with a whole lot of steps, but anyone can do it!

diy cabinet transformation

Here is what our kitchen looked like when we bought our house! Our previous home had a similar orange-y stain on the cabinets as well, which I painted but didn't do proper prep or use good products for. Since I did a crappy job transforming our previous kitchen, I never enjoyed it and did not want to even attempt painting the cabinets at this house!

diy cabinet transformation

We had a quote to get our cabinets refaced that came in around 10k, sooo I decided I would suck it up and do it myself after all! Let me tell ya what, I'M SO GLAD I DID THIS KITCHEN MYSELF. I love coming home and walking into this beautiful space that I transformed myself for around $600 (not including the sink and appliances). Check out my Instagram to see my other home projects!

diy cabinet transformation

These are the products I used to paint my cabinets, plus a palm sander that isn't pictured. I originally started with Zinsser 1-2-3 All-Purpose Primer that is water-based, but quickly learned that I needed an oil-based primer when I had some yellow spots showing up through multiple coats of my dried primer. The lovely lady at Ace Hardware explained to me that a water-based product would not cover an oil-based stain (i.e. wood stain and most polyurethane), so I needed an oil-based product. Yep, I had a flash back to elementary school and a 'DUH' moment, but that is for sure good info, so I'm sharing it here!


Okay, so the very first thing I did after buying my products was draw a little picture of my kitchen layout with numbers for each cabinet door. I added the same number on a piece of masking tape to the inside of said door. Then I started my prep work - I was determined to get great results, so I took my prep work very seriously! First, I cleaned all of my cabinets with TSP, then I used liquid deglosser. I'm not sure if both products are necessary, but I wanted everything extra grime-free and deglossed... again, I wanted great results! Once everything was clean, I took the doors off and went through and filled any scratches and chips with wood filler.

diy cabinet transformation

Once my wood filler was dry, I used my palm sander with 220 grit sandpaper on all the cabinet doors, but I used 80 and 220 grit sanding sponges on the actual cabinet boxes and drawer fronts, then wiped everything with a tack cloth to remove all the sanding dust. After all that prep, I was finally ready to get this show on the road and paint!!! I laid all my doors out in my basement and put the cabinet number stickers in front of each door, so I didn't get them mixed up.

diy cabinet transformation

Then I did 2 coats of primer (pictured above) and 2 coats of paint (pictured below) on the front and back of each cabinet door and drawer front, lightly sanding with my 220 grit sanding sponge in between each coat. The sheen of my paint is satin and the color is Alabaster.

diy cabinet transformation

I made sure to split this project up by starting and finishing my upper cabinets then taking a much needed break before moving on to my lower cabinets and drawers. If you are like me and get overwhelmed by a large project and living in the mess that goes along with it, then I highly recommend splitting the project up!


Once I had all of my cabinet boxes painted, I made sure to go through and caulk the seams at any of the corners and up top where the trim is and then touched up the paint in the those area as well. This step dramatically changed my end result!

diy cabinet transformation

When I started painting the bottom cabinets, it felt a little plain. To add some texture and interest, I added shiplap to the breakfast bar with 1/8" plywood cut into 5.5" strips. For more information on how I did the shiplap and changed my countertops, visit my story highlights on my Instagram.

diy cabinet transformation

I also cleaned my original hinges with TSP and spray painted them with Rust-Oleum oil rubbed bronze and purchased new hardware in the same color. I purchased a few different types of new hinges and had to return them because the offset did not match our old ones, so if you run in to this problem as well, just spray paint them! The spray paint has held up great the last couple years.

diy cabinet transformation


diy cabinet transformation

I cannot say enough great things about Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel! This paint went on so smooth with a roller, it looks like a sprayed on finish. I'm also really impressed with the durability over the past 2 years - I don't have any chips or scratches and everything wipes off great with a warm wash cloth! 🙌🏻

diy cabinet transformation
diy cabinet transformation

A couple more helpful tips to save some $$$:


1.) Zinsser BIN Primer is also a stain blocker, but is a lot more expensive - around $45/gallon. Save yourself the money and purchase the Zinsser Cover Stain Primer instead for $20/gallon. Both primers are oil based and will do a great job.


2.) Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel is SO GOOD, but it is also pricey, around $93/gallon. However, SW almost always has a 30% off sale going and sometimes even a 40% off sale, so don't pay full price! I believe the manager told me they have 30% off 3 weeks of each month or something like that.

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 20 questions
  • Brandi
    on Sep 30, 2019

    I love the wood detail/faux hood over the microwave. Did you remove those cabinets or just hang it over them?

  • Carol
    on Oct 3, 2019

    Awesome transformation. We're going to attempt this after Christmas. Aside from the beautiful job you did, I also love your table/chair set; would you mind sharing where you found it? Wish I had your knack for decorating!

    • Carol
      on Oct 3, 2019

      Thanks for getting back to me. Again, awesome job! Hope my redo comes out as good as yours!

  • Carol
    7 days ago

    Unfortunately my cupboards are not real wood what would I use to paint them with.

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