Painting Cabinets with Chalk Paint

Last year, I painted my bathroom cabinets, and it was a REALLY long process.  See how I cut out a lot of time by painting my cabinets with chalk paint.


I did it the “traditional” way, and you can take a look at that post HERE. However, considering my kitchen has (what feels like) a thousand more doors, I knew that process may not be the best solution for my kitchen.  Or my sanity. kitchenBEFORE

So, I decided to give the chalk paint method a try.  Chalk paint doesn’t require prep work or sanding.  (Although I did clean my doors considering there are 15 years of kitchen grease layered on them.)

Here’s my (I don’t claim to be a chalk paint pro) 9 step chalk paint cabinet tutorial:

1) Remove the cabinet doors and all the hardware.

This is my second to the least favorite part of the process.  My least favorite part is putting the hardware back on.  There is always a cabinet door that ends up hanging funny.



2) Clean the wood with a cleaner to remove any dirt/grime.


3) Tape off any areas where you don’t want to get paint.


3) Start Painting!   Forget about sanding and pull out the paint.  I used Annie Sloan’s “Old Ochre.”  I did two coats of paint on everything.


cabinets.before.13 copy  

4) Wax. Once the two coats of paint are dry, you can begin to wax.  Since I was doing kitchen cabinets, I applied three coats of Annie Sloan’s clear wax on everything.  It’s much quicker than it sounds.

**March 2015 UPDATE**  

Although my wax has held up well, it isn’t the easiest to clean.  If you scrub too hard, the wax can be removed.  If I were to do this over again, I would use a polycrylic for a finish instead of the wax.  The reason I didn’t do this the first time around was because I was afraid of yellowing the paint.  However, the more I research, the more I find that there is polycrylic that really is clear and doesn’t yellow!

cabinets.before.17 cabinets.before.18

 5) Buff the wax. Use a lint free cloth to rub in the wax and remove any clumps. (I use old t-shirts for this.)  

6) Sand. If you want to distress the cabinets some, use sandpaper after you’re done waxing.  I lightly sanded the edges of the cabinets and doors.


7) (optional) Buff. 24 hours after the final wax, you can go back and buff the wood if you want more of a sheen.  

8) Put back the hardware and cabinet doors.  

9) Enjoy your “new” cabinets!


Would you try painting cabinets with chalk paint?

I did my kitchen in stages to preserve my sanity.  I did a few groupings a week until I have what you see above.  

*Also, I’m keeping the lower cabinets wood – for now. 😉

*UPDATE (2/21/14): The unpainted lower cabinets didn’t last long.  They have been painted.  Check out how they look HERE.  

Also, if you still want to see more about painting cabinets, this tutorial was featured in the DIY section of

*UPDATE (7/24/16): I ended up repainted my cabinets because I did not love the wax as a sealer.  To see why click HERE.

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30 thoughts on “Painting Cabinets with Chalk Paint

  1. I am just wondering how you feel about your cabinets. Did Annie Sloan chalk paint hold up well on the kitchen cabinets?

    1. Hi Lori! It hasn’t been long, but the cabinets have held up well so far. The only thing I’ve noticed is a little chipping where the doors shut. But it’s pretty minor and looks intentional – probably since I slightly distressed my cabinets. So far, so good!

  2. Hi Sara, Your AS chalk painted cabinets look great and am currently trying to decide whether to take the same route in my kitchen…such a big project! Can you please share what type of black paint you used for the inside of your open cabinet? It looks fantastic and love that idea! Great job!

    1. Thanks so much Vickie! The paint inside my cabinets is actually a dark gray color. I can’t tell you a specific color because I found it in the mis-tint section at Lowes for a few dollars. I’m so sorry I can’t give you an exact color!

  3. I was curious how your cabinets are holding up after a year? We have a big (six kids) family and are just downright hard on everything in our house. I’m wondering if the chalk paint will hold up okay under the kind of wear and tear our family will dish out :).

    Thank you!


    1. Hey Michelle! The chalk painted cabinets have held up REALLY well. I only have one complaint: the wax. If I would do it over, I would use a polycrylic instead of the wax. The reason I didn’t use one last year was because I heard it can yellow the paint. However, the more I research it, the more I’m finding polycrylics with great reviews and no yellowing. I hope this help! (Oh, and I’d probably use a small roller and a brush to paint next time around!)

      1. This helps a lot! I’m a little overwhelmed at the thought of this project (we have quite a few cabinets) but I really think it would make a big difference in my kitchen. I’m guessing a polycrylic layer would make them even more durable (kind of like the hard finish on my wood floors?). I’m not the best housekeeper but with all the spills at my house I am constantly cleaning something up on my cabinets, and usually have to scrub pretty hard, so the wax wouldn’t be ideal. Looks like I’ll be googling chalk paint and polycrylics next :). Thanks for answering my question, I appreciate it!


  4. wow – I am so impressed at how beautiful your kitchen is after – you did an amazing job (not only doing it but picking the colors and I checked out the subway tile too)! It gives me inspiration for my kitchen that I think needs so much but maybe just paint will make a big difference. To me I would have been scared about how long this job would take and having wet painted doors sitting out a long time for my 3 year old to get mixed up in – how long did it take? Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Rachel! Thank you for the kind words! Using chalk paint was really helpful. Not only because it requires no prep work but because the paint dries REALLY fast. Your doors will be dry in around 30-40 minutes. I also did a lot of painting in the evenings while the kids were in bed. I just laid out the doors and painted while I was watching TV. I did my kitchen in 4 sections, and I probably spent several days on each sections. I did spread it out for my sanity. I took a week or two off in between the sections. It’s not hard, but it does take some time and patience. However, it make a big difference with little cost – I think I spent around $200 on paint for all of my cabinets. Something I would definitely recommend: I would use a polycrylic coating instead of the wax in the kitchen. It will be easier to clean than the wax – especially with kids. Good luck, Rachel!

  5. About how many 16oz cans did you need for this project? I’m doing a similar makeover and unfortunately have to order my paint online. I’m just hoping for a ballpark estimate to get started with (my kitchen has a similar amount of cabinets).

    1. Hi Katrina! I used around 4 cans – it’s amazing how far the little cans stretch! I’m not sure where you live, but Lowes’s now carries their own brand of chalk paint that you can have tinted any color. I haven’t used it before, but I’ve heard good things about it. Good luck!

      1. Can you poly over the wax? I want to apply some of the darker wax to distress a bit and then put a sealer over that-will it work?