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Monday, April 16, 2012

DIY // How To Paint Kitchen Cabinets White Update

With the cabinets in place we were on to the next step..."Painting the cabinets white, we're painting the cabinets white..." The Queen of Hearts would not be pleased with our cabinet transformation, but we sure are!  Simply changing the color and height of the cabinets (in addition to our changes with our windows & walls) has transformed our kitchen from a heavy and dark place we didn't want to spend much time in, to my favorite room in the house.  I love its bright and airy feel.  I can only imagine how amazing and open it will be when we finally have the walls taken down between the nook/mudroom/kitchen.  I'm never going to want to leave.

Now let's take a look at our Before photo with the addition of the stainless appliances.

And now, back to the white cabinets...See what a difference they make?  I'm in love.

So, for those of you that are interested in painting your own cabinets, here are the steps that you should take.
  1. Wash the cabinets with soap and water to remove any dirt & oil and let dry.
  2. Remove doors from cabinets and remove all hardware.
  3. Sand the cabinets and doors with a medium grit sandpaper - rough up that surface a bit to give the primer something to adhere to.
  4. Wipe off the sanding dust with a tack cloth.
  5. Use a small roller to put a coat of primer on.  We used Zinsser Bullseye 1-2-3 All Surface Primer.  This is a great quality primer - we highly recommend.  
  6. Let the primer dry for the recommended drying time and sand with a fine-grit sandpaper.  Wipe down your cabinets with a tack cloth.  
  7. Repeat steps 5 & 6.  This gives your paint a good solid foundation.  But remember that you must paint your cabinets within two days, otherwise the primer loses its effectiveness.
  8. Paint on your top coat.  I chose to use a brush to get nice clean strokes.  We chose a white Behr's semi-gloss latex interior paint, for its durability & ease of cleaning.  I also meant to add Floetrol to the paint, which is a clear paint conditioner that helps reduce the appearance of brush strokes, but I completely forgot and I REALLY wish I hadn't.  Be patient & let dry for the recommended drying time.  This is important as it will increase the durability, which is often an issue with painted cabinets.
  9. Sand with a fine grit sandpaper between each coat.  Wipe off sanding dust with a tack cloth.
  10. The number of coats are up to you, but we chose to paint three coats of the white semi-gloss latex paint.
  11. Let dry for a final time, put your hardware back on and marvel in your beautifully painted cabinets.
Now, let's get real here...did we do all these steps? Yes & No. 

I failed to use the right grit of sandpaper to really roughen up the finished cabinets' surface giving the primer something to adhere to (even though the Zinsser claims that it will adhere to undsanded surfaces)...my spidey-sense tells me that there will be quite a few chips in my future.  Also, we could have done ONE more coat of primer to hide the wood grain, but by that point I was so over painting that I just didn't care anymore.  I, personally, don't mind seeing the woodgrain under the paint, so it really isn't something that detracts from the project in my opinion.  And the last failure...do not use newspaper in place of a dropcloth.  Duh.  I should have known better.  (The newspaper dries with the paint to your cabinet surface.  Take it from me, removing the newspaper from the cabinet doors IS. NOT. FUN.)

See what I'm talking about?

And if I'm being completely honest, I pretty much hated this process the entire way through.  It's a tedious job and if you skip any steps (like sanding) then the end result is not as flawless so you either have to start over or live with the flaws.  BUT with that said, painting our cabinets white is one of the best things we've done.  A little sweat equity sure as hell beats spending thousands of dollars to replace the "in perfectly good condition" cabinets we inherited and it really transformed the room. I love spending time in our kitchen (even if it is to do the dreadful dishes.)  Now to just get the last little bits finished...
  • Finish hanging drywall in kitchen
  • Mud/sand
  • Drywall texture
  • Prime walls
  • Paint
  • Hang cabinets
  • Paint cabinets
  • Install window & door trim & crown molding
  • Paint trim
  • Mount microwave
  • Lighting
  • Fun stuff (open shelving, nook benches & bookcase)



  1. You did a beautiful job. Looking good!

  2. Oh my! What a transformation! Looks great, sister!

  3. What color of paint did you use on your cabinets??? I am doing this to mine and cannot seem to find just the right white...You did a great job!!!!

    1. Thanks! I used Behr semi-gloss off the shelf paint. No pigment added, just straight white.


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