How to paint your kitchen cabinets without sanding or priming – and yes it works without the overwhelm!
How it started
We bought our house and I knew instantly that I am going to paint this kitchen. There was just too much wood going on, too much brown. Did that ever happen to you?
You walk into a room and you know exactly what you are going to change to make it look prettier?
Want to know how it looked before? Read on.
But the more I thought about it, the more I got scared.
- What if it wouldn’t look good afterwards,
- what if we have to exchange the whole kitchen in case the painting would become a disaster.
I was scared.
My husband was also seriously questioning me, because he thought that the kitchen looked great the way it was.
Well, it didn’t look great to me, especially when you are not used to dark brown kitchens.
But I hadn’t seen a painted kitchen yet. And of course, I didn’t know if it would look the way I was hoping for afterwards.
Doing research on painting kitchen cabinets without sanding and priming
Sanding, priming, painting, sealing – I was just overwhelmed with the whole process.
Then I read about milk paint, and that there is no need to sand or prime the wood before painting! This is what I wanted to hear. Game changer!
So I started to read more into it. After a lot of reading I was convinced, this kitchen can’t look worse afterwards than it looks now.
My motto: just get it done and take the chance!
This is how my kitchen looked before, dark, old and uninviting – not pretty!
This is how it looks now, fresh and happy and bright – love it!
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How to start
Pick your colors first
I decided on two different colors.
A darker grey for the lower cabinets and a lighter grey for the upper cabinets. The colors I chose work well with the countertops.
Always use the lighter color for the upper cabinets, that makes the room look higher and lighter.
(I put all the links where to buy the paint at the end of the post).
Here is a short video of my kitchen how it looks now, so you can decide for yourself if it is worth doing it:
Paint your kitchen cabinets without sanding and priming DIY
And this is how I began to paint my kitchen cabinets without sanding or priming
First, I cleaned the kitchen cabinets outside and inside.
I decided to work in sections, as I didn’t had a lot of time during the day and we used the kitchen while I did that project.
First, I unscrewed six cabinet doors and took off all the hardware and hinges.
Then I covered my deck and laid the doors onto the plastic cover.
I used a brush and a roller to apply the paint slowly and thoroughly.
I used the brush first for the corners and the sides, then the roller for all the flat surfaces. (If you want to try it out first and see how it looks, start with the inside of the doors).
Here are the steps again how to paint your kitchen cabinets without sanding or priming:
- Remove all hardware and take the doors off the hinges.
- Clean the cabinets and drawers on the outside and all the doors inside and outside thoroughly with warm water and detergent.
- Afterwards wipe down the cabinets using Deglosser to remove any grease which might be on the cabinets.
- Bring doors outside and lay them in your garage, on your deck or any covered space you have available.
- Paint once and let dry well, then paint again. Let dry overnight and paint the other side twice.
- While the doors are drying, paint the outside of your cabinets. Use a brush and a roller to paint the outside of the cabinets. I didn’t paint the inside of the cabinets.
- When everything is completely dry, apply the Top Coat with a medium size brush.
- Apply at least 3 topcoats. The top coats dry fast, so it is possible to get it done in one day. But you have to apply three coats, because it protects the paint of scratches and chipping.
How long does it take to paint kitchen cabinets?
This whole process took me about 10 days because I worked in sections and I only had a couple of hours time during the day. It is not a fast project and you have to work neatly for good results.
Let the paint dry as recommended in between each step, don’t rush.
You get the best results, if you work with a foam roller and a brush.
And of course, this only works if you use the paint I am recommending.
What to do after you are done painting the kitchen cabinets?
When everything is dry, put the cabinet doors back on.
I bought new hardware to exchange my 80’s style brass hardware with some colorful glass, silver and black knobs.
We exchanged all the black appliances and removed some of the top cabinets to have enough space for a range hood.
I kept the doors off of one cabinet and applied a colorful fabric inside to add a little color to the grey.
Summary of Kitchen cabinets remodel without sanding and priming
Overall it was so worth it – don’t you think so? I spent not more than 200 Dollars on this kitchen remodel and a couple of hours of work every day for a week to get this project done. I am so happy I did this. The kitchen was overall just too brown for me. I am glad I brought a little color into this room.
Scroll down and see some more pictures of my kitchen so you can decide for yourself if you want to do this project.
Please read the full tutorial if you are interested and want to start painting your cabinets.
Just make sure you are using the paint that I am suggesting and you do one step after the other.
I used Milk Paint in Seagull (light gray) and Driftwood Grey (darker grey).
There are many other colors available if you don’t like the greys.
A pretty combination is also a dark blue or green for the lower cabinets and a light grey for the upper cabinets. But always decide on your color scheme before you order anything.
Try the best way to paint first
If you choose to paint your kitchen white, I would paint the inside of a door first and see for yourself if you like it.
White tends to have a yellowish undertone, especially in combination with the Top Coat.
And of course, practicing on the inside of the doors first is not a bad idea.
Applying Top Coat is a Must
After painting you have to apply the Top Coat to protect the paint from scratches. Apply at least 3 coats of Top Coat and don’t skip this step.
If you want to shop this look, I have added some links below for your convenience.
This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
How much did the paint for the kitchen cabinets cost?
I used 2 quarts of Driftwood Grey and 1 quart of Seagull Grey. 1 pint of Deglosser and 1 pint of Top Coat.
Altogether I paid 150 $ on paint, then I bought new hardware and liner to cover the inside of the open cabinets.
Depending on how big your kitchen is, you will spend between 100 and 200 $ on paint.
3 years after painting my kitchen cabinets.
I took these pictures almost 3 years after the remodel and the kitchen still looks great. So don’t be afraid!
If you don’t have the budget for a new kitchen and you can’t stand the look of your old and dated cabinets anymore – just paint them.
This project is definitely manageable and I am sure, you are going to love your kitchen again.
Do you need some inspiration how to update your living room on a budget? Get my awesome ideas how to get a long way with limited funds without sacrificing the looks.
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If you are interested in reading the whole tutorial of the Kitchen Remodel go to my resource library. Inside the library you can download my awesome kitchen tutorial and so much more. You have access to a lot of goodies – I am sure you will love them.