How to Paint Oak Cabinets WHITE

Jenni Ingram
by Jenni Ingram
3 Materials
8 Hours
Phew, I did it again.
I painted another kitchen.

It's quite a chore, but it makes a HUGE difference, and that makes it worth it!! In fact, I'd say if you want to instantly change the look of your house, paint your kitchen cabinets!!!

Let me give you some tip for painting WHITE cabinets with no SANDING - only primer and paint! And so far this kitchen paint job - has turned out the best/easiest so take my advice on the paint & primer products!
This kitchen BEFORE was in a word: BROWN.  

Sorry/Not sorry , I didn't clean before snapping these photos.  
First things first, a friend and I removed all the old hardware and cleaned the cabinets with Krud Kutter.  I just sprayed it on and wiped it off with paper towels.  Then we removed all the doors and got them out of the way.  
For the primer I chose a shellac-based primer because it's the best way to prevent bleed-through.  ( My full blog post will have the primer and paint color I used! ) These were oak cabinets that had never been painted before, so I wanted to give them a good starting point with this primer and I didn't want to risk them turning yellow over time.  
I used two coats of primer.  On the bases, I used a combo of a brush and a roller.  The primer dries SO QUICK, so work quickly, avoiding drips. 

Once the primer was dry, I applied the paint the same way with a combo of a brush and a roller.  I did go over the roller marks with my brush to smooth it out a bit.
While the primer is QUICK to dry, the paint dries SLOWLY.  This long "open time" as we call it means it levels really nicely without showing brush strokes!!  But, watch out for little fingers, and puppy tails (I speak from experience).  
The next day I set up this spray shelter in the driveway and got to work spraying the doors. I used my HomeRight sprayer, which I love, but it's not such a great idea to put shellac through it - it made a mess ( So if I were to do this again, I'd just use a roller and brush for the primer, then a sprayer for the coat of paint.  
Spraying is much faster, but does leave a bit of a mess to clean up.  

Once the primer coat was dry, I moved to a heated room where I painted them with a brush and a roller. In a few hours they were ready to hang back up! 
I chose brushed nickel hardware in this kitchen, and bought new hinges to match. Hardware is like the jewelry of an outfit, so it just makes it all come to life!! 
That's it, no sanding, just priming and painting!!  And it already looks like a whole new kitchen don't you think?? 

I have a few more projects to do in here, including painting the walls and installing my own tin backsplash.  We are making progress on making this house feel like a home!! Get all my updates by subscribing here.

If you've been wanting to paint your cabinets, I'd say DO IT!!  This was the best result in kitchen cabinet painting so far, it gave the smoothest finish for the least amount of work. I highly recommend this primer and paint combo!

Get the paint color/primer info and more photos of this project on my blog by clicking the link below! Thanks for stopping by!

Suggested materials:
  • Paint
  • Hardware
  • Primer
Jenni Ingram
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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3 of 13 questions
  • Beb27850417 Beb27850417 on Dec 03, 2017
    Love it, did u change the counter top?

  • Susan QC Susan QC on Feb 23, 2021

    My kitchen looks exactly like the before picture. I want my cabinets to be white also. My problem is picking out the white paint. I don't want my cabinets to look creamy next to my white appliances, nor do I want my appliances to look "not-quite-white" next to my cabinets. I would like them to be the same color. Is this possible, or am I being too picky? Any thoughts from anybody would be welcome.

  • Joanne Korsmoe Joanne Korsmoe on Apr 30, 2022

    I want to paint mine so bad! They are oak also, does the grain show through? I didn’t think they would look great with the grain showing Wouldn’t be a smooth look

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4 of 76 comments
  • Helen Helen on Dec 04, 2017
    I've been wanting to redo our cabinets again, but the style doesn't lend itself to this type of cabinet. AND, wouldn't ya know... this is what I'm wanting to do. So, I might take the doors off and take them in for a little extra trim on them before painting. Then.. off to get the hardware. I have
    a newer countertop that looks like brand new. I'll keep it and my granite
    sink.. Thank you so very much. "Kitchen Krud" here I come!!!!!

  • Lori Haught Harper Lori Haught Harper on Dec 15, 2017
    Great job! This is on my list of "to-do's" for our home!