How to Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets–Tips & Tricks for a Smooth Finish

Our posts contain affiliate links.  If you make a purchase after clicking on these links, we will earn a small commission, which helps to keep our content free.  You don't pay a cent more than you would otherwise, since that would be tacky! Read our full privacy and disclosure policy here.



I am back with more progress in our “Kitchen Makeover”and it’s probably our biggest improvement so far! Today I am going to talk all about painting kitchen cabinets, which is a HUGE job but also one with a tremendous reward. Tackling this project takes time, energy and a few useful tools but in the end a lighter and brighter kitchen is definitely worth it. I am in love with the change our lighter cabinets make in the space, I promise all the effort is worth it.

This is Part 1 of my kitchen makeover–our project is still going on. It’s a huge undertaking and we have a large kitchen. I will link up all our in-progress posts at the end so you can catch up if you missed anything. I’ll be back with Part 2, the full reveal but for now, I wanted to dig into how I painted our formerly cherry cabinets and got a beautiful ultra-smooth finish.



Just for the sake of a “how far we’ve come” here is the before picture of our kitchen, dark, reddish and shadowy for sure.


kitchen before

If there is one lesson my Dad taught me it’s always to have the right tool for the job. You can certainly tackle this project with nothing more than a can of paint and a paint brush but it’s going to take you a LONG time and you may not get factory-finish results. Since paying someone to paint a kitchen this size would cost in the thousands, it’s a small investment to purchase a few useful tools to make it much easier and give great results. Since we work with HomeRight, using their Spray Shelter and the Finish Max Pro sprayer was a no-brainer, and the results were impressive.

How to paint kitchen cabinets using a paint sprayer:

| Follow us on YouTube |

Here is a list of what I used:

A drill {to remove the cabinet doors, and hardware}

Paint {Sherwin-Williams Pro Classic for Doors and Trim in Decorator’s White, read that story HERE}

Primer {Kilz in the gold can}

Sandpaper in various grits

A good quality paint brush, I used this small angled trim brush

Ryobi Corner Cat Sander and several packages of refills (150 grit)

Dewalt Random Orbit Palm Sander {or similar} and refills

HomeRight Spray Shelter

HomeRight FinishMax Pro Fine Finish Sprayer  (This is the latest and greatest model)

Mineral Spirits and rags

Face Mask designed for painting

I would also highly recommend small domes to raise your cabinets off the ground {you can get them HERE} and cloth drop cloths you can get at the hardware stores–I didn’t have them to cover my garage floor but wish I had. I don’t recommend the plastic especially if you paint in the summer–they can stick to the paint as it dries {lesson learned 🙁 }.

Tips and Tricks for Painting Cabinets

The process will go so much faster if you assemble everything you need ahead of time and set up a work station as I did in my garage.  I broke up our kitchen into four sections (lower cabinets, upper cabinets, island and desk area} then I completed the entire process for each section before moving on to the next, that way we didn’t have to live with chaos for too long.

Along those lines, if you need motivation to start your kitchen cabinet painting, just take the doors off! If you are as Type A as I am, you won’t be able to live with your cabinets like this for too long, this mess will get you started!




I started by assembling my spray shelter in my garage. It’s hot here at this time of year and I knew it was going to be up for awhile. You can purchase a Spray Shelter HERE and it will keep the paint overspray from getting in the garage and keep dust and dirt off the wet paint, which is important. Be sure to watch this video HERE to see how to set it up easily.



I first removed all my cabinet drawers, fortunately, I could just unscrew all the fronts so I didn’t have to empty them all.  I saved the hardware in a plastic bag and left it right in the drawer which made reattaching the fronts super simple. Then I detached all the cabinet doors, I did go to the trouble of labeling each one but later found that I had to remove the label to paint them so that was a waste of time. Again, working in small sections will make putting everything back on go more smoothly, your doors won’t get all mixed up.

Next, I spent quite a bit of time prepping the doors and in all honesty, this may be the hardest part.  I sanded the fronts and doors very well, my goal was to remove all the shiny gloss so the paint would adhere as best it could. While the palm sander made quick work of the flat panels, the most useful tool I had to sand was the Ryobi Corner Cat. I definitely went through quite a few sandpaper refills but getting into all the grooves of my cabinet doors was tedious, I would have completely lost my mind trying to do it with just a sheet of sandpaper.



After all the sanding was done {and don’t forget to do the sides}, I wiped everything down well with a rag, then wiped them again with another rag coated in mineral spirits to get every little bit of dust I could off before the painting process began.

I started by spraying on a coat of primer with the FinishMax Pro, which took no time at all. Unfortunately, our humidity was high that day so it took longer than usual to dry, and I had to wait a full day to flip them and spray the backs. At this point, I went inside and sanded, primed and painted the cabinets inside {I just used a brush to paint inside}.




After the primer was dry, I began the painting process. There are very easy to follow instructions that come with the sprayer, it’s simple to use.  I found that diluting the paint by about half with water worked perfectly, but that will vary based on conditions and the paint you use. I also recommend you use a face mask with the sprayer, there is very little over spray but you always want to be safe rather than sorry.

Luckily the humidity dropped the next day and things moved along faster once I started the painting. After two coats, front and back, the doors were done. I let them dry overnight and then brought them in and reattached them.


You can see in this picture above about how perfect the finish is. No brush marks, air bubbles or streaking, it’s amazing. The Finish Max is very easy to use, I have mentioned before that I used to be afraid that I was not an experienced enough painter to use a paint sprayer but trust me, that’s unfounded. Not only does it make quick work of a painting project but it is super lightweight and easy to clean. Part 2 of this project will have a detailed video about using the FinishMax to paint cabinets so be sure to check back.

I can’t get over the difference the lighter cabinets make in our kitchen…




Even our granite, which we aren’t at all crazy about is less obtrusive against the white. Everything looks much cleaner and updated now, and I think our marble backsplash looks amazing.




Friends have told me what a challenging time they had getting a smooth finish when they painted their cabinets with a brush or a roller and I know that can be the case. As you can see, these look pretty much like they came this way.




We’re finishing up the other sections and I can’t wait to show off the island–I think that is going to make a big impact on how the kitchen looks. It’s not a small process or an overnight makeover, so thanks for your patience. It will be fun to show it off once everything is done and I’ll have a whole video detailing the process so stay tuned!







Note: We have linked to the newer (and less expensive!) paint sprayer then then one shown here, it is available here.

One of the hardest parts of the cabinet painting project is selecting a paint color, you can see my post on making that choice HERE.

To see all sorts of other projects you can do with a HomeRight FinishMax click {here} to see our Pinterest Board.

See more about my kitchen makeover:

Breakfast Room Reveal

Kitchen/Breakfast Room Paint Color {my favorite color ever!}

The marble backsplash

The DIY Open Shelving

The DIY Under Counter Shelves {IKEA hack}

The Kitchen Makeover Plan


The Final Kitchen Reveal

The Other Side of Our Kitchen

There is still much to come with this project–including new hardware, lighting, shelving and more. It’s a journey for sure! Please leave any questions in comments, I’ll be sure to try to answer them for you.

Also, be sure to check out this post with how the cabinets are holding up two years later.


Also, you might find this post to be helpful about the Do’s and Don’ts of Painting Kitchen Cabinets.


The Do's and Don'ts to easily paint your kitchen cabinets. A step by step guide how to paint kitchen cabinets as easily as possible.



small-amy-new-headshot-summer-2016-2 copy
icon-facebook-1icon-instagram-1icon-pinterest-1icon-twitter-1NEW Google+

We are pleased to work with HomeRight as an Ambassador, our opinions are our own. Our posts contain affiliate links.  If you make a purchase after clicking on these links, we will earn a small commission, which helps to keep our content free.  You don’t pay a cent more than you would otherwise, since that would be tacky! Please see our full disclosure policy here.

Click here to subscribe










  1. I love, love, love the new bright white cabinets! I continue to read fabulous things about the MaxPro Sprayer and I just used Sherwin Williams ProClassic to paint a dresser and I love it! It creates such a beautiful finish, but takes some finesse when using a brush. There are so many things I would love to paint – our cabinets, desk, 2 side tables…

  2. I love your white cabinets!!

  3. What an improvement to your cabinets! You have so many great ideas that I don’t know where to begin!

  4. I need to paint my kitchen cabinets too.

  5. Wow, what a difference and your cabinets are looking amazing. Love them.

  6. i’d spray a sofa table that needs some bright color first! but now i’m thinking about doing our dark kitchen cabinets too 🙂

  7. I want to do this to my cabinets at home. I have heard a sprayer is best!

  8. Karlyn lynch says

    Thanks for the great tutorial. Hoping to paint my cabinets soon! 🙂

  9. I will start with the old oak dresser I want to repurpose into a dining room buffet. Then on to bedroom furniture and if I still have any drive, I will paint my kitchen cabinets.

  10. love the cabinets your kitchen is looking beautiful.

  11. Love the crisp white with the counters!! I’m partial to white & I too painted ours..although we hand painted each one..AHHHHHH { ripping hair out } haha! Love these tips & tricks for our soon next home!!


  12. Your kitchen is looking great! I would also like to paint my kitchen cabinets white. We currently have light maple cabinets, very 90’s looking!

  13. Oh you know how badly I want white cabinets and maybe with this I could do it myself!! That is if I can’t pay you to come do mine!! Your s look amazing!! Great job!!

  14. Sharlene Piscitelli says

    I have several doors and furniture pieces that need painting.

  15. I’ve always marveled at your HomeRite sprayer projects but was afraid to purchase one for fear of not getting it “right”!. I have bedroom furniture that is “brown” from the ’60s and my husband has been nagging me to replace it……but, I think that it would look great if painted and a sprayer might just convince him that I’m right!

  16. Stephanie Lee says

    I would paint furniture, cabinets, anything I wanted with this tool. I think paint changes the look of everything, and it is affordable

  17. Cindy Gough says

    I would love to win this sprayer to repaint our kitchen table!

  18. Thanks for doing this post! I’ve been waiting to do this very same project and dreading it. Your tips are great and thanks for the opportunity to win the great FinishMax Pro! 🙂

  19. Lynda Lamon says

    I would paint my kitchen cabinets and the exterior brick on my home. You did an impressive job on your kitchen cabinets! Can’t wait to see the full reveal! Thanks for the chance to win!!

  20. I soooooo want to win this! My kitchen needs to be painted.

  21. I have so many things I need to paint I wouldn’t know where to start!!! However, it would be nice to actually have the right tool for the job. I mostly just make do with what I have and often it just makes the job harder!!

  22. Too many projects to name!!

  23. Staci Torgerson says

    Oh how would I use the Finish Max Pro Sprayer? Let me count the ways: 1st would be to paint my front door and garage doors, 2nd would be the laundry room cabinets, 3rd the kitchen cabinets, 4th guest bath vanity, I could go on and on. So much to paint!

  24. The FinishMax sprayer is the exact wonder-tool I need to tackle our kitchen. The dated 80’s oak finish on our many kitchen cabinets would be the first (and most impactful) step to take our kitchen from “ugh” to “Wow!”. Thanks for your terrific reveal. It’s the motivation I need to jump-start this project!

  25. Wow what a difference! I have dreamed of painting our early 90s nondescript oak cabinets but wouldn’t know where to start.

  26. Amy, I have been waiting on pins and needles for your coverage of your kitchen cabinet makeover. The results are absolutely gorgeous. I’m so excited to see the video. I think it will give me the last bit of courage and motivation to do mine, if I have a video to watch and learn from. Always love when your newsletter arrives in my inbox.

  27. Judy C in NC says

    Your kitchen cabinets are fantastic – that in itself is a testament to the sprayer … Please enter me in to win … I really do want to change my cabinets. Thanks from Judy C

  28. Judy C in NC says

    I already subscribe to emails and love every one. Judy C

  29. Love how you got a smooth finish on the cabinets!

  30. I would love to paint my 80’s cabinets and wish I would have know how easy this was before I recently tackled a TV console with spray paint…UGH difficult!

  31. I’d use this to paint the loft bed I’m working on for my son. I’ve been using foam rollers and it’s taking forever just to prime it all.

  32. Just the motivation I needed to get busy on my den makeover! Looks FANTASTIC!

  33. Kaye Newman says

    I would use this to paint my bathroom cabinets.

  34. I have had big plans to paint my kitchen cabinets for quite a while now. Your post was very helpful. That is definitely the project I would start with if I had a sprayer. Your kitchen is gorgeous!!

  35. Looks great!

  36. Lynda Lamon says

    I would paint my kitchen cabinets! Thanks for the chance to win!!!! Love your blog!!!

  37. Ashleigh Hall says

    I would love to paint my kitchen cabinets. If I win, that’ll be the first thing I paint! 🙂

  38. Your cabinets time and time again turn out beautifully. I have beautiful solid wood cabinets in my new house but they are cherry and I would love to paint them white, it would look so much open and cleaner like yours do. This would be exactly what I would do if I win. As always, you guys always inspire me.

  39. I have so many projects that I would use the sprayer on like my kitchen cabinets and bath vanity, small home décor items, furniture items I am refinishing and lots of items it would be working for a long time!!!

  40. This would be amazing to own! I would use it to paint our kitchen cabinets, bookshelves, and bedroom set. Thank you so much for the chance to win.

  41. I have been wanting to paint my bedroom furniture for 2 years. This would make it so much quicker.

  42. Oh my gosh, your cabinets came out fantastic! I totally want to get my kitchen cabinets painted! Thanks for the inspiration and the chance to win!
    Karen U

  43. I can’t believe how much the white updates the look of the room, and what a gorgeous finish! It definitely gives it a professional look that you just can’t get with a brush or roller, no matter how much you work with it. Amazing!

  44. I foster newborn babies who are drug and/or alcohol addicted. My family also runs a foster care ministry called Faith 2 Foster (find us on Facebook!). The ministry has a cabinet for our clothes closet, but it is sorely in need of paint. That’s just the first project I would tackle!

  45. mary ballerin says

    Hi, I would use the Pro on my kitchen cabinets, they need painting so badly, the room would look so much better, they’re builder grade 1979 not even wood finish on the sides. I have a kit but would need to do a backsplash and counter, even if painted for now. Thanks!

  46. I just saw your photo on Instagram sharing your cabinets and I had to come check them out on your blog! We have almost the same exact cherry colored cabinets and I’m not a fan.. I really want to paint them white. Are your cabinets solid wood?

    • Hi Kelly–yes they are solid wood. Kraftmaid. So far I have absolutely not regrets about painting them! So glad you came to check them out!

      • Thanks Amy! We have some sort of melamine type cabinets which makes me nervous that it won’t turn out as nicely. I’ll definitely be reading this post over a few times for tips before we take the plunge! 🙂

  47. Love the cabinet doors as well as the back door. Am so going to do this! What colors did you use? Undercoat as well as the top coat? And is the “undercoat” simply one coat of latex? Thanks

  48. Love the cabinets! You mention that you sprayed the doors and drawers, but what did you do about the bases-Use a brush or roller? Were you able to notice a differene between spray areas and brushed on areas? Still loving them?

    • HI Susan–great question. I used a brush to paint the cabinet frames, I didn’t have any issues with marks and I can’t tell any difference between what was sprayed and not sprayed. Yes, totally still LOVE them! They are holding up great. Thanks,

  49. Richard Cook says

    Looks like I’m 2 years late to the party, but I’m wanting to paint our cabinets too and love how yours turned out! Thank you for putting together such an informative post. I do have two questions that hopefully somebody can answer: was there any issue with the woodgrain showing through the cabinets? Our cabinets appear to be solid oak and I think the grain will show through! Also with the pro paint is there any need to put on any kind of poly finish a protective coat? How has the finish held up for two years? Thanks again!

    • Hi Richard, never too late 🙂

      I have not had any issues with wood grain showing through but my cabinets were cherry, not oak. I do think you may have some show through with oak if you get up very close? {My parents did paint oak cabinets in their kitchen and you can only tell if you look closely for what it is worth?} If that bothers you it might just call for more sanding and more coats of paint.

      I have not used a topcoat finish though I do think that is worth considering, there are some good clear coats out there. I wouldn’t want to recommend one though since I didn’t use one, I am sorry. My paint has held up really quite well over two years without one. I did recently do some touching up (mostly where I dinged the paint when I re-installed the cabinet doors} but the original paint is doing great even near the knobs. I clean them with a magic eraser and most of the scuffs come right off. I hope that is helpful!

      Good luck with your project if you decide to undertake it. I can promise you that the investment in a sprayer is key with this type of project. I recently tried to brush a smaller set of cabinets and gave up and went back to spraying–it went so much faster! I don’t know why I didn’t go that route from the beginning, ha! Let us know how they turn out 🙂 Amy

  50. I will, definitely follow this instruction. I always wanted to change my cabinet color but, I always mess up so article really helps. Keep posting!

  51. I don’t understand why you didn’t remove the hinges before painting?

    • Great question–originally I thought I could leave them on to save time, so they were on for the sanding part. Then I realized that wasn’t going to work, and I removed them before I painted. Best, Amy

      • Would you mind sharing which sheen of pro classic paint you chose? I’m torn between satin and semigloss

  52. Reginne Kelly says

    I will, definitely follow this instruction. I always wanted to change my cabinet color but, I always mess up so this article really helps.

Leave a Reply to [email protected] Stroll Thru Life Cancel reply


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

© 2017-2019 All Rights Reserved