Paint is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to transform a space. These days, you can paint just about anything you can think of including walls, floors, furniture, and kitchen cabinets! This step-by-step tutorial shows you how to easily paint kitchen cabinets, even for those beginner DIY’ers!
My brother and sister-in-law moved into their home a few years ago with the goal of completely renovating their dated kitchen.
In their current season of life with three young kids, the kitchen renovation is still a few years off so they gave me the go-ahead to tackle a budget-friendly kitchen makeover.
With a little bit of creativity and sweat equity, you can turn almost any uninspiring space into a room that brings you joy.
Kitchen Cabinets Before
Here are their kitchen cabinets before the makeover:
How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets for Under $100
Affiliate links are used in this blog post, thanks for supporting Building Bluebird! Scroll to the bottom of the post for a complete project source list.
I have used the Rust-Oleum Transformations Kit on multiple pieces of furniture and always love the end result. My favorite part about this kit is that it doesn’t require any stripping, sanding, or priming! This product is straightforward and easy to use for people who are newer to DIY.
Our local Menards had a sale on the Rust-Oleum paint kits (similar) and I snagged the light tint kit for $50. Each kit covers 100 square feet and I had just enough for this smaller kitchen!
For this project, I chose the color Greige (this color is available in the light tint kit) to add some warmth to the kitchen. As a quick reminder, these kits are mixed in the store.
While a kit is what I used in this kitchen, you don’t have to use this to paint kitchen cabinets. Local paint stores sell products that specialize in painting kitchen cabinet surfaces that have higher durability than standard paint for your walls.
1 | Kitchen Cabinet Paint Preparation
For this small kitchen update, I replaced the door knobs, which require a few holes to be filled with wood filler.
Once the wood filler was completely dry, I sanded the area smooth with a sanding block. If applicable, drill new holes for the hardware.
All of the drawers were removed and placed on a protected surface to paint. I also removed the doors from the cabinet base which made it easier to paint.
Have you ever taken a close look at your kitchen cabinets, particularly the lower ones? You may be surprised by how dirty they are!
Before using anything in the cabinet paint kit, I used Krud Kutter to clean all of the surfaces of the cabinet. Don’t forget to clean the kick plates too!
2 | Cabinet Deglosser Application
Apply the deglosser (which comes with the kit) before you paint the kitchen cabinets to ensure maximum adhesion.
The deglosser is what allows you to skip the messy task of sanding the cabinets. Using a cloth or scrubbing pad, wipe your cabinets, drawers, and frame in the same direction as the wood grain.
3 | Apply the Bond Coating (two coats)
The paint kit comes with quarts of bond coat and is what the hardware store tints to your chosen color. The bond coat is different from standard latex paint and is formulated to adhere to wood, laminate, and melamine surfaces.
The best way to apply the bond coat is with a paintbrush and not a smooth surface roller. I once tried using a smooth surface roller and it created a stippled effect.
A paintbrush creates that smooth surface that is ideal for painted kitchen cabinets.
For the kitchen, I painted two coats on the frame (front and visible sides), drawers, and the front and back of each door. I do not paint inside the actual kitchen cabinets.
Once the two coats are applied, you will notice that the cabinets feel almost chalky. The top coat will fix that chalky feeling and create that durable surface needed on kitchen cabinets.
*The Cabinet Transformations Paint Kit includes a glaze that can be applied for an antique look. I have never used the glaze, however, if you are looking for the weathered/antique look, you will apply the glaze after the bond coat.
4 | Matte Top Coat Application (one coat)
The matte top coat is the perfect sheen that gives kitchen cabinets that high-end look. Using a paintbrush, apply the top coat with long paint strokes. It looks a little milky at first and then dries clear.
For the best results, avoid re-brushing areas that have already begun to dry.
When I painted our dining room buffet black, there were a few intricate molding details that got a thicker layer of the top coat and dried a little more opaque than the rest of the piece. I am probably the only person who has ever noticed this, but be aware of any drips or pooling top coat for this reason.
Once all of the kitchen cabinets have been painted, allow them to dry for 12 hours before reattaching the doors and drawers.
For best results, wait 24 hours before fully using the kitchen cabinets and avoid using cleaners on the painted cabinetry for 7 days.
Painted Kitchen Cabinets Reveal
The new paint color of these cabinets is so dreamy! This putty color creates a classic and timeless look in a kitchen.
I am absolutely thrilled with the transformation of these dated kitchen cabinets and the homeowners are too!
Painted Cabinets Source List
- Cabinet Transformations Light Kit – Greige (similar) – $50 on sale
- Paintbrush – owned
- Screwdriver – owned
- Wood knobs – $25
- Brass knobs – $40
- Wood filler – owned
- Sanding block – owned
Technically I spent $115, but that is because I spent a little more on the brass knobs for the upper cabinets. This project would have fallen under $100 if I used all wooden knobs or even reused the existing knobs already on the cabinets.
Other DIY Projects Using Paint Kits
I used the Rust-Oleum Home floor coating kit to paint our dingy laundry room floors.
The first time I used the cabinet transformations kit was to paint this old buffet and I was thrilled with the results.
The black paint color modernized this older buffet and was the perfect piece for our dining room makeover.
The painted concrete basement floors in our unfinished basement are another incredible transformation using the garage floor coating paint kit.
And the basement stairwell.