How To Paint Kitchen Cabinets Professionally

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Today I am sharing how to paint kitchen cabinets professionally and why we decided to update our kitchen with paint. If you are tired of your outdated kitchen and looking to remodel on a budget, then painting kitchen cabinets is the perfect solution! Painting kitchen cabinets can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and know-how, you can have the job done in no time. Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to giving your kitchen cabinets a fresh look.

A couple of weeks ago, I shared our kitchen renovation plans and why we decided to keep our existing cabinets. Many of you were as excited as me to see the update but a few of you were skeptical about painting over the stained existing cabinets. I promise, the after will be amazing and if you have dated dark cabinets, this renovation series may help you pull the trigger on your own kitchen remodel!

Here is the kitchen after the second coat of paint and I cannot even tell you how excited this makes me!

Sherwin-Williams-Mindful-Gray-Painted-Kitchen-Cabinets
Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray 7016

FAQs about Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Spraying kitchen cabinets with a professional grade paint sprayer is the best method to get a professional looking finish.

Depending on how much natural light your kitchen gets should play a key role in what color to paint kitchen cabinets. Lighter paint colors like, white and light gray will help make the space feel bigger and brighter. Also, consider whether you want a warm or cool toned color. Paint colors are shifting to a warmer more natural tone in 2023. Popular colors like Sherwin Williams Westhighland White, Chantilly Lace, Mindful Gray, deep navy and green tones.

We painted the inside of the kitchen cabinets that had glass doors the same color as the exterior cabinets. The cabinets that had solid doors, we left the original finish which was in great condition. It’s personal preference if you paint the inside but if budget is a concern, you do not need to paint the inside.

Painting Kitchen Cabinets For Beginners

5 Things To Consider Before Painting Kitchen Cabinets

  1. Cabinet Material: The type of material that your cabinets are made of can determine the kind of paint and primer you should use.
  2. Cabinet Condition: Before painting your cabinets, you’ll want to assess their condition.
  3. Color Choice: Choosing the right color for your cabinets can make a big difference in the overall look of your kitchen. Consider the style of your kitchen and your personal preferences when selecting a color.
  4. Prep Work: Proper preparation is key to a successful painting project. This includes cleaning the cabinets thoroughly, removing all hardware, sanding down any rough spots, and applying a primer before painting.
  5. Time and Budget: Painting kitchen cabinets can be a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. Consider the amount of time you’re willing to invest in the project, as well as your budget for materials and tools needed for the job.

I considered painting our kitchen cabinets myself and Jim quickly convinced me it was a massive undertaking that I didn’t have time for and after watching the kitchen cabinet painters tackle the paint job, I am so glad we hired a professional. You can definitely paint your kitchen cabinets yourself, just be mindful of the time commitment!

I followed the painters around like a hawk taking notes, video and pictures so I could easily share this step by step painting tutorial with all of you, and it’s really a very simple process.

Our original kitchen below was certainly fine the way it was and some of you are probably going to be disgusted that we painted it but honestly, it was just too dark and dated for my taste.

Simple Rustic Modern Fall Decor {Our Mediterranean Home Fall Tour} Neutral colored pumpkins, greenery, fall pillows and dried flowers #falldecor #rustic #modern #rusticmodern #livingroom #kitchen #diningroom #openconcept #bhg #gofinding #hgtv #sectional #diningtable #slipcoveredchair

We did opt to have the entire kitchen sprayed as we wanted a “factory finish.” It was a little more money but in my opinion, well worth it. Towards the end of the post, you will find all of the source links, including the sprayer they used.

Best Paint For Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen Cabinet Paint

When it comes to painting kitchen cabinets, you have several options in terms of paint types. Latex paints are popular because they are easy to clean up and provide excellent coverage on wood surfaces.

However, if you want that extra shine (I did not want shine) and durability, then consider using an oil-based enamel paint instead. Once you’ve chosen your paint type, pick out a color that goes well with the rest of your kitchen décor.

Best Paint Finish for Kitchen Cabinets

Be sure to consider sheen when picking your paint. We didn’t want a high gloss finish (gloss and semi-gloss paint are easier to clean) so we opted to use Benjamin Moore Advance paint in a satin sheen. We picked Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray as the cabinet color because it’s a light neutral gray and added a pop of color to the wall and trim color. Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams share formulas so they can match each other’s colors if needed.

Mindful Gray SW

Order Sample Here ↗

I purchased a small sample size of the paint and also had them cut the color by 50% to make it a little lighter. Here are both of my samples below.

You will notice above that the one on the left is a smidge lighter but we decided that the full 100% SW Mindful Gray would add the right amount of color we wanted in the kitchen.

When we started our kitchen renovation, we originally planned on painting our cabinets white but once all the trim work and interior doors were painted white, we realized we needed some color!

How To Get a Smooth Finish When Painting Kitchen Cabinets

The most important part of painting your kitchen cabinets is the preparation.

How do you prep cabinets for paint? Start by removing all doors, drawers, hardware, and shelves from your cabinets. Clean off any dirt and then sand down any rough spots or areas that have been exposed to water damage. Once you’ve prepped your cabinets, it’s time to move on to the primer.

Primer helps create a smoother surface for the paint to adhere to, which will result in better coverage overall. There are several types of primers ranging from waterbase, oil-based and shellac base primer.

We found the best cabinet primer to be:

  • 1 coat of Zinsser BIN – Shellac Based
  • 1 coat of Insl-X STIX – Urethane Acrylic Waterborn

Some could argue that we didn’t need to use the first coat of BIN but we opted to as our cabinets were very dark stain and we wanted to ensure proper coverage. The second coat of STIX primer allows for a harder finish and prevents the paint from coming off when you clean the cabinets with water.

Best Cabinet Paint

Our cabinet painters recommended Benjamin Moore Advance paint as our finish coat. When painting cabinets, you need to consider a high quality paint that adheres properly to wood and not a wall. Features such as:

  • Outstanding application and feel
  • Excellent coverage and hide
  • Cures to a hard, furniture-quality like finish

How To Paint Kitchen Cabinets Without Brush Marks

As mentioned earlier, preparation is key when painting kitchen cabinets. Sandpaper or a sander will help to smooth out any bumps or scratches. Be sure to fill any cracks or dings with a quality wood filler. This will help ensure that the paint goes on smoothly and evenly without leaving brush marks.

If you want to avoid brush marks entirely, you can always opt for spray paint (like we did) instead of traditional brushes. Spray paint makes it easy to get into all the nooks and crannies of your cabinet doors, giving them an even coat without any visible lines or streaks. Just be sure to wear protective equipment when spraying so that fumes don’t get in your eyes or lungs.

Our cabinet painters swear this is the best paint sprayer for cabinets and it seemed to work great! I am sure they were annoyed with all my videos and pictures by the end of the project! Read our “paint sprayer review” from last week for more details.

Finally, make sure you have good quality brushes and rollers on hand for painting your cabinet doors (or any other areas). Cheap brushes or rollers may seem like a more economical option, but they won’t do your project any favors in the long run. Quality brushes will help ensure that each stroke leaves a uniform finish without any brush marks. We find that this Purdy brush works great and this is the best roller for painting cabinets.

How To Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Print Instructions
How to paint kitchen cabinets by applying 1 coat BIN, 1 coat STIX and 2 coats Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray
Author Jessica Bruno

Instructions: Step by Step

  • Set up a flat dry surface for cabinet doors (a basement that is room temperature is a good option)
    prepping-stained-kitchen-cabinets-for-paint-with-paper-taped-to-floors-and-counters
  • Remove cabinet doors, shelves, drawers and hardware

Prep Cabinets For Paint

  • Protect the surround area in the kitchen by applying floor paper to ceiling, floor, counters and backsplash.
  • Use plastic and tape to cover the openings to cupboards and drawers
  • Fill any holes or deep scratches with wood filler and sand
  • Clean cabinets and lightly sand (100-150 grit) to break any gloss sheen from stain and clean with a damp cloth removing all dust and allow to dry.

Prime Cabinets – Primer acts as a protective layer between the paint and wood so that moisture doesn't penetrate through to the surface of the cabinet

  • Apply 1 coat of Zinsser BIN primer (can't be sprayed)
    zinsser bin primer
  • Use both brushes and rollers when applying the paint—brushes will help get into tight corners while rollers will provide an even coating over larger areas
  • After first coat of BIN primer, caulk all seams/joints and fill with wood filler all cracks and holes
    CAULK-ALL-SEAMS-ON-CABINETS
  • Once dry, lightly sand any imperfections or rough spots from first coat of primer
    1-coat-mindful-gray-paint-on-dark-stained-kitchen-cabinets
  • Apply 1 coat STIX primer with sprayer, brush or roller
    Insl-x cabinet primer
  • Once primer is dry, clean and fill any remaining cracks or holes with wood filler and sand
    APPLY-1-COAT-STIX-PRIMER

Paint Cabinets with Finish Paint

  • Apply 1 coat of Advance paint – mindful gray
    spraying cabinets with graco magnum airless spray machine
  • After 24 hours of drying time, lightly sand with 220 grit any imperfections
    lightly sand painted cabinets
  • Apply 2nd coat of Advance paint – mindful gray
    Sherwin-Williams-Mindful-Gray-Painted-Kitchen-Cabinets

Tips

1.Be sure to wait 24 hours in between drying times to ensure proper adhesion for next coat.
2. When painting over stained cabinets, you may have a lot of seams/joints where paint will seep into, be sure to fill those with a quality caulking and let dry before applying paint
You can find all of our paint supplies on our Amazon Storefront

As you can see, the color change is drastic and the kitchen is so much brighter! The cabinet doors were also sprayed and still need to be hung. We decided to purchase new soft close hinges and cabinet hardware that are arriving soon. Jimbo is very excited to drill new hinge holes and hang them! -haha. (just kidding – he’s dreading it)

Here is another picture of the kitchen before we painted the cabinets.

dark cherry kitchen cabinets, brown granite, dark cherry floors
cherry stained kitchen cabinets with granite counters

Reveal Update: See our painted kitchen cabinets in Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray with new quartz countertops. Here is a sneak peek below!

Cabinet Hardware Related: How to Choose Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

sherwin williams mindful gray kitchen cabinets
Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray

Shop Our Lighting

The lighting has been updated to an oversized black lantern which is classic and simple. We have the 6 light black lantern that is approx. 21″ high.

We removed the backsplash last week and the new countertops will be installed by the end of this month. I will share a post soon on the counters we picked as well as the backsplash – it’s going to look amazing! Be sure to check out how to remove a granite countertop to see how we got it removed without breaking it!

The floor has also been refinished to it’s natural wood tone and I cannot even believe how much brighter and modern the space looks. Full reveal soon!

Here is another before picture of the cooktop wall featuring the stained cabinets and backsplash.

mediterranean kitchen with dark cherry cabinets
dark stained kitchen cabinets with Mediterranean tile backsplash

So what do you think?

Did we make the right choice by painting our stained kitchen cabinets gray?

Click through this post, kitchen cabinet hardware, if you are curious about how stainless steel pulls look in our kitchen!

With proper preparation and care, painting kitchen cabinets can be relatively easy—and very rewarding! The key is taking the time to properly prep your cabinets (especially stained kitchen cabinets) before beginning any work and making sure each step is completed thoroughly before moving on to the next one.

If you are struggling with whether your should keep or replace your cabinets, read our recent post “updating a kitchen without removing your cabinets,” about why we decided to not replace our cabinets.

Painting old kitchen cabinets especially dated stained cabinets, is a great way to give your home an upgrade without breaking the bank – but it does require some effort and patience! By following these steps correctly, though, you should be able to achieve professional looking results with ease. So gather up all of your supplies and get ready for few days full of DIY fun!

Pssst…. did you know we have an Amazon Storefront now (read that post here)? You can shop all of our home decor & so much more! It doesn’t cost you any more or less money to shop from our Amazon Store 🙂 Any commissions we make, are paid by the brand and they help pay for monthly fees to keep the blog up and running 😀.

About The Author

What started as a hobby, Jessica’s blog now has millions of people visit yearly and while many of the projects and posts look and sound perfect, life hasn’t always been easy. Read Jessica’s story and how overcoming death, divorce and dementia was one of her biggest life lessons to date.

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6 Comments

  1. Gail bobbitt says:

    Was hesitate but WOW WOW it looks wonderful.

  2. Sandi Teller says:

    WOW Jessica your vision is turning out fabulous. I can’t wait to see the backsplash and countertops. On here it almost looks pale sun drenched blue beach feel it’s just stunning.

  3. Tina Rowe says:

    This looks amazing! I’m getting ready to tackle my kitchen cabinets. Although my cabinets aren’t stained, they have been painted over numerous times by previous owners! They even left the hardware in 😛

    1. oh wow!! I bet if you remove the hardware and install new it will look like a million bucks! 🙂