Painting kitchen cabinets

white cabinets

Hi there!  Hopefully you’ve seen my big kitchen reveal, showing you the finished product (if not, click here).  I’m so happy with the results (and my wallet is pleased too!).

Ta-da!  Finished product.

Ta-da! Finished product.

In this post I’ll go over how I painted my upper cabinets white (well, actually off white – Glass of Milk from Martha Stewart, to be exact). If you want more detail on how I stained the lower cabinets, click here.  And to find out how I painted my countertops to look like granite, click here.

I’ve had lots of experience with painting walls and trim, but I was a little nervous about painting cabinets.  See, I had done it before with not great results (this was back in the day WAY before Pinterest was a thing).  So, this time I did lots of research and tried to glean as many tips as possible to avoid my past mistakes.

Without further ado, here’s how I painted my cabinets:

1. Prep.  And then prep, prep, prep, and oh yeah, last but not least – prep some more.  I’m kidding a little, but really, prep work is critical to the durability of your paint job.  My prep involved:

– Plan.  Due to space constraints in my garage (and also a desire to still use my kitchen as I did this project), I broke my kitchen down into sections and painted one at a time.

– Remove all the doors and drawers (see my post on gel staining for tips on how/why to be OCD and label your hinges)

– Set up a workstation in my garage for the doors and drawers.  I stacked two sets of storage bins, and laid one of my daughter’s crib rails between them, and this is where I laid my doors and drawers.  I also had another set of sawhorses that I set the other crib rail on.

– Clean.  I cleaned with regular Clorox wipes, and for some cabinets that were really dirty, I used steel wool pads.

– Sand.  I used the same small handheld sander (the “Mouse”) as I did for my staining project.

– Clean again.  This time with a microfiber cloth for the sanding dust, and again with a Clorox wipe.

– Start by painting the back side of your doors first.  That way, if they get dinged when you flip them over, it will be much less noticeable than the front.

2. Prime.  I did two light coats of the Kilz advanced primer, and let it dry thoroughly between coats.

3. Finally, paint!  I did two light coats of Benjamin Moore Advanced semi-gloss paint (I used a custom color – Martha Stewart Glass of Milk from Home Depot).  To my gallon of paint I added Floetrol per the instructions.  This really helped cut down on the brush strokes and gave a smooth finish.  I used a good brush from Purdy to do all my painting.  I tried using a small roller on a few cabinets, and found that it left more tell-tale marks than my brush.  I brushed the paint on in the same direction as my wood grain.  If I had laminate cabinets, I’m thinking a roller would have worked better.

4.  And that’s it.  I did not do a top coat, because I knew the Benjamin Moore Advanced semi-gloss paint was scrubbable and durable since that’s what I used on my trim.

I also spray painted my hinges, though they didn’t turn out perfectly.  I was going to buy new hinges in white, to blend with my paint color, but I soon found out that they don’t make the type of hinges that would fit my cabinets anymore.  I think I got a little too aggressive with the spray paint and sprayed it on a little too thick.  But oh well, they aren’t terrible.

See?  It's hard to keep the paint from getting dinged up.

See? It’s hard to keep the paint from getting dinged up.

I wish I had been wise and read the Live Love DIY blog (which is fantastic), because I came upon a tip here for using a product called Rub n’ Buff on cabinet hardware.  And of course it comes in white.  I don’t know if I would have had the same issues with it, and I’m certainly not going to take the hinges down and paint them again.  But it might work better for you.  And while you’re at it, she has 80 gajillion paint tips on her blog as well.

A couple more tips:

  • I’d recommend waiting a full 24 hours after your last coat of paint before flipping over your cabinet doors.  You’ll also want to wait 24 hours before putting the doors back on the cabinets.  Paint that is still a little wet is sticky and you can totally ruin your job if you jump the gun and do it too fast.
  • When you flip over your cabinet doors from the back to the front, put a soft clean cloth underneath them to further protect your paint from getting dinged.

That’s all for now!  Thanks for visiting.


One thought on “Painting kitchen cabinets

  1. Pingback: Drumroll please… Kitchen reveal! | scharlerama

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