Painting Kitchen Cabinets

We’ve lived with our outdated kitchen for 3 years since we purchased our home and the time has come for some updating. First thing on our list was painting our cabinets. This is how we did it and we love the new updated look. We’re still deciding if we’ll distress or glaze to fit the style for this farmhouse but here is how we got this far.

Notes before you begin: This is a very time consuming DIY project.  It took us a two month time frame of working weekends, an occasional evening and free time.

Paint – We used Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo Paint (it’s like an enamel coating – love it).
Paint brush – We use Purdy paintbrushes.
Sand paper – We used our Dremel Mult-Max

These were our cabinets when we moved in…orange-tone red oak with brass handles.

1. Remove hardware and doors. Our hinges are hidden so they were left in place and I painted around them.  Note:  cracks where cabinets meet each other or meet wall are hidden and unseen when cabinets are darker.  When going with white, take the time to fill and sand the cracks with a sandable/paintable/flexible caulk.

2. Label each door with tape (keep this with the door at all times).

3. Put hardware, hinges and screws into individual baggies and keep close to each area. We taped them inside cabinets and drawers.

4. We sanded the cabinet bases and each door. The Dremel Multi-Max is perfect for reaching grooves and hard to reach places.

5. Clean doors removing dirt and sawdust. We also stuffed newspaper into the big hinge holes to prevent paint from pooling/dripping inside.

6. Prepare your paint area. We had two areas prepped. One for spraying and one for brushing paint techniques. You’ll want to tape around the cabinet bases where they meet the walls, floor and ceiling.  Note for removing tape after – run an Xacto blade where the tape meets the cabinet before removing tape so you don’t pull paint off of the cabinets.  Also – I lay out newspaper to throw wet removed tape onto, it makes throwing it away a lot less sticky and messy.

7. We used a paint sprayer for applying the primer. It did an amazing job for coverage. Practice first to get the technique down as well as getting the air out of the line. We had to water down the primer. Surprisingly, we used much less than anticipated. Cleaning the sprayer is super easy – just run water through the line and nozzle until clear. For the spraying, we did two coats of primer on half of the doors. Let dry. Flip and repeat. Then moved those doors to another area and set them on paint cans to keep them raised and sprayed the other half twice and flipped and did two coats of primer on the other side. *Wear safety gear including a respirator and safety glasses.

If using a paint sprayer – practice before doing this project.  It’s very tricky to get the correct consistency (thinning the paint) and learning how to achieve an even coat.  We had to re-sand and start over. Unless you’re familiar with a paint sprayer, I’d suggest using a brush.  

8. For the actual paint, I tried both a foam roller and Purdy paint brush for the first coat. I preferred using the brush.  I liked the way it reached all areas thoroughly and since we wanted to see the wood grain, I was able to apply the paint with the direction of the grain.

Benjamin Moore’s Satin Impervo is thi
ck.  It dries to an enamel-like finish.  Spills wipe off with a dry towel easily!  It’s also self-leveling and a great choice (worth the extra $) for it’s durability.

Tip:  Using a screwdriver and hammer, poke small holes around the lip of the can.  It’ll act as a drain for paint that collects there and make life much easier when the lid goes back on easily and isn’t “glued” with paint when it dries.

9. We allowed at least a few days between each coat of paint.

10. Once dry, reattach doors and hardware. You’ll be happy that doors were marked and hardware is located at each cupboard/drawer after the length of time that has passed.So much fresher. We’re both pleasantly surprised with how much of a difference it makes in giving our kitchen a more classic look.

New color is actually not white but gray. It’s Benjamin Moore’s Moonshine. (I’m not sure why that day says is was mixed 9 years ago!) We purchase our paint at our local True Value store. 

I’m happy to answer any questions about our experience.  Just email me at


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