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. My cabinets were smooth so there aren’t any wood grains to see, so keep that in mind. Wood grain texture will show through paint no matter what type of brush you use. Use a sponge roller brush for cabinets and a self leveling paint to make a smooth finish. I like Sherwin Williams Cashmere.

  2. I love it! I have been wanting to paint my kitchen cabinets but was scared. I think I will do it now. Thank you for the good tips.

  3. Your kitchen looks great. It doesn’t look like it but I’m just wondering if you have brush marks? I have maple cabinets. I’m thinking of painting them but I’m terrified of brush marks. I’m thinking between chalk paint and advance my B Moore. What type if cabinets do you have….maple, oak?

  4. Your kitchen looks great! I love the contrast. I have maple cabinets. I’m thinking of painting them. I’m terrified if leaving “brush marks.” It does not look like you have any. What’s your opinion on that? What type of cabinets do you have…maple, oak or something else?

  5. Yes, glaze will be water based. The glaze I always used was pre mixed until Valspar stopped supplying it locally or all together, unsure. You can mix your own with a latex paint if you find clear glaze. You have all of the steps correct except there is no need to seal over the glaze once finished. I have never sealed it and once it’s dry it is all good. I have many friends who love this brand so you many want to check them out. Here is an affiliate link for you to see

    Please let me know if you have any more questions. ~Sonya

  6. My wife and I just purchased a house and the kitchen cabinents are painted with white latex paint. We would like to glaze them but had a few questions. Is the glaze you use latex with latex color paint for the color? So we would need to clean the cabinents, mix the clear latex glaze with a colored latex paint, put the glaze on, and put a sealer on last?

    Thanks in advanced!

  7. Looks so good.My cabinets are white and need to repaint them. How do I get the raised edges to stand out more? I plan to use the paint that you used on yours.

  8. I wanted to ask how your kitchen is holding up? I am fixing to redo mine and I don’t want to spend the money on this paint if it isn’t going to hold up to the wear and tear a kitchen has to go through.

  9. I love the way these turned out, and we are planning to do the same to our kitchen. How has the paint/soft touch varnish help up since the makeover?

    Thanks for sharing your awesome tips!

  10. This tutorial is the best I’ve seen so far. It looks very simple. So my question is- is it really this easy and how long will it take? Did you remove your drawers as well? I love the finished product. Great job!

  11. LOL…I’m not sure which color you are asking about but here are the colors I have used before the current color…Mindful Gray then before that Hopsack, both Sherwin Williams colors. Hope this helps. ~Sonya

  12. HI! I love your kitchen makeover–so much work but so worth it!

    I was wondering if you could share the name of your “before”–not the “before the before”-HA!–wall paint color in your kitchen was…it’s exactly what I need in my kitchen! Thank you!

  13. Hi,
    I love what you did. I have just started using the chalk paint to paint my rental properties kitchens. I wonder if the varnish makes the color change over time? I would love to use it instead of the wax!!

  14. love your kitchen ! I would like to know what kind of kitchen sink you have it looks so perfect with your granite

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