Asked on Oct 10, 2013

Painting flat kitchen cupboards

Barbara R
by Barbara R
My kitchen is wonderful with lots of cabinets. It is 20 years old when the cabinets were made with "photographed" laminated doors. Pretty oak, but way outdated and some have faded in the sun coming in from the windows. I don't want to add a lot of wood trim to them, I have no knowledge of woodworking. Asking for ideas not to have them look so flat, thinking about white in color. Countertops are beige, floor is beige and white, appliances white with copper accessories. H*E*L*P!
q painting flat kitchen cupboards, kitchen cabinets, kitchen design, painting
  31 answers
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Oct 10, 2013
    Painting will be your lowest cost option. If the cabinet carcasses are sound you could do an upgrade and reface and install new doors Check out this article I wrote

  • Tegma Tegma on Oct 10, 2013
    I would paint them, but they will still be plain looking. If you want to add something, you could buy some slats or something similar, about 2" wide. You don't have to be an expert with wood to cut them. Just put one straight across the top and one straight across the bottom, with one in between each side. You don't even need to miter (angle) them at the corners, but leave them cut straight at the ends. This will give you a Shaker style cabinet. After painting the whole door and trim, you will think you bought new cabinets. The secret to the whole painting job is to get a good primer (Zinzzer is what I use), and give the cabinets 2 good coats. Then see the people at Lowes for a good quality cabinet paint. I did mine and I'm an old woman (Great-grandma), and I get lots of compliments on my cabinets. When I show people a picture of the originals, no one can believe I did the work all by myself. You can do it, believe me! Remove all the doors and do the base frame first. I don't recommend painting the insides, but you can if you want. However, I would definitely do all the edges to the cupboards. Then work on the doors... For slats, I recommend you see the Lowes people for their 1/4" pine. You can buy it in 2' - 4' lengths, anywhere from 1" - 4" wide. It's very easy to cut and will look beautiful when you are finished. Use liquid nails to put it on. Good luck!

    • Barbara R Barbara R on Oct 11, 2013
      @tegma Love your suggestions! I have been thinking about this project now for 2 years and was so afraid to jump in and just DO IT! I am a grandma, too, but young enough to take this on. Thank you!

  • Tegma Tegma on Oct 10, 2013
    Almost forgot.... since you have white appliances, I would do the kitchen cabinets in a nice color, anything from off white to whatever color you like. You can even do the top cabs. one color and the bottom, another. (Go on Pinterest for some great ideas.) With the appliances being white, tho', I wouldn't do the cabinets the same as it would be too stark. What's you favorite color? Cabinets are almost any color you want now....

  • D.I.Yankowski D.I.Yankowski on Oct 10, 2013
    You described the surface as “photographed.” Are we talking pressboard with embossed "woodgrain," or laminated paper with a wood print? If it’s the paper, it won’t take paint well,even if you sand it. You could sand, uses a good primer and then paint, but the results still wouldn’t be worth the effort. In this case, KMS has the answer with refacing. However, if it’s the pressboard, it still wont take a full paint job well, but you can sand off the sheen and apply a whitewash or pickle finish. That’ll also brighten up the space. Apply Patricia's molding if you want (good idea) and whitewash that too. Take a look at this…

  • Z Z on Oct 10, 2013
    I like @Connie's idea of applique. I was thinking of adding annaglypta (paintable) wallpaper to the cabinet fronts like another member did to similar looking/style cabinets. Her cabinets were already painted so I'm not sure they were of the same material as yours are, but a good primer and you're good to go. If you like you could still add the appliques as I think the combo would look great together.

    • Z Z on Oct 10, 2013
      Thank you @Connie. I've used it a couple different times when redoing painted furniture. It's simple, but can add so much character.

  • Barbara R Barbara R on Oct 11, 2013
    Becky, I have saved those photos of the wallpaper (which I never knew existed), I have so many ideas now that I am ready to charge ahead! Thank you!!

    • Z Z on Oct 11, 2013
      @Barbara,you'll love it! It's one of the best inventions since sliced bread! Ha ha ha! For awhile both HoDe and L's sold it. I will warn you that one can poke a hole in it, but I've not had that trouble once in place.

  • Brenda Brenda on Oct 11, 2013
    There is paintable wallpaper that looks exactly like beadboard...I think the best is Graham something....just google beadboard wallpaper for pictures/info--looks like the real stuff!

  • Tegma Tegma on Oct 11, 2013
    Go for it, and when you do, I'll be looking forward to seeing a picture of how nice they will be looking! Just be sure you get the Zinzzer primer with the oil base. Two coats of that and you won't have to worry about the paint ever chipping!

  • Susansaw Susansaw on Oct 12, 2013
    Years ago there was a product that was very thin strips of wood sold. We surfaced a wall and our kitchen cabinets with them and the result was beautiful. I wonder if you could find a product like this now and use it to resurface your cabinets. Just use liquid nails and sissors

  • Raya Deych Raya Deych on Oct 12, 2013
    Hello Barbara, We will recommend to cover you kitchen wall with backsplash antique copper and it will change apearance in your kitchen. please see picture below.

  • Lane Harkey Lane Harkey on Oct 12, 2013
    you don't have to prime them at all!! Paint them with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint... No priming and no sanding. Makes for a fun project instead of drudgery.

  • Beverly Beverly on Oct 12, 2013
    Several years ago, I had similar cabinets. I was afraid to paint them because I thought it would peel off. I found a roll of nice thick vinyl wallpaper on clearance (because it was the last roll). I covered the doors. Then to make sure it didn't peel off, I trimmed the edges with 1/4 round molding to hold it down. I just used a cheap plastic mitre box and hand saw. Not a lot of skill involved. Just good measuring. It came out great and was scrubbable.

  • Gwen Gwen on Oct 12, 2013
    i think since your cabinets are so flat I'd do the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. It sounds very expensive but it goes a long way. Then you top it with a wax which really adds dimension!! I love all your copper and white so it would go really well with the paint line. You do not prime. Light sanding between coats. With fine sandpaper. Is there a distributor nearby? YouTube even has demonstrations. Good luck! Oh and choose new knobs and pulls. Look online for good prices and some say Hobby Lobby's sale prices are good. My daughter went online and it was about half of what Lowes was.

    • Bernice H Bernice H on Oct 14, 2013
      @Gwen actually she can make her own chalk/milk paint...check in search.I have seen it posted, I even copied the instructions, but ..of course lost them. cheap and easy to make your own.

  • Sharon Beauman Sharon Beauman on Oct 12, 2013
    Wow! What a great discovery. Thank you for posting this. I have been wanting to put beadboard up under my kitchen cabinets as a backsplash, but lack the tools and smarts to do it. This is going to really help me. I wonder how it would look on my kitchen cabinets which are now painted wood. It would save alot of energy to be able to put up the wallpaper instead of painting them, money, too, as I can wallpaper.

  • Linda Linda on Oct 12, 2013
    I have the same cooper tiles behind my stove, but my stove is black. I painted my kitchen cabinets rusty red, and painted one cabinet door with black chalk paint. I painted my counter tops black. When I get ready to redo my cabinets I want to try The Annie Sloan Paint everyone is talking about on them because you don't have to sand or prime them. I'm all for anything that makes life easier.

    • Bernice H Bernice H on Oct 14, 2013
      @Linda those copper tiles sound great! I would love to do something like that. You can make your own chalk/milk I mentioned above. my friend bought ASCP so little goes soooo far, she has so much left over of a color she probably is not going to use again..

  • Shari Shari on Oct 12, 2013
    I, too, was going to suggest the beadboard wallpaper. If you you think you would be interested in going that route, just be forewarned, not all beadboard wallpaper is created equal. I only use the Graham & Brown version because, in my opinion, for what it's worth, it is the most realistic I have seen. I've used it in many applications throughout my former and current homes and it has repeatedly fooled even the most experienced remodeling contractors who have been in my homes working on other projects. No one can believe it's really wallpaper until they actually touch it. Not only is it very realistic, it is super easy to work with. Home Depot used to carry the Graham & Brown brand online but they (and Lowes) are now carrying a cheaper looking version instead. However, another HomeTalk member, Rhoda V. sells the Graham & Brown version here: Several years ago, I updated the drawers of a really, really old white bedroom set with the Graham & Brown beadboard wallpaper (and new drawer pulls) since I wanted a more coastal look. I also covered up the original lattice design on the top of the dresser mirror with beadboard wallpaper. (Photos attached. In first photo, the original drawers and hardware are on the left and the beadboard wallpapered drawers and new drawer pulls are on the right.) One other note about beadboard wallpaper: it is intended to be painted after it has been applied to the chosen surface. It has somewhat of a thick "spongy" feel to it which can dent and tear rather easily when left in it's original state. For any areas that will see a lot of wear and tear, and need frequent wiping (like kitchen cabinets), painting it will help protect it and make it much easier to wipe clean.

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    • Shari Shari on Aug 19, 2014
      @Sharon Beauman You are welcome! We gutted and remodeled the kitchen of our current home almost 4 years ago and at that time, I put up the Graham & Brown beadboard wallpaper as a *temporary* back splash, thinking I would eventually replace it, probably with subway tile. However, I'm still happy with the beadboard wallpaper so I've made no effort to change it yet.

  • Loribeth Loribeth on Oct 12, 2013
    I cannot say enough good things about Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations. I've used it on my cabinets, and also on my dining room chairs. Painted the cabinets two years ago, and they still look great. The chairs have been painted for a year, and are used every day, and they look brand new. What I love about it is it's not oil based, so clean up and use was very easy. I also did the beadboard wallpaper on my cabinets, because I wanted a more country look. I used the wood appliques on our bathroom vanity. Everything has been painted with the Rustoleum, and I'm thrilled with it.

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    • Loribeth Loribeth on Aug 19, 2014
      @Sharon Beauman The wood appliques are just decorative pieces that can be glued onto the cabinet. Here are a couple of before and after pictures of what I did with one of them. When we finally replace our kitchen countertops, I'll be using beadboard for our backsplash. If you're having painter doing the painting, does it really matter whether he uses the Glidden paint or not?

  • Jmarie813 Jmarie813 on Oct 12, 2013
    love them both. thank you.

  • Colleen Colleen on Oct 12, 2013
    The cabnet doors need some depth. Maybe try nailing thin strips (1/4")of wood along the face of the doors,then paint.

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    • Colleen Colleen on Mar 27, 2014
      I know you can do it, It'll turn out great!

  • Jmarie813 Jmarie813 on Oct 12, 2013
    love the paint color too.

    If you change the backsplash, that will be HUGE. Also, you can make/buy a new stainless panel for your dishwasher to spruce it up. As for counter tops, the way cool way (and cheap, but not as durable as granite, but who wants to spent thousands, unless you have it!) is Ikea Butcher Block! It's about $150-$200 for a 6' run of thick butcher block slabs - 2 different widths. There are a few blogs on-line showing both the process and a year later, showing how it wears. I'm going to do this for my small 12' run of counter space. For $400, I can have the butcher block for many many years if I prep it well first. Even if it crashes and burns in 10 years, it beats the over $2000 price for 12' of granite or quartz!!!

  • Karon Nelson Roberts Karon Nelson Roberts on Oct 14, 2013
    Whitewash. Wipe everything down, light sanding, wipe again, and whitewash paint. Then change the knobs/handles on the doors. It will really make you kitchen pop! You could also check into buying new cabinet doors but who has money for that, and it wouldn't have your personal touch. Good Luck on what you decide. Please post pictures when done!

    • Bernice H Bernice H on Oct 14, 2013
      @Karon Nelson Roberts I am interested..what do you mean about whitewash? I am not familiar withit.

  • Linda Linda on Oct 14, 2013
    Thanks Bernice.You can find the cooper tiles in a catalog called Everything $14.99 or less. They also come in a silver color. They have a peel and stick glue on the back. I also added some hot glue to make sure they stayed put. One pack of tiles was enough to do the back wall of my stove. I love the cooper back splash with my black stove. I have a cooper tea pot on the stove for eye candy. My cabinets are a rusty red. I collect anything vintage rooster. CHICKENS RULE! I have a small flock that I let free range. It's like having moving garden ornaments and they fertilize the grass! Linda B. PS I am a newbe about the Annie Sloan paint so I welcome all ideas on it's use. I want to paint the top of my wooden kitchen table and stencil different sayings all around the edges of the table.

  • Diane Diane on Oct 16, 2013
    So glad I checked out this post. Have to redo my cabinets, too, & have found so many great ideas here.. Thanks all!

  • Barbara R Barbara R on Mar 26, 2014
    I am against this Annie Sloan paint that everyone loves. I don't want "antiquing" done these cabinets, I did that in the 70s and I see it's coming back into "vogue" now? Not for me. I liked the idea of strips of wood to accent the cabinets...and maybe new pulls, even though it woud require 36 of them (I have lots of cupboards). I just wondered if they would paint okay. Thanks everyone!!

  • Colleen Colleen on Mar 27, 2014
    Take careful measurements, and use a simple hand saw.Stay in the lines and if you need fill a little gap with a little wood filler make sure its paintable. Or you can go the route of paying Home Depot, or a local lumber yard supplier to cut for you. Either way I know you can do this. The end product will look great!!

  • Sharon Beauman Sharon Beauman on Dec 10, 2014
    Loribeth, Thank you for your comments. Your cabinets look great! I have that kind of acanthus leaf applique on my maple cabinets here at home. My backsplash tile also has the acanthus pattern. It looks very elegant. I guess I just wasn't thinking about them. I was thinking more about trim around the edges of the doors to make them look a bit more up to date. Our cabinet doors are plain. I recently put bin pulls and knobs on the drawers and doors and they do look alot better. My dad and uncle built the cabinets originally. They are in perfect condition, but were painted yellow, almost a harvest gold. A blast from the 70's past, so to say. Even the the sink is harvest gold and so were the old appliances which I have replaced. I also have to replace the vinyl gold and orange medallion flooring, which was spectacular in l977. The particular type of Glidden paint that I like is a no drip and very thick. It goes on smoothly and there are no brush strokes, so it looks as though it has been baked on. It is our home in the country that has painted cabinets and the painter that I have been using wants to charge me extra for using a paint he is not familiar with. Since we will be selling the home at some point in the next 3-4 years, I have decided to let him paint with the paint he likes (which is a good quality) if I can get a lower bid from him. Maybe he would like Rustoleum.

  • Lydia O'Lydia Lydia O'Lydia on Feb 06, 2015
    I attached photo frames to my flat cabinets, and painted the whole thing over. Gave it depth and it didn't cost me much. A few of the frames I bought came from the dollar store...because I needed a few bigger frames, I shopped at goodwill and found a few, a few I had to buy at Michaels. I think it cost me a total of 40 bucks, the paint being the most expensive thing I purchased.

  • Maury hill Maury hill on Sep 18, 2016
    At first you may think I'm crazy...but wait til Hobby Lobby does a 50% off sale on picture frames. They're pre made and a lot of the standard sizes will work. Go as plain or elaborate as you want. Stain or paint them same as your doors or stain one and paint the other for beautiful variety and more interest.

  • Jackie Jackie on Oct 05, 2016
    Hi Barbara.... No need to Sand or strip anything on your cabinets! If your looking to paint use BEYOND paint it's a water based polymer that adheres to cabinets, Low VOC and doesn't leave a lasting smell like Latex paints. Love the idea of adding trim for Depth. Beyond paint is made for Cabinetry, furniture, metal, countertops, & tile. All you'll need to do is clean the cabinets with Mineral Spirits and wash with soap and water , let dry and roll it on. But do look at the before and after photos on this site, ( Under Blog)and Video #12 walks you through the entire process of painting a cabinet door. A Gallon at 139.99+ tax will cover all your cabinets. Good Luck with your project!!

  • Nha12978449 Nha12978449 on Oct 27, 2016
    for more counter space my daughter raised the cabinet above the stove and installed a combo exhaust fan/ micro wave. You may have enough height between stove top and counter bottom so you do not have to raise the cabinet, either way it looks great and looks uncluttered with no microwave on counter.