How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets White

*UPDATE: October 2018* Our kitchen is done! See the full post here.

Well, the day has FINALLY arrived! The project that I thought we’d finish over spring break (in March, LOL), was finally completed mid-April! We have FINISHED painting our kitchen cabinets! It’s made a huge impact and it cost significantly less than replacing them.

As with any new project, we did quite a bit of research on the proper way to paint cabinetry. We’ve made some mistakes painting furniture in the past so we wanted to make sure we did it the right way… especially since it’s in the kitchen and they need to be durable as heck!

Our kitchen cabinets were this mid-2000’s wood finish. To me, they look kind of cheap and super outdated. They also make the kitchen feel smaller than it could be.

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Gathering the Materials

Paint & Primer:

We did lots of research on the type of paint we wanted to use on the cabinets. Oil-based paints leave a nice finish, but they’re high in VOCs which are terrible for the environment and terrible for your lungs. We decided on a latex (AKA water-based) paint and chose…

  • Benjamin Moore ADVANCE Interior paint in White Dove with a satin finish. Tons of sites recommended it for cabinets because it cures to a really hard finish. It’s actually meant for kitchen cabinets! 1 gallon was more than enough for two coats of paint on all the surfaces. Find a Benjamin Moore retailer near you…
  • Benjamin Moore ADVANCE primer

Prepping & Painting Supplies

Finishing Supplies

Including all the supplies, paint, and cabinet hardware, this project cost us about $150. 

Day-By-Day Progress

  • Day 1: We removed all the rubber door bumpers and cleaned all the cabinetry with the TSP cleaner. It removes oil and grime without leaving a residue. After they were clean, we removed all the doors and drawer fronts. With a Sharpie, we numbered all the doors and drawer fronts so we could put them back in the right spot later. We wrote the numbers directly on the back of the drawer fronts and in the hole where the door hardware attaches so you couldn’t see it once re-installed.
    • Note: Our cabinets didn’t have a heavy gloss finish, so we chose not to use a deglosser.

  • Day 2: We hung up kraft paper on the inside of the cabinets so we didn’t have to take everything out. Once done, we sanded all the cabinet boxes and the doors with 220 grit sandpaper. Just enough to rough the surface to get the primer to stick. The palm sander worked well for the flat surfaces, but we had to go back with a sanding block to get the nooks and crannies. After sanding, we vacuumed up the dust and used a wet microfiber cloth to get them spotlessly clean.
  • Days 3-10 (because having a baby makes it hard to DIY): PRIMING! Using the paint brushes, we applied one layer of primer on the fronts of the doors and boxes. It’s important to get a consistent, semi-thick coat of primer to provide a good base for the paint. To elevate the doors and drawers, I used sample paint containers – this helped us get the sides of the doors without them touching the floor. Once they were dry (at least 6 hours), we flipped them over and primed the other side. It takes 8 hours to completely cure before applying paint, but that wasn’t an issue since we could only do work in 2-3 hour stretches. #parentlife

  • Days 10-30: Paint, paint, then paint some more! After a light post-primer sanding, we gave the cabinet boxes and every door/drawer at least 2 coats of paint, giving each coat at least 12 hours to dry. We made sure the paint was thick and smooth so it would leave a solid layer and prevent chipping. The Benjamin Moore paint dried beautifully and super hard – it doesn’t feel sticky like other latex paints tend to do.
  • Days 31-32: The home stretch! We put all the doors and drawers back on the hinges and attached all the hardware. My mom let us borrow her drill guide and it made the process go SO much faster – I highly recommend it (and it’s cheap!)! We also put new little rubber bumpers on the insides of the doors and drawers for a soft/protected close.

Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for…

Before & After Painted Kitchen Cabinets

how to paint kitchen cabinets white - before

how to paint kitchen cabinets white - after

The Sink Space

how to paint kitchen cabinets white - before sink area

how to paint kitchen cabinets white - after sink area

The Side Wall

how to paint kitchen cabinets white - before side wall

how to paint kitchen cabinets white - after side wall

I am THRILLED with the outcome of this project! I want to give a big ol’ shoutout to Andrew’s siblings, Phil and Charity, who spent a bunch of hours helping us clean and prime the cabinets. We would definitely still be working on this project if it weren’t for you two, haha!

Kitchen before and after painted cabinets

Hayley, are you done with the kitchen now?

Update 10/17/18 – The kitchen is DONE! See the full post here.

That’s a big ol’ NOPE! We aren’t stopping here! Last week we got dark grey granite installed on the outer countertops of the kitchen (yes, my kitchen already looks different than these photos, LOL!). Additionally, we still have to…

  • Install the subway tile backsplash
  • Paint all the blue walls grey to match the rest of the room
  • Replace the island countertop with butcher block
  • MAYBE add beadboard around the island, but we’re not sure yet!

I’ll share another when we get another item checked off our list, but in the meantime, keep up with our progress over on my Instagram. I’ve been trying to update every few days!

Thanks for stopping by! If you have any questions, leave ’em in the comments. I’m pretty good at responding. ๐Ÿ™‚

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25 thoughts on “How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets White”

  1. Pingback: Kitchen Renovation with Before and Afters - Hello Hayley Blog, DIY Tips

  2. Stephanie Split

    What color did you use for the blue on the walls? Looks beautiful!

    1. If you use the Benjamin Moore Advance paint, you donโ€™t need a top coat! Itโ€™s held up great.

  3. They look great! I have kitchen and bathroom cabinets that I want to paint. I just finished my dry bar cabinet, I sprayed chalk paint on with a sprayer that I bought because I didn’t want brush marks, (which I seem to get with chalk paint). Does the paint you used leave brush marks at all?

    1. Hi Rae Ann! The Benjamin Moore Advance paint is “self-leveling,” meaning it smooths itself out as a it dries leaving no brush marks. It’s amazing!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Amy Slavick

    I have read other people use chalk paint and wax to paint kitchen cabinets. Other then not having to sand, what is the difference of the two types of paint? I really need to paint mine! Yours look amazing!

    1. Hi Amy! Personally, I wouldn’t recommend chalk paint for kitchen cabinets. Chalk paint is great for dressers and other furniture that’s not “touched” a lot, but kitchen cabinets get SO much wear that the chalk paint + wax isn’t enough to give them the seal they need to keep the paint looking nice. After awhile, it will start to wear in places and may look dirty. The paint we used (Benjamin Moore ADVANCE) is specifically made for cabinets that get a lot of wear, so it dries with a super hard finish. Additionally, it doesn’t dry “sticky” like latex wall paint does. It’s also easy to wipe down and won’t stain. Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any further questions!

  5. Thank you so much for your post. What primer did you use? I don’t see it listed in the “primer paint” section above.

    1. Hi Karen! Itโ€™s actually the second bullet point in that section. We used the Benjamin Moore ADVANCE primer! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I wish I would have seen this years ago. We painted our old cabinets a taupe colour when it was in and they are all marked up and now the older colour brown on cabinets are starting to show through. Your’s looks amazing, great job!
    It may be time to do our again and use all of your tips. Thanks

    1. Oh no! Sounds like it’s time for a fresh coat. It’s a lot of work, but well worth it! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. We used White Dove by Benjamin Moore. You can see all the details under the section “Paint & Primer.”

  7. What an incredible difference! I love the white and blue – classic and gorgeous! I’d love to paint out my cabinets, but I’m so afraid I don’t have the patience!

  8. It’s amazing to me how much bigger your kitchen looks now. I know what you mean about having a schedule that’s three times longer with kids. When I DIY, my 10-year-old wants to help with *everything*, whether I want him to or not. ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh, and blue and white is definitely better than blue and brown. You made a great paint choice!

    1. Thank you!! Haha oh my, I think having a little helper would be nice! BUT, could definitely get annoying. Lol!!

  9. Eva M Rissler

    What an awesome difference! So beautiful!! Makes the kitchen look bigger, too! ๐Ÿ™‚ You guys are great DIY’s!!

    1. Val (AKA Mom)

      Iโ€™m doinโ€™ it! Thanks for sharing! ????

  10. Val (aka mom)

    Love love love this!! You continue to amaze me! Canโ€™t wait to see it all finished up!

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