Best upgrade for Maple kitchen cabinets?

J Coleman
by J Coleman

What is the easiest, and prettiest, way to upgrade my Maple kitchen cabinets (white wash, paint, chalk paint/wax)? I don’t want to stain them, as the stain would make them too dark. Before/after pics are appreciated. Thank you!

The cabinets are gorgeous. They’re just Maple.

  14 answers
  • Libbie B Libbie B on Oct 20, 2018

    Here are pictures of darker cabinets that are painted. Here difference!

  • J Coleman J Coleman on Oct 20, 2018

    Wow, Libbie!!! They’re beautiful! We have 18 cabinets; some large; some medium, and many drawers. It’s scary to think of how time-consuming this project will be. Thank you, so much!

  • Lauren of Mom Home Guide Lauren of Mom Home Guide on Oct 21, 2018

    Hi! I painted my oak kitchen cabinets with General Finishes’ Antique White (they also have a brighter white) milk paint 18 months ago, and they look great! I used General Finishes’ protective topcoat, so the cabinets are easy to clean. Before painting, I simply cleaned the cabinets to remove grime and gave them a once over with a piece of sandpaper. (I used a tack cloth afterwards to remove the dust.) The “hardest” part was removing the doors to paint them separately. (So I didn’t get paint on the hardware.) You can see my full tutorial here:

  • Anna Anna on Oct 21, 2018

    Upgrade to a really nice backsplash. Then you may not need to paint these beautiful wood cabinets.

    • J Coleman J Coleman on Oct 21, 2018

      Thanks, Anna! I’ll check it out. I certainly never thought of that.

  • Shore grandmom Shore grandmom on Oct 21, 2018

    I agree, try a nice backsplash and some undercabinet lighting. You might change your mind about painting your cabinets.

    • See 1 previous
    • Shore grandmom Shore grandmom on Oct 21, 2018

      You're welcome. There is such a huge selection of mosaic tile online and most stores will send you some samples (free or at a minimal cost) so that you can lean them against the wall and really see what they look like in your kitchen. Pick an assortment of styles, materials and colors. You may be surprised at what you like once it's sitting in your kitchen. Don't forget the undercabinet lighting. I've done that in my last two kitchens and plan to put it in my current one, too. It will enhance the backsplash, give you task lighting and nice mood lighting, too. Your knobs are nice, but again, there is a huge selection of knobs and pulls online which would give your kitchen a different look. Even new light fixtures will change your kitchens look. And, if you do plan on painting your beautiful cabinets, do yourself a favor and stay away from grey. I know several people who fell for that fad and regretted it after some time, calling it drab, dark and depressing. Good luck. Take pics of your whole kitchen before and after and post them for everyone to see.

  • Dl.5660408 Dl.5660408 on Oct 21, 2018

    One thing I found that also enhanced my cabinets before I was able to paint them was to change the hardware. You might want to consider painting the bottom cabinets a darker shade than the top, like a medium charcoal gray on the bottom and light gray on the top. It can make a small kitchen look larger.😁

  • Ellis Ellis on Oct 21, 2018

    Your cabinets are beautiful. I'd do other things to change the look of the kitchen first, as other posters suggested: A new tile backsplash, some undercabinet lighting to highlight it (those LED lights in strips are easily installed), perhaps change the cabinet knobs (though I like the ones you have).

    Though I like the painted-cabinet look, remember that cabinet manufacturers can get away with using lesser grades of wood if it's going to be painted. Your cabinets are high-grade wood with a clear grain, in high demand.

    • J Coleman J Coleman on Oct 21, 2018

      Wow, Ellis! Thank you. You’re exactly right about the quality of my cabinets, and I will take that into consideration.

  • Jhsh Jhsh on Oct 21, 2018

    I too had maple cabinets and not what I wanted, I painted the frames with a sponge roller and spray painted the doors. I DID NOT PAINT the inside of the cabinets. I was told many new cabinets are maple colored inside and not all white. Made it a lot easier and they don't chip off with more use. I am sorry I do not have any pictures too share.

  • Nancy Nancy on Oct 21, 2018

    We stripped ours down to bare wood and whitewashed them. Then poly.

  • MEG MEG on Oct 21, 2018

    I don't like Maple either but that's a lot of work to change the color. They are live-able to live with and are not dated like the golden oak era of the 80s. Id keep them and work to update around them. Subway tile backsplash or glass tile backsplash, paint the walls etc. My motto is if it aint broke don't fix it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with your cabinets other than they are maple. They are in excellent condition so keep them. I redid my kitchen because I had the ugly white cheap pressboard cabinets from the 70s. I had no choice but to redo my kitchen. I came in with rich cherrywood cabinets to the ceiling and gold granite with a neutral beige tiled backsplash on the diagonal. Love it. But my was old and dated and had to be done. Yours doesn't.

    • J Coleman J Coleman on Oct 21, 2018

      Thanks, Meg! I like your motto. I may consider other options now.

  • V Smith V Smith on Oct 23, 2018

    If they were the golden oak of the 80's with those plywood looking doors, there isn't anything that wouldn't look better. But yours are a much better quality and have a more timeless look than many. I wouldn't paint them and I wouldn't put those oversized pulls on them either. I would suggest you go into a couple of showrooms and see what kind of hardware they are putting on maple. And if you don't see something you like, rest assured, they look really nice just as they are.

    Go ahead and do your updates and color change everywhere else in the kitchen.


    Can you tell me where you purchased these Maple Cabinets? They are beautiful and match my current kitchen. I have a couple of doors that require replacing.

  • J Coleman J Coleman on Aug 09, 2021

    Oh, Cynthia! I’m so sorry. I just now saw your message. They were made by Kraftmaid.