Painting your kitchen cabinets can make a huge difference in the appearance of a room. However, if not done properly, the results can be disastrous. When armed with the right knowledge, you can paint your cabinets and know that the end results will be beautiful and durable.
Let’s talk about different types of paints as well as classic and trending colors for this year. Here is everything you need to know to choose the best paint for kitchen cabinets.
Related: Sherwin Williams Marshmallow – SW 7001
Types of Paint:
There are many different types of paint, but the main thing we recommend is something high quality and hard drying.
As you’ll see below, the steps to painting your kitchen cabinets require a lot of prep work and labor. So, don’t use cheap, low-quality paint because after all that hard work it’s just going to chip off over time and use.
You also want to use hard drying paint because kitchen cabinets are different from interior walls since they get a LOT more wear and tear. Think how often you touch your cabinets (to get things from the drawers or put things away in the cabinets) while you likely don’t touch your walls very often at all.
The Best Paints for Kitchen Cabinets:
- Behr Semi-gloss Enamel Interior/Exterior Cabinet, Door & Trim Paint (lots of color options)
- Valspar Semi-gloss Cabinet & Furniture Paint (lots of colors available)
- Magnolia Home Semi-gloss Cabinet & Furniture Paint Enamel (eight color options)
Can I Use Chalk Paint?
Yes, you can use chalk paint on kitchen cabinets, but we recommend reading Painting Cabinets with Chalk Paint (Pros & Cons) first.
Favorite Kitchen Cabinet Paint Colors in 2023:
- Behr Swiss Coffee – a creamy white with just a hint of beige, like coffee with a LOT of cream.
- Sherwin Williams Marshmallow – a perfect, classic white that Elsie uses all the time.
- Sherwin Williams Evergreen Fog – a soft, creamy evergreen.
- Behr Black Evergreen – a deeper, richer evergreen for when you want a darker green.
How to Properly Paint Kitchen Cabinets:
Step 1. Remove the doors and drawers from the cabinet boxes. Take off any hinges, handles, or any other hardware that may be in the way of painting.
Tip: Number the doors with a sharpie underneath the spot where the hinges go and cover with a small piece of painters tape. This will make it easier when rehanging the doors.
Step 2. Clean your cabinets. One of the most important steps in the process is ensuring that all grease, grime, and gunk is removed from all of your cabinets. If there are any especially greasy cabinets, we recommend spraying the surface with Krud Kutter Degreaser.
After excessive grease is removed, wet a clean rag with Liquid Sandpaper/Deglosser and wipe down thoroughly. (We recommend wearing rubber gloves when using liquid sandpaper.)
Step 3. Sand. All surfaces must be thoroughly sanded using a fine grit sandpaper (180 or 220 grit).
If you have one, you can also use an electric sander to help speed up the process. There is no need to sand the surfaces down to the bare wood—you just want to make sure that the surfaces are thoroughly scuffed.
Step 4. Remove dust from all cabinet surfaces. To remove the bulk of the dust, you can dust with an old paint brush. If you have an air compressor, you can blow the dust off with a blower nozzle.
Next, while wearing rubber gloves, get a clean rag and apply some denatured alcohol to it. Wipe the remaining dust off the surfaces with the rag.
Step 5. Cover up the floor, countertops, backsplash, and walls as needed. To do this, you can use painters tape, plastic, paper, canvas drop cloths, or a combination of all.
Step 6. Prime the cabinets. Now that the cabinets are prepped, it’s time for a coat of primer. If you have a paint sprayer and are comfortable using it, the most durable primer is shellac.
The downside to this primer is that it needs to be sprayed using a respirator, as it’s very odorous.
The product can be cleaned up with either denatured alcohol or an ammonia and water mixture. For all the DIYers out there that are using a brush instead of a sprayer, the second best product to use on your cabinets is a high quality water-based bonding primer.
Do your research on this and be sure you purchase a primer that will bond well to high traffic surfaces.
A paint sprayer gives the smoothest finish, but you can also brush or roll on the paint. A rolled and a brushed finish can turn out very nice. There is no difference in durability between spraying or hand painting.
–TrueCoat Airless Paint Sprayer
–Pro Cordless Airless Paint Sprayer
Tip: When spraying, we recommend using a Graco 308 FFLP or a 410 FFLP size tip.
Step 7. Lightly sand. After the primer is fully dry, lightly sand the surfaces with 220 or 320 grit sandpaper. Remove any additional dust, and then you’re ready to paint.
Step 8. Paint. Once you have prepped and primed, the cabinets are ready for the first and second coat of paint. Do not cut costs on your cabinet paint. It is very important to purchase a high quality and hard drying paint (urethane alkyd enamel) that will withstand daily usage.
Recommended Drying Time:
Be sure to allow plenty of dry time between coats of paint. Most paints recommend 2-4 hours of dry time between coats. Dry time can be sped up by using fans, and being in a low humidity environment.
Step 9. Remove all masking and tape.
Step 10. Reinstall doors and drawers. Most modern hinges can be adjusted if necessary to ensure the doors are hanging properly.
What Not to Do:
There are several things that may cause your paint job to not last:
- Not cleaning and sanding your cabinets properly or thoroughly. We can’t stress this step enough. Prep is key to long-term durability.
- Not using a bonding primer before painting.
- Using a latex paint instead of a urethane enhanced enamel. Traditional latex/water-based paint will never dry hard enough to withstand constant touch, and will become sticky and eventually start to peel off.
Don’t let this overwhelm you! The project will be very rewarding in the end! Follow the steps outlined above and you can be sure your newly painted cabinets will look great and last for years.
You can use the same steps for painting furniture—like wooden dining chairs.
Is it Better to Spray or Roll Kitchen Cabinets?
Spraying is a better painting method for kitchen cabinets than rolling because it will not leave a texture, (while rolling will). Spraying is also faster, but requires quite a bit of prep work and equipment. Keep in mind you can rent a paint sprayer if you do not wish to buy one.
Once you’ve painted your kitchen cabinets you might look around and want to update your kitchen backsplash or countertops. Here are some related posts:
- Removable Tile Backsplash – how to properly install peel and stick tile.
- How to Paint a Tile Backsplash
- How to Tile a Kitchen Backsplash – when you’re ready to take your DIY to the next level!
- Faux Painted Marble Countertop
- Concrete Countertop DIY – an inexpensive way to update laminate countertops
- Tiled Countertop DIY – no saw required
Let us know if you have any questions or if you use this tutorial! xo.
I’d love to know what white colors are used in all the kitchen pictures as well. I know the Marshmellow one is used in Elsie’s new kichen as she’d said but what are the lovely bright white colors used in these other wonderful cabinets and walls? Also, do you use EGGSHELL or MATT for walls? and what grade paint? thank you soooo much!! So excited to do this! thank you for all your DIY tips and tricks!!
What is the color, paint brand, grade and finish on those beautiful BRIGHT WHITE dining room chairs in the picture above? Thank you so much for this wonderful cabinet tutorial!! I’m going to tackle following your steps! Also, is this what you used as your primer? https://www.homedepot.com/p/Zinsser-1-qt-White-B-I-N-Shellac-Based-Interior-Primer-and-Sealer-00904/100398380?irgwc=1&cm_mmc=afl-ir-1330844-456723-&clickid=UU732kTjdxyNRMqyo9UV3yhPUkARLxRZ1XTKQc0
or this? https://www.homedepot.com/p/BEHR-PREMIUM-PLUS-1-gal-12-Swiss-Coffee-Semi-Gloss-Enamel-Low-Odor-Interior-Paint-Primer-305001/204405959?irgwc=1&cm_mmc=afl-ir-1330844-456723-&clickid=UU732kTjdxyNRMqyo9UV3yhPUkARL0V11XTKQc0
Thank you so much!!
Oh, by the way, what color PINK did you use in your closet? And do you use the same Behr enamel paint along with the Zinsser shellac based interior primer or you don’t need that with the closet or bookshelves? thank you so much!!!
This is probably the best information on how to DIY your kitchen cabinets. The only thing I would say is none of the recommend paints are suitable longe term options. Your correct a urethane coating is best but not all are created equally.
We used a small, flat, zero-texture roller to paint our kitchen cabinets. Three years later, the finished cabinets are as smooth as silk and nick-free. We used a sprayer on our laundry room cabinets, the finish is not nearly as smooth as the rolled finish. Preparation is everything!
What an elegant kitchen it is! I love the color of cabinets but isn’t it more prone to dust?
I gel stained my cabinets about 8 years ago is there anything special I should do before painting that you didn’t already say?
Hi, thank you for the great advice! I have a question. If you are painting cabinets that don’t already have hardware, do you recommend pre-drilling the holes prior to painting, or drilling after the paint is dry? Thank you!
Great tutorial! I’ve been using this method for decades!! everything we have painted has held up great in high traffic. One thing I would point out is the Shellac paint does not need to be solely used with a sprayer. It can be brushed or rolled on, but it would have to be done very quickly. It’s not for entry level DIYers, but seasoned DIY vet. 😉
Did you paint inside your cabinets too? I’m going back and forth about this step ?
No, I did not. I usually do it if the cabinets are in bad condition (gross) but I never do if they are in nice condition because it’s not necessary. xx
Love it. Would you mind sharing where you purchased the hardware?
Hi Tracy! Here’s a link 🙂 https://rstyle.me/+M_FEK_ogh9cT-ncVV_K7Bg
What brand of paint was used on your cabinets? I’ve been trying to read up but there is so much out there, good and bad. I’ve found Benjamin Moore Advance, PPG Breakthrough, Valspar Cabinet Enamel, etc. Looking for some real world advice and usage.
So beautiful and great post! I am going to be painting my laundry cabinets but they have a plastic-like veneer finish. Would this process work on those?
The best paint for kitchen cabinets and any surface is PPG BREAKTHROUGH. An enamel paint dries in 15 to 20 mins, all water base and excellent adhesion.
Sq ft 400 sq ft. I used this all the time and any left, there are always other area that I can this on , regardless of its concrete, metal, aluminium, decking pan and more.
I need to do this !
Hi there! I love your insta and podcast!!!! L.O.V.E. You both are so fun and creative.
We are just about to refinish our floors and paint our cabinates. We’d like to go white. Do you have any pait color recommendations? Friends have told me now to go pure white … dove?
I love the look of those white kitchen cabinets! My wife and I are considering a remodel and can’t make up our minds between resurfacing our existing cabinets or having a profession install new ones.
This is helpful – thank you
I searched for some kinds of cabinet paints in the market and I am pretty like line products of Nuvo and Rust but I am confused to make a decision. I am not sure what is better. Do you have any suggestions for me?
I’m a little confused about the shellac primer needing to be sprayed and not painted or rolled. I used a tiny, high quality roller to roll on my Zinsser B-i-n shellac primer (while wearing a respirator). It turned out great.
How long after you paint do you wait to put stuff back in n the cupboards?
Hi! Asa says spraying is the smoothest, but that does not mean you can’t apply it other ways. 🙂
oops one more comment. how do you know whether to purchase new doors or DIY paint the cabinets
would you estimate the cost of having a professional paint the cabinets instead of DIY
Great instructions! My husband and I painted our kitchen cabinets 2 years ago and they’ve held up great—the only additional step we did was strip the cabinets of the old varnish before we sanded…and that was almost 75% of the work!