So today, we're saving you some Googling — we've gathered up painted cabinet reviews from some of our favorite bloggers and from some readers like you to help you see, all in one place, how painted cabinets have held up for others. We asked our reviewers how they painted their cabinets (because there are as many methods as there are paintbrush types!), how they would rate the durability of their cabinets, and if they had any problems (chipping, peeling, etc) or tips that they would give to someone wanting to paint their cabinets.
We've broken the cabinet refinishing reviews into 4 sections today:
- DIY painted cabinets
- cabinet painting kits
- milk and chalk painted cabinets
- glazed and (re)stained cabinets
Each review includes a link to the DIYers blog, where available, so click over to ask questions, say hello and admire more of their work! (And be sure to follow along, because we'll be sharing DIY kitchen countertop reviews over the next couple of days, too!)
And, when you're ready to paint, be sure to check out this post about the best cabinet paint colors to help you make your color selection!
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Painted Kitchen Cabinet Reviews
Meredith | The Palette Muse
Meredith painted her kitchen cabinets about 9 months ago, using the method she detailed here for us: clean, sand, clean, prime, caulk, and then paint with an alkyd paint and primer in one. (Full details here.)
“I'm thrilled with how well they've held up. I had two tiny spots on cabinet doors near the handles that I had to retouch after a bit of the paint was scraped off by a fingernail. I think I did a poor job of prepping/sanding those parts because it hasn't happened anywhere else and those were the first doors I worked on, before I really had my technique down. The great thing is how easy they are to retouch. Just lightly sand, dab on a light touch of primer, then a tiny bit of paint. The self-leveling paint leaves no edges or marks. (I'm attaching a closeup of one of those spots so you can see how nicely they touch up!)
I've had to clean multiple places where my blender exploded, the kids missed the trash can scraping their plates, and smudgy fingerprints landed, and everything wipes right off, usually with just a damp paper towel. On one mess, I had to attack it with a scrubby dish sponge, and the finish on the paint held up perfectly.”
YES, Meredith would “definitely recommend this technique again. It's not a quick and easy process, but it looks beautiful and will stand the test of time. Totally worth the effort!”
And Meredith rates it as a 5+ for durability and wear (Amazing. I expect this to last for many years.).
Meredith's tips: Read 13 things she learned while painting her cabinets here.
Tamara | Provident Home Design
Tamara painted her bathroom vanity over a year ago. She cleaned and used deglosser on her cabinets, and then painted with a quality enamel paint — full details here.
“It's been over a year and it's held up wonderfully! It's in a kid's bathroom so it gets a lot of abuse but we've had absolutely no problems with it!”
Tamara says “YES, again and again!” that she would use again and recommend this. “I would definitely use and recommend this paint for painting cabinetry because it is rock hard and in most cases doesn't require sanding or a primer (just a deglosser). In fact, I recently used it to paint the railing going down to the basement espresso. I know it will hold up to lots of use and the semi-gloss sheen gives it a professionally lacquered look!”
She rates the durability as a 5 (Amazing. I expect this to last for many years).
Tamara's tips: Use a foam roller and foam brush for a flawless application. Let the paint dry/cure about 7 days before putting the knobs back on. Once it is dry it is hard as a rock!
Christy | Confessions of a Serial DIYer
Christy painted her kitchen cabinets over a year ago; she cleaned, sanded, primed, and then painted with an enamel finish paint — full details here.
“I am extremely pleased with how they have held up. We had one drawer that gets abused daily that was just starting to show a tiny bit of wear near the handle, but it took me mere minutes to touch it up. Other than that one area, my cabinets have held up fantastically!”
YES, Christy would do this again, “Absolutely! My kitchen still looks as fresh and new as it did over a year ago,” and she rates it as a 5 (Amazing. I expect this to last for many years).
Christy's tips: If you are taking on a project like this and want beautiful, long lasting results, don't take short cuts. Take the time to prep properly! You’ll be glad you did.
Jill | The Rozy Home
“My white cabinets are still white 2 years later – and I have a five-year-old. The key is great paint and an amazing poly. There have spills, paint, stain and everything else you can think of and they have cleaned right up.”
YES, she would do it again, and she rates the finish as a 5 (Amazing. I expect this to last for many years.)
Jill's tips: Take your time and buy quality products. The products make or break the project.
PS: Check out the gorgeous color that Jill painted the interior of her cabinets! See her full kitchen reveal here.
Nina | Everyday Enchanting
Nina painted her oak kitchen cabinets nearly 2 years ago; she and her husband filled in the grain with Drydex, primed with Kilz, and then painted (using a sprayer) with Insl-X Cabinet Coat — full step-by-step details here (including a free e-book!) “We took our time with the project, but I have been in touch with blog readers and friends who used our process and did the project in one-two weeks (depending on kitchen size).”
“They have held up better than I would have ever expected! It has been two years since we began painting and I am still incredibly pleased with the results from our process. We have recently had a tiny bit of chipping on one water damaged and rotted cabinet door (from under the kitchen sink). We had opted to try to fix that door rather than replace it, which didn’t work out. Otherwise they look as fresh as the day we painted!”
YES, Nina says, “I would definitely do it again, yes! It was a lot of work, but I truly feel as though we saved a lot of money and achieved a designer kitchen look on a tight budget. A neighbor who was friends with the previous homeowners thought we had the cabinets replaced! She was blown away that they were the same cabinets that had been there for almost 30 years.”
Nina rates the durability of her painted cabinets as “Definitely a 5 (Amazing)! Other than the one spot I mentioned with the water damage they are holding up wonderfully, even though we opted not to use a topcoat.”
Nina's tips: Don’t skip the sanding, caulking, or grain filling! It’s by far the most frequent question I receive, because I know those steps are a bit daunting. However, I truly believe filling the grain gave us the professional results that we are so happy with today!
Corey | Sawdust 2 Stitches
Corey refinished her cabinets about 3 years ago. Her process (full details here):
- wood grain filler
- caulk edges
- fine grit sand
- fine grit sand
- fine grit sand
- final topcoat
YES, Corey would do this again, and she rates her cabinets as a 5 (Amazing. I expect this to last for many years.)
Corey's tips: Use a good quality paint! I found that if you are using a paintbrush/roller the cabinet foam rollers work well. I caulked my edges (paneled cabinet doors) and it doesn't collect dirt and crud in the crack.
Allie | Scott and Allie Buy a House
Allie redid her cabinets about 2 years ago:
“We painted inside and outside of the cabinets as well as the doors. We used Benjamin Moore Advance paint in their stock white color. We sanded, deglossed, wood filled and painted. We used Benjamin Moore's Fresh Start Enamel Underbody as our primer. We did one coat of primer and two coats of paint.”
YES, she would do this again, and she rates it as a 5 (Amazing. I expect this to last for many years.)
Allie's tips: Take your time!!! Cabinet painting is easy, but make sure you wait the recommended time between coats for drying. Also, wait a few days before re-installing your cabinets to allow them to cure. Nothing is more frustrating than messing up all your hard work because you couldn't wait to get the cabinet doors back up!
Crystal | MyBlissfulSpace
Crystal redid her cabinets about a year ago, and she went big and used a paint sprayer!
“After putting dropcloth down and taping (ALL OVER THE KITCHEN), my husband used a Wagner paint sprayer to apply Clark & Kensington semi-gloss paint from Ace Hardware (they had a BOGO promotion at the time). We did cream on top and chocolate brown on bottom. The doors were painted outside, the cabinet bases obviously inside. Then we spray-painted the hardware with Rustoleum oil-rubbed bronze paint.
This was a lot of work but for a home that we're not planning to stay in many more years, it was an affordable solution to cruddy looking cabinets. As with any DIY we made mistakes that we learned from and there are things we wouldn't do again. I can't say that I wouldn't paint cabinets again, though. They look great and I think especially on better quality (cleaner) wood cabinets, it would hold up even better.”
YES, she would do it again, and she rates it as a 4 (Great. It has lasted well and longer than I had anticipated.)
Crystal's tips: First, don't attempt to do a really dark color on cabinets. Sherwin Williams told me they couldn't mix their Pro-Enamel paint darker than a grey/greige shade because the amount of pigment required (to do the chocolate color I wanted) would throw off the consistency. I wish I'd have listened. Though I like the two tone and the colors I chose, and the dark brown hides the drips and dirt that's more likely on lower cabinets, the dark paint a) took forever to dry to the point of not being tacky and b) has more little chips and dings than the cream. It still looks good overall, but I think there definitely was a consistency difference. (Note: We wound up getting semi-gloss at Ace because of a sale. The paint was really good for the price, and despite being a huge SW fan, I would probably buy CK again.)
Second, my husband insisted on spraying the bases though most pros I'd read about brush them. It did create a smoother finish and was “faster”, however, it required taping and putting drop-cloth all over the kitchen, and even then we didn't cover well enough and had overspray on the floors and walls/door. That “saved time” cost us in clean-up, and the door still isn't cleaned off.
We have old, cheap wood cabinets. Painting did a world of wonders, but the insides needed it as well and there was years of grease and grime apparently within that wood. The paint has not held up well where we are putting in and pulling out pans and stoneware all the time. We'd have been better off lining with shelf liner.
The hardware fix was a fairly easy one for the cost. Hardware is pricey. We replaced the hinges with oil-rubbed bronze but painted the pulls. The ones that we use often are wearing away a little bit, but overall it's holding up well considering what we paid to do it. If you want a longer-term solution you may want to just purchase the pulls you want.
Nan refinished her kitchen cabinets about 2 years ago.
“The lower cabinets a medium gray called Amazon Stone and the top cabinets and walls a creamy white called Eloquent White.
Additionally we tore out a cabinet in the adjacent butler's pantry, can be seen to the right of the refrigerator, that didn't work for us. We customized the area with a modified dining room hutch that we purchased at a thrift store for $125. I blogged about it and if you are interested you can find that post here.”
YES, Nan would do it again, and she rates the finish as a 5 (Amazing. I expect this to last for many years.)
Nan's tips: Prepping is key to a good and lasting finish.
Carol refinished her kitchen cabinets about 12 years ago — TWELVE!
“This is in our cottage and the upper cabinets are all a beautiful pine to match the logs; but the lower cabinets were a dark laminate that had to go. I first used sand paper to scruff them up. I removed the cabinets and drawer and hardware and worked on the floor with plastic coverings everywhere. I used a very good primer. I put one or two coats of BM latex paint in a mustard/brown color. Then I painted two coats of the BM latex green paint on top. After it was thoroughly dried, I sanded in various places to let the other color of paint show through. Then I put two coats of a polyurethane over all. I did both the front and back side of doors and drawers. The painted cabinets were done 12 years ago and there aren't any chips or real worn spots anywhere! They have held up unbelievably great.”
Carol says she would MAYBE use this method again, but she rates the cabinets as a 5 (Amazing. I expect this to last for many years).
Carol's tips: I bought the best paint, primer and polyurethane we could afford. I'm very partial towards Benjamin Moore. I would do everything as I did and take your time. The only thing I noticed afterwards was where I wanted the worn out spots and areas to be, the polyurethane finish didn't make it look as real as I would have liked. If you skipped the first color of paint and just painted with one color only, it would probably be better.
Lauren painted her cabinets about a year ago. (She also painted her countertops, so watch for that coming up later in the week!)
“I have always wanted a white kitchen, so the first thing we did before even moving furniture into the house was to makeover the kitchen. I wanted to replace the doors with modern slab style doors, so we got MDF cut to size for every cabinet door and primed and painted them. The corner door for the lazy susan was a pain, and it's still a teensy bit crooked, but I'm just glad we managed to pull it off. We also got all new hardware.
The cabinet boxes we kept but I also painted them which involved cleaning with TSP, sanding, and tacking. I painted two coats of primer and one or two coats of paint – I can't remember. I used Sherwin Williams Premium Wall and Wood Primer, and their plain white semi-gloss paint. I sanded and tacked between each coat of paint as well.
So far the cabinets have held up great and are easy to clean. I don't find that the white gets any more dirty looking than oak cabinets I have had before, and in fact gives me more incentive to clean (in a good way).”
YES, she would do this again, and she rates the cabinets as a 5 (Amazing. I expect this to last for many years.)
Lauren's tips: Prep is key! Do as the professionals recommend and clean and sand, clean and sand. It is so important and really helps the finish to be strong and smooth. You will go through a ton of tack cloth and sanding blocks but it is worth it! Also, don't skimp on the coats–and it's usually easier (and cheaper) to do multiple coats of primer and 1-2 coats of actual paint.
LeeAnn recently painted her kitchen cabinets, and she is so pleased with the results!
“We removed all the doors and hardware. Lightly sanded all the wood. Painted, 2 coats, with Benjamin Moore Days End. Replaced all the cabinet hardware with pulls from Home Depot (economy packs). Also removed the previous old tile backsplash, replaced with drywall and painted with Benjamin Moore Cottonwood. The open shelves were made from 1 10×12. The 50s table was sanded and refinished and legs painted. The metal chairs are from Target. The old wood bifold doors; we removed the wood panels and replaced with metal sheeting to give it a pie cabinet look and painted to match. The total cost for everything was under $800. I have to give credit to Designing Dawn for the inspiration. We have nearly the same kitchen space and I copied her design! I was terrified to paint the cabinets since there were new 3 years ago when we moved in but the result is amazing and we're very happy with the updated change!”
YES, she would do it again and she rates it as a 5 (Amazing. I expect this to last for many years.)
LeeAnn's tips: TAKE YOUR TIME!! We spent a week just on the bifold door and another 2 weeks painting the cabinets and shelves plus another week on the table. If budget is an issue, do your homework. We made the open shelving/brackets for a total of about $50. The cabinet pulls were a economy pack from Home Depot, total $60 for 22 (we have a couple left over too). The chairs are from Target online and with coupons was $105 for all 3. Always use quality, durable paint; we used Benjamin Moore.
Erin redid her kitchen cabinets over 8 years ago (eight!), and it's lasted her well!
The steps Erin followed:
- Wash with TSP Alternative
- Wipe with liquid de glosser.
- Prime with Zinser B-I-N shellac based primer tinted dark. (oak)
- Paint Behr latex, almost black.
- Brushes and rollers…..no sprayer.
- Add beadboard to all ends of cabinets, cover 1980's ceramic tiles with bead board too.
“This has survived two boys and numerous dogs, never used special treatment after painting. Wear at sink and two cabinets (pictured) which house dishes and glasses , I could add to the distress and it would work.”
YES, Erin would do this again and she rates it a 4 (Great. It has lasted well and longer than I had anticipated.)
Erin's tips: Do the prep work throughly. Remove all doors and hardware. Use a flat surface for doors. Use blue painters tape on inside of cabinets to produce a clean paint line. The base board (pictured) at the breakfast bar has been abused, with boys and dogs I mop often. I did this project over 8 years ago. I would let the paint cure then cover with a satin urethane on the base boards.
We are prepping to expand the kitchen now, the stove wall will be pushed back by three feet. The cabinets wil be reconfigured. I will distress the edges and change the hard wear. We are so pleased with the original results that we will continue to use them in the new kitchen.
Holly painted her kitchen cabinets about a year ago.
“I sanded down all surfaces with a power sander. I also used a deglosser in corners and areas that were harder to reach with the sander. I then painted with Valspar semi gloss latex paint, two coats of the gray and 4 of the white. I did not use a sealer. The finish has help up well, however I have had some small areas of peeling when I've had to scrub really sticky messes. I have the paint on hand so touch ups are an easy fix.”
YES, she would use this method to redo her cabinets again, and she rates it as a 3 (Good. It did the job.)
Holly's tips: Make sure to sand all areas well. My cabinets have held up well, however I have noticed that if I really scrub them the paint does come up in corners and areas that I was not able to reach with the power sander. I would also recommend using a sealer and sanding in between coats of paint to avoid brush marks.
Reader Julie repainted her cabinets over 5 years ago:
“I sanded the cabinets, primed with Kilz, then painted them white. I did not use a top coat and probably should have. This was my first attempt at refinishing something. I didn't know about using a roller to minimize the brush strokes. I wish I would have done that. I also wish I had put on a top coat. I wonder if they would have worn better. The corners where the hardware is chipped after a year or so and the cabinet under the sink chipped badly, maybe from cleaning it more frequently than the others. All in all I would do it again. They were hideous, dark, 70's cabinets and painting them made me much happier with my home.”
YES, Julie would do it again, but she'd only rate it as a 2 (Poor. It didn't last, had problems, etc.)
Julie's tips: Use a top coat.
Reader JC's painted cabinets have held up well for 5+ years! The process: “Clean, sand, liquid sand, two coats primer, then 2+coats of paint. Unfortunately I think the secret is the prep. The part that is sooooo no fun!”
YES, JC would do it again and rates it as a 4 (Great. It has lasted well and longer than I had anticipated.)
JC's tips: Roller helped for smooth finish. Paint may dry in a couple days but if you can let doors “cure” for two weeks there will be fewer chips especially if it is at all humid in your house. Also paint now seems to dry a lot faster so if I did this again I would use the additive that prolongs the time it take for the paint to dry. Never had this problem 10-15 years ago. Thinking about painting current cabinets for the second time.