Top 9 Tips for Painting Kitchen Cabinets

grey and white kitchen cabinets

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With the new year looming large, the time for new beginning are at hand. While a complete kitchen remodel might be a bit too rich for many people, most can afford a lick of paint. Repainting your kitchen cabinets can breathe new life into your kitchen on a shoestring budget. You can eliminate numerous chips and scratches and update the design in one fell swoop. Here are the top 9 tips for painting kitchen cabinets.

Allow enough time

You should know that repainting kitchen cabinets is likely to take more time than you expect. It is not about simply putting on the paint. You have to remove and store the contents safely, and in most cases, you will have to take off the hardware and doors. You will also have to clean all the surfaces you plan to coat with new paint. In other words, you will be disrupting the work in the kitchen considerably, so plan accordingly. You might have to do one section at a time to avoid inconveniencing other people in the home.

Choose assemble yourself or a kit

Assembling the things you need for painting cabinets is relatively easy and cheap. In most cases, you will need primer, acrylic or oil-based paint (for wood cabinets), paintbrushes, sandpaper, paint roller sets, paint thinner, and perhaps painter’s tape. These are all available in home depots or hardware stores. Assembling them individually gives you more freedom when it comes to the color and type of materials you use.

However, if you are new to this and want to keep decision-making to a minimum, you can choose a cabinet painting kit. This will already have most of what you need in the correct combinations. They tend to be more expensive, but they do simplify the work. In most cases, these kits describe the process in four steps:

  • Degloss
  • Bond coat
  • Glaze
  • Top coat.

Choose black for elegance

black kitchen cabinets

If you have a minimalist or modern kitchen that gets a lot of natural light, you might want to consider a deep black color for your kitchen cabinets. Black is sleek but warm, and it can be very chic. The only real issue with black cabinets is that it shows up any flaws in the wood and work. To mitigate this problem, choose milk paint, which leaves no brush marks after it dries. However, since milk paint is water-based, it will only work with solid, unpainted wood. You will have to sand off the old paint and varnish until you get to the bare wood.

Sanding and priming might not be necessary

Conventional wisdom dictates that any good paint job requires a thorough sanding and priming. Most people would rather not do that.  In some cases, it is possible to repaint cabinets without sanding and priming. It depends on the condition of your existing cabinet paint and the new paint you plan to use. You can try this with one cabinet and see if you can get away with it.

Go for the historical look

Cabinets painted with Benjamin Moore Lampblack paint

The color you choose for your kitchen cabinets has a big impact on the look of your kitchen. You can simulate a historical look by choosing colors that belonged in the previous century such as lampblack. This is a charcoal gray color popular in wallpaper made in the 18th and 19th century.

Use chalkboard paint

If you have small children, you might have often scolded them for writing on the cabinets. Give yourself a break by using chalkboard paint on your cabinets and laying in a supply a colored chalk.

You can use the chalkboard paint on the interior of the cabinets and let your children have a ball. Paint the outsides with conventional paint to preserve your dignity when company comes around. You can also use the chalkboard side to keep an inventory of the contents, write a grocery list, or leave reminders for members of the family for some undone chores.

Don’t skimp on quality

As with most things, you get what you pay for. Painting your cabinets is a great way to upgrade your kitchen without breaking the bank, but you should make it a point to buy the best quality materials you can afford. This is particularly true when you buy paint, as high-quality paint will go on more easily and last much longer than low-caliber alternatives.

Go two-toned

Two-toned cabinets are actually trending, so this is a good time to go that route. Your first step would be to paint all the cabinets white to give you a blank canvas in which to work. You can then choose the best color combinations for your wall and base cabinets. You can actually leave one white and paint the other a darker color. A good rule of thumb is to match your base cabinets to the color mood of the floor. If you have a dark floor, go for dark base cabinets.

Use primer for dark cabinets

As much as you might want to avoid priming your cabinets, you might not have a choice if you are dealing with dark colored ones. In fact, you will need at least two coats of primer to neutralize it. Once the primer is dry, you can start putting on any color of paint you want, including white. 


Painting kitchen cabinets to update your kitchen is a good resolution you can make for the new year. These top 9 tips should help you make the project go as smoothly as possible.

However, if your cabinets are not in good condition or you would rather not take on such a big project, you can choose to replace your cabinets with new ones. Cabinets City can help. We service cities such as Chicago, Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Hoffman Estate, Elk Grove Village, and surrounding areas.

We carry the best cabinets brands in the country, from RTA to custom cabinets, and at the best prices compared to Cabinets To Go and Advance Cabinets. These include Schrock, Fabuwood, J and K, Forevermark, and Wolf Cabinets, each of which come with manufacturer warranties. We always deliver on time, so you will not have to worry about keeping your schedule to stay in budget.

We also have a large inventory of granite and marble slabs, and work with top quartz brands, so we can supply you with anything you need for your kitchen remodel. You can visit our showroom in Mt. Prospect, Illinois to see before you buy.

We can advise you on the best cabinets for your kitchen. Give us a call for a free consultation and quote!

Bayram Gulsen

Bayram Gulsen is the owner of Cabinets City. He always had this passion to redefine cabinetry to be at its best along with his dedicated team and the author of Cabinets City blog: You can find Bayram on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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