How to Paint Oak Cabinets White

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 and a step by step guide for painting oak kitchen cabinets white to get the farmhouse look.


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!!  *Update: We did accept an offer and sell our home within the first 2 weeks of placing it on the market.

Before photos of a farmhouse kitchen remodel. Paint Oak Kitchen Cabinets White.


Steps to painting oak kitchen cabinets white

1. Take BEFORE pictures.

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. Clean Cabinets

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. Remove Cabinet Doors

This step is one you may believe you can skip, but I assure you it's not. You'll also want to remove any hardware if yours has any. You're going to need to mark them in some way so you'll be sure to put the same door back on the same cabinet. We set up tables and I used painters tape to label each door by placing the tape on the table in front of each one. We took them off from left to right and layed each one out on the tables in the same manner. My husband cut 2 inch by 2 inch pieces of wood and put nails in each one so each door could be sort of propped up on the nails in order to allow air to pass in between and help the drying process. 

4. Seal Cabinets

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.

5. Prime Cabinets and Doors

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.

6. Paint Cabinets and Doors

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! I used a Purdy paintbrush to the inside grooves first and then used a small foam roller to apply paint to the flat surfacces. Once again, two coats. And be sure to wait the 24 hours in between the coats.

7. Allow Cabinets and Doors Cure

This is the hardest step of all. Waiting. It's so important to let your cabinets cure before putting them all back together. I recommend seven days at the very least to let your cabinets cure. But if you choose to put them back together after a week be sure to be careful in handling them because the experts actually recommend thirty days! 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!

8. Add Cabinet Hardware

Once they were cured (I recommend waiting the entire thirty days 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!

tips for adding finishing touches After Painting Oak Kitchen Cabinets White to obtain a farmhouse look

Time for adding the finishing touches to our farmhouse kitchen remodel.

  1. We added a 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. We added solid surface gray countertops with a seamless white sink. 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 do 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 was added including strings of lights above the cabinets. We also added a timer on the 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. (I've included a link to them below).

  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 lone 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.

A Farmhouse Kitchen Remodel. How to paint oak kitchen cabinet white.

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 be the color I use to add those small touches here & there.

Pin with me!