KITCHEN FACELIFT: How to Paint Cabinets Part I

I’ve had some inquiries as to how I’m painting my cabinets and the products I’m using so I thought I’d share my process. I’m breaking it up into a 2 day post so I don’t have to cut any content. Today I’ll cover making the paint selection and cabinet cleaning. Wednesday I’ll cover the actual painting of the cabinets.

 1 || Picking The “Right” Paint

I did a lot of online research into the best paints to use for cabinetry almost pulled the trigger on a couple of different brands. But in the end, after speaking with my wise father I went down to Oakley Paint and Glass (a Cincinnati based paint shop) to talk to some paint pros about my project. I can’t tell you how valuable this experience was.

These guys know so much about which product works best and why. (And I’m a girl who has to know the “why” of it all.) They answered all of my questions and when I went back to the store a second time with more questions they answered those too.

In the end I went with CabinetCoat a urethane acrylic satin paint. Many of the guys of OP&G have used the paint in their own homes, particularly on trim but also highly recommend it for cabinetry. One even told me he had just finished painting his trim and he liked it so much that he was going to get started on his outdated kitchen in the coming weekend.

CabinetCoat Paint

So why did I choose this paint?? Well it is a self leveling paint which means brush marks are minimal to inexistent. This paint can also be tinted to match a light hue (fortunately for me I was doing white so I just had them match Benjamin Moore’s Simply White OC-117)

Benjamin Moore Simply White

If I was going to do a dark color like some of the kitchens in my post here, I would have gone with a different product, probably an oil paint.

While painting the cabinets has been time consuming, it has been much easier than making a paint product selection. There are so many great companies out there making paint, it was difficult to choose. But in the end I’m very happy with my choice.

 2 || Cleaning

To prepare my cabinets for painting I washed all of the doors with Dirtex.dirtex

This stuff is great because you do not need to rinse it and it cleans really well. The Dirtex managed to clean all the grease off the cabinets but the doors were another story. For them I needed something stronger so I hopped over to my local hardware store a picked up some TSP.


Now this stuff is a skin irritant so you want to make sure that you are wearing thick rubber gloves, long sleeves, pants and goggles to protect your eyes. It’s not an acid so it won’t burn you but it will cause discomfort to your skin so use wisely!

It’s also important to rinse the TSP from your cleaning surface because it can strip/discolor your wood. In some places the grease was a bit thick so having a dull putty knife to scrape the soggy wet grease off really helped. Some of the doors were worse than others so I had to clean them with a few applications.

**If you do not get all of the grease off the paint will not stick. This happened to me in a few places so I had to sand the flaking paint off, spot clean the area and paint again. It wasn’t the end of the world just an annoyance.

3 || Sanding

Once the cabinets are clean fill any unwanted holes and lightly sand your cabinets. CabinetCoat recommended using a 120 grit sand paper to scuff up the surface. You do this so the paint has something to grip to. It’s especially important on a super smooth surface like laminate.

When you’ve finished sanding you want to clean your sanded cabinets with a tack cloth to remove all traces of dust. You want your surface to be clean so your paint sticks properly and has a smooth finish.

Now that you’re clean and sanded you are ready to paint! And I’ll be back on Wednesday with more details on how that’s done.

One Last Thing!

I had a jam packed weekend with birthday parties and Easter egg hunts so I didn’t get to spend as much time on my kitchen as I hoped. I did manage to get 1/2 of the hardware installed and 1/2 of doors hung. Here’s a sneak peek of the hardware in action. I love them!

brushed brass hardware

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