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13 Things I’ve Learned Repainting Kitchen Cabinets

I’m halfway through painting my kitchen cabinets, and I thought I’d take a little break to update you and share a few things I’ve learned along the way. I’m planning a comprehensive “How To” guide when I’m finished, but while the paint is drying between coats, I’ve got a few previews.

The walls are painted, in the process of moving out.

The walls are painted, in the process of moving out.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far in repainting my kitchen cabinets:

  1. Small kitchens are a blessing in disguise.
  2. Priming and sanding both have their place. I’d love be able to just do one or the other, but they each serve different purposes.
  3. Krud Kutter is my new best friend. I couldn’t believe the stuff it cleaned off my cabinets. I wish I’d been using it all along. My kitchen will be cleaner than it’s ever been when I’m finished with this project.Krud Kutter
  4. Tearing up your kitchen the week of Thanksgiving is probably not the best idea. (To my friends who warned me about this, I give you permission to say “I told you so.”)
    My dining room covered with the insides of my kitchen cabinets

    My dining room. No Thanksgiving dinner happening here!

  5. Benjamin Moore Advance paint is worth it. It’s a waterborne alkyd, which essentially means it performs like an oil paint, but cleans like a waterbased paint. It’s got a longer drying time, so you have to plan around that, but that means it levels better (no streaks or brush marks!) and performs better in the long run. And since I’m never doing this project again, I want it to last!BM Advance
  6. Mohair rollers. The best way to hand-paint without leaving marks. They’re so soft you almost want to wear them.
  7. Don’t overwork the paint. Rollers have a nap (direction the fibers lay). Find it and go with it. Rolling back and forth is what leaves marks and bubbles, so try to roll the paint on in the direction of the nap and keep going. It will level out as it dries.
  8. Label. All. Your. Doors.
    Using masking tape to label the insides of cabinet doors before painting

    (Pin this raffle ticket system for labeling cabinet doors.)

  9. Leave your coffee maker and supplies out when you’re packing away all your kitchen stuff. This project needs coffee. Often.
  10. For a smooth, professional finish, use 320 grit sandpaper between coats.
  11. Be patient. Let the paint fully dry before sanding and re-coating. If you sand too soon you will freak out as the paint starts coming off.
  12. You can cook almost anything with a microwave and a toaster oven. And last, but certainly not least…
  13. It’s got to get worse before it gets better.
    In the process of painting kitchen cabinets white

    Boxes are painted and appliances are back in place.

Bonus #14: I’ve since learned of a better way to paint cabinets. Check out my updated Cabinet Painting Tutorial.

Someday everything will get back to normal, but first, I have to get the cabinet doors painted! Wish me luck, and I hope if you are taking on a project like this you’ve been encouraged by these tips.13 Things I've Learned Repainting my Kitchen Cabinets

Also, I know you’ve all been waiting with bated breath for the results of my paint color poll. So without further ado, I’m happy to report that the chosen paint color is… Valspar’s “Totten’s Inlet”. (I don’t know where they come up with these names.) As one of my reader friends so helpfully pointed out, “White is white.” Now that I see it in person, I do think I could have gone with any of the three colors I was choosing between. Oh well, I sure appreciate all my friends’ and readers’ help figuring that one out!

Here is my current supply list, in case you’re wanting a sneak peak before we get to the final reveal.


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Stay tuned for my final reveal and tutorial on painting kitchen cabinets!

Everything you need to know about painting cabinets, all in one handy ebook. With 2 worksheets to help you get started!


Sunday 11th of August 2019

I know it's been awhile since you posted this, but it's timeless & SOOOO helpful. I'm about to start painting the top cabinets in our kitchen to lighten it up, & your posts have helped tremendously. THANKS so much! <3 *drives to hardware store*


Monday 19th of August 2019

I'm so glad this was helpful for you! You're going to be so happy you did it!


Wednesday 28th of November 2018

About the mohair rollers. The BM Advance manufacturers suggest the micro fiber roller with 1/4 ' nap. Did you try those?

I still have some time to run out and get some mohair rollers if you think they are best. I put the primer down with high density foam rollers and they did a pretty good job, they really helped me to even out my brush strokes, I had to use a brush to get the inside beveling of my doors. I followed up by rolling out the brush marks as much as possible. I'm using a really thick, sticky primer because my cabinets were covered in that smooth baked on laminate paint. The good news is that I might only need two coats because I'm going white over white.


Thursday 29th of November 2018

Hi Janet! Yes, I used the mohair rollers and they really are the best. Foam rollers can be good too, but you have to be careful of getting air bubbles. If it were me, I'd use the mohair rollers to save time in the long run. It's too big of a project to have to redo parts of it. Best of luck!


Wednesday 28th of November 2018

You are amazing, I am going to stalk your blog now. I am in the process of painting my bathroom cabinets and I'm using the exact same paint. I have sanded and primed, I'm waiting to paint until we have a sunny weekend. I started this project Thanksgiving week!! I made a note not to do the kitchen Thanksgiving weekend. I have two cabinet boxes, doors and drawers, open shelving and medicine cabinets primed and ready to be painted. I have my 320 sand paper on the ready. I had a lot of sanding to do because my cabinets had the baked on vinyl paint that really needed to be roughed up and I had some chipped paint as well.

I plan to do my son's bathroom and my kitchen within the next 6 months.


Monday 7th of May 2018

Beautiful work! My cabinets have those type of hinges. For this project, did you remove both parts--that is, the hinge attaching the door to the frame and the part attached to the door itself?


Monday 7th of May 2018

Thank you Rachel! Yes, I did remove both parts, to make it easier to paint the inside of the cabinet door. It was a little more work removing and replacing them, but I think it made for a nicer finish on the doors.

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Monday 20th of February 2017

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Creating a color-filled life. Conquering my little world one DIY project at a time. With lots of coffee and chocolate. Albuquerque NM. Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Facebook