How I Painted My Kitchen Cabinets


We moved into a mid-century modern style house built in 1954, that was remodeled in the early nineties.  I LOVE the kitchen. It is large with lots of cabinets and tons of natural light.  I didn’t, however, love the color of the cabinets, or the countertops for that matter (that is another huge project to be tackled at a later date).  They were an odd kind of beachy/salmon color.  So, I decided to paint them!

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I found examples of what others did, ranging from just wiping down the cabinets with vinegar and painting them directly, to sanding them down and completely refinishing them.  Being short on time, I went with the easy route, and here we are a year later, I am happy with how they have held up.  This is what I did:

Step 1: Label Each Cabinet Door

I would have had a total mess on my hands had I not done this.  I drew a rough diagram of the cabinets and numbered them, and then labeled them accordingly with masking tape so that when I was done with each one, I knew exactly where it belonged.  It was especially important in our case, because we had a lot of similar-but-slightly-different panels.

Step 2: Remove Cabinet Doors & Hardware


Once they are labeled, remove them and keep the hardware/screws neatly together where you can find them.

Step 3: Clean Cabinets

For this, I used TSP.  I found this stuff to be pretty easy to work with.  Wear gloves! I like that it doesn’t have an odor really.  It is deceptive in that it doesn’t look like a cleaner – it has no odor, and there are no bubbles.  But, it sure does work!  I made sure to rinse thoroughly, otherwise I was told the paint would not adhere very well.  Since my cabinets are not solid wood, they are veneer, I did not want to sand them.  Plus I quite honestly didn’t want to do that much work, being pregnant, and having two little ones to wrangle.  I actually tried sanding and priming the first two cabinets, and wished I hadn’t because the finish isn’t as smooth as the others that I did nothing to!


Step 4: Paint

I brought home several paint samples and ended up going with BEHR ULTRA “Silky White”, in Satin as recommended by another blogger.  At first I thought I wanted something stark white.  Like as white as possible, no tint at all.  But, I brought it home and painted the first two and it felt too cold.  Although I wanted a stark white, the Silky White just looked nicer, and it was still a very bright white.  Plus, with a little bit of tint added, the coverage was better.

Also, I bought the best paint with primer all in one, BEHR’s ULTRA.  Yes, I paid more but it made the job so much easier!  I only did one coat.  Seriously.  Granted my cabinets were already a somewhat light color, so if you are doing a big color change you might need two coats.

After painting each one using a 4″ foam roller designed for cabinets, I hovered them on top of some books in a spare bedroom to dry so the wet edges did not touch the floor.  Once dried, I flipped them over to paint the other side.

While the cabinet doors were drying, I painted the cabinet frames and trim, using the same foam roller as much as possible, which makes it so much easier and cleaner looking.


Step 5: Install ~ voila!

This part was super easy.  Just screw them back on.  And because I labeled them, it was easy peasy.

Step 6: Finish it off

Our cabinets actually didn’t have any hardware on them to start, but I definitely wanted handles.  Constantly touching white cabinets to open them? No, thank you.  I really like the more modern style handles we got on Amazon.  Buy them on Amazon!  These same handles were *twice* as much money at Lowes and Home Depot, and they are exactly the same.

I am really happy with how the cabinets turned out. Big impact for not much money.  It took more time than I initially thought it would, but it was so worth it!!!

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