How to paint wood cabinets…


I did it. 

I did something that I’ve been TERRIFIED to do since we moved into our house 3+ years ago. My knees might be bruised (thank you tile floor) & my hands are sore…but I did it. I painted our wood cabinets in our master bathroom….and let me tell you, I can’t believe I waited so long?!

It’s not that our cabinets were horrendous before, it’s just that ever since we moved in I just knew cherry stained cabinets just were not for me. And that’s ok. There’s no since in settling & living with something that’s not you or your style. So enough was enough. I was sick of settling with cabinets that I wasn’t totally in love with because I was too scared to figure out how to paint them. That’s when I started researching & researching and trying to find the best way to take this project on. If I was going to paint them myself I was going to do it and do it right…but I also didn’t want the process to be so miserable that I never wanted to pick up a paint brush ever again in my life. So let me just tell you now, it was totally worth it.

I’m in love.

So for those of you out there that are just like me and completely scared at the idea of painting over wood, take a deep breath, relax and just keep reading…this post is dedicated to you. Beginners just like me who want to freshen up those old, outdated wood cabinets but have no idea where to start?!

Here’s a little BEFORE & AFTER inspiration…


Ok, so now that you’ve seen some proof that it’s possible, here’s what you’ll need:


  • Gloves-I usually never wear gloves when I’m painting but decided to pick some up…so glad I did & trust me so were my hands!
  • Small disposable paint tray-like I’ve said before cleaning paint out of trays is not how I like to spend my free time!
  • 4inch roller & 2 pack of foam rollers-I picked these up from Walmart. 1 roller for primer & the other for paint
  • Purdy 2inch angled paint brush-I honestly never used to think there was a difference in paint brushes…but boy was I wrong! This paint brush was like magic! It honestly did all the work for me, I will forever buy Purdy brushes for all my future painting projects!
  • “Fine” Grit Sanding block-used this for small corners and hard to reach places that my electric sander couldn’t reach.
  • Sponges-these worked perfect to scrub the cabinets free of any grease or in my case makeup!
  • Foam brush-used this on the back side of the doors for really hard to reach areas.
  • Kilz primer-first time using this and really liked it, dries super fast so I was able to start painting super quick!
  • Paint-I chose to go with Benjamin Moore “simply white” Kitchen & Bathroom paint due to the fact it’s supposed to be great in areas with a lot of moisture.
  • Ryobi electric sander (not pictured)-My husband had this tucked away in the garage so I started hand sanding for more hours than I care to admit until he got home and got out our electric one! Omg what a difference! I HIGHLY recommend an electric sander…it’s amazing and literally does all the work for you! It made this project SO much easier!
  • Old large sheet or blanket-Our garage isn’t the biggest so I set up my work area in the living room. I laid down a large old sheet and made that my painting area

So now that you know what all you need it’s time to get started.

So say buh bye to those old wood cabinets and hello to those beautiful white cabinets you’ve always dreamed of…

Buh bye cherry wood…
Hello bright white!

First, you want to take off all your cabinets hardware…and yes I mean ALL of it! I placed all mine in little plastic ziploc bags & labeled them all so nothing would get mixed up or lost!

Definitely worth the extra time!

Next, now that that you have all your doors & drawers laid out you want to CLEAN them. This step is honestly so important. I read somewhere some people use some sort of chemical “deglosser” but honestly with this being my first time painting anything that’s not a wall, I wanted to keep things as simple as I could. So, I just used good ole’ Totally Awesome. Trust me, this stuff has it’s name for a reason, it is totally, awesome. I just sprayed some on a sponge and went to scrubbing. Once I cleaned everything front & back I took a damp towel and wiped them all down.

Ok, so now that everything is good and clean it’s time to sand. This is the step I honestly dreaded. I have never sanded a thing in my life so I had no clue where to start. I was so scared I was going to over sand and completely ruin the cabinets OR I wasn’t going to sand enough and the paint wouldn’t stick…silly right, trust me I know.  So in order to play it safe I started hand sanding, mostly because I was nervous to over sand & partly because my husband had hid our electric sander somewhere in the garage lol

Let me just go ahead and tell you. Sand…get your hands on an electric sander and sand away. Don’t be afraid. Using an electric sander was a game changer, and my hands are forever grateful!

Here’s a picture of what are cabinets looked like before I sanded them…


and here’s what they looked like after I sanded them…


See the difference?!

Honestly, all you want to do is “roughen‘ the surface. You want to take away the shine or the “glossy” look. You don’t want to completely sand away all the paint just enough to get rid of the overly glossy look.

Now that the cleaning & sanding is done, take a minute, pat yourself on the back…because that my friends, was the hardest part.

Now that you’ve finished sanding the fronts/backs of the door and the fronts of the drawers, oh, and don’t forget the frame…it’s time to clean up all that dust! You can either use a shop vac or I just used to my blow dryer and blew all the doors & drawers off and then wiped them down with a dry rag! It’s super important throughout this process to keep everything very clean so the paint will go on smooth!

Ok so now that all the hard “prep” work is done is FINALLY time to get some paint on those cabinets! Start with a primer. I did the frame first, then the back side of the doors & then the drawers. Don’t forget it’s important to make sure your coats are thin. Don’t get too much paint on the roller or brush, less is always best.

I’m not going to lie. The primer isn’t pretty. I guess I just expected as soon as I started covering the wood with primer it would just magically become gorgeous…well it will, but it just takes some patience. Primer isn’t meant to be the “pretty” stage. Primer is primer. It’s job is to just give your real “pretty” paint something to adhere too.

This is what it looked like after the first coat of primer on the frame…


See, I told you. It’s not pretty. This is honestly the part where I was seriously contemplating why I even started this project in the first place. Don’t let this stage get you down! Just push through the primer stage and soon your dream of having gorgeous white cabinets will soon become a reality!

I did two coats of primer. I used the Purdy paint brush on the doors and frame just in the places where I couldn’t get my roller. Be sure to let everything dry really well in between painting. Once you get everything primed and let that dry really well it’s time for the fun part…it’s time to paint. This is the part where you start to see you cabinets come to life & all the hard work starts to pay off.

I kept the same order when painting. I started with the frame, then painted the backs of the doors and while those were drying I painted the drawers. I went really thin with the first coat just to make sure there were no drips or runs. I really took my time and made sure after I rolled all the paint onto the doors or drawers that I went around the corners again with the roller really well to collect any globs or runs.


I did a total of 3 coats. Now trust me I know that sounds like a lot. 2 coats of primer & 3 coats of paint. 2 coats of paint would have probably been fine but I did the third just to make sure everything was good and coated. If I was taking the time & putting in the work, I wanted it to be right & worth it. Let everything dry really, really well. I had everything laid out under a fan in the living room to dry. I was shocked at how little fumes the primer or paint had. You couldn’t even tell I had been painting all day. Once everything dries really well you can put all your hardware back on and put your drawers and doors back in place.

Now, this is the part where you step back and admire all of your hard work OR sit on your bathroom floor because your too tired to stand back & admire them lol I’m not going to lie I was pretty tired when I finished this project. I was able to knock it all out in just over 1 day.

I was in love. I had the cabinets I had wanted since we moved in, look out kitchen…I’m coming for you next!


Lots of love,

Paige Perry

Instagram: paigecoleperry

Facebook: My Perry Tale Home

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