Asked on Feb 01, 2014

To paint or not to paint kitchen cabinets?

by Moxie
So...paint in hand...I am having last min. jitters...would love your opinion on if I should paint my cabinets or not. Note in the picture, the white piece over the grey cabinet is just a piece of shelving to represent the white solid surface tops I want to get. The cabinet I painted grey was a left over so a sample of sorts. I have picked out fabulous new hardware (nickel) to go on them and want to do the white top, white subway tile and white uppers. All appliances are white. Note sure why after buying the paint I got nervous but I would appreciate your input! These are 10 year old stock builder cabinets in a mid-range house. I don't plan on selling...ekkkk...what to do? Please ignore the clutter - mid project---
q to paint or not to paint kitchen cabinets, diy, kitchen cabinets, kitchen design, painting
  87 answers
  • Janice Laprise Janice Laprise on Feb 01, 2014
    I would certainly paint. Will look fantastic with the nickel hardware and white uppers as well as the subway tile. Should look sharp.Don't second guess your decision....just GO FOR IT. You'll be so happy you did.

  • Becky Becky on Feb 01, 2014
    Go!go!go! A little paint, a little bling and you will be amazed! The transformation will have you always in the kitchen! Lol.

  • Rachel Medina Rachel Medina on Feb 01, 2014
    Do it! You will love it:)

  • Moxie Moxie on Feb 01, 2014
    Thanks guys!!!!! I'll post after are my cheering section! I like bling..and he will be so happy if I'm cookin'

  • Sabrina Ward Barnett Sabrina Ward Barnett on Feb 01, 2014
    paint! U will enjoy the new look! Make sure u degrease and prime unless ur using chalk paint! Have fun! Enjoy!

  • Moxie Moxie on Feb 01, 2014
    Thanks Sabrina...good tips

  • Funnygirl Funnygirl on Feb 01, 2014
    All white is too much for me. I would like you to try painting the most focal cabinets a different color,once all the other cabinets are white.It will make it look like a special cabinet or piece of furniture. They are now saying that is the newest trend for kitchens

    • Moxie Moxie on Feb 02, 2014
      @Funnygirl that is a great idea..I don't have many cabinets but I had planned on stacking four from counter to ceiling and placing bun feet in the toe kick to mimic a buffet..might be the place to try something. I have a very very small kitchen..only 5 base cabinets plus two in the pantry so I will go white on uppers first and then see what feels right.

  • Brittani Scott Brittani Scott on Feb 01, 2014
    Paint!! It's a back killer but SOOO worth it! Oh and a major money saver. I did my entire kitchen and LOVE IT! Looks wonderful ;)

  • Linda Schiffmeyer Linda Schiffmeyer on Feb 01, 2014
    just moved into apt where they had painted the cabinets white it really looks good and I am not a white cabinet person but now I am open to any colors to put with them go for it easier and cheaper than new cabinets

  • Linda Logan Linda Logan on Feb 01, 2014
    I put off painting my cabinets for 10 years, trying to decide what to do. I just couldn't spend so much money on new cabinets when I could "paint them new"! We finally painted them this winter and I LOVE them! It really wasn't the job I dreaded. The dread was so much more than the actual doing! I could have been enjoying them all these years! JUST DO IT!!!

  • Peggy Peggy on Feb 01, 2014
    I would paint the upper white and the bottom gray. Just make sure you pick the perfect gray.

  • Jenfb P Jenfb P on Feb 02, 2014
    When painting cabinets, WHAT do u do about interior of them ?

  • Moxie Moxie on Feb 02, 2014
    that's a super point Jen...I was wondering about that yesterday..usually nothing...unless left open. Mine are not made be left open..but that doesn't mean I couldn't have some fun on the inside to lol. Thanks everybody!!!

  • BulkHomeBuyers BulkHomeBuyers on Feb 02, 2014
    I always paint the edge of the stiles (cabinet frame) just to have a more finished look. Don't worry about painting the interior box or shelves. You MUST use either an oil or shellac based primer before the finish coat. If you don't, then the smallest scratch/bump/abrasion will peel off your new paint. Prime it first and you should be able to survive a pack of wild toddlers running around the kitchen touching everything.

  • MaryAnn B MaryAnn B on Feb 02, 2014
    I like the idea of stacking them. If you have white cabinets and don't like the brightness you can put a glaze over the top.

  • Deedee Deedee on Feb 02, 2014
    Paint them!!

  • Terra Gazelle Terra Gazelle on Feb 02, 2014
    Paint! I also like the idea of doing at least one cabinet a different color. I have three tall cabinets 84" tall that I am painting white where the rest are oak..

  • Leslie McManamy Leslie McManamy on Feb 02, 2014
    Absolutely paint them! I stressed over the same issue, but once they were finished I have never regretted having painted them. Paint away, and enjoy!

  • Ellen Knox Ellen Knox on Feb 02, 2014
    Paint them using a good quality paint. It is amazing what a good coat of paint can do. I painted the inside of mine and was glad I did.

  • Sharolyn T Sharolyn T on Feb 02, 2014
    I struggled with this same question for almost 10 years. My kitchen was so dark and I finally decided to take the plunge and paint. Why oh why did I wait so long....I love the look! I used a buttermilk white...light but not too white.

  • Gloria Gloria on Feb 02, 2014
    Mine were pickled oak and in good shape. I had them painted white with a brown glaze over top. I also installed wide molding (I have weirdly high ceilings in my house - none of which are the same size) on top of the cabinets. With the glaze, it fits perfectly in with my French Country/eclectic decor. Solid black granite and cobalt blue accents. Love it....go for PAINT!!

  • Wanda.ll Wanda.ll on Feb 03, 2014
    Well I'm seeing painted cabinets everywhere now days. I've had painted ones for 30 years( due to stain malfunction to start with).You have to spend 6 hours cleaning them about every 4 months I would never have painted ones again. All wood color is so much easier to keep. We used Gildden paint and it has held up great did use semigloss too. But painted cabinets show every speck of anything. So if you've got loads of time to clean go for it. I think it is a bad idea and fad right now. If cabinets are real wood and in good shape keep or resurface them( Sears can do )don't paint. Just my opinion and you know what they say about that.I'm old to by the way. So been there done that a time or two.

  • Jim L Jim L on Feb 03, 2014
    Paint the bottom cabinets a darker color and the top cabinets white...great look...

  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Feb 03, 2014
    Painted cabinets are wonderful, but keep in mind that you do have to clean them quite frequently! I had a friend paint hers and she strongly suggested to me not to do it. I was working at the time and just could not wipe down a kitchen every time I cooked. Then when I retried and had time, I did not have the strength or energy to spend on cleaning cabinets.

  • Judy Judy on Feb 03, 2014
    I have a thing about wood....I love it, so I'd refinish the wood if needed & put new, white countertop on it.

  • Teresa 'T' Johnson Teresa 'T' Johnson on Feb 03, 2014
    Paint! Good luck!

  • Gail Baker Gail Baker on Feb 03, 2014
    I painted mine about 10 yrs. ago (not white, but off white to match my décor) & have been happy with them. They nick a little on the edges, but touchups are easy. We didn't paint the inside.

  • Lisa Bare Lisa Bare on Feb 03, 2014
    Love the color you pick! PAINT THEM! Your kitchen will be uniquely yours.....just use a good paint and multiple coats

  • Rather Square Rather Square on Feb 03, 2014
    I'd definitely paint them! The color you've chosen is nice and will stand the test of time. It will be a great contrast with the other white materials and appliances. Just make sure to sand and prep the surface before painting, and use a high-quality durable paint that will hold up. Looking forward to seeing the finished results!

  • Judy Adams Judy Adams on Feb 03, 2014
    Remember to prep first so the paint job will last , and look good longer . Paint with the very best paint you can afford . Some latex enamel may be sticky after painted, so choose a satin gloss or eggshell enamel, not gloss .flat may not clean too well, and has a tendency to stain with any oil that may spatter on them ,Looks like they are in a busy use area. Use an oil base primer not latex as latex takes a longer time to cure . The oil base primer will last longest and takes the Latex and acrylic paint well, for a better smoother finish, and ease of painting. Two coats will last longer with out any scrub out of the finish when you clean. Too much work,? anything worth doing is worth the extra mile , Good luck

  • Eileen Claussen Eileen Claussen on Feb 03, 2014
    Love the color you've picked for the cabinets ~ beautiful. You'll love the change it will make in your kitchen. Good luck!

  • Gloria Mason Gloria Mason on Feb 03, 2014
    I have black quartz counter tops, installed about 4 years ago (love them) but quite a lot of med. oak cabinets. Top ones are fine but lower ones are scratched and need something done. Would love buttermilk paint but lots of work and upkeep. What should I do?

    • Cheryl @ Artzzle Cheryl @ Artzzle on Feb 04, 2014
      @Gloria Mason Check out the Rustoleum Transformation Kits. We're in our mid 60's, Gloria, and I'm assuring you that you could do this. Not too much heavy labor, mostly painting and wiping, and there is no poisonous smell, so can do it all year round.

  • Jackie Prim Jackie Prim on Feb 03, 2014

  • We would like to suggest that you consider using one of our PVC backsplashes to remodel your cabinets. We have many designs and colors to choose from. Our backsplashes are flexible and easy to cut and glue. Browse through our gallery.

  • Dolores DeLuise Dolores DeLuise on Feb 03, 2014
    I would repaint. Try chalk paint--less preparation and the wax finish wipes up well.

    • Kathleen M Kathleen M on Jun 21, 2014
      @Dolores DeLuise Sorry Dolores, but I must disagree! Chalk paint will just not hold up on kitchen cabinets. Food will stain it.

  • Colleen Colleen on Feb 03, 2014
    Like you I'm not sure to paint my cabinets. Considering your cabinets are "stock" look at the wood grain on the doors are they pleasing to you? If not, then stain or paint. If not sure of what type of paint, try sampling, get some scrap boards and try different techniques take pictures for referrence. In my case my hubby is a "wood" person and we can not agree.

  • Eileen Eileen on Feb 03, 2014
    It really depends on what you want. Plain wood might be boring. Paint gives you a wide range of effects. If you want something jazzy, the paint will show off your new hardware really well. I like paint myself, but it is really a personal thing. If you love color, go for it. It will make you happy. If you use a good gloss industrial enamel, they should wipe clean easily. I don't quite understand the comments about keeping clean, as I'd think you would like to keep wood just as clean.

  • Debbie Viola Debbie Viola on Feb 03, 2014
    Please make sure you prep them properly to ensure a lasting finish. You want to clean them real well, then use a quality primer, and wait at least 24 hours before applying the paint. The color choice is beautiful. Good luck!

  • Gloria Mason Gloria Mason on Feb 04, 2014
    Thanks for your responses. I am 75 years old and recently retired. I paint and redecorate my home often but this is a big job and I just don't know. I've been planning on doing some chalk paint on a table. Perhaps need to try this to see how it works out first.

    • See 1 previous
    • Liz Thomas Liz Thomas on Feb 07, 2014
      @Gloria Mason I painted my wood cabinets out of necessity, they were in terrible condition when I bought my home. The first project I started was to paint the kitchen cabinets. I took all the doors off and primed with Benjamin Moore primer then two coats of Bennington Grey (eggshell) and four years later they still look brand new. I love them!! I also use a lot of chalk paint but for heavy use in the kitchen I'm glad I used the Benjamin Moore....(the thought of waxing everything....not so much)

  • Cheryl @ Artzzle Cheryl @ Artzzle on Feb 04, 2014
    We've remodeled many kitchens and bathrooms over time, and hated the cabinetry resurfacing part so much, we usually hired it out. Recently we found, tried and fell in love with the RUSTOLEUM Cabinet Transformation Kit. It's easy, not too messy, has everything you need ... and it's VERY AFFORDABLE. Oh, and yes, it holds up under heavy wear and use! I just posted about it on HOMETALK today.

  • Sally Sally on Feb 04, 2014
    We are looking at redoing a kitchen with lots of cabinets. I think I will have them taken out and will spray paint them instead of brushing. I have done hand brushing before and think this will be much more professional looking. Love painted cabinets, so glad I did the last kitchen!

  • Moxie Moxie on Feb 04, 2014
    Wow! Thanks everybody - Hometalk is such an amazing community!!! I have two base cabinets painted, so there is no turning back now -- I am going to luv, luv, luv them!!! It will take about a month to get the new white tops but I will re-post when done!

  • Down to Earth Holly Down to Earth Holly on Feb 04, 2014
    Yes...keep painting. I know it is all the rage to have painted cabinets right now but there are always wonderful colors to switch to when future trends change. I painted a kitchen in 2001 and couldn't believe how much better I loved my whole house!

  • Rhonda Rhonda on Feb 04, 2014

  • Opal Opal on Feb 07, 2014
    The gray is wonderful, go for it. Please post the results.

  • Maureen O'Donovan Maureen O'Donovan on Feb 07, 2014
    Been there, done that! Paint!! I was so glad I did!! I added a glaze after painting, which added some depth. See my post, I have pics. Make sure you add a protective coating of polyurethane or polyacrylic afterwards. Good luck! It is time consuming, but worth every second (after finishing)!

  • CAROL CAROL on Feb 07, 2014
    i saw a couple "transformations" on stock cabinets using a gel stain that was a rich espresso color- light sanding beforehand- a good wipe down- then stain- a tad of the grain was there- but it was such a warm rich look without paint- I had the exact cabinets as you do and I painted a cream color and when I saw the dark stained ones I was sick- I so wish I had done that instead-

  • Juju, the Anti-Gardener Juju, the Anti-Gardener on Feb 07, 2014
    Ok, I've got to ask this question: What is chalk paint? I just got a painting estimate for $1260.00 for cabinets. 660 for paint protection and the rest for the paint job. Really? I'm ready to paint them myself b/c I cannot believe it's so difficult that these guys have to charge so much. You'd think they were plumbers.

    • Dolores DeLuise Dolores DeLuise on Feb 10, 2014
      @Juju, the Anti-Gardener Check out Annie Sloan's chalk paint (google and youtube). You only have to clean the surface--no sanding. You finish with wax. It can be a bit rustic or not. I got an even worse estimate than you did--several more thousand (NYC!!!)--and I think I can do it better myself with chalk paint. I used regular paint on parts of the kitchen and finished with clear wax so that I just have to use a sponge with water to take off whatever splashes onto it. I did this with my banisters, bookcases, and other assorted areas as well and the fingerprints and other marks come right off and it always looks great; I don't like the look of polyurethane finishes. Chalk paint is made to be used with wax, and it just makes so much sense for the kitchen.

  • Gloria Mason Gloria Mason on Feb 07, 2014
    juju. I think I have talked myself out of painting kitchen cabinets. Need to paint master bath and maybe I'll do cabinets in there. Too lazy right now in cold weather to do anything!

  • Marian taylor Marian taylor on Feb 09, 2014
    I painted my kitchen cabinets almost 8 yrs ago and they just now look like they need a touch up.. I took my time to prep properly, clean and sand,, I used oil based paint which is messy, hard to clean but is definitely the reason its lasted so long..I would do it again in a heartbeat,, what a difference

  • Gloria Mason Gloria Mason on Feb 10, 2014
    Lots of good ideas. Still considering.

    • Moxie Moxie on Feb 10, 2014
      I painted mine and love them...will post pics after new tops and hardware

  • Virgi S Virgi S on Feb 10, 2014
    Have you thought of getting a longer white countertop which extends to the corner. Trash can could fit underneath and you'd have a great work surface or could add a stool for eating.

    • Moxie Moxie on Feb 10, 2014
      Great idea..would luv to but we plan a deck in spring that thus space will be the door space

  • Vicki K Vicki K on Feb 10, 2014
    Why is wax better than polyacrylic finish for hard-use areas?? Looks to me like it would be the opposite. Thinking of painting mine w/ chalk or reg. paint.

    • See 1 previous
    • Terra Gazelle Terra Gazelle on May 31, 2014
      @Vicki K Wax is not good for places that have alot of traffic and will be wiped down alot. You would have to rewax allot. I use matte poly and it works fine and still has that antique look.

  • I did my old oak cabinets in black vintage chalk them! No regrets.

  • Sue Sue on Feb 11, 2014

  • Vicki K Vicki K on Feb 13, 2014
    Can't you buy a satin finish and not a gloss finish polycrylic? Or maybe even a matte finish. I researched that you have to re-wax hard use areas every few months! (To me that's like bleaching grout on a kitchen tile countertop every few months -NO, I ain't gonna do it, I know myself too well). But I'm sure the wax really looks pretty when freshly done. Good luck! Post a picture, I'm gonna paint mine too and still in the deciding stage on colors. Thanks!! Vicki K

  • Moxie Moxie on Feb 13, 2014
    I'm with you Vicki...poly all the way lol

  • Lisa Lisa on Feb 13, 2014
    Love the looks of the paint! Go for it!

  • Wanda sinnema Wanda sinnema on Feb 13, 2014
    since you are putting on a new deck and a door close by I would paint.. You will have much more traffic in and out of that area w/ the deck.. a bit of a "redo" with counters and paint and a few decor items will give you a great look---inside and out..

  • Karen D Karen D on May 30, 2014
    I would paint them. The grey looks wonderful!

  • Mary strong Mary strong on May 30, 2014
    I like the gray, looks smooth.

  • Kathy Keene Kathy Keene on Jun 05, 2014
    Please share what paint you used...the brand and color...I love the look of the grey! If you could

  • Pepsigirl13 Pepsigirl13 on Jun 09, 2014
    GO FOR IT! As long as you prep, and take your time, you have NOTHING to lose esp. with builder grade kitchen cabinets. I'm sure you will LOVE the final result! Good luck.

  • Jim L Jim L on Jun 09, 2014
    I would paint the cabinets white to go with the stove. With white, you have an "unbroken" flow of cabinets and makes the room look bigger. If you do not like white, then the gray/green looks nice. The white would look so crisp.

  • Penny Penny on Jun 10, 2014
    paint!!! definatly paint..

  • Joy  Johnson Joy Johnson on Jun 20, 2014
    I just finished painting the doors and drawer fronts on a cabinet I am using in basement guest suite and I like the look but it does not have the smooth finish I wanted. I sanded, 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of high gloss paint. I used a brush but can see brush marks. Any suggestions for applying another coat with some other applicator?

    • See 5 previous
    • B. Enne B. Enne on May 21, 2015
      @Joy Johnson I use a small high density foam roller, and a foam brush for nooks and crannies.

  • Robin Daniels Robin Daniels on Jun 20, 2014
    Love the color! Paint them...

  • Melodie Hoffman Melodie Hoffman on Jun 20, 2014
    We moved into a home with very dark cabinets. I loved the house but the kitchen looked so dark and drab. So we painted them olive green and it was like we redid the whole kitchen! Made it open and airy! Amazing change!! Go ahead, paint !!!

  • Cindy Butler Dorthy Cindy Butler Dorthy on Jun 21, 2014
    Love the color / be sure to properly prep the old cabinets first .

  • Dolores DeLuise Dolores DeLuise on Jun 21, 2014
    It may be that chalk paint does not hold up in kitchens. I have read articles, however, wherein people have done their cabinets with chalk paint, but I have not seen long-term results. Wax is placed over the paint, providing a cleanable surface; indeed, I have a (regularly) painted wall about two feet from my stove and it does get splashed, but the two layers of wax I rubbed into it make cleaning it very easy. I think it depends on the individuals whose kitchens are painted--some kitchens get heavier use than others.

    • Terra Gazelle Terra Gazelle on Jan 23, 2015
      @Dolores DeLuise If you use chalk paint in the kitchen use a poly over them and not wax. Wax melts in heat and after a year of wiping them down the wax will be degraded. If you want to keep that flat appearance, use a matte poly, top the paint with about 3 coats of the poly and it will be good for a life time. You can even use the wax, if you want to use dark wax on the cabinets..and you want that look, then top it with a couple coats of poly for the staying power. Do not use the wax over the poly, the poly will end up even bringing up the paint.

  • Joanie1051 Joanie1051 on Jun 21, 2014
    Joy - Get some Flowtrol (sp?) paint additive for your final coat and look up "how to paint furniture like a pro" or some such, either here or on Pinterest. Use a very high quality paint brush, follow the tips and you'll be very pleased. Good luck!

  • Joy  Johnson Joy Johnson on Jun 22, 2014
    Thanks Joanie. I had forgotten about this product that I used when taking a faux painting class years ago.

  • Diane Arnold Diane Arnold on Jun 22, 2014
    Oh, the paint is wonderful! Go for it! You will love it with the white counter too. Nice choices.

  • Moxie Moxie on Jul 06, 2014
    Several of you asked for completed pics; I am not 100% complete yet, but here are after pics...almost don...just loving them!

  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Jul 06, 2014
    With wood floors, I'd paint same colour as appliances so unbroken flow. I'd do the countertop with it's own 4" backsplash in a faux granite in the grey you like. Lighter grey on walls. Then add pops of colour - fruit bowl, etc. I lay waxed paper on top of the upper cabinets and just peel off when it gets dirty and replace. I always put an artificial plant in a pot on uppers,too, to soften the horizontal lines (can be washed, not water required) and a few interesting items.

  • I love it! you have inspired me to paint mine soon!

  • Marlene Wilson Marlene Wilson on Aug 01, 2014
    PAINT,IT looks better.

  • Annette Annette on Jan 23, 2015
    I think I'm getting the courage to paint the kitchen cabinets in my summer home! Your's turned out great!

  • Susan sapp Susan sapp on Jan 23, 2015

  • Kimberli Hubbell Kimberli Hubbell on Feb 05, 2016
    I also have a large oak kitchen and just bought gray cabinet paint, but have the jitters about painting them! Did you pain the insides? if not can you show a picture if the door open? I really do not want to paint the insides!!!

    • Moxie Moxie on Feb 05, 2016
      @Kimberli Hubbell No Kim I did not paint the insides...I have heard the paint wears with the movement of contents and doesn't hold up like the outside so I left them alone. Tips I learned in my process on the outside..calk the joints between cabinets and any nicks or scratches with latex calk before the last coat (they will show up with paint where they don't with stain) and get hardware for the knobs long enough that your nails don't hit the cabinet door with you use them to avoid chipping over time. be sure to wash down the cabinets around the stove with tsp (wear gloves) before you paint so grease/oil in the wood grain doesn't bleed through the paint. Good luck! It is alot of work; but you will love it!

  • Gloria Gloria on Feb 08, 2016
    Mine were pickled oak. Painted white and added a glaze, crown moldings, new hardware and black granite. Do it!!!!!

  • Leslie Leslie on Feb 14, 2016
    Paint them....your sample cabinet looks so good, love the color.

  • Cheryl Cheryl on Mar 13, 2016
    Paint. Nice job on the 1st one. Take the plunge

  • Diana Deiley Diana Deiley on Apr 01, 2016
    I'm enjoying all this ladies.....painted cabinets. Great job. It's paint and presents a fresh new appearance. It brings everything "together" as one. Just fabulous! Thanks for sharing everything.

  • Diana Deiley Diana Deiley on Sep 09, 2016
    Go for it! :)