DIY Kitchen Cabinet makeover – White


Hi everyone,

So I got a request from my lovely wife to continue updating our kitchen by painting our cabinets white. Little did I know, I still had a lot to learn about the correct way to do this.

I had this wrong idea that I could skip some of the steps necessary to get it right the first time but there I was fixing my mistakes over and over again. I hope these steps will help others cut down on their labor to what it normally would be.

Note: In order to get good results, this will take a weekend plus a day or two.

Tools needed:

  • 120 grit sand paper
  • paint brushes
  • small paint roller (4 in)
  • drill for cabinet screws


  • new cabinet hardware
  • Sherwin Williams ProClassic Waterborne Interior Acrylic Enamel or Benjamin Moore Advance
  • felt pads

Step 1: Removal and sanding

Most cabinet doors and surfaces have a polyurethane coating or glossy finish that requires sanding and prepping to make sure the primer goes on evenly and also stays on. So you’ll want to remove all doors including the face of pull out drawers. CAUTION! use painters tape to mark which cabinet door and faces to drawers goes where!!!! This can help you avoid some headache later for when you are ready to put everything back.

Once you do this, you will want to remove all of the hardware if possible (including hinges).

Sand down all surfaces until the shiny finish becomes dull and use something like Krud Kutter to clean off any stains. After this you are ready to prime!

Step 2: Priming

Since cabinet grade paint is expensive, it is recommend to get a good oil based primer to give it a base color for good coverage. We used Sherwin Williams ProBlock Interior oil based product to ensure the grease stains from years of kitchen use did not bleed through. I initially made the fatal mistake of trying to use a water based primer from Kilz to prepare our cabinets. What you’ll see happening is the picture below. My wife said we should just go to the paint store to get expert help because I had already wasted many efforts trying to clean it off with Krud Kutter (this product is actually pretty awesome for fighting grease though). As a warning, oil based paint in general emits strong odor and is harmful for pregnant ladies. Wear a respirator as necessary and do the doors and faces outside or in a well ventilated area.

Another thing to avoid with the primer is making large streaks like the picture here. These will NOT be covered by the final paint and WILL show; especially when the light hits it just right. Be patient and try to paint with the grain to give it a natural looking undercoat -> finish. If you can spare a roller, I believe this problem can be altogether avoided. Recommendations are to usually paint the back, then the front of the cabinets.

Using a brush, make sure to get paint into the corners so you don’t end up with gaps and then do the wider/larger areas. Follow painting instructions for a second coat of primer if necessary and then go to the final steps.

Step 3: Finishing coat

You are almost there! After carefully painting the cabinet corners and sides with primer, you can finally move to the finishing coat. If there are paint globs or streaks that need to be smoothed out, make sure to sand those down before applying the final coats. Using similar techniques to priming, take your Sherwin or Benjamin cabinet paint and first paint the back of the cabinet doors and faces of drawers. For these parts, using a small roller helps give it a very even coat and allows you to paint faster. We highly recommend it!

After waiting the proper time, give the backs and cabinet frame areas a second coat. 

Before working on the front, wait a good 24 hrs to make sure that the backs don’t get damaged or marked when flipped over (or follow the paint instructions). Again, use a brush to fill in corners and then follow it up with the roller to smooth everything out for the front and sides. Add a second coat and you are that much closer to having that kitchen makeover completed~

Remember that by this time, you will have already moved the painters tape with the corresponding cabinet door locations from one side to the other to avoid painting over it.

Step 4: Installation of painted cabinet doors and faces

Put on those new or resurfaced hardware and let the painter’s tape help you find which doors/faces goes where! Use the screws that were holding these doors in place and you are almost done. Don’t forget to stick new felt spacers on the inside corners of these cabinets.

Now sit back and enjoy your updated kitchen!


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