DIY: Tips for painting kitchen cabinets

quick and easy strategy for painting your kitchen cabinets yourself

written by Melissa Dalton

Time for a Kitchen refresh

When a total gut job isn’t an option, refinish the existing kitchen cabinets to enliven the room. Bonus, this project creates less waste, since the cabinets are being reused. Here are the basic steps for the process. (Warning: This will take closer to a week than a weekend!)

1. Choose your paint wisely

While picking out a new color is definitely the fun part, make sure to choose a sheen that will hold up to the kitchen’s extreme use. Food spills, water drips, grease and grime – all of it will end up on the cabinet doors eventually. Choose a finish that’s durable and can be wiped down, like a satin, semi-gloss, or gloss sheen. Better yet, find a paint specially formulated for projects like this, such as Benjamin Moore’s Advance line, a water-based alkyd paint that cures to a hard, furniture-quality finish. Test out samples from various brands by prepping and painting a board, then subjecting it to abuse.

2. Clean and prep thoroughly

Remove doors and drawer fronts for easy access. Everything must be cleaned of all residual grease and grime. Fill any cracks, holes, or chips with wood filler. If replacing your hardware too, make sure it covers your existing holes, or else fill them, too.

3. Sand

Sand by hand with 120-grit to 220-grit sandpaper, depending on your cabinets’ existing finish. Be careful with power tools—an electric sander might eat through a thin veneer.

4. Prime

Don’t skip this step, as much as you might want to. For best results, use the primer that goes with your chosen paint and lightly sand once this coat is completely dry.

5. Paint

Using a sprayer or a brush, apply two coats for an even finish, making sure to let each dry completely between applications. A sprayer will create a very smooth and uniform appearance, while a brush can leave behind slight marks—all the better for easy touch-ups in the future.


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