Painted Kitchen Cabinets Tutorial

Full tutorial for painted kitchen cabinets including tips and tricks to get the job done faster. Paint is the best way to makeover any room in your home and can make the biggest impact.

**Post updated October 2019

This is my most up to date painted cabinets post. You may have been linked to this post from elsewhere on my blog. Therefore, some of the photos may be different. In an effort to stay current I wanted to use my most recent kitchen makeover photos.

Over the years I have painted more kitchen cabinets than I can remember. It is a labor intensive job. Mostly because the kitchen is the heart of the home and when it gets disrupted the rest of your life gets messy. Eating is important, right.

Secrets you should know

  • For this post, I am specifically talking about painting over already painted cabinets.
  • There will be lots of tips that will work for stained cabinets as well, especially the prep work.
  • When in doubt prime and/or sand first.
  • Unless you have multiple people helping you to bust through this in a weekend, plan for a full week of DIY. Allowing cabinet doors to dry before flipping over is very important and takes time.
  • Be prepared with meals for you and your family. Cook ahead of time or get pizza delivery. Makes your life much easier.
  • I do not paint the cabinet box interiors. Never have.


(There are some affiliate links provided in this post)

I often choose a paint and primer in one EVEN when I am using a primer. The extra coverage is always a good thing. As far as the brand, I like Behr Premium Plus, Sherwin Williams Cashmere, and Sherwin Williams HGTV Home. I have also heard great reviews of Benjamin Moore Advance but I have not used it. When choosing a brand I take into consideration, smell, coverage, and what store I am shopping that day. I am highly sensitive to smell so for me that is top priority.

The paint finish you choose is up to you. It will depend on how shiny you want your cabinets. I would choose a satin or semi gloss.

Keep in mind though, prep work is just as important as the type of paint. Paint can only stick to a well prepared surface.

If you are new to painting cabinets you may want to go with cabinet specific paint because of the self leveling nature.

Prep work

  1. Cleaning cabinets with a degreaser is a must. Follow directions on the bottle.
  2. Remove cabinet doors. Stack them up somewhere out of the way. Remove the hinges making sure to label them as to which door they go with. My trick is to put all of the specific door hardware in a ziploc bag and lay it back inside the cabinet box where that door goes.
  3. Prepare areas for painting the doors where you can leave them for a couple of days.
  4. Layout drop cloth before painting.
  5. After cleaning is done apply painter’s tape around the cabinet boxes if you are uncomfortable with your edging skills.

painted cabinets prep work


  1. Prime the cabinets. Zinsser Bullseye 123 water based is my go to. It will be up to you if you want to prime the boxes and cabinet doors at the same time. If you are living in the space while you paint determine what will work best and disrupt your space the least. Primer dries fast so there isn’t much wait time.
  2. Paint cabinets. I paint with both a brush and a foam roller. The brush is needed to get into some of the details. The foam roller is used to create the smooth paint finish. You can certainly use a paint sprayer but I prefer doing it with brush and roller. Spraying will have to be done in a well ventilated area, mostly like outside.
  3. When painting cabinet doors, allow paint to fully dry before flipping to the other side. This is why I always make sure the cabinet door front gets done last.
  4. Keep your paint brush wet at all times during the process. Wrap it in Cling Wrap during waiting times. If you need to carry on to the next day you can wrap as well but I suggest you go ahead and wash. This will help keep a good brush for good paint surface.
  5. Once paint totally dries reattach hinges and hand doors. Then put hardware back on doors and drawers.

Paint, prime, sand kitchen cabinets

Prime kitchen cabinets

Hiring a professional to paint kitchen cabinets can get very pricey. Think $2500 and up. If you have the desire to do it yourself I hope this tutorial is helpful.

DIY cabinet removal and heightened

Be sure to check out our entire kitchen makeover along with how we gave our cabinets a facelift.

Related Posts:

If you have any questions that I may not have covered, PLEASE feel free to ask!

AND if you aren’t already I would love for you to follow me on my social channels.

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Click PIN IT to save this graphic and post to your Pinterest boards. It helps me get the word out about my blog as well as save the project for when you are ready to paint.

How to Paint kitchen cabinets Pinterest graphic


  1. Thank you so much!! I’m going to try again 🙂 third times a charm, right?
    Your cabinets are exactly what I’m wanting!! Thank you for the inspiration! God Bless.

  2. For my cabinets I did not wipe the glaze all over, I didn’t want that dirty look either. I used a cheap sponge brush and wiped the glaze over the areas that had detail. I only let it sit for about 15 mins then I went back and wiped away the excess. I do wet my cloth when I wipe it away. This takes away all of the glaze except what has went into the cracks. Of course, don’t apply too much pressure or you will just wipe it all off. I use my finger a lot too. You can wipe the glaze directly in the cracks with just your finger.

  3. Your cabinets look very nice!! I love the finished look!
    So I’m in the process of doing my cabinets and I’m having trouble with the glaze. How did you get your glaze so perfect?? I need help! I’ve tried the all over and wipe off method and they looked too dirty (too much glaze). And I’ve tried with a all brush, but again, too dirty.
    Any step by step instructions for your perfect glaze 🙂
    Thank you!!!

  4. The glaze is simply amazing! that’s what I call a good paint job!

  5. Thanks for finally talking about >Painted Kitchen Cabinets <Liked it!

  6. I love what you did with your cabinets. We just moved into a new home and the kitchen is so dark. I really want to lighten it up but I am wondering if painting these dark cabinets an off-white color would work. Might have to spend for refacing. Just not sure what to do. Do your cabinets show brush marks? I see that you used a paint brush in the detailed ares.

  7. What was on the cabinets before you painted them? We’re they stained or painted?

  8. You are so sweet, thank you! I didn’t do anything after the glaze and I painted these cabinets 6 years ago this month!! YES, really that long and I still love them. The are very few little spots where paint has rubbed off around 2 drawers that are most used. I could just glaze over them but really no one notices! ~Sonya

  9. Hi, loved the kitchen color. Did you used anything after the glaze? Also how long ago did you painted your kitchen? Is it still ok? Sorry for to many questions. You did a great job!!!!!

  10. Hey Erin, I used the Raw Umber glaze that I bought from Lowe’s. If you buy the clear you will have to add paint to it in the color you are wanting it to be. I applied the glaze with an inexpensive chip brush in the areas that I wanted to accentuate. Then went back over it with a cloth to wipe off excess. Thanks for stopping by my blog! ~Sonya

  11. Hi Sonya,

    How did you apply the glaze? Was this painted only on the areas that had the details? Did you add color to your glaze?


  12. I’m sure it will. Depending on the grain in the wood they could look much different but the technique can still be used as long as you have places that the glaze will be picked up.

  13. My cabinets are around 30 years old and am wondering if that matters???

  14. Hey Jennifer, I did not prime or strip the cabinets. I can’t remember what exactly I used to clean them with but it would have been just a household kitchen degreaser. I used a glaze for the detailing. I listed what kind in the blog details. Thanks for stopping by! ~Sonya

  15. Hi Sonya,

    Great job. I’m interested in how your prepared the cabinets for painting? Did you use a primer or a stripper to remove the previous finish? Also, how do you get the brown effect in the edging of the cabinets? Did you rub those parts with a wax? Sorry if I’m sounding clueless. I’ve read so many different pins in painting cabinets and everyone seems to do it a different way.

    Many thanks, Jennifer

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