Meredith Wouters
Meredith Wouters
  • Hometalker
  • Albuquerque, NM

How to DIY a Professional Finish When Repainting Your Kitchen Cabinets


Painting kitchen cabinets is a big job, and it's tempting to want to take shortcuts. But if you want a paint job that will look great and stand the test of time, it's best to take the time and do it right. Here's how.
You'll need all the standard painting supplies, like drop cloths, paint rollers, brushes, tape and sandpaper. But the real secret is the paint. Use a self-leveling slow drying paint, such as Benjamin Moore's Advance, and a mohair roller for a smooth finish. Here are the steps to the whole process.
how to diy a professional finish when repainting your kitchen cabinets, how to, kitchen cabinets, kitchen design, painting
To turn your dingy old dark cabinets into a light, clean, and bright kitchen only requires a little elbow grease, some patience, and the right tools!
how to diy a professional finish when repainting your kitchen cabinets, how to, kitchen cabinets, kitchen design, painting
First, label all your doors and drawers. I use a raffle ticket system, as in this photo. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! Then remove all the drawers and cabinet doors. You can save a lot of money reusing the hardware if it's still in good shape. Just collect the knobs and hinges for reattaching later. Set the drawers and doors aside, and work on the boxes first, so you can get your kitchen functioning as soon as possible. Remove dishes and food items from the cabinets, so they don't get all dusty.
Clean every cabinet surface with Krud Kutter (find it in any home store or grocery) to remove any grease.
how to diy a professional finish when repainting your kitchen cabinets, how to, kitchen cabinets, kitchen design, painting
Using a hand sanding block of 150 grit, sand down the frames (outsides) of the cabinets. You need to sand off the top coat of whatever is sealing the original finish, but you don't need to take off every bit of color from the wood. Use a short nap or mohair roller to paint the boxes with primer. I like Benjamin Moore Advance. Use a primer that is close to your finish color.
how to diy a professional finish when repainting your kitchen cabinets, how to, kitchen cabinets, kitchen design, painting
Once the primer is dry, use caulk to fill any seems and caps. Let that dry for at least an hour. Sand lightly with 200 grit sandpaper. Clean all the sanding dust and apply the paint with a mohair roller (and synthetic brush for crevices and corners). Follow manufacturer's instructions for drying times.
how to diy a professional finish when repainting your kitchen cabinets, how to, kitchen cabinets, kitchen design, painting
In between coats of paint, sand very gently with 320 grit sandpaper. When you paint on the final coat, be careful not to overwork the paint. This will give you a gorgeous, super smooth finish.
how to diy a professional finish when repainting your kitchen cabinets, how to, kitchen cabinets, kitchen design, painting
Once your cabinet boxes are done, you can replace all your dishes and kitchen items and use your kitchen normally, while you're working on your doors elsewhere. You'll follow the same steps for painting the doors, but with extra attention to detail because they will take the greatest wear and tear, and will be the first thing people will notice.
how to diy a professional finish when repainting your kitchen cabinets, how to, kitchen cabinets, kitchen design, painting
To save yourself lots of time and exertion, use an electric palm sander for the flat surfaces of the doors, and just use your sanding block to get in all the nooks and crannies. It really is worth the time to sand well, so that the paint and primer can properly adhere to the wood. This is how you keep the nicks and scratches at bay.
how to diy a professional finish when repainting your kitchen cabinets, how to, kitchen cabinets, kitchen design, painting
Carefully remove any sanding dust from the doors, first with a vacuum, and then with a microfiber cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol. Do not use water, as it will raise the grain of the wood and interfere with a smooth finish.
how to diy a professional finish when repainting your kitchen cabinets, how to, kitchen cabinets, kitchen design, painting
Brush primer in the corners of the door panels. Then use the roller to apply primer to the flat surfaces.
Note: If you're painting the backs of the doors, start with that side first!
how to diy a professional finish when repainting your kitchen cabinets, how to, kitchen cabinets, kitchen design, painting
Try to lay the doors flat for as long as possible to minimize drips. Once they are mostly dry, you can lean them up against the wall (not touching each other!) to finish drying. Use your caulk to fill in any gaps between the molding the flat surfaces of the doors. Sand lightly with 200 grit sandpaper and clean well.
how to diy a professional finish when repainting your kitchen cabinets, how to, kitchen cabinets, kitchen design, painting
Using your mohair roller, start painting from the lowest surface on the door, the inside panels.
how to diy a professional finish when repainting your kitchen cabinets, how to, kitchen cabinets, kitchen design, painting
Then use a synthetic brush to fill in the corner layers of molding. This is where you want to be careful not to overload your brush with paint, or you'll end up with drips. Finally use the roller to paint the outside flat surfaces. You can also roll lightly over the already-painted edges to even out any drips or excess paint. Taking the time to do this right will really make a difference in the finished product.
how to diy a professional finish when repainting your kitchen cabinets, how to, kitchen cabinets, kitchen design, painting
Again, try to lay each cabinet door flat for as long as possible. Since this paint is self leveling and slow drying, having the door flat helps the paint do its job properly. Repeat the sanding (with 320 grit), cleaning and painting process one more time.
Finally, allow at least a couple of days drying time for the paint to cure. If you reattach the doors and drawers while the paint is still curing, it will stick together and may end up ripping off a patch when you next open that door.
Reattach your doors and drawers by matching up your "raffle tickets". I like to put felt pads on the inside corners of the doors, just to keep them from banging on the cabinet frame. And voila! You have a brand new kitchen! And new respect for cabinet painters!
For the full tutorial with lots more pictures and tips, please check out the blog post.

Suggested materials:

  • Benjamin Moore Advance Primer, White
  • Benjamin Moore Advance Paint, in Valspar's Totten's Inlet
  • Mohair roller

Top Hometalk Projects

30 Creative Ways To Repurpose Baking Pans
16 Creative Ways To Upcycle Pallets
11 Unexpected Ways to Use Spices in Your Home
17 Faux Brick Ideas For Your Home
14 Cool Ways To Upholster Chairs That You Can DIY
Browse Through These Dream Bedrooms & Find Your Favorite!
30 Creative Ways To Repurpose Baking Pans
20 Easy Concrete Projects You Absolutely CAN Do!
23 Insanely Clever Ways To Eliminate Clutter
31 Amazing Furniture Flips You Have to See to Believe
13 Spectacular Ways To Display Your House Number
29 Of The Best DIY Mirror Projects Ever Made
15 Things To Do With Scrap Material
31 Amazing Furniture Flips You Have to See to Believe
30 Unusual & Helpful Gardening Tips You'll Want To Know
Meredith Wouters

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

Go

Have a question about this project?

3 of 51 questions
  • Lynne
    on Oct 19, 2018

    what is the best type of paint for cabinets???

    • Martha
      on May 21, 2019

      I painted my kitchen cabinets when I first moved to my condo in Destin, Fl about 7 years ago using the Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformation. I followed all the steps suggested by Meredith. The cleaning, sanding, etc. I did my cabinets on a weekend, I started Friday afternoon. I used a dark color my cabinets turn out beautiful with a beautiful satin finish and you can still see the woodgrain. I am thinking of repainting them again with a light color (grey maybe). If you want a beautiful job, just take your time and don't rush it. I guaranteed you will be happy. Just follow the manufacture's instructions. By the way, I also painted the pantry door to match the cabinets. I was so impress and happy with the end finish. I couldn't believe that I could do such a wonderful professional job. lol

  • Linda Firth
    on Jan 4, 2019

    What kind of caulk do you use? Would that also be used to fill in the old hardware holes since I plan to change where the new ones would go.

  • Maria
    on Feb 22, 2019

    My kitchen is about the size of the one you showed, how much did you spend on supplies?

Join the conversation

2 of 326 comments
Your comment...