How to paint oak cabinets

My Repurposed Life-How to Paint Oak Cabinets

 

Because my kitchen makeover was so drawn out, I am writing a new post with my tips and tidbits for painting kitchen cabinets/cupboards.

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 This is the before picture of my kitchen.
Step by step how to prep and paint oak cabinets:
  1. wash down all doors, drawers and facings with warm soapy water, rinse and dry
  2. use TSP (following manufacturers instructions)  You can buy it on Amazon.  The TSP will clean any remaining grease and help remove some of the shine.
  3. remove doors and drawer fronts, and all hardware. Identify each door and drawer so that you know where each goes when it’s time to reinstall.
  4. fill holes if you are changing out handles. I switched from handles to knobs so I only filled one hole on each door. On the lower doors I filled the lower hole, on the upper doors I filled the upper hole. I used Elmer’s wood filler. (hint: put a piece of Scotch Blue Painter’s Tape on the inside of the hole to keep the putting from going all the way through)  Let dry, lightly sand.
  5. tape inside edge of all doors and drawer fronts. (I did not paint the inside of my cabinets.)
  6. lightly sand doors and drawer fronts to remove any sheen. I used 220 grit sand paper. I did the doors and drawer fronts outside. Make sure to wipe off ALL dust from sanding.
  7. lightly sand the front facings and ends of cabinets.  I never emptied my cabinets, however I had some small cheap garbage bags that I used to cover up my contents.  After I finished sanding, I removed the plastic and threw it away.  Wipe down all dust. (Not Pictured Below)
  8. tape off any areas that will be too difficult to keep paint from splattering.  (I taped the edge where my counter top meets the front of the counter.  See pictures) I always use ScotchBlue Painters Tape.
  9. I used oil based primer as a base for all wood surfaces.  I used a sprayer from Harbor Freight. (outdoors) for doors and drawer fronts.  (please follow all safety precautions using an approved respirator and safety goggles) I used a small foam roller for the front facings. Two coats of primer, lightly sanding in between coats. I used an “in-between coats”  sponge sandpaper.  Allow paint to dry thoroughly before moving ahead on any of these paint steps. I allowed 24 hours in between EVERY coat. I did not tape any front facings. Using a foam roller helps the paint not to get inside the cabinets.  UPDATE: I now use a Fine Finish Sprayer from HomeRight.
  10. Spray (outdoors) doors and drawer fronts with latex paint. I used Dutch Boy Refresh (quart)   Semi-gloss in Sweetened White.
  11. Use a small foam roller to paint the facings and ends of cabinets. Again, I let this coat dry 24 hours. All in all, I did about 4 light coats on the doors and drawer fronts with my sprayer. I did three light coats (foam roller) on all the facings and cabinet ends.
  12. Allow all wood surfaces to fully cure before reinstalling. I waited about two weeks, storing the doors and drawer fronts indoors while they cured.
  13. Install all hardware and reinstall all doors and drawer fronts in their original places.

prepping cabinets

 4) fill holes if you are changing out handles. I switched from handles to knobs so I only filled one hole on each door. On the lower doors I filled the lower hole, on the upper doors I filled the upper hole. I used Elmer’s wood filler. Let dry.
oak cabinets
5) tape inside edge of all doors and drawer fronts. (I did not paint the inside of my cabinets.)
sanding oak cabinets
6) lightly sand doors and drawer fronts to remove any sheen. I used 220 grit sand paper. I did the doors and drawer fronts outside. Make sure to wipe off ALL dust from sanding.
oak cabinets (taping)
8) tape off any areas that will be too difficult to keep paint from splattering.  (I taped the edge where my counter top meets the front of the counter.)   I always use

Scotch Blue Painter’s Tape 

prime oak cabinets

9) I used oil based primer as a base for all wood surfaces.  I used a sprayer from Harbor Freight. (outdoors) for doors and drawer fronts.
easy paint tip
I used a small foam roller for the front facings. Two coats of primer, lightly sanding in between coats. I only bought one little tray for this job, so using a plastic bag allowed me to reuse it without cleaning it with mineral spirits.
Allow paint to dry thoroughly before moving ahead on any of these paint steps. I allowed 24 hours in between EVERY coat.

priming oak cabinets

I did not tape any front facings. Using a foam roller helps the paint not to get inside the cabinets.

 

spray painting oak cabinets

10) Spray (outdoors) doors and drawer fronts with latex paint. I used Dutch Boy Refresh Semi-gloss in Sweetened White. My sprayer was from Harbor Freight.
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EDITED TO ADD:  This is the air compressor I used. It was a little too small, but it’s what my budget could afford. I suggest a larger compressor if you don’t want to have to wait for your compressor to catch up.  This one pretty much ran all the time I was spraying.

A more affordable and easy to use option is a HomeRight Finish Max Fine Finish Sprayer

white oak cabinets

12) Allow all wood surfaces to fully cure before reinstalling. I waited about two weeks, storing the doors and drawer fronts indoors while they cured.

 

oak cabinets get new paint

white (oak) cabinets

spray paint hinges

oak cabinets painted white

painted vinyl floor

I also painted my vinyl floor.

white (oak) cabinets The almond color plate cover has been replaced, please overlook it.

stainless steel spray paint

You can see how I painted my utensil holder and my wooden knife block in my post

Kitchen Accessories/Krylon Paint

white painted cupboards
I love the way the white cabinets helped to brighten up the room. I get very little natural light in this room.

Update: I also painted my counter tops.

painted counter tops
Another Update: I finally got new appliances, and I painted my kitchen island, plus—have you seen my DIY Barn Doors?

How To Paint Oak Cabinets

gail

 

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Gail Wilson is the hammer and drill behind My Repurposed Life. She is in the process of repurposing her life as she juggles all the responsibilities of running a home and a successful DIY blog. You can always count on Gail to give you the 411 on DIY on a budget.
About gail@myrepurposedlife.com

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  1. Looks beautiful! You choose everything including color so well. Love your further additions . . . like your countertops. Question for you… Would you ever consider using chalk paint on your cupboards instead of sanding and priming, etc. Then latex top coat? If so, do you think your outcome would be the same? Your opinions please!

    Great Job! Beautiful and elegantly done!

    Peggy

    • gail@myrepurposedlife.net says:

      I do that kind of paint treatment for my furniture, so I don’t know why it wouldn’t work. I haven’t put latex over REAL chalk paint, only DIY chalk paint made from Plaster of Paris.

      Thanks for your kind words on my kitchen cabinets. :)

  2. I am planning to paint my oak cabinet but was not sure how to do it, right now I am having a hard time getting the grease off. The more I see the more I am thinking I can do this. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • gail@myrepurposedlife.net says:

      Madeline,

      I think you can do it as long as you don’t rush it and take the proper prep precautions. :) TSP, sanding, priming, it’s all very important, as is curing time. :)

      good luck! have fun!

      gail

  3. Why didn’t you paint the inside of the cabinet doors?

    • I didn’t paint the inside of the cabinets because it would get scuffed up by the dishes. When you open the doors, it’s all brown, and it matches. With the doors closed, no one knows that the inside isn’t painted. :)

  4. Laura-The floor is held up fabulously. No kids, but two cats and a dog.
    I’m about to update the blue squares (black) to match the counter tops. The counter tops are great too, but it’s just me, and I’m very careful. I’m so glad I did it all, because I felt I had nothing to lose.
    good luck!
    gail

  5. Wow, this looks beautiful! My kitchen was built in 1957, updated in 1976, and is pretty much frozen at that stage until we figure out what to do to update for low cost. I was considering painting the floor, it’s Terrazo and badly stained. What’s held me back is durability- how has your floor paint held up since you posted this a couple of years ago? Also, how has the countertop paint fared? I am a stay-at-home-mom and my kitchen gets a LOT of heavy cooking use as one necessary way to conserve funds.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for posting this, I am planning to paint my oak cabinet but was not sure how to do it, right now I am having a hard time getting the grease off, I will try the soap and tsd, I hope they come out as good as yours.

  7. I really want to take some time to thank you for sharing this wonderful post and all the details. I can’t tell you whole many times I looked through this before I had the courage to attack my kitchen. Again, thank you so much! If it wasn’t for this blog, then I dont know if I would have remodeled my kitchen.

    Here is a link to my blog that shows my b&a pics-

    http://www.mrsshayne.com/2012/08/kitchen-remodel-its-finished-before.html

  8. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the instructions! I have been considering painting my cabinets for a while now, wondering how to go about it where they wouldn’t chip. Now I know! Now just can’t decide if I want white or black! Want to paint my walls gray and I have a vinyl floor that looks like gray marbled tile. Wanting metal or black table and chairs. Any suggestions?

  9. I think I have those exact cabinets!

    I have been thinking about re-painting for years since the cabinets are in good condition–just really dark in a small kitchen. I don’t know if I’d do white, but I do like the lighter color.

    Thanks for the tips–now I just need to do it! I’ll bookmark your page. :)

  10. Wow!! I have super-ugly oak cabinets that I would love to paint. (Or better yet, I’d love to have *you* paint them ;)

  11. thanks Joel! I suppose considering the price of my sprayer and compressor, it worked like a charm. Would it work to paint a car? nope. :)
    Yes I did dilute the paint. I’m no expert, but I sort of think of “spray” paint in a can. It’s totally liquid. I did NOT thin it that much, but to the extent of it’s easily pourable. It just takes practice.
    Now I just put it in the cup, add a little water, and stir.
    It is imperative that you use a strainer on your paint. ONE little clump and you’re in a pickle.
    I hope you get this comment, I had no other way to reach you.
    gail
    ps I’ve never used Flotrol. I use latex 99.9% of the time.

  12. Nicely done!

    My only question was how well the pressure sprayer worked with the latex paint. I prefer to use latex, but have had terrible luck with pressure sprayers in the past for latex. Did you dilute the paint? If so to what extent? Even with Flotrol I have always seen my sprayer clogging. Thanks!

  13. I did not use a clear coat over my paint. However I took every step possible to make sure my paint “stuck” to the wood. Sanding-oil based primer-thin coats of paint. Sanding between each coat of paint.
    good luck!
    gail

  14. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful job! Is there a clear coat used over the paint? I have the same cabinets and would like to updated without replacing. I have bathroom cabinets that were painted and now paint is wearing from washing and I can imagine the kitchen would be worse in less time. Thanks!

  15. GORGEOUS … love the painted floor … came out spectacular …

  16. That floor is gorgeous! I love the colors!

  17. Gail,
    What was your total start to finish time? I want to do this but there is someone in our house who it would drive crazy to have the doors off for that amount of time. Thanks!

  18. I keep going back and forth on if I want to paint my cabinets – your before look just like my now. The more I see the more I am thinking I can do this. Thanks for the inspiration.

  19. The power of paint! I am hoping to paint my oak cabinets this Summer. I don’t get much natural light in my kitchen either, so I’m hoping white cabinets will brighten it up. You did an amazing job! Thanks for all the tips!

  20. That is the paint sprayer I am looking at purchasing. Do you like it? Would you recommend it? I will be using it less frequently than you do, but often enough that I think the $20 would be worth it, so long as it works as it is supposed to! :)

  21. I love your kitchen redo!!! I’m not sure I could pull that off but I’m getting motivated :) Did you paint your hinges too? What did you use?
    sharvp (at) hotmail (dot) com

  22. great job, my kitchen desperately needs this!

  23. I also have oak cabinets and I am DYING to paint them but have been too afraid. Thank you for giving me the know-how and inspiration to get them painted!!

  24. Looks so much better.

  25. I have this high on my to-do list. Thanks for the tips!

  26. I really want to paint my cabinets white next summer. They are faux maple, blah, cheap

  27. Wow ~ just GORGEOUS transformation Gail! I love the fresh clean look and color palette. The floor too is amazing. Your patience is clear and yielded awesome dividends. Congrats! Hope you’re enjoying it all with friends n family this Christmas!
    hugs,
    Leslie

  28. Whoa! that’s a lot of work! You did such a good job, it looks amazing!

  29. It is absolutely gorgeous…you’d never guess this was a DIY job…absolutely fabulously executed. YOu should be so darned proud of yourself.

    (Thanks for the tip about curing 24 hours between EVERY coat. I think it made all the difference.)

  30. Thanks to everyone, if you have any questions, just email me.
    gail

  31. Oh how I would love to do what you just did. I have the 90s oak cabinets that are so 90ish and not so pretty.

    Great for you! I don’t know that my hubby will let me attempt this. I may have to try to convince him, though.

  32. boy, that was a lot of work. but so worth it!

  33. boy, that was a lot of work. but so worth it!

  34. I have updated my post to include info on the compressor I used.

    gail

  35. The guy at our hardware store could stand to take a few classes from you. He left out some steps when he told me how to paint our kitchen cabinets, so now they’re starting to chip.

    Your cabinets, however, look fabulous! And I’d be very surprised if they ever chip.

  36. I just did mine as well. It is quite the job but so worth it for the cost!! You did such an awesome job!

    I am having a giveaway if you would like to enter! Have a great week!

  37. Ooooh, there’s MORE? I want you to hurry!

  38. I must say your kitchen is absolutely gorgeous! Each time I look at it I just can’t get over the difference! Is it highly visible from the other rooms? Because it now flows so nicely with your living room! Great job Gail! You never cease to amaze me!! I have to admit I really want to paint my cabinets but am always intimidated by the amount of time it is going to take….

  39. What size compressor do you use with your spray gun? I’ve been thinking of investing in a compressor/spray gun to help with my furniture refinishing but am so confused by all the options out there!

  40. Thank you for posting these directions. Even I could try this after reading these detailed steps. Your cabinets are incredible. Love the white.

  41. Good directions, I’m so bad about prepping. It’s the most important step but I’m always too impatient to get started and skip over some of the important details.
    Your kitchen paint job is just fabulous, what a difference that paint made! Well done!

  42. I love how your whole kitchen turned out! I have been planning to paint my cupboards for a while. I will just print out your step by step instructions. Appreciate all your wisdom.

  43. Oh my goodness, that really makes your kitchen look so much bigger, I guess its all the wonderful chrisp and clean white paint, and I am digging the silver knobs on the cabinet doors! Great job, projects that take the longest always look the best!
    - Kim
    Upcycle On Everyone!
    http://www.mrgnomesblog.com/

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me! I read and appreciate every word!