/ / How to paint your kitchen like the pro’s

How to paint your kitchen like the pro’s


Well hello there friends!  I’m finally sharing how I painted my kitchen with ya’ll!  I’ve had so many questions on the process we used and I’m just thrilled to have finally put together a tutorial for you.  If this is your first time visiting my blog and your here with the #chixwithtools series then welcome and I hope to see more of you;) As part of this series ill be showing the tutorial on my kitchen, but also specifically how to use a paint sprayer (which I absolutely love).  It might get a little dry at times, but I wanted to be very specific in the step by step process to ensure you of the best result!

When my husband and I purchased this home it was with the intent of doing some cosmetic remodeling.  This is a 5 year home for us, so the more projects we take on ourselves means more profit when we sell. The kitchen was number one on the list! Instead of replacing our kitchen cabinets, we made them new by painting them.  In the process, we did replace the kitchen hood, and added an upper stack of glass fronts to create a more custom look. To read about the complete kitchen transformation click here. For a tutorial on my brick backsplash click here.  From Red to White this kitchen got real Bright!


Is painting right for you?

Not all cabinets are worth painting.  They must be structurally sound and in good condition.  If your cabinets are oak or some other species with coarse grain and you want a smooth finish, you’ll have to fill the grain on the door panels, cabinet frames, and cabinet sides with a spackling compound.  In our case, the cabinets were knotty alder.  I did not want the knots to show through, so we did fill the knots with a spackling compound.  This nearly doubled the length of the project because sanding the compound takes a long time.  If you like the style of your cabinets and they’re in good shape, and your willing to invest the time to paint them, this project is for you!

Professional painters typically spray-paint doors because it produces and ultra-smooths finish.  In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to spray- paint your doors and drawers.  You can also spray the cabinets frames, sides and trim, but masking off the cabinet openings (AND THE REST OF THE KITCHEN) takes loads of time and effort.  Instead we brushed those areas.

All the materials you need to paint your cabinets are available at any Lowes or Home Depot.  Plan to spend 4-6 days to complete this job.  You will have to allow the paint to dry overnight between coats, and you can only paint one side of the doors per day.  And did I mention the prep work?!


screwdriver drill – removing cabinets and drawer fronts and removing and attaching hardware
Putty knife- spackling compound
Paint sprayer
Safety glasses
Shop vacuum – cleaning off sanding dust from cabinets and work area
Caulk gun – applying caulk to cracks and crevices


Painter’s tape
Masking paper – counters and floor
Cardboard- testing spray painter
Drop cloth
Plastic drop cloth
Brown Rosin paper – work area floor
320 grit sandpaper
Stain- blocking primer
spackling compound
Latex enamel – Paint for cabinets
100 grit sanding block or sponge – sanding cabinets after each coat of primer and paint


Step 1:
Remove all the cabinet doors and drawer fronts and hardware. Number them upon removal.  This will help you reinstall the right cabinets and drawers in the correct places.  I used painters tape to cover the assigned number written in the hinge hole.  If you don’t cover the number it will get painted over.  Photo example: U3 for upper 3rd cabinet from left to right.

Step 2:
Clean all cabinets.  Using a degreaser like mineral spirits or warm water and dish detergent, wash away years of kitchen grease.  If you do not clean off the grease the primer and paint won’t adhere.

Step 3:
Take the cabinet doors and drawers to your designated work area.  We set up shop in our unfinished basement (aka The Dungeon).  A garage would work great too.  Use plastic sheeting to mask off your work area.  This will contain the sanding dust and paint particles from spreading all over your house or workspace.  Spread out all your doors and drawers a painters drop cloth or canvas.  Its surprising how much room they take!  Prep your kitchen by taping off everything that abuts the cabinets.  Use 1-mil plastic sheeting or brown masking paper to cover appliances and countertops.

Step 4:
Repair problem spots. Using a spackling compound, fill in any hole, knots, dings, or blemishes.  As I mentioned above, our cabinets had a lot of knots to fill.  Yours may not have any…if your lucky!  Work the compound into the damaged area with a putty knife.  Fill in holes from hardware if your planning to replace hardware and need holes in different places.  I used the same hardware, so I did not do this.  Using 320 grit sandpaper smooth out the spackling until you reach the desired look and feel.


Step 4:
Lightly sand all the cabinet doors, drawers, frames, and sides using 320 grit sandpaper.  Sand just enough to take off the shine.  You don’t need to sand off all the finish.  Vacuum dust off all the wood and wipe down with a damp cloth.  Just before you are ready to apply the primer, wipe down all surfaces with a tack cloth.  This will remove the fine duct particles.

Husband and his brother helping sand patches and cabinets
in the dungeon.


sanding the cabinets
wiping down with tack cloth.  You can see the new hood and upper cabinets
are raw wood so no sanding nessessary!

Step 5:
Remove the drop clothes covered in sanding dust from the work space. Shake then off outside. Cover floor in heavy duty brown paper.  Lay each door and drawer face down with enough distance between to step.

Remove any plastic or paper covering the kitchen counters and replace with a fresh set prepping for primer.

Step 6:
Apply a stain killing primer to cabinet frames and sides using a brush.  Don’t worry about brush strokes in the primer or getting a uniform finish.  You will remove them later using sandpaper. Do not use a roller.  It leaves a texture that will affect the finish.  Once the primer is dry (about 2 hours) lightly sand the cabinet frames and sides.  Remove any brush strokes and patches that need more attention. Brush on one more coat of primer to all frames and sides.  Sand away any brush stokes and let dry overnight.


We brushed on all the primer except on the inside of this cabinet above the microwave and the flat wall against the fridge.  I used a foam roller there to demonstrate the difference.  You DO NOT want to use a roller no matter what employees at the hardware store tell you!  It will NOT give you the smooth finish you are looking for!

Step 7:
Caulk all cracks and crevices between cabinets and trim.  Apply the caulk with a caulking tool and follow up using your finger to smooth out the line.


Step 8:
Break out the spray gun and the awesome suit! Don’t be jealous of my fly outfit, you’ll be getting your own soon enough!  Before spray priming your cabinet doors and drawers, make sure your work area is sealed off with the plastic sheeting to contain the airborne spray. Open a window or turn on a fan to ventilate the room.  Fill the spray container with the primer.  Trust me, airborne paint goes everywhere, so whether you buy a get up like this, you’ll want to cover yourself with clothes that you don’t mind throwing away.

It gettin’ hot in here

Test the spray pattern on cardboard, keeping the nozzle 10-12 inches from the cabinet surface.  Move your entire arm (not wrist). Practice spraying on the cardboard to get a feel for the sprayer.  When your ready to paint, set a block of wood under each door and drawer to elevate them off the paper.  I used plastic cups because we have a lot of those!  This will prevent pools of primer from drying on the edges of the cabinets.

Make sure the cabinets are face down. Spray the back of the cabinets first.  This lets you get used to spraying before you prime the front.  Start by spraying the edges… Top, side, bottom, side! Move your arm across the entire edge of the door, starting the spray before the paint lands on the door and keep spraying past the end.  Keep the nozzle 10-12 inches from the door.  After painting all four edges, start at the top of the door and spray in a sweeping motion back and forth, moving down just enough each time to overlap the previous pass by 50% until you reach the door bottom.  This technique will prevent streaks.  Let the primer dry overnight.

My husband grew up painting for his father, so he was my mentor through this whole project!  I’ve refinished and painted countless pieces of furniture with a brush, but this was my first time using the gun! I was intimidated at first, but after a couple of practice strokes I was hooked!  It really is an easy and fun tool to use.  I promise if you follow these instructions, you will be happy with the result!
Step 9:
Apply the first coat of paint on the cabinet frames and sides with a brush.  Use a gloss or semigloss latex enamel paint for your cabinets.  Its hard, shiny finish resists stains and fingerprints. I used Whisper White enamel paint by Sherwin Williams.
Pour a gallon of the paint into a bucket and thin it with a cup of water.  This levels out the paint when its applied which helps prevent brush and lap marks. Let dry overnight and repeat until you’ve reached the desired  coverage.
I know right…Look at that mess! Needless to say we ate out for a wk strait

Step 10:

Turn over the cabinet doors and drawers. Fronts facing up.  Place on cups or blocks and repeat step 8.  Let dry overnight.
Step 11:
If necessary, patch the primed cabinet doors and drawers with a spackling compound using a putty knife. Again, our cabinets are a knotty alder so we had to patch a few times. You may not need too.  Sand down until smooth.  Lightly sand both front and back of each door and drawer with a fine grit sanding block.  Caulk all seams and corners using the same technique shown above. Let caulk dry then wipe down with a tack cloth to remove any sanding particles.

If you don’t fill in knots, this will be your result.

Step 12:
Fill the spray container with the chosen paint.  Make sure all your cabinet doors and drawers are lined  up face down.  Place them on blocks or plastic cups.  Using the same technique, spray the paint on the doors (See step 8).  Don’t worry about areas that are lightly covered.  You’ll give everything a second coat.  If you catch paint runs while they’re still wet, gently brush them out with a paintbrush. Let the cabinet doors and drawers dry overnight before repeating this process on the fronts!

Step 13:
Make sure there are no drips that need to be sanded off the cabinets and drawers.  If everything looks good, spray the second coat of enamel paint on the back side of each cabinet door and drawer. Let dry overnight.

Flip cabinet doors and drawers so front side is facing up and spray with the second coat of paint.  Let dry overnight.

Step 14:
When the doors are dry, install the hardware and hang the doors.  If any paint seeped into the hinge holes, scrape it out so the hinges will fit snugly.

If you’ll have any questions along the way, please don’t hesitate to ask!  This project was a big undertaking, but totally worth it and I would do it again in a heart beat.  Make sure to sign up for my email list so you don’t miss any of my DIY projects.  You can sign up on my home page where it says “SUBSCRIBE”.  Good luck on your upcoming project and feel free to email me pics or tag me on Instagram with your newly painted kitchen.  I’d love to see!

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  1. Do you have any suggested brands or types of paint brushes to use for the cabinet frames? I wasn't sure if an angled brush and a flat brush are both needed.

  2. Love your blog! And love the tutorial. I love DIY, and I've been wanting a paint sprayer. Wondering if you have any advice on a good sprayer that won't break the bank?? Thanks!

  3. I used a commercial brand that my father in law had, but here are a ton of great hand held ones out there. I haven't used them so i couldn't recommend one over the other. sorry

  4. Hi love all your projects interested in the brick wall what products did you use?

    1. Hey jeanne
      Thanks so much. If you look on the brick veneer backsplash tutorial I have everything you would need there! Its pretty easy. Good Luck!

  5. Hi. Im in awh. This came out amazing. I noticed the inside of your cabinets were white so you did not have to mess or paint in there. Any tips on painting the inside of the cabinets if not already white?

    1. Hi Anelinque thank you for stopping in! I just used a foam roller and painted the outside white to match trim work in my house. The color was so close anyway to the ikea white anyway. Are you starting with the white ikea billy bookcases as well?

  6. Hi Mysha, I really like what you do and how i wish you would have a YouTube recording all steps for the remodeling kitchen. Perhaps, I find it rather difficult to follow after reading the whole lot of information and doubt if one step goes wrong ***Dah **** I think you and your husband did a perfect job and you guys are rock! But for me, I wanted so much to transform my kitchen but i dont have so much help from my husband. So I don’t know if I could manage to paint the kitchen and wall by myself. Would you be able to give consultation?

    1. HI grace. I’m so glad you liked our kitchen transformation. I do take consultations. Are you wanting one just for your kitchen?

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