9 Easy Steps To Paint Wooden Cabinets

9 Easy Steps To Paint Wooden Cabinets

Follow this easy steps to paint your kitchen:

Prepare your supplies

  • Screwdriver to remove the hardware.
  • Ziploc bag to store hardware, knobs, and handles.
  • Wood filler (if you need to fix holes or imperfections).
  • Sander (You really want to invest into the sander. It will save you a lot of time and help to make the surfaces smoother). We used Ridgit sander  and you can find it in your local Home Depot. This is a good investment especially if you have more sanding projects in mind.
  • Sandpaper #60-80 to remove the coat
  • Sandpaper #200-220 to make the surface smooth
  • Paint. Choose at least semi-gloss paint, so it will ease cleaning and wiping cabinet surface.
  • Paint brushes
  • 4-inch roller frame
  • 4-inch paint roller cover. Make sure you choose the one that says “for smooth surfaces”
  • Painting bucket. Check this one out. I love this bucket as it allows to work with brush and roller simultaneously. The incorporated magnet will hold one tool while you are working with another. You can also get liners, but I don’t use them to avoid generating some waste plastic. You can simply rinse the bucket after each use.
  • Dust mask
  • Nitrile Gloves
  • Safety Eye Glasses
  • Polyurethane (optional)

Now as you have your supplies ready, let’s have fun!

During the kitchen renovation, we didn’t think that we ever will be preparing this tutorial. So, of course, we weren’t thoroughly taking photos of what we were doing.
For this tutorial sake, we used one of the unwanted kitchen cabinets that we had removed and luckily didn’t get rid of (we repurposed them as tool shelves in our garage). At the pictures, you will see the entire cabinet laying on the floor. However, in order to paint your kitchen, there is no need to remove the entire cabinet! Phew!.
So, let’s get to actual work!

1. Cover Your Countertops.

Remove everything from the countertops and cover them with plastic sheet or brown paper. This will save your countertops from occasional paint drips and spills.

2. Remove Hardware

Remove all hinges, knobs, and handles that you are planning to reuse and place it in the Ziploc bag.

removing cabinets doors.jpg

3. Fill Old Holes and Imperfections

Some kitchen cabinets have handles. If you are planning to replace them with new handles, you need to take a measurement between screws and find new hardware with the same distance between screws. Also, you might need to fill old holes, sand, and be prepared to drill new ones. If your kitchen is older and has some imperfections, you might want to fix it before painting. Our kitchen didn’t have any handles. It also was in excellent condition. So we skipped this step.

4. Prepare the surfaces

Sand the kitchen boxes and kitchen doors from both sides. Sand it first with the sandpaper #60 or 80 and then with the finer one to smooth out the surface. You would want to go with # 200-220. Do it thoroughly. Preparation might be time-consuming, but it is a very important step for a  smooth final result. Clear coat, grease, and any residues have to be removed.
Make sure you sand the reverse side of the doors and the lip inside the cabinet as well. 

6. Apply Paint

We used the paint premixed with the primer. You can choose this option when buying paint. Otherwise, you might want to apply primer first. Use a brush to apply paint to the kitchen details which would be hard to apply with a roller (e.g., creases, ornaments). Then, while the paint is still wet, grab the roller and finish the paint work.

TIP: If you are are using latex paint and not planning to apply a clear coat, choose at least semi-gloss finish. This will ease cleaning. We chose semi-gloss for our cabinets. 

7. Finish Painting

Paint all kitchen boxes. You don't have to remove them in order to sand and paint. It can be easily done in place.

8. Apply as Many Coats as Needed

Apply first coat and let it dry. Even though it might feel dry in couple hours, we recommend to leave it overnight in between coats.Then apply a second coat and let it dry. Depending on the color thickness and density you might want to go with more than two coats. My top ivory cabinets took four coats before the color came out even, while for the bottom blue cabinets only two coats were enough. I didn’t apply the primer or caulk, and it worked great for me.

(Optional) Apply Clear Coat

Now you can sand all surfaces with very fine sandpaper (grit 320 or finer). If you want to achieve the smoothest result. You may choose to sand in between the coats. Then sand the final coat and apply two or three polyurethane coats, again sanding in between. I didn’t apply clear coat to my cabinets because I wanted my kitchen to have distressed look. Also, semi-gloss paint works absolutely fine.

9. Assemble

Assemble cabinets back together.

The paint work is complete! 

I was very satisfied with the result. However, I wanted to give it a final touch.I wanted it to look a bit distressed. If you are with me here, wait till the paint is completely dry, and before you apply a clear coat (if you choose to), grab a piece of fine (#180-200) sandpaper and work it slightly on the edges of your cabinets - or any exposed features that might be naturally worn out during normal use.

So here is the complete look of our painted kitchen cabinets:

Old New Cabinet

Old New Cabinet

Kitchen Makeover

Kitchen Makeover