Get Ready Weekend Warriors

The kitchen is the most utilized living space — it is also one of the most expensive renovations a homeowner will take on, but it doesn’t have to be. If your kitchen is in relatively good condition and its cabinetry is made of wood you have options. In fact, the options are infinite and only limited by your imagination or personal colour preferences. Every PIY-er loves a good project but are you ready for the job that will move you from beginner painter to pro in five days? Bring-on the paint-it-yourself weekend warrior extreme edition! Repainting your kitchen cabinetry will be a big task, but an easy undertaking if it’s planned well. You’ll need five days to properly paint your kitchen but the results will be well worth the effort.


Tools You'll Need


Marker and paper
Ventilation masks
Disposable gloves
Microfiber cloth
Scrubby sponge
Putty knife
Kraft paper
Ziploc bags


White Oil-Based Interior Primer
Paper and painter’s plastic
Resin-based primer
Painter’s tape
Wood filler


Several two-by-fours and dowels
2- or 2.5-inch nylon bristle paintbrushes
220-grit (or higher) sandpaper
Mini microfiber rollers
Painter’s Tripods
Sanding sponge
Small paintbrush
Tack Cloth

Clean Up

Broom or dusting cloths
Screwdriver and/or electric drill
Caulk and caulk gun
Mineral spirits
Felt feet

Tutorial Steps

This five-day tutorial is not for the faint of heart. Follow the instructions below to give your kitchen an entirely new look with just a few coats of paint.

Empty the Space

Move everything on your counters and on top of your cabinets and relocate it for the week. You can leave the things inside your cabinets and drawers.

Clean the Floors & Cover Countertops

Sweep the floors. Any dirt and dust that’s on the floor could be kicked up and settle in the paint while you work. Use painter’s tape and sheets of paper and plastic to cover the countertops and kraft paper or drop cloths to cover the floor. Remove all outlet covers and vents, and tape up the edges of anything that’s not supposed to be painted.

Make a Map of your Kitchen

Using a marker and a piece of paper, draw a diagram of your cabinets and assign each one a number. This step will provide you with a roadmap to put all the pieces back in their correct spots when you’re done painting.

Remove & Label Doors, Drawers & Hardware

Start removing the cabinet doors, drawer faces and hardware using a hand screwdriver, or working slowly with an electric drill so you don’t scratch the wood, remove the cabinet doors, drawers, and hardware. Label the doors, drawer faces and hardware as you remove each piece, use a marker to number the door or drawer face according to your diagram. Number cabinet doors in the groove where the hinge fits into, then cover it with tape. Drawer faces can be numbered on the back, which gets hidden by the rest of the drawer when it’s reassembled. Label the hinges for each door as you remove them, too. The top hinge for Door 12 becomes 12A and the bottom hinge gets 12B. Those go in a bag labeled 12. If your cabinets have knobs or pulls, those go into the corresponding bags.

Clean & Scrape the Wood

Clean all the wood pieces you’re going to paint with mineral spirits and a scrubby sponge to remove any dirt and grease. This includes the fronts, backs, and sides of every door; the frame of the built-in cabinets and the front pieces of your drawers. Clean the doors and drawer faces in a well-ventilated area and open the windows when working inside on the cabinet frame. Gloves are also recommended. Once you’re done, the surfaces should have a dull sheen, which means the wood is ready to accept the primer. This should take about an hour and a half for a standard-sized kitchen. Use a putty knife to scrape off any remaining gunk and any rubber or felt feet on the back of your cabinets that prevent your doors from slamming — don’t worry, we’ll put new ones on later. You can also take this time to consider upgrading your door hinge hardware.

Tape the Inside of Your Cabinets

Using more painter’s tape, tape the inside of your cabinets in order to protect the shelves from paint and everything on them from dust.


<b>Painter’s Tip:</b>Slowly run your hands across the grain of your wood. If you can feel the grain, chances are, that grain will show through the paint when you’re done, which you might not love. You can use wood filler to fill in the obvious scratches, extra-deep grooves, and nail holes.

Set up Your Painting Space

In the same area, lay down a drop cloth or kraft paper, then two two-by-fours and two dowels. You will end up working vertically and stacking your doors with more two-by-fours and more dowels. Never lay the doors flat on anything like a piece of cardboard, as it can mess up the paint or the doors could stick to the surface!

Prime the Cabinets

Prime the backs of your cabinet doors and drawer faces. Paint inside any grooves or recessed parts first, then work your way inside out along the flat areas. Work evenly, so that the primer coat is smooth. Once the backs should be dry to the touch, prime the fronts and the sides.

Prime the Cabinet Frame

Use a paintbrush to cut into all the corners, edges, and areas with decorative molding. Then use a roller — working in long, even strokes — to cover the rest. Be sure to hit the sides of any support pieces.

Let it Dry

Once all areas of the cabinets are primed stack all your pieces and let dry overnight.

Cover your cabinet openings

The primer should be completely dry to the touch. Have some coffee and then use Kraft paper to cover the openings to your cabinets. Do it. You’re about to make a lot of dust and this is easier than taking everything out of your cabinets and then cleaning them. Cover your stovetop while you’re at it.

Sand everything

Lightly sand your primed cabinet frames in a circular motion. This will smooth out any paint bubbles or brush strokes. If you skip this step, those imperfections will just be magnified as you add coats of paint. Sand everything you primed. Use ventilation masks to protect against breathing in all that dust!

Clean up the dust & Wipe down the wood

Use a vacuum with a bristle attachment to vacuum the wood and a normal hose attachment to clean up the floor. Wipe the wood with this sticky fabric-like material to pick up any leftover dust.

Touch up the primer & Fill Holes

Go back and look for any places where the sanding exposed the wood. Use a small paintbrush to dab on primer to fill in those spots. If you can see any dark wood, use wood filler to fill in those spots, let the touch ups dry.

Paint the first coat on the cabinet frames

Use a paint brush and a roller to get your first coat of paint on the cabinet frames. Work in long vertical strokes. Be sure to get the sides of the cabinet support bars, too.

Sand the cabinet doors and drawer faces

Do this just like you did the cabinet frames. Get in the grooves of any embellishments. Sand the fronts and backs. Repeat steps 2 – 6 above.


Notice any wood spots that are showing through after your sanding? Spray them — in a light, even motion, with a primer/sealer will help to hide them and hold the paint when it’s time.

Paint the first coat on the doors and drawer faces

Paint your first coat of paint the same way you did the primer — inside any grooves first, then working your way out. Paint the fronts of your cabinet doors and the faces of your drawers (don’t forget the sides). You want a smooth, thin coat; if the paint is too thick, it will pool up in the corners and drip off the edges.

Let dry overnight

You may be tempted to flip the cabinet doors and paint the backs today, but do not! You’ll ruin your nice paint job. Even though the paint looks dry, it will still be soft and susceptible to damage. This is not a process you want to rush.

Look for any imperfections and tag them

Look for any imperfections — anywhere the dark wood might be showing through. Tag the spots with a piece of painter’s tape.

Sand those spots

Lightly sand them until the sheen around each spot goes away.


Using a small paintbrush, dab on some more primer/sealer to cover the spots.

Paint the backs of your doors and cabinet faces

Flip the cabinet doors and give the backs their first coat of paint.

Sand the cabinet frames

Lightly sand your first coat of paint, specifically targeting any brush strokes or paint bubbles. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe up the excess dust.

Give the frame a second coat

Apply your second coat of paint to the cabinet frames.

Check your doors and drawers

If the backs feel dry to the touch, you may be able to paint the second coat on the fronts today. If your cabinets feel tacky, wait and do the rest of these steps the following day! Sand the fronts lightly. Again, using a microfiber cloth wipe any excess dust.

Paint the second coat on the door and drawer fronts

Just like you did the first coat, but being extra careful of the backs, which might not be totally dry. (The only reason this is okay is because these are the backs and people won’t really see them!)

Sand the cabinet frames

Have some coffee: You’re almost done! Lightly sand the second coat of paint and wipe up the dust.


Using a small paintbrush, dab on some more primer to cover the spots.

Give the frame a third coat

Two coats of paint might be enough, but three provides added coverage.

Sand & Inspect the doors and drawer faces

Lightly sand the second coat of paint and wipe up the dust. Inspect the doors and drawer faces, look for wood or any dark spots are showing through.

Give the doors and drawers a third coat of paint

This is the last time you’ll have to paint!  Let the doors dry overnight and go get some rest.

Remove the paper and the tape

Using a box cutter, slice the tape anywhere it seems like paint might have stuck to it. Carefully remove the tape.

Wipe up any errant paint

With a damp cloth, wipe up any paint that bled under the tape. The paint will be dry, but soft enough to be wiped up.

Pull off the painter’s tape that’s covering your labeling system

Starting with one drawer face, peel off the painter’s tape that you used to cover the piece’s number. Then find its corresponding bag of hardware.


Get out your diagram, and use it as a guide to replace the drawer faces. Repeat until all the drawers are back together.

Pull off the painter’s tape from your doors

Again, working one piece at a time, peel off the painter’s tape that you used to cover your labeling system.

Screw the hardware back into the door

Find the corresponding hardware bag and screw the hardware back into the door. Make sure you put the top hinge in the top hole and the bottom in the lower hole. This is why you labeled so carefully before! Pro tip: Put down a drop cloth, a sheet, or some microfiber towels before you put your door down. This will help protect your paint.

Reattach the door to the cabinet

Be careful with your drill, as to not chip or scratch the paint and always do the top hinge first. Repeat until all the doors are back on.

Add felt feet

Look to see where the doors and drawers hit the cabinet frames and add felt feet — one in each corner. This will make them quieter when they close and also help prevent the paint from chipping. Note: You may want to take this time to consider upgrading your cabinet hardware.

Replace electrical outlets

Time to put back any electrical outlets or vents that you had removed.

<b>Be careful:</b> The paint will be dry but will continue to cure. Be gentle for up to five days! Or maybe just take a five-day nap. You’ve earned it!

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