4 Tips for Painting Cabinets

Here are my 4 tips for painting your cabinets so the paint will last and still look great years later!
In April 2014, when had a 2 month old and a three year old and it was Easter weekend, I decided it was the perfect time to paint my builders grade oak kitchen cabinets. Because why not? Seemed like a good time to bite the bullet and do it. Before I could change my mind, and before the hubs got wind of my plans, I quickly removed the cabinet doors and got sanding. Like a ninja. I thought I would share my 4 tips for painting cabinets and review how they have held up over time.
A few before photos...
And here we are, 2+ years later...
So how are the painted cabinets holding up? Great! I have been pretty happy with the results! There is only one place where the paint has worn and that is near the silverware drawer. The area above the drawer was where a knife was sticking up out of the drawer and rammed right into the cabinet. Then, there is one area that just plain stuck to the drawer and pulled off the base cabinet (see below).
So after painting both my kitchen cabinets and on bathroom cabinet/vanity, I have learned a few things. Here are my tips for painting your cabinets:
1. Make sure you pick the right color. I was so excited to get to the painting, I did not really take the time to research my color choices. It was back when I did not realize that whites and greys had warm and cool tones to them. So after about 3 weeks of a disaster of a kitchen, sanding, priming, painting and sealing, I stood back and was a bit bummed by my color choice. Don't get me wrong, I still thought it was 1 million times brighter and liked it way better than the oak, but I was not expecting to be disappointed after all that work. Since then, I have learned to embrace the cool tone I chose and roll with it.
2. Sanding is a pain but so important. It is really important to get that shiny layer off of your cabinets so your paint/primer can really adhere to the wood. So if you can stand it, sand, sand, sand!
3. Consider a sprayer. Like really consider a sprayer. It will save you loads of time. I used the old school brush and roller and it took FOREVER! A sprayer will take a fraction of the time, give you a more even coat and get into the grooves of the wood way better.
4. Don't forget to seal! This may seem like a silly, unnecessary step but I assure you, it is not! I used clear Polycrylic, 1 thin coat, on our kitchen cabinets and there was only those 2 areas of wear after almost 2 1/2 years and tons of use. While our upstairs bathroom cabinets had much more wear after just barely 2 years (painted in August 2014) and no sealer.
So those are my 4 tips on painting cabinets for those of you who are thinking about it. Hope this helps!
FYI: polycrylic can ember or yellow over light paint colors. I just applied a very thin coat with a foam roller and I have not had a problem with yellowing. The thicker the coat, the more likely it will yellow. Also, I don't get much natural light in my kitchen and I think the sunlight may cause more yellowing.

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

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  • Eroque022810 Eroque022810 on Jan 03, 2018
    Thank you so much for sharing because I want to paint our vanity before I have to actually buy one. Paint is cheaper and would allow me to pick whatever color I want. If I screw up I can purchase one but ours is just builders grade oak,go figure I wish I owned stock in the company that mass produces these. So I saved this so I can do this in the spring. And your kitchen looks amazing.
  • DiDi DiDi on Dec 11, 2019

    Thank you for sharing and your tips are much appreciated! Looks lovely!