Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Painting kitchen cabinets – I am all done! Painting cabinets is exhausting enough the first time around, but painting them twice is just crazy.  I made the mistake of using wax as the sealer (for my chalk paint), and it didn’t work for our family (to see more about why I didn’t like the wax, click HERE).  However, I used a liquid sealer the second time around and am much happier with the result.

Chalk Painted Kitchen Cabinets

When I repainted the cabinets, I did not sand or prime them.  I simply cleaned off the cabinets and painted (using a brush and small roller) the chalk-type paint.  However, I did find a few more nicks that happened with my second round of paint.  I assume this has to do with painting over the wax, and the majority of this happened at the kitchen bar where my kids bump the bar stools:


If you paint over a previously waxed surface, I would suggest sanding and priming.  I ended up priming under the counter and repainting under the bar.  So far the nicks aren’t happening as often.

Adding primer to cabinets

I still had some cabinets left to paint, so I went ahead and primed any of the cabinets that still needed to be repainted.

Painting cabinets in sections

I also suggest painting cabinets in sections for sanity and removing all hardware before painting.

Painting Kitchen Cabinets with Chalk Paint

I painted the short wall of uppers cream again, but I changed the large wall of cabinets.  Originally they were also painted cream, and I asked for your help deciding whether to keep the cream or go with gray.  I received so much feedback from everyone, and it was so helpful.  Obviously, I went with the gray, and now my black appliances blend in so much better!

This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy. Here’s what I used the second time around:

Painted Kitchen Cabinets.

I have learned a lot from my cabinet painting saga.  My advice: If you use a chalk-type paint, use a sealer like the one I used or a polycrylic (instead of wax).  And if you’re like me and want to repaint previously wax-sealed cabinets, sand and prime before repainting them for the best possible results.

Kitchen Baked Goods

Painted Kitchen Cabinets Tutorial

Phew.  I’m so glad I am done.  Now I can move on to another project!

Go create something!

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DIY Painting Kitchen Cabinets

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81 thoughts on “Painting Kitchen Cabinets

  1. I painted my cabinets- I sanded them, primed them, painted two coats and covered with a polyacrylic top coat. This was about 5 or 6 years ago. Now the paint on the top edges of the bottom cabinets and around the handles on the upper cabinets is what I would call soft and mushy and peeling off!!! I feel paralyzed as to what to do now! Just sand those areas? and prime again? Then paint with some hard to use oil based paint?!? Will it just keep peeling off?? So frustrating! Any help appreciated!

    1. Hi Deb! I am so sorry you’re having issues with your cabinets – especially after all the work you put into them. Did you paint them with latex paint or a chalk-type paint? I agree that you should stay away from oil-based paint because it is such a pain!

    2. I recently had a painting disaster on my kitchen cabinets. Like Deb, my paint is peeling. Should I strip and sand before repainting with chalk? Or can paint right over it?
      Your kitchen looks great! What did you use to paint you floor? Soooo cute!

      1. Hi Rosalyn! I worry that if you paint over the peeling paint, the new paint won’t have anything to adhere to and the old paint will continue to peel. Unfortunately you need to strip (or at least sand) before repainting. Good luck!

  2. Your cabinets look great Sara!! I want to paint mine, but have been putting it off because it is such a huge project. Some day…. 😉

  3. I’m so impressed because you’ve painted your cabinets again. I grew up with wood under our bar seating area (’60’s term!) and Mom had us use a walnut to scrub on any marks. I liked doing it as it was like magic!! The marks just disappeared as I rubbed with a walnut half from our neighbor’s grandparents’ tree. Now I just bought cute metal stools just for fun and gasp!!! My painted part has marks and no one uses them!!! Time for paint touch up. So I can imagine with little ones how frustrating this must have been. I wonder if your new paint under counter bar holds up to a Mr Clean white scrubber thing??
    I love how your kitchen turned out. Perfect!!

      1. Thanks SO much!!! I don’t know why, but I find greys super hard to pick out from a small paint chip. I’m excited to find a color I like!! Let the painting begin!!!

  4. How much paint and matte sealer did you use? I would like to get some sealer but not sure how much I’ll need for my kitchen.

    1. I used about 3-4 quarts of paint (If I had painted everything with one color it probably would have been closer to 3) and 3-4 bottles of matte sealer. Good luck on your project, Jessica!

  5. Hi…at first I wasn’t sure, when you asked if you should paint all the cabinets gray or leave the top ones white. Now that I see it after completion, it looks great! BUT there is one thing I would change. The piece over your baked goods sign should be left white and would also look cute with some kind of decal on it like French words or Baking Center.”…etc. something that goes with your theme. I just personally think there is too much gray there. OTHERWISE….the kitchen looks fantastic! Oh and I had the same issue with wax on my dining table. Wax just doesn’t hold up like poly! We live and learn! : )

  6. Where did you purchase the matte sealer from? I am only seeing the gloss online. Also do you know if it works on non-Amy Howard paint?

    1. Hi Lori! Do you have a local Ace Hardware? They should sell the sealer in matte. And you should be able to use it on any chalk-type paint. You could also try a polycrylic found at any hardware store. Good luck!

  7. Hi Sara! Your kitchen looks amazing!! I love it!! I have a couple of questions. I want to paint my kitchen cabinets using chalk paint…white for the uppers and black for the lowers. My question is can I use chalk spray paint? My hands aren’t very steady to brush on paint. I’m just not good at it. Also, where did you purchase your baked goods picture please?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Lavada! Thanks for the sweet words! I can’t recommend the chalk spray paint because I’ve never used it. I would love to know what people think of it, though! A local artist made my baked goods sign. If you’re on Facebook, search “word for word chalk art” and you’ll find her!

      1. I have used the spray paint version of chalk paint on some old lamp shades and it actually worked out pretty good! I think you have to use more than a traditional spray paint to get full coverage. Bonus there is little smell unlike the traditional ones.

  8. Your cabinets are stunning! I’m so glad I discovered your post as I have the exact same dilemma in that I painted our cabinets annie sloan white and they are now a little grubby in the more used places and I’m leaning towards gray as well. I just love yours. Thank you so much for all the information. I think I’ll go ahead now and paint them. Wish me luck

    1. Hi Marie! Painting cabinets is a job once, so I feel your pain for doing it twice! My only complaint is that I do find the paint doesn’t adhere as well to the wax as it does to the cabinets. So, I would sand or prime before you paint again. Good luck and thanks for the kind words!

  9. Love the look. I just bought a 1920’s home and getting ready to paint the cabinets. I see you have cabinet brackets. Did you also paint the door brackets?

  10. Hello Sara congratulations on a job well done! I have almost the same dark wood units
    in my kitchen and was considering replacing the whole kitchen having just moved into our new home. I will now go ahead and paint (nothing to loose) i wanted to replace with grey and yours looks so good I am so inspired 🙂 thank you. Chrissie

    1. Yes, you have NOTHING to lose! Keep me posted on how your kitchen goes, and I would love to see before and after pics! We will eventually remodel our kitchen (our appliances are 20 years old and weird sizes), but this little inexpensive update made me like my kitchen for now. Good luck!

  11. Hi, It looks so good! Did you build the range hood? I love the style and wondered if you had a blueprint of it? It’s amazing how paint can transform a home and so inexpensive! Thanks so much!

  12. Beautiful job! I was wondering if you paint the inside of the cabinets too? If not, does it bother you looking at the wooden finish every time you open a door?

  13. I’m getting ready to do the chalk paint to my cabinets and like the distressed look–can I still do that and then use the polycrilic to seal it?

    Thanks!! Oh my cabinets are laminate.

    1. Hi Mary! I apologize for just now seeing this. Yes, you can definitely distress your chalk paint and use a polycrylic to seal it. Laminate can sometimes be a little stubborn with paint, so you may want to apply a quick coat of primer first. However, chalk paint will stick to it! Good luck!

  14. Thanks so much. I was just about to paint my kitchen cabinets and seal them with wax. Your post prevented me from wasting my time and saved me alot of stress.

  15. Hi Sara!
    Your kitchen is beautiful! I’m so glad I came across this on Pinterest! I am getting ready to paint my kitchen cabinets and was trying to decide between chalk paint or not. You have inspired me to to go for it! Did you remove your doors while painting or leave them on?

    1. Hi Julie! I am so sorry I am just now responding to this, but yes you should removed the doors (and hardware). It’s an extra step, but it will make the result more beautiful. Good luck on your project!

  16. Sara, I’m confused about the wax element here. I realize you said not to finish off with wax but then you said use Minwax. Can you explain? I realize I’m not smart when it comes to these things but I so much want to learn. Thank you for enlightening me on this point.

  17. Hello! Your kitchen looks beautiful! This spring (hopefully soon) I will tackle my small kitchen. I too, will be painting cabinets grey with chalk paint. My question is..should I paint walls/ceiling first then cabinets? Also, how long is recommended wait time between coats/sealer? Thank you so much for the tutorials, I will definitely be referring back to them when it comes time to start my project.

    1. Hi Tiffany! Yes, I would paint your walls and ceilings first to avoid splatter on cabinets. In regards to wait time between coats and sealer, you can add the next coat (or sealer) as soon as the paint is dry. Good luck on your makeover!

  18. Sarah,

    Love how your kitchen turned out. I have a question I painted my cabinets uppers and lowers both white. But I have noticed lately that on the bottom cabinets that are located at the sink where I do dishes that the blue coloring from my jeans rubs off onto the white paint is this normal. Also I love the gray paint. Could I leave the upper cabinets white and paint my lower ones a different color? I have dark tile flooring that looks like wood. Would you do something lighter for the lower cabinets since I have a dark floor?

    1. Hi Rhonda! What a bummer about your jeans rubbing off on the paint! I’ve never heard of that with cabinets, but I have the same issue in my car. My leather seats have blue coloring from my jeans/where I sit. So annoying! Yes, you can definitely do gray on the bottom, and I think it would look great – even with dark floors. I just feel terrible that you have to paint your cabinets again. I know it’s a big job (but I guess only half the job it was before). Good luck!

  19. I’m a complete novice, so bear with me. Did you pain the wall bases with the same technique, i.e. used a brush? Did you pain the insides of the cabinets also?

    My cabinets are natural light oak with, of course, some kind of “shine” (see, I don’t even know what to call that! LOL), so I should probably prime them first? Also, they aren’t completely smooth…you can feel some slight woodgrain texture. Are they going to look funny? Will the primer (if needed) smooth that out?

    You ARE an inspiration, thanks so much!

    1. Hi Lisa! Yes, for something with wood grain (and shiny finish), a primer would be a good idea. I would even suggest tinting the primer to the paint color. I used a foam roller for the wall and the larger cabinet sections. I hope this helps and don’t hesitate to ask if you have any other questions!

  20. I’m getting ready to paint our cabinets, and I’m wondering how well these paints and sealers have held up for you so far? I really want to only do this once!! Would using a primer make the paint a little more sturdy?

    1. Primer is never a bad idea, but I would suggest tinting your primer if you use a color other than white. My cabinets have held up fairly will, but they do chip some. I really believe this is from painting over the wax sealer because I didn’t have chipping problems the first time I painted them. I hope this helps!

  21. Your kitchen looks AMAZING! I love the gray and that you kept a few of the cabinets cream…it makes the kitchen look bigger that way. I’ve always been so cheap with my paint choices, but I’m thinking I need to start trying out the Amy Howard and Dixie Bell types of brands to see the difference because people seem to love them!

  22. Hi there! You Cabinets look great! I am looking to do something similar. We have oak cabinets with a very shiny varnish. I attempted to reprint my bathroom cabinets with a kiltz primer and latex paint a couple coats of each but I can easily scratch the paint off if I tried. I’m scared my kitchen cabinets will do the same even with chalk paint. So do you think chalk paint would hold up better than latex? Should I sand first? Also when using Annie Sloan chalk paint I know finishing with the wax is what helps the color darkensand develop. Would using that matte sealer do the same?

    Thank you so much for your advice!!

    1. Hi Kristina, I do think chalk paint would adhere better than a latex paint. However, it does sound like you have a very slick surface. I would probably suggest sanding or at least using a strong cleaner to eat away some of that finish. The matte sealer also darkens the color, but it gives it a more gloss look than the wax. Maybe you could test the inside of a cabinet door before you commit? Good luck!!!

  23. Thanks for this post! We’re about to do ours and saw not to use the wax. Question about the sealer – I see you used the matte – does it have any shine or is it flat? I feel I want a mix between the matte and gloss! Thanks!

    1. The matte isn’t completely flat – I do think it’s a great mix! However, I recently tried the gloss, and it’s not super glossy either. I really don’t think you can wrong with either. I recently used a sprayer for both the paint and the sealer, and it provided a beautiful finish for both – just a thought! Good luck!

  24. This is just one more opinion. By painting the upper cabinets the grey color, I think you’re heading back to a dark kitchen. I like your uppers the lighter and grey on the bottom.

  25. I love chalk paint! In fact, I find that everything is a wonderful piece just waiting to be transformed. Ha! A few years ago I chalk painted my cabinets a beautiful gray. I waxed and used a polycrilic finish. To my irritation…it’s peeling and just not standing up to the durability I had been looking forward to and told about. I have found a Benjamin Moore line of paint that I love…and even contemplated if redoing the kitchen in it is worth it. But the hassle is holding me back. Do we know of any other projects or paint that really holds up?! The last thing I want to be doing is buying new kitchen cabinets because I’ve rehabbed them to death. Thanks again!

    1. Painting cabinets is exhausting enough once – but it’s horrible to do twice! I do think the tried and true method of sanding, priming and painting is probably the best method in general OR hiring it out. Good luck on what you decide!

  26. I have a large hutch that I painted with Annie Sloan Graphite and then used Annie Sloan dark wax. I love the look and considered doing the same for my cabinets. Is it possible to use the dark wax and then put some kind of clear coat over it?

  27. Wonderful job! I love the mix of the cream and grey cabinets, it’s a great match. What sprayer did you use for this project?

  28. Great job Sara! Love the combination of the granite and white/gray cabinets. I don’t suppose
    you know the name of the granite that was used on your counter top do you?

  29. It was so perfect that I just found your post! I’m in the planning stages for painting my 90’s “peanut butter” colored cabinets in a gray tone and I have looked at Amy Howard and Annie Sloan paint. Thankfully a sweet associate at Ace warned me about waxing the cabinets. Like one of your earlier commenters, I am lost in gray paint chip land and finding it very difficult to pick a color! My floors are dark hardwood and my counters will be stained hardwood so I am trying to pick out a light gray for the walls, white trim and a slightly darker gray for the cabinets so I can add and change pops of color later. I have been living in a world of rich Mediterranean colors for 20 years and it’s time to lighten up! I don’t know if I missed it earlier but what color did you use for your cabinets?

    1. I’m so glad you’re not waxing your cabinets, Tami! I used Amy Howard’s Selznick Gray on mine. I would recommend a sprayer for the doors – just for a smoother finish. HomeRight has some inexpensive options on Amazon and Amy Howard sells a great sprayer on her website. Good luck!!

  30. Clean and rinse cabinets with TSP. Sand them, sponge sanding blocks are perfect. Dust and wipe clean. PRIME! No matter what paint you use, Prime! Oil is the best but they have great latex primers nowadays. Sand lightly after priming and wipe clean again. As a professional painter I do not suggest chalk paint and especially the wax. Oil base paints are great especially if you want your paint job to lay out flat with no brush marks. But a higher end latex can also do the same if you know what you’re doing.

  31. Hi! I think your cabinets look great! I have a bright blue on my cabinets from the previous owners. I want to use a grey when I repaint them. I really like the grey you used, can you tell me the color?