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Ok so there are probably hundreds of ways to paint your kitchen cabinets but we set out to find the best way to paint our cabinets without a paint sprayer (we didn’t want to invest in a professional one and just don’t have the space to set it up right anyway) and to get the best possible “hard”(non tacky) finish that would last.

How to paint kitchen cabinets without professional equipment (or chalk paint)

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We had quite a few trial and errors so I have a few tips at the end for you to help minimize those. I’m going to try and word this as best as I can. We used tips from several sites but gained a ton of information from Young House Love.

To start, don’t plan on painting your entire kitchen cabinets in a weekend. It very likely won’t happen.  Get your patience pants on and let’s get started.

I’m not going to go through every step like take off the doors, take of the hardware…

How to paint kitchen cabinets


  • We prepped the cabinets (doors and faces) by sanding with 150 grit sandpaper. I did buy a sander for this after doing 1/2 of one door and for $44 it was worth it!
  • We also used a deglosser after sanding and cleaning. This is an extra step but we wanted to do anything we could to ensure a great finish. We used whatever Home Depot had.
  • To paint you can make up stands with nails and wood or just buy some cheap plastic painters pyramid stands, which is what we ended up doing because they were smaller and just all around easier to use.
  • Primer – for the doors we used Zinsser BIN spray primer and rolled on the Zinsser BIN primer  for the frames using a small foam roller (spraying in the kitchen would have been a mess!)
  • The fronts of our doors had slight gaps around the raised “frame” so we filled those with some caulking. A little bit of a pain but I didn’t want any weird paint gaps. We did not do this to the back of the doors, just the fronts.
  • After primer and caulking they got a light (hand) sanding with 220 grit sandpaper, then it was time to start the first coat of paint.
  • We used Benjamin Moore Advance Satin paint in Dove White. It’s an Alkyd water based paint that dries beautifully hard and smooth and is perfect for cabinets. If you live in the Phoenix area the only place I found that carried it is the Ace Hardware store on Scottsdale Rd and Pinnacle Peak. A gallon was enough for our kitchen (it’s pricey so that’s good!) The paint brush (after trying a few not cheap brushes) that worked great for us was the Wooster White China Bristle brush found at Home Depot. We got 2 different sizes.
  • The Benjamin Moore Advance paint takes 16 hours to cure between coats (this is where your patience pants come in to play). The best way I can describe to apply it is to put it on fairly thick, lightly brush the paint until it’s even and then let it sit and do it’s thing. It will smooth out as it dries.

How to paint kitchen cabinets


You may be able to pick out a few brush strokes but once you get the hang of it you should get a really, really nice finish.

  • Another light hand sanding with 220 grit sandpaper and the 2nd coat of Benjamin Moore Advance.
  • Turn the cabinets over and do it all again. So for just the paint you have at least 64 hours and that’s if you have enough space to do all the doors/frames at once. Fun right?!

But seriously, we are very, very pleased with the final outcome and you’d be hard pressed to tell that 1. the cabinets are brushed and not sprayed and 2. that it’s not a “professional” job. They are not tacky at all to the touch and just have a really nice finish.

How to paint kitchen cabinets

Kitchen Renovation at All for the Memories

You can see more before/afters here

Please let me know if anything is confusing or if you have any questions! I’m happy to answer them. I know the turmoil of trying to decide what to do with your kitchen cabinets 😉


Allison Waken is the founder, writer, photographer, and content creator of All for the Memories and All for the Boys.


  1. love this!! it makes your kitchen look so much brighter! and i love that you said get your patience pants on!

    • AllisonWaken

      Lol! Thank you – I couldn’t help it, had to say it 😉

  2. LOVE it! Have been toying with doing this in our kitchen…but I’ve been too scared! 😉 So pinning this for when I get the gumption to actually do it!

    • AllisonWaken

      It definitely does take some gumption 😉

  3. Are you happy with the hardware you choose? I absolutely LOVE the style but am afraid those on drawers would catch on clothing. Thanks.

    • AllisonWaken

      I am! That’s a great question/concern. They have caused any issues, the countertops have an overhang which helps I think. You’d have to stand in a funky position to get your clothes caught on them.

    • I’m thinking of doing the exact same thing. We have old 70s laminate cabinets and I was thinking of using BM Advance over BIN. My only hesitation is the odor of a shellac primer. How did you handle the odor?

      • Allison Waken

        Honestly, either time it wasn’t too bad to us and I’m pretty sensitive to smells. We did most of the doors outside or in the garage, but still did the frames. I always try to paint when I can keep doors/windows open though, and we live in a very dry climate so paint cures pretty quickly here. Either way, I didn’t find it too bad to handle.

  4. Oh wow, this looks like a completely new kitchen! I LOVE IT! The white is just amazing and it opens up the kitchen so much. If I ever paint my cabinets, I am following your lead. 😉

    • AllisonWaken

      Thank you! You need to come see it in person!

  5. Fabulous job! Question: I’ve read several construction/painting blogs where they advise against caulking the seams on the panels mainly because of the wood expanding/contracting. Have you experienced any cracking/settling on your panels?

    • AllisonWaken

      None at all. We do live in Phoenix where it’s pretty consistently dry and these were all done inside where they now hang. The back wasn’t caulked at all so it could still have some expansion room there I suppose if needed. I hope that helps a bit! They’ve been finished now since December for reference.

  6. We are currently using Zinsser BIN and BM Advanced and had a panic moment when i started reading online BM is trying to say it’s not compatible with Zinsser BIN. How is yours holding up?

    • AllisonWaken

      It’s holding up GREAT! The only issue we’ve had is some normal wear from the cabinet we keep the trash in. A touch up and it’s good as new. The overall paint job itself is holding up perfectly!

  7. Hey there! Just curious, what color is your countertop and what color paint did you choose? Thank you!

    • AllisonWaken

      The countertops are Samsung Staron solid surface in the color Quarry Starred and the cabinets are Benjamin Moore White Dove!