How to Paint Cabinets the Easy Way

So you want to paint your cabinets and you don't really know where to start. Do you sand? What kind of paint? Is primer required? Do you wax them after? These were all questions I asked when I decided to paint my first set of cabinets several years ago. So I went to Lowe's and quizzed the paint tech along with reading tons of posts about the easiest ways to paint cabinets. You know by this point, I like things to be simple and manageable; therefore, you can trust I've figured out a method that works for me since I've painted 4 sets of cabinets (2 kitchens and both bathrooms), our mantle, a dresser, and soon the handrails on our stairs with this paint!


  • Screwdriver

  • New Knobs/Handles or Spray Paint (optional if you don't like your current knobs/handles)

  • Rubbing Alcohol (large bottle)

  • Rubber Gloves (optional for alcohol application; dries out your skin)

  • Old Cloth or Paper Towels (for alcohol application)

  • Paint Brush

  • Drop Cloths

  • Painter's Tape (optional)

  • Paint - Valspar Cabinet Enamel in Ultra White Tint Base 1

This paint is expensive; however, with one gallon I've painted our kitchen cabinets, two bathroom cabinets, a dresser, and our mantle. I've only used 1/2 gallon. So if you can find a 1/2 gallon, start with that. *The 'Ultra White Tint Base 1' is if you want to paint your cabinets white like I did. You can buy 'Base 1 Must Be Tinted' if you would like to have them tint it another color.* In my previous house, I painted the kitchen cabinets a light grey. I'm just loving white and bright everything in our new home.

I really love this paint because it finishes with a nice semi gloss texture which is resistant to dirt and most stains. I clean mine gently with a damp cloth or paper towel to remove most splatters or dirt where your hands touch most often. You have to get really close and inspect to tell it was hand painted.


Take Before Pictures!

Make sure to take some good before and after pictures and tag me on Instagram! (@weird_0ne) I would love to see how your project turns out! Also, you'll want to have pics to show friends and family when they ask about them.

Here are some of my before and after photos:

Remove the cabinet and drawer knobs/handles.

I chose to spray paint the knobs I wasn't replacing matte black. So if you're painting the knobs, this is a good time to start the first coat and add additional coats as you're in-between cabinet painting. Pro Tip: Keep all of the knobs and screws in a container or Ziploc back together. Note the door screws and cabinet screws are different lengths.

Remove doors and drawers (optional)

If you're choosing to remove the cabinet doors and drawers, go ahead and do so. My cabinet doors do not come off easily so I painted with them still attached. It's a pain while painting, but it takes less time overall since there is no removing and reattaching. For the drawers, I removed them and painted the base of the cabinets first. Then once the base dried, I put the drawers back in to paint but did not close them all the way until the paint dried completely.

Apply Painter's Tape if Necessary

If you have areas where you need to protect the floor or walls from the edge of your paint lines, be sure to put down some painter's tape. I recommend Frog tape for the cleanest edges. It is pricey, but I've found it works much better.

Clean the Cabinets

Clean the entire surface of all the cabinets and drawers thoroughly with rubbing alcohol and do not touch afterward. This not only cleans anything unwanted off the cabinets, but also removes the oils from where your hands touch which helps the paint adhere.

Time to Paint

Apply two coats of cabinet enamel, allowing it to dry completely between coats (good time for Netflix). If you're painting over a dark cabinet, you may need three coats. I want to say my mom used three coats on hers which were a dark wood.

*If you have a lot of cabinets, you may want to break the project into sections over more than one day. I did our kitchen cabinets in one day, but it took literally all day and I was exhausted. However, when I did our bathroom cabinets I did them in one afternoon each and it was much more enjoyable.*

Apply a thin first coat. I say thin, but I mean enough to cover well. You'll still be able to see the brush strokes and probably see through it slightly. The emphasis on thin is because it will create runs, which don't look very nice. I watch in-between coats to smooth out any runs that may start. I'll try to find a picture of one I missed for you. I recommend maybe starting a sample coat on one cabinet door to get the feel for how much to apply and how it runs.

Once the first coat is dry, apply the second and hopefully final coat.

Once completely dry, put the doors and drawers back on if necessary and re-attach knobs/handles.

Then step back and admire your handy work!

I hope you have enjoyed this post on how to paint your cabinets the easy way! Please tag me in your before and after photos; I can't wait to see them!

A collage of photos for Heather Corinne's blog: Warm cup of coffee, yarn and gold scissors.