Stacy Zarin Goldberg

If current pop culture is an indication, we’re constantly obsessed with home renovations. From shows such as Queer Eye to Flip or Flop to The Home Edit, there’s something in the dramatic unveiling of a new fixer-upper that keeps us on edge in our yet-to-be-reupholstered seats. We can’t stop watching it repeatedly (of course, we’re still listening to Netflix). However, there is one thing that meets the demand for change over any other: newly coated kitchen cabinetry. “By painting cabinets, you are immediately creating a change that is noticeable without having to make a major investment in both time and money,” says Queer Eye star and expert in design Bobby Berk. “And when you opt for a totally new color or one that creates more contrast, it just impacts how the room looks and feels.”

If you’re eager to go beyond reality TV and be the way of Bobby Berk in your culinary area, here are suggestions and tricks for painting kitchen cabinetry just like an expert, with the help of the experts.


There needs to be a way to overstate the fact that tackling the paint job on your kitchen cabinet isn’t something you can complete in the afternoon on a weekend. However, tackling the task yourself is a great way to save money. Professional painting can easily reach $6,000 for a typical kitchen, whereas painting it yourself could cost around $ 200 for the paint and other supplies. For the project’s duration, an entire kitchen can take six to seven days; therefore, plan several nights of dining out.

“Anybody can do it,” says Renae Brabham, half of the husband and wife team who run Brabhams Cabinet Painting in Charleston, South Carolina. They’ve done more than 500 kitchen cabinet work. “However should you attempt to make a buck, you’ll have to call professionals to assist. We’ve received many of these calls, most of which boil down to someone being annoyed or using poor products.” In other words, if you do it, you should do it correctly. Now let’s talk about the details.


The first rule to follow: Before rolling off the rolling pin, look at the state of the item you’re working with.”Any tiny cracks or chips to the doors could easily be fixed with wood filler,” Berk says. Be aware that not all drawers and doors can be painted. If your veneer has started to peel or the woodwork is bent, purchase new drawer fronts that aren’t finished and doors to repair your old ones.

Cabinet material is an essential factor to consider. The wood, the laminate fiberboard, the veneer, and even the cabinets made of metal can be painted without issue. However, plastic laminates and thermofoil cabinets may require special techniques and paints that are more suited to the adhesion of paint. If unsure, try an adipose sample in a dark area, or remove the door and bring it to an inspection at a paint store.


We know you’re keen to get your brush out to paint. A little preparation before the start will ensure that your counters or the backsplash aren’t subject to an unanticipated painting work of themselves. Clear the cabinets, clean the counters, and remove furniture blocking the way to ensure you’ll have plenty of space. Clean the room thoroughly to keep dust particles like pollen from getting stuck on the wet paint. Then cover the backsplash, counters, and floors with brown construction sheets or plastic-based tarps.

Brabhams suggests preparing a workspace outside the kitchen, such as a basement or garage room with good ventilation and perhaps some fans. You’ll need to put down plastic and put up between three and four sawhorses and two-by-4s above to support the doors of your cabinet. It is also possible to set up a nearby station for painting that includes brushes, rollers, paint buckets, sandpaper, and buckets.

When dealing with large paint jobs, remember to follow safety measures to avoid exposure to paint vapors. Keep doors and windows closed, use fans to ensure the air is moving, and ventilate the space for at least three days following painting. Make sure to take breaks during painting and also.


It’s a time-suck. You may be tempted to stray and not complete this step. But removing the cabinet doors allows you to access every cabinet surface. If you’re not planning for a bold free-form look, make sure you don’t cut the corner, but take the time to remove the door. Start at the opposite corner of the cooking area (working in a clockwise direction or counterclockwise). Make use of the drill or a screwdriver manual to remove the hinges of your cabinet, drawers, doors, and hardware. If you are painting just the fronts of doors and not the sides, you don’t need to take off the sides.

“Number the doors as you take them off,” Brabham suggests. “Otherwise, it will be a mess because not all doors are created equal.” She meant putting the number on the spot the hardware was in and covering it with tape to prevent painting over the area. To ensure that the hardware is kept from each cabinet, Brabham puts it on the shelf that each door is on or puts them in a bag with the number of the cabinet it belongs to.


Before scrubbing and stripping sand, strain your back to prepare surfaces for painting. However, the home improvement field has moved beyond scrub brushes, soap, and even sandpaper. There’s a product known as M-1 Paint Gloss Remover (you may also utilize liquid sandpaper) that removes and removes the gloss from the surface. Sans sawdust. “This stuff is by no exaggeration a miracle product,” Brabham states. “Nobody sands cabinets anymore.” To use it, use the gloss remover M-1 across the doors of your cabinet–on the sides, on the top, and the back and it’ll be dry within 20 minutes.

This is something you have yet to hear from your mom. However, we’re here today to warn you: don’t wash the cabinets. “Cleaning solutions can be a huge culprit of our finest DIY horror stories,” Brabham states. If you’re using TSP (trisodium Phosphate) or cleaner that is based on silicone, it can result in what’s known as fisheye over your kitchen cabinets. “It is as funny as it is. The bubbly paint effect occurs when the paint isn’t sticking and is a major headache because you need to allow the paint to dry and then smooth it out to the point that it’s a good thing you don’t need to bring it to a professional.”


You’ve been Pinterest in awe of your dream kitchen color. You’ve maxed the storage capacity of your smartphone by downloading apps that can assist you in determining the perfect shade of paint. However, you’re now at your decision-making point. We can’t decide which color to pick (Berk declares that green cabinets for kitchens have become his current passion). We can provide some information on paint types (there are two major types, oil-based and latex paint) to help in the selection process.

Be aware that both colors provide an excellent finish for whichever you pick, whether oil-based or latex paints. As the quality of latex paint has improved over the years, many professionals have given up entirely on oil-based paints. “We used to oil the first two years we were in business and quickly nixed it because the latex products they have these days are heads above what they used to be,” Brabham says. Paints made of latex dry quicker and are simpler to clean (requiring only dish soap and water). They are also more flexible than oil-based paints in the application of paint. However, they are more prone to staining and may require approximately three to four weeks to completely cure (or expose your cabinets to constant usage).

The oil-based painting, which is generally more expensive and not as user-friendly, is smoother than water-based paints and is a better way to hide the imperfections of cabinets. The color also reduces in size when it dries, meaning that what appears when it’s still wet is what it will appear dry. “I prefer an oil-based paint for cabinetry that will be getting a lot of use, as it tends to hold up better over time,” Berk states.

Brabham recommends using Benjamin Moore Styxx or Sherwin-Williams Extreme Bond as a primer. This is followed by the Sherwin Williams Emerald urethane or Benjamin Moore Command paints, made up of urethane and oil. “Both are extremely durable, have low VOC [volatile organic compounds], are not going to scratch, and won’t yellow as oil paint does,” she suggests. Pro tip: A typical kitchen with about 25 doors and six drawers requires one gallon of paint and a gallon of primer.

For the final finishing, Brabham says this is one thing that’s not a concern. “You think about your sheen when you pick out the paint,” Brabham states. “Some are glossy, some are a more low luster finish, and others (the majority of our jobs) are semi-gloss, which offer a low luster look with a comfortable amount of protection.”

The options for paint applicator tools are spraying or rolling. “Spraying cabinets is going to give you the cleanest and smoothest finish hands down, and is also much less time consuming than using a roller or brush,” Berk claims. However, spraying can be costly.


Armed with the appropriate tools, it’s time to apply paint on the surface. Get the sprayer or paint bucket ready and start with the primer’s first coat. Start by spraying the backs of the doors and then line them up on the two-by-fours. Dry them, flip them on their sides, and then pour the opposite side. “This is part of the process where everybody gets scared, as that first layer of primer is going to look like something a six-year-old went to town on,” Brabham advises. “Don’t panic. Your cabinet is just getting a solid foundation, and every layer will get more and better.”

Repeat the procedure with the paint after the primer is dry (it usually takes about 40 minutes for each layer). “The best way to build up the surface is with multiple layers of thin paint rather than one thick layer that can more easily chip off,” Brabham suggests.

If you’re using a roller and roller, dip the brush into the paint, then apply it to the surface. Start by working starting from the inside edges of the frame towards the outside cabinet sides and the fronts (this lets you get the job done quickly in less crucial areas and take longer to roll over the flat surface when it’s damp). Then, you’ll go into the cabinet with the mini flock foam roll then smooth out the edges. Be cautious not to create too many strokes with your brush that will result in air bubbles that become bumps. This is the same procedure you apply to the cabinet’s base inside the kitchen since there is no spray.

Two coats of good paint are usually enough; however, a third coat will be okay. After you’ve applied the first coat:

  1. Take a few minutes to sand all surfaces with soft sandpaper lightly.
  2. Wipe the dust from rubbing with the tack cloth before moving to the next skin.
  3. Allow a minimum of four minutes between coats.

“Be patient as the cabinets dry,” Brabham advises. “If you go to pick up the doors and they feel a little tacky, you’re going to leave fingerprints on them and have to redo the whole paint job.” It is recommended to wait up to 48 hours to thoroughly dry the cabinets before reattaching them to the base and hardware.


You are now ready to return everything to its proper location for the final show. Utilizing the same screwdriver or drill to reattach the drawer’s doors and fronts to the hinges and the hardware. Reposition the drawers in their original position.

Think about zhuzhing freshly painted cabinets by adding some attractive Hardware. “Contrast is key when it comes to hardware,” says Berk. “For lighter cabinets, l like to go with darker hardware in black or bronze, and for darker tones I often opt for brass or nickel.” Add the bling, and you’ve got a Kitchen a la mode.

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