If you read my previous post, you know we’re in the midst of renovating our new kitchen. We’re still working on the cabinets in the new kitchen, so I figured it was a good time to share the cabinet-painting story from our past kitchen. This is a follow-up to the Rustoleum Countertop Transformations project I posted about already. Given the success of the countertop project, I decided to give Rustoleum’s Cabinet Transformations kit a try when tackling our first kitchen almost four years ago. I tested the product on the vanity in our master bath using the color “Tudor”. On camera, it looks similar to our finished cabinets, but next to the kitchen floors, it was far too red. The product worked well, but since I wasn’t able to find a stock color that matched our kitchen, I decided to try following the same process with my own paint. It was quite a search to find the perfect color, but it was worth the effort.

Project Cost

Total – $56

  • Deglosser – $10
  • 1 Gallon Behr Premium Plus Ultra Paint & Primer in One, Flat – $25
  • 2 Quarts Satin Polyurethane – $20
  • Scour pad – $1

Tools & Supplies Needed

  • Electric drill with driver bit (or a screwdriver) for removing doors and hardware
  • Chemical deglosser of choice – I used leftover deglosser from the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation kit.
  • 1 gallon high quality flat paint in color of choice – I used Behr Premium Plus Ultra Paint & Primer in One.
  • Satin Polyurethane – I like Varathane because it’s water based and easy to work with. I tested matte, stain, and semi-gloss finishes when starting this project. I found the soft sheen of satin poly gave the best finish for cabinets.
  • 2-inch angle brush
  • Rubber gloves
  • Coarse scour pad

Process Overview

  • Number the cabinet doors and drawer fronts so you know where they go.
  • Set up tables, saw horses, or other workspaces where you can lay your cabinet doors and drawers during this project. Ideally this location should be away from pets and kids to avoid dust, hair, and smudges.
  • Remove all hardware from the cabinets.
  • Remove all doors and drawer fronts.
  • Mask off the base cabinets for painting (see example photos).
  • Wearing gloves, degloss the cabinets, doors and drawer fronts using the scour pad and according to the instructions on the deglosser you are using. The goal is to dull the surface enough to help the paint adhere. It will not be rough like a sanded surface, but it should not be glossy or have a high sheen. I recommend deglossing (and eventually painting) the front and backs of the cabinets and drawer fronts, but not the inside of the cabinets.
  • Wipe the cabinets with water to remove excess deglosser or follow the instructions for the deglosser you are using. Let everything dry completely before moving on.
  • Apply the first coat of paint to the back side of the cabinet doors. It’s best to start with the back because then you’ll finish with the front and be less likely to scratch the newly painted surface when painting the opposite side. Begin by painting any textured or recessed areas using a brush. Follow up by painting the flat surfaces. Continue painting drawer fronts and base cabinet structures. I used a brush for the entire project, but you could optionally use a roller for large flat areas.
  • Once the back side of the cabinet doors have dried completely, flip them over and repeat the process for the front of the doors. Let the first coat of paint dry completely then apply a second coat to all surfaces including both sides of the doors and drawers using the same process. You do not need to sand in between coats.
  • Let the second coat dry and inspect all surfaces for any spots that did not get adequate coverage. Two coats should be enough, but touch up any spots that were missed and let them dry before proceeding.
  • Apply a thin even coat of polyurethane using the same process as the paint. Begin by brushing any textured or recessed areas and then paint the flat areas.
  • Allow everything to dry for at least 24 hours before reassembling to avoid dings and scratches.
  • Replace doors and drawer fronts according to their numbers and reinstall the cabinet hardware (or in my case, install new hardware).
  • Enjoy your new kitchen.

The Results

Here’s a look at the finished kitchen. We finished the cabinets shortly after completing the countertops. They held up quite well and were easy to clean. These photos were taken more than three years after the initial application.

Final Thoughts

This project isn’t difficult, but it’s fairly time consuming because of all the dry time in between coats. I certainly recommend setting up a clean workspace where you can let all the doors and drawers dry undisturbed in between coats. I also recommend testing your color on one door to make sure you like it with your flooring, countertops, and backsplash before diving into the full project.

Stay tuned. Our second cabinet-painting endeavor is in progress at our new house.