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How To Paint Kitchen Cabinets Professionally Step-By-Step

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Today I am sharing how to paint kitchen cabinets professionally step-by-step and why we decided to update our 2000’s kitchen with paint. If you are tired of your dark outdated kitchen and looking to remodel on a budget, then painting kitchen cabinets gray is the perfect solution!

While this home improvement project can seem like a daunting task, with the right tools and know-how, you can have the job done in no time. As you can see below the before and after is nothing short of amazing.

Below is our early 2000’s kitchen with dark stained cabinets.

how to paint kitchen cabinets and modernize dark 2000 's cabinets to a light gray paint
our early 2000’s kitchen was dark and dated and painting the cabinets gray was the best decision ever

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.

Our newly painted gray kitchen cabinets with white quartz countertops provides an updated and much brighter kitchen space!

how to paint kitchen cabinets like a pro
how to paint kitchen cabinets professionally

If the before and after of our kitchen doesn’t motivate you to modernize your dated kitchen cabinets with a fresh coat of paint, I don’t know what will!

Are you ready to paint your kitchen cabinets like a pro?

We did end up hiring a professional painter for this project as we didn’t have the time necessary to get the job done in a timely manner. You can definitely paint your cabinets if you have the

Let’s dive into the exact process of how we transformed our early 2000’s dark cabinets into modern bright kitchen cabinets with light grey paint.

Painting Kitchen Cabinets For Beginners

The first thing you need to do, especially as a beginner, is do your research! Be sure to answer these questions below before getting started.

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. Be sure to address any repairs before painting.
  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. We picked a light gray cabinet color as gray is timeless and provides a bright modern look.
  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: Cabinet painting can be a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. Consider the amount of time you’re willing to invest in a diy project, as well as your budget for materials and tools (like a paint sprayer) needed for the job.

How To Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Is hiring a professional cabinet painter worth the money?

In my opinion yes!

Unless you have the time and proper tools to achieve the best results, it’s a good idea to hire a pro. It was well worth the extra money in my opinion.

Step 1: Remove Cabinet Doors

Start by removing all the doors, shelves, drawer fronts, and hardware from your cabinets. Store them in a basement or a spare room, ensuring the temperature is stable until you’re ready to paint.

prepping-stained-kitchen-cabinets-for-paint-with-paper-taped-to-floors-and-counters
how to paint kitchen cabinets by removing all the doors and drawers

Step 2: Prepare Kitchen For Paint

It is imperative that you protect your countertops, cabinet openings and floors with heavy duty paper and painters tape (the blue tape). You can find the large rolls of paper and painters tape at any local home improvement store.

how to paint kitchen cabinets professionally
painting kitchen cabinets professionally requires a lot of prep work

Our cabinet painters wrapped all of our lighting and appliances in plastic as well.

Step 3: Patch Holes

Patch any holes or deep scratches with wood filler. If you’re installing in new hardware or hinges, fill the old holes too, unless your new hardware matches the old holes perfectly.

lightly sand painted cabinets how many coats of paint for kitchen cabinets
filling in holes with wood filler is a key step to painting kitchen cabinets like a pro

Step 4: Lightly Sand

Lightly sand (100-150 grit) to break any gloss sheen from stain and clean with a damp cloth removing all dust and allow the cabinets to dry before adding first coat of primer

Step 5: Apply 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 water based, oil-based and shellac based primer.

  • First, if you are painting over dark cabinets, apply a coat of Stain Blocking BIN Primer (shellac base). This helps block the dark stain from coming through. Allow 24 hours to dry before applying next coat.
  • Second, apply a coat of INSL-X STIX primer. This primer has a durable finish and prevents the paint from coming off when you clean the cabinets with water. Allow 24 hours to dry.
APPLY-1-COAT-STIX-PRIMER
STIX kitchen cabinet primer is the best for a professional finish

Step 6: Paint Cabinets

Our professional painter recommended Benjamin Moore Advance as the best paint for kitchen cabinets.

We did opt to spray the kitchen cabinets with a paint sprayer as we wanted a “factory finish.”

For the best results, allot 24 hours between all coats of paint for drying time.

how to paint kitchen cabinets with a paint sprayer
How to paint kitchen cabinets with a paint sprayer

The painters applied the first coat of gray paint using a paint sprayer.

how to paint kitchen cabinets with gray paint
Be sure to smooth the brown wood filler before painting kitchen cabinets

Allow 24 hours for the first coat of paint to dry and then assess your cabinets.

If you see any small dings or scratches, refill with wood filler and sand. Then apply a second coat of paint.

best kitchen cabinet paint brand
how to paint kitchen cabinets like a pro with a paint sprayer

Step 7: Paint Doors & Drawer Fronts

It’s best to use a paint sprayer to paint your cabinet doors and drawer fronts if you have the space.

Follow the same process as above with 1 coat Bin, 1 coat Stix and 2 coats paint for all doors and drawer fronts. Be sure to allow 24 hours of drying time in between each coat of paint.

Our cabinet painters set up a paint booth tent in the garage to keep the overspray from the sprayer contained which worked out great. The paint tents come in a variety of sizes too!

For more details, read this post, how many coats of paint for kitchen cabinets for a professional finish.

Step 8: Install Doors and Hardware

Once the doors and drawers have had 24 hours to dry, add new hardware and hang cabinet doors.

how to paint kitchen cabinets like a pro
how to paint kitchen cabinets like a pro

We did replace all of our hardware and installed new soft close hinges which made the cabinet doors look and feel brand new. Read this post, how to choose kitchen cabinet hardware for more inspiration.

Best Paint For Kitchen Cabinets

What paint do professionals use on kitchen cabinets?

As I mentioned above, we used Benjamin Moore Advance Paint in a satin finish.

We opted to not use oil-based paint due the excess fumes.

You will find several different opinions about latex paint vs oil-based in honestly, it’s a matter of preference.

They both have pros and cons so do your research, an pick the one that best suits your needs.

We picked Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray as the cabinet paint color because it’s a timeless neutral gray that would also brighten up our kitchen.

Mindful Gray SW

slightly warm undertone

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.

If you are unsure of what color you want, head to your local paint store and browse paint swatches and purchase a handful of sample colors to test in your home.

If you are looking for the best gray cabinet color, read the post called 7 best grey kitchen cabinet colors for more inspiration.

Sherwin-Williams-Mindful-Gray-Painted-Kitchen-Cabinets
how to paint kitchen cabinets in Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray 7016

How To Get a Smooth Finish When Painting Kitchen Cabinets

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 strokes entirely, the best way is to spray paint (like we did) instead of using 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.

What Do Professional Painters Use To Paint Cabinets?

Let’s recap all of the products that our painters used to paint our cabinets.

  1. Use a paint sprayer. You can find my “paint sprayer review” from last week for all the details on our sprayer.
  2. Brushes and rollers. Good quality brushes and rollers on hand for painting your cabinet doors (or any other areas) are a must. Cheap brushes or rollers may seem like a more economical option, but they won’t do your project any favors in the long run.
  3. Benjamin Moore Advance Paint
  4. Stain Blocking Bin Primer
  5. INSL-X cabinet primer

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.

You can find all of our paint supplies on our Amazon Paint Storefront.

Painted Kitchen Cabinets Before and After

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

Below is the kitchen after we painted the cabinets and installed new white quartz countertops and quartz backsplash.

grey kitchen cabinets with white countertops
best how to paint kitchen cabinets guide

Another view below of the cooktop and range hood before we painted the cabinets.

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

The newly painted grey kitchen cabinets with white countertops is nothing short of amazing!

grey painted kitchen cabinets and white countertops
grey painted kitchen cabinets with white countertops

You can take a tour of our new kitchen by reading this post, grey kitchen cabinets with white countertops to see more before and after pictures.

Curious about how long it takes to paint kitchen cabinets? The entire paint job took about 7 days and the drying time in between coats is what takes the longest.

For those of you curious about our new black lantern lighting, we have the 6 light black lantern that is approx. 21″ high.

With proper preparation and care, painting kitchen cabinets can be relatively easy and very rewarding! If you missed any of our kitchen renovation series or curious about how to hire a kitchen cabinet painter, see all of the posts are listed below.

How To Paint Kitchen Cabinets Step By Step Printable Guide

How to paint kitchen cabinets by applying 1 coat BIN, 1 coat STIX and 2 coats Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray
Print Instructions
Sherwin-Williams-Mindful-Gray-Painted-Kitchen-Cabinets

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.
    prepping a kitchen before painting cabinets

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
    best kitchen cabinet paint brand
  • After 24 hours of drying time, lightly sand with 220 grit any imperfections
    lightly sand painted cabinets how many coats of paint for kitchen cabinets
  • Apply 2nd coat of Advance paint – mindful gray
    Sherwin-Williams-Mindful-Gray-Painted-Kitchen-Cabinets

Video

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
Author: Jessica Bruno

Meet Jessica

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.

7 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! 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    You are awesome!! I wish I had your confidence to actually choose a cabinet color. Our cabinets are a ginger glaze on maple with Zodiaq Smokey topaz tops from Home Depot. I WANT to paint the cabinets a soft white without yellow. We need to keep the counter tops for now & I have no idea what color backsplash??
    Help?? Suggestions‼️

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