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How to Repaint Kitchen Cabinets

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When we bought our house I was very happy with my kitchen.  Granite countertops, beautiful backsplash, newer appliances, wine fridge-yay!  Aside from the floor my husband wants to rip up the only somewhat negative complaint I had was why is there so much dark wood?

Kitchen cabinets before painting

I mean we have dark wood cabinets, wood beams on the ceilings and dark wood cedar planked wall that went halfway up the wall.  Over time I felt like I was living up the mountains, not such a bad thing but not when you live in the country and want a bright and cheerful space.

Personally I associated bright with clean-its a direct relationship for me.  Kitchens and bathrooms need to be lightly colored or else I just think their dirty.

I knew that my husband would never go for me painting the ceiling beams or white washing the wood wall, so my only option was to paint the kitchen cabinets.

For months I researched on the internet for the best products and techniques to come out of this diy project with sanity.  Even after I had a plan in place, it took awhile to actually start.

Prepping the Cabinets

So you’ll read about this initial part of the project many times and for good reason.  Prepping is the most important step.  Get a degreaser and clean those cabinets.  You’ll be disgusted and surprised at what comes off of them.

Like all of us, I REALLY did not want to sand the cabinets.  For one, lets be honest, I knew I would never sand every little corner and crevice of the cabinets.  So what I did was some light sanding.

I sanded along the sides and any uneven surface.  I also sanded all of Which brings me to my next point that you SHOULD fill holes with some spackle.  It’s quick to do and after you put your final color on you’ll want a seamless look.

The cabinets are made from pine and they had all of these knotty pine spots on them so they got sanded too.

Priming the Cabinets

Since I wasn’t completely sanding my cabinets and I had to deal with those pine knots, I knew I needed to a good primer.  I decided to go with Zinsser B-I-N shellac primer because the reviews were great for coverage without priming.

I was worried that eventually the pine knots would bleed through so I went around and spot primed all the knots first before completely priming the doors.

Kitchen cabinets with spot primed

Don’t mind the mess and my glass of beer, lol!

After I spot primed I went around and primed all the cabinets and frames.  The great thing about the primer is that it dries very quickly and once I was done the last cabinet I was able to start immediately repriming the first again.

I did take the cabinet doors off the frames.  I just found it easier to spot prime them while they were in place.  Prior to removing the doors do label them so you know which one goes where.  I found it easiest to place a number in marker on the inner door jam where the hinge is placed.

Cabinet door with one coat of primer

At this point your gonna say to yourself “aaah what did I do?”  Just know that this is just the primer, it will look better.  Based on what the cabinets looked like after one coat, I decided to do two.  Sand in between coats to get any imperfections to a smooth finish.


If your aiming to change the look of your cabinets your probably going to buy new cabinet hardware.  I purchased new knobs and handles for my cabinets but the hinges I did not want to spare the expense on.

My hinges have a shiny bronze finish to them that I didn’t care for so I decided to spray paint them.  First thing first though, you most definitely should clean them.


Hinges before and after cleaning

As you can see the before and after is shocking and disgusting.  Take a bucket of about a equal mixture of hot water and white vinegar, a couple squirts of Dawn dish detergent, and let those hinges soak for a couple of hours.  I then took some steel wool and gave them a good scrub.

Although now cleaned I had no intentions of leaving the hinges with the bronze finish.  I bought a can of spray paint to match the color of the knobs I had bought.  Spray painting the hinges was pretty quick and easy, and very inexpensive compared to having to buy new ones.

Finished painted cabinet hinge

Painting the Cabinets

When you are deciding which paint to use, research what product will work best with what your painting.  Kitchen cabinets are a no expense to be spared kind of project so I bought Benjamin Moore Advance paint in a satin finish.  It was a little pricier than your average brand-$49 for the gallon.

I bought a good angled 2” brush and a few 6” foam rollers.  I have to say that the rollers put the paint on beautifully and in half the time as a brush.

This goes without saying but make sure you allow adequate dry time in between coats.  Also, lightly sand with 220 grit paper to get any clumps of paint smooth.

After you get the final coat on the cabinets, allow a few days before you attempt to hang them.  You really want to make sure they are completely dry because in the first few days they can easily be chipped.


Finished painted cabinets

I truly am so happy I decided to paint my kitchen cabinets!  My dark and dingy cabinets are no more!  I won’t lie to you that it is a lot of work and you have to prepare yourself to live without cabinet doors for a few weeks.  

One word of wisdom, I did have to enlist the help of my husband to rehang the doors.  Aligning them perfectly to get a good fit takes a little patience.

Repainting my kitchen cabinets I do not regret but don’t want to ever do again!

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8 thoughts on “How to Repaint Kitchen Cabinets

  1. Amazing job, Dana! I’ve been thinking about doing ours, but Shawn is fighting me on it. I’m going to bring him over soon so you can tell him how easy it was (wink, wink).

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