How to Update Wood Cabinets With Paint

7 Materials
10 Hours

Our kitchen was built in the 60's and even though it had undergone a small renovation at some point, (probably the 90's judging from the color scheme) the cabinets were still original. The orange knotty pine paneling and rusty strap hinges and pulls were definitely not our style. I had lived with it long enough and decided to update them with new paint and hardware. It was not as hard as I thought it would be!

Here is a peek at where I started; it could not get any worse, right?

I decided to make it easy on myself and get an all-in-one kit. I used Rust-Oleum's Cabinet Transformations in Seaside (which is a medium gray with a hint of blue.) The kit comes with a deglosser, base coat, and top coat along with the rags. I also used a scrubby sponge, rubber gloves, and mask for extra precaution.

Start by removing the cabinet doors, drawers, and hardware/hinges. Use a sketch pad or painters tape to create a system of numbering for the cabinets so you get the doors and drawers put back on the right frame. This was not important for us because we were going to make modern, new door fronts for the cabinets.

Fill any cracks or holes with wood putty, allow to dry, and sand smooth before you begin to paint. Use the Deglosser to remove dirt and grime from the surfaces you are preparing to paint (doors, drawers, frames) and wipe dry with the rags provided in the kit.

Once your surfaces are cleaned and prepped, it is time to paint. Use painter's tape to tape off areas against the floor, wall, and ceiling.

I used a small roller to apply the paint to the cabinets, drawers, and frames and an angled brush to cut in at the corners.

With this kit, there is no primer needed. I applied two coats of the Base coat, allowing it to dry in between.

Once the paint is completely dry, apply the Protective Top Coat and let dry for up to 24 hours before full use. The top coat takes about 7-10 days to cure, so just be careful using them for the first week.

See how much brighter it looks even without the doors! Once the top coat has cured, you can rehang the painted doors and replace the drawers.

We built doors with a transparent insert and used two different sizes of modern hardware to finish the kitchen update.

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Mary from Real Girl's Realm

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


Have a question about this project?

3 of 7 questions
  • Knelso18
    on Feb 22, 2020

    I used this kit too and highly recommend it. So so easy. Looks amazing!

  • Cathy
    on Feb 22, 2020

    Can u explain the transparent insert

  • Sandy Pendley Duncan
    on Feb 26, 2020

    My home was built in the 60s and has several layers of paint on the wood cabinets. There’s varying depths of paint layers missing in many spots, but the previous owners painted over that and it’s very noticeable. Will I need to strip all those layers off before I can paint or will putty adhere to the paint? Also, the paint is oil based high gloss and I was told that other paint has trouble sticking to this type of finish and is easily scratched off.

    • Mary from Real Girl's Realm
      on Feb 26, 2020

      I am not an expert, but I know that you should use an oil based paint to cover an oil based (because we had that issue on the paneling in our living room). It may be worth it just to strip the layers and start fresh.

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