How to Paint Oak Cabinets

I still can't believe we chose the week of Thanksgiving to start a remodel! Here we are embarking on Spring and we're just finishing up on what has now become a whole house remodel. The hardest thing to do is "move" while you're still living in your home. That's what it has felt like anyway.  Everything had to be packed up & moved out of each room in order to install the new flooring. Today I'm sharing the before & after kitchen remodel photos. As we begin to get the rest of our projects wrapped up & complete the whole house I'll be sharing more.


We started by painting our  oak cabinets. We went with Benjamin Moore paint in "Simply White." I searched the web for advice on painting cabinets & ended up here & here. It was quite the process, but I was determined to do a professional job & impress the socks off my husband :)  Because after all it did take me seven years to talk him into letting me "ruin our perfectly good cabinets."  And while I'm at it I don't mind the thought of impressing those potential future buyers lol! After all, don't updated kitchens help sell houses? Yes, yes, yes they do!! Without further ado here we are.....

  1. The first step is to take "before" pictures. I skip this step more times than I'd like to admit and always wish I'd taken the time to get the pictures before we start a project. And prep. Clean out all your cabinets contents & box them up. You'll need tables if you're doing in the winter like we did. My husband has plenty of scrap wood so he laid those out on the tables so my cabinets could get air underneath them. We added nails to each end with painters tape to protect the doors from getting scratched up. You could use just about anything just be sure to take the time to do it because you'll be flipping the cabinet doors multiple times throughout each step.
  2. Next, I took gloss off to remove build up and clean the cabinets. It was very strong odor and quite thin so be careful to have drop cloths down because it gets everywhere. This is probably a better project for warmer weather when you can open windows too. I went over all the cabinets twice to be sure I didn't miss anything. This took a while so this was the only step I did on that day.
  3. Next was the sanding sealer. It didn't quite make sense to me that I was taking the gloss off in the previous step and felt like I was adding the gloss back in this step, but am very glad I just went with it. The sealer helped to seal the grain so that when it's painted the grain doesn't show through as much. This too was a very thin runny project & I had to be very careful because it wanted to leave bubbles behind & therefore, it would dry with those bubbles. I did have to go back over one of my doors and sand it and start over. Be patient with this step and don't skip it. This took a few days especially since I was doing both sides of each door. It had to dry in between the two coats I applied to each side.

4. I was finally ready to start applying the primer. This is also a step that is so tempting to skip. But again, I beg you not to! I did use the Benjamin Moore Fresh Start Superior Primer. It was expensive, but we're talking about your cabinets here. They've got to withstand everyday use and abuse. The primer too was a bit on the thin side so I shall repeat myself patient. Take your time because the end result is so worth it & at this point you're so very close!  This step also took a few days because I did two coats on each side of all the doors, drawers and the cabinet base waiting 24 hours or more in between each.

5. The day finally came when I could crack open the paint. Again the paint I chose was expensive, but when you consider the cost of replacing your cabinets...then it's still a great savings & an investment in your future when you realize just how worth spending the little extra saves you from future headache of cheap paint. This Benjamin Moore Advance paint is "self leveling" meaning it doesn't leave paint brush strokes. This was my first experience using this kind of paint and I was quite mind blown with it! Once again, two coats. And be sure to wait the 24 hours in between the coats.

6. This is the hardest step of all. Waiting. It's so important to let your cabinets cure before putting them all back together. It's so worth it. After all, you don't want to damage all the previous days & hours upon hours of work you've just put into them.  You want these babies to last a good long time!

7. Once they were cured (I recommend a week if you can stand it) husband that is...added the beautiful hardware. As you can see we didn't have hardware before so this was so very exciting to me. And oh how wonderful my new white cabinets look in their new jewelry!

The finishing touches:

  1. Gray/white marble backsplash, which isn't near as easy as it looks on HGTV! But we survived! We used a gray grout that really makes them pop. I was a little nervous when we first started adding the grout because it went on black, but dried to a beautiful gray color that we're so happy with!
  2. Gray countertops. Oh my oh my oh my...I can't even tell you how thrilled I am with new countertops. I mean my mauve ones weren't really doing it for me ha! If you can be "in love" with stuff then I'd have to say I'm in love with these! Not to mention we extended the length AND the width of the island...whew Christmas cookies didn't know what to this year with so much room! And what a Christmas it was for me this year...they were installed the Monday before Christmas!
  3. New Lighting. We added strings of lights above the cabinets. And new fixtures above the sink, above the island, in the middle of the room and not seen the hall area beside the pantry & half bath.
  4. We also added the chalkboard message center & kept the "EAT" sign with a new coat of gray wash to keep it with the gray tones.

See that loan stool in the right hand side of picture at the end of the island? I'll be doing a post on that soon about a cover for it. I'll be using the blue mason jars as my inspiration.

If you like the coffee printable it's yours for free!  You can get it here. It's inspired by the blue mason jars too and will the color I use to add those small touches here & there.