How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

How to paint kitchen cabinets is one of the most asked about topics I get in emails and comments here on my blog. I think mostly because many people would love a kitchen makeover yet they are on a tight budget. Painting your cabinets yourself is a great way to save money on a kitchen makeover.

How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets with Chalky Finish Paint

I saved BIG by painting my own cabinets in my kitchen makeover that I revealed in May.

For today’s post I’m going to show you how to paint kitchen cabinets with the paint I used this time around. I’m not an expert on all types of painted cabinets but I have painted enough to feel that I can offer you some great help.

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PREP WORK! Those 2 words are the what will make or break a beautiful paint job. The best part about chalky finish paint is priming and sanding are NOT necessary BUT cleaning is highly important. Kitchen cabinets get super dirty from grease, food and dust.

This is my favorite cleaner that does a great job. I shared more about that process in week 3 of this challenge as well. Make sure you wipe really well and don’t let any of the cleaner behind.

Kitchen Makeover Cabinet prep

This chalky finish paint has worked well for me on many projects so I decided to use it for my kitchen. My colors of choice were Carbon (black) and Primitive (soft gray) but there are many to choose from. The paint comes in smaller individual containers so make sure to get a larger container to mix them altogether. Don’t skip this step. You never know if any of the paint may have be off in color and that will ruin a kitchen makeover.

I painted my cabinets in 2 colors and I used 6 of each color in the 8 oz jars.

Chalky Finish Painted Cabinets

How to paint kitchen cabinets and mix paint

Painting cabinets will require you to remover the doors. It makes the job much easier. I paint the first coat with a paint brush then the second coat with a foam roller. This allows me to get a smooth finish.

Remove cabinet doors before painting

You can see in the below photo the difference in how my cabinets before and after painting the primitive color.

Painting Kitchen cabinets showing before and after progress

To seal the cabinets I used the Americana Soft Touch Varnish! I love this stuff!! The best part is that you can paint over it with chalky finish paint if and when you change your mind BUT the protection is fantastic.

The soft touch varnish goes on just like paint. It is white when wet but dries clear. I did two coats. It is advertised to be a great protections for painted outdoor furniture so I am putting it to the test soon and painting a glider I have on the deck!

Painting Cabinets with Soft Touch Varnish

The below picture is a great example of what to expect. The cabinets on the right that look dull are just the chalky finish paint. The left side has the wet soft touch varnish.

Painting Kitchen Cabinets with Chalky Finish Paint and Soft Touch Varnish

So far it has been a 5 weeks since I finished the cabinets and they look fantastic! The finish and colors made a huge difference and I am so happy with how they turned out.

FYI…I do paint both sides of the doors but I do not paint this inside boxes or shelves.

**UPDATE POST: Black Cabinets The Ugly Truth!

Kitchen Makeover Reveal with Painted Cabinets

How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets for makeover

I am working on a post for the blog all about painting kitchen cabinets. If you have anything you have ever wanted to know email me or leave your question in the comments.

If this inspires you, I’d love for you to subscribe to my blog by leaving your email above in the box at the top right! I am working on some new things and I’d love to share them with you!

**UPDATE POST: Black Cabinets The Ugly Truth!

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  1. Hi, I want to use the chalky paint but also color varnish over it, like your original paint job. I assume I do the varnish before I seal them?

  2. Did you use the wax & varnish or just the varnish. Just did out bathroom vanity & will tackle the kitchen this winter! Love your colors!

  3. Hi….I am dying to paint my cabinets with chalk paint however they are not oak more of a particle board stock home depot kitchen cabinets do you think using the chalk paint will work. I have alot of cabinets and the thought of priming and painting seems overwhelming!

  4. Your cabinets look great and your kitchen is beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Sounds lovely and the perfect time to try your hand at DIY! I hope you find some inspiration. Have a great day. ~Sonya

  6. I am planning on downsizing into an older bungalow which might require some decor and renovations. Also may get into furniture restorations as a hobby. So, I am interested in many DIY projects.

  7. The chalky finish paint will still stick to the surface but if you are ever in doubt you can always go over the gloss paint with a piece of sand paper. I don’t think you will need to but it never hurts.

  8. My cabinets are painted in semi gloss black. Will they need more prep work besides the cleaning?

  9. Paint and prep work will determine how well your paint will stay on your cabinets. The cabinets must be thoroughly cleaned. If you are ever in doubt you can use primer but if you use the chalky finish paint I used here it is not necessary.

  10. Hi Sonya,
    I’m looking into painting my cabinets as well. However my cabinets are a wood and how do I tell if the paint won’t peel off.


  11. The cabinets look great! I need to paint my old kitchen cabinets for my basement remodel and may try this. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Sonya, Love your kitchen cabinets makeover and all the tips. I need to repaint ours too. Thanks so much for linking up to the party and have a great week xo Lisa

  13. I know that’s a huge task. We are fixing our cabinets so I can paint them. I am considering chalk paint. Glad I saw how nice yours turned out! Can’t wait to see your tips.

  14. Hi there soon we’ll be moving into our new place and the kitchen needs a lot of TLC therefore this is something I may be trying also just so the kitchen doesn’t feel so outdated (because it definitely is =)) but thank you for sharing, seems totally easy enough, except for the fact that it may take some time to do, well worth it I’m sure!

  15. I painted the top cabinets with the primitive, soft gray color. They were antique white with glaze before. This time I went two toned with light on top and dark on bottom. Good luck with your own cabinets! ~Sonya

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