In Partnership WithBEHR® Paint

3 Tips for Painting Your Kitchen Cabinets — Which You CAN Do, We Promise!

updated Jul 26, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Sarah Crowley; Stylist: Amanda Wolfson Davis

Cabinets are the hardest-working, longest-lasting furniture in your kitchen — which means that, at some point, you’ve probably considered giving yours a facelift. Repainting your cabinets can be one of the most rewarding DIYs you’ll ever tackle. It can transform your whole kitchen for a fraction of the effort and expense of a renovation. Just ask Rachel, whose Chicago kitchen we recently gave a paint makeover.

Intrigued? We asked interior designer Clare Donohue of One to One Studio how you can tackle this project like a pro — with professional-quality results to match. Here’s her advice.

Credit: Photo: Sarah Crowley; Stylist: Amanda Wolfson Davis

1. Clean Before You Paint

“This is one of those jobs that takes more patience than skill,” Clare says, which is promising. But that patience is key! Home improvement TV shows might have you thinking that you just slap on some color and call it a day, but painting cabinets is all about prep. Before you dive in, you should know what you’re getting into.

“Like being a chef, contractor, or artist, a big part of this job is cleaning,” Clare says. You’ll have to clean, sand, and prime your surfaces before you even think about popping the lid on that paint can. Take your time with this step, and don’t stress that your kitchen will be a little chaotic in the meantime. Just lean into it and order takeout. Oh, and pro tip: Pick up some BEHR SWIPES® Interior Deglossing Pre-Paint Wipes to help reduce prep time by replacing the sanding step.

Credit: Photo: Sarah Crowley; Stylist: Amanda Wolfson Davis

2. Ask Yourself This Question

Be honest: Do you love a DIY? Not just the finished result, but also rolling up your sleeves and learning a new skill? If you’ve enjoyed smaller projects, like painting walls or pieces of furniture, then you’ll probably be really into repainting your cabinets.

“You got this!” Clare says. “You will feel a huge sense of accomplishment if you invest the time to do it right. A gorgeous cabinet finish will reward you every day, each time you open a door to get a plate.”

Credit: Photo: Sarah Crowley; Stylist: Amanda Wolfson Davis

3. Set Yourself Up for Success

Every job is easier with the right tools, and this one is no different. For starters, the right primer is essential. BEHR® Kitchen, Bath & Trim Stain-Blocking Primer & Sealer helps create a uniform topcoat sheen. It promotes excellent adhesion and smooth coverage, and it’s stain- and mildew-resistant.

Once you’re primed and ready for color, BEHR® Paint has your cabinets covered. Like what you see here in Rachel’s kitchen? It’s Blank Canvas DC-003, a clean, unifying hue in BEHR PREMIUM™ Cabinet, Door & Trim Enamel.

Credit: Photo: Sarah Crowley; Stylist: Amanda Wolfson Davis

BEHR PREMIUM™ Cabinet, Door & Trim Enamel comes in a rainbow of rich hues and dries to a hard and durable finish fast — you can start your second coat in as little as two hours! You can also close your doors in as little as two hours, and the doors won’t stick. (Darker colors may require additional dry time. Longer dry time required in cooler temperatures and higher humidity.) That means your kitchen can get back to (new-and-improved) normal ASAP. The forgiving satin finish has a hard, durable finish, while semi-gloss offers a bit more shine. Both are mildew-resistant and a breeze to clean.

As for the actual tools, we recommend starting with a high-quality 2″ angled Nylon brush with feathered ends, a 4 to 6-inch 1/4″ nap roller, and 320–400 grit sandpaper. (You don’t need to remove the existing finish, just sand it lightly to take the shine off.)

Credit: Photo: Sarah Crowley; Stylist: Amanda Wolfson Davis

Psst: Don’t Forget to Have Fun

Like any DIY, this one is about making your home look and feel its best — and that feeling will reward you every day. Enjoy the possibilities! Choose colors that speak to you, find quirky knobs and drawer pulls, start window shopping for the rug that will look perfect in your new kitchen. And whether your inspo is a Pinterest board, Instagram post, or page from a magazine, keep it handy while you work: A quick glance will remind you how close you are to bringing your dream kitchen to life.