How to Paint Cabinets: Pro Painting Tips

Create the kitchen of Your dreams with these professional Cabinet painting tips!

Learn how to paint cabinets like a professional with these pro painting tips. Here’s our best advice to help you achieve beautiful, lasting results.

Painting your own cabinets is a big job. It takes time and commitment. But with the right know-how you can do it and save a lot of money. I hired a pro to do my painting. Then, I sat down with him and asked him to share his very best advice so you can paint like a pro too.  Most of these pro painting tips come straight from my amazing painter, Felipe of Emerald City Painting. Not only did he do a wonderful job on my home, but he sat down with me to share his very best advice. Here are his top tips to teach you how to paint cabinets (and beyond) like a professional! Follow these recommendations to ensure that your hard work creates beautiful, lasting results.

This post is sponsored but all opinions are 100% our own.

Want more professional painting advice? Visit our recent blog post detailing my garage door and front door repainting. We reveal more insider pro painting tips to create lasting results.

Pro painting tips kitchen cabinets


before and after kitchen painting makeover

Want to Hire a Pro?

Contact Felipe for your Pacific Northwest painting project at (206) 794-2429. He enjoys a bit of travel, so even if you don’t live in the Seattle area give him a call! He is an amazing painter, and a lovely person. I promise, you will love him and the results of his expertise.

Click here to subscribe

pro painting tips kitchen cabinets

What Pro Painting Tips You’ll Learn in this Post:

  1. Which products and brands do professional painters use and recommend?
  2. What color did I paint my cabinets?
  3. Is it really worth it to invest in the highest quality paint?
  4. How do I estimate how much I need to buy?
  5. Do I have to empty my cabinets?
  6. Should I use a primer?
  7. How many coats of primer and paint are recommended?
  8. How much time do I have to allow between coats?
  9. What are the best tools to use?

white kitchen pro painting tips

Best Paint for Kitchen Cabinets: Sherwin-Williams

The very first conversation I had upon meeting with Felipe of Emerald City Painting we were on our driveway discussing the various paint projects I had in mind. He said, “I always recommend Sherwin-Williams cabinet paint. They make the best paints.” Wow, that was clear. Okay, Felipe, which ones? He said their high-end line is what he uses whenever he can and the best paint for cabinets.

I contacted Sherwin-Williams to see if they would sponsor my project. Sherwin-Williams didn’t choose me. We chose them. This is as authentic as it gets. All opinions expressed are our true and reliable opinions.

galley view pro painting tips

When to Paint Cabinets

When your cabinets are quality wood and in good shape there is no need to replace them. Painting them gives them a brand-new look at a fraction of the cost. When you choose quality paint, you actually improve not only their look but also their lasting durability. Both are important reasons to consider painting because you are adding considerable value to your home.

Here is what my kitchen and other spaces looked like before painting began. All the wood is birds-eye maple. I loved it, but as it aged, it became more and more orange, which I didn’t like. I felt like the style of the maple was outdated. It was time for a change. Since the cabinets were expertly crafted out of valuable wood, they were prime material for repainting.

before photo kitchen pro painting tips

Peel & Stick Barn Wood

Previous projects I completed in my kitchen include adding real barn wood peel and stick wood planks to my island and peninsula as seen above and below. I completed a blog post answering all questions about using peel and stick barn wood.

before photo modern kitchen pro painting tips

Peel & Stick Vinyl Wallpaper

Another DIY project I completed was adding peel & stick vinyl wallpaper on top of my dark granite backsplash. The smooth backsplash created an ideal surface for this removable wallpaper. It required no demolition and can be easily changed out. It is temporary or permanent as desired. I have had it up for about three years already, and I love it. It washes easily and stays perfectly put. Most wallpaper companies now offer peel & stick options.

Another benefit is that it is easier to install than regular wallpaper. I wouldn’t attempt regular wallpaper, but I can handle putting up the peel & stick. I covered all the backsplash in my kitchen over the span of two days by myself.

pro painting tips kitchen cabinet painting

Pro Painting Tips: Best Paint to Paint Cabinets

Does the paint I choose really matter? Felipe was most adamant about this point. He said it over and over. Paint matters. It is the difference between a beautiful and lasting finish and the opposite.

Felipe has 15 years of experience painting. When he cannot convince clients to invest in the high-quality paint, he says they are usually unhappy in the end. In many of these cases he is called back to fix and repaint because cheaper brands do not last.

He insists it is more cost effective to invest in high quality paint to start.

pro painting tips modern kitchen

Exact Paints We Used to Paint Cabinets & How Many Coats of Paints on Cabinets

Primer: One Coat of All Surface Enamel Sherwin-Williams Oil Base Primer

Option 2: If you live in California or other states that restrict the sale of oil-based paints and primers, you can substitute the above oil-based primer for a water based latex primer such as Sherwin-Williams All Surface Enamel Latex Primer.

Paint: Two Coats of Sherwin-Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel Interior/Exterior

I chose Gloss Finish. My paint color doesn’t have a name because we matched my existing trim paint. I chose the trim paint because there was already a lot of trim paint in the kitchen and about a foot of molding around the entire room.


8648-11106 T/M KM – CCE COLORANT   OZ   32   64   128

B1 – Black                   –       1      1        1

R2 – Maroon             –        –      1         1

Y3 – Deep Gold        –        6      1         –

Base:  Extra White

It is quite white, and I love it. It suits the house.

Pro Painting Tips: How to Estimate Paint Needed

You can read on the paint can the estimated coverage. Some cans say for example 100 square feet or 200 square feet. Your estimate will depend on whether your cabinets have been painted before. If you are painting wood for the first time you will need more paint, as it absorbs more.

Visiting a Sherwin-Williams store is a great source for more advice. Each store has dedicated paint professionals ready to help you with your paint questions. Take pictures of your space, and they will help you estimate. They are so friendly and very knowledgeable. They are well staffed, so I never have to wait, which is very appreciated.

Pro Painting Tips:

Always err on the side of over estimating. If you run out mid-project you could run the risk of repainting, as batches can be slightly different. Plus, you want to have some left over for touch-ups. It is a costly mistake if you run out.

before and after pro painting tips

Shop Sherwin-Williams Paints and browse their product and color collections now!

before and after fireplace

I also had Felipe paint my family room mantle and TV cabinet to match.

before and after built in desk pro painting tips

Here is the before and after of the built-in desk and storage area off the kitchen. The project also included the laundry room which has a fair amount of built-in cabinets. As you can see, it was a big project. It spanned four rooms.

before and after kitchen painting makeover



Click here to subscribe


pro painting tips prep work

Here’s the cute man himself! This is Felipe. He is a sweetheart, and I just enjoyed having him in my home throughout the process.

Important First Step: Prepping

The first thing Felipe did was prep. He spent days prepping and was meticulous in this step, which I appreciate so much. He covered every room with heavy duty painters’ paper to protect all the surfaces, beginning with the floors and then covering the counters. The final step was covering walls and sealing the rooms with large clear plastic sheets.

pro painting tips prep work

Pro Painting Tips:

Cover everything, edge to edge, corner to corner. Be meticulous in this step to avoid damage. It will save you so much time and aggravation. Don’t be lazy. It is easier to protect than to try to remove paint.

pro painting tips prep

Set-Up to Paint Cabinets

Here is the painting tent Felipe created in our garage. This is where he sprayed the cabinet doors.

spray tent pro painting tips

Pro Painting Tips:

No matter what the paint says, allow at least 24 hours for paint to fully dry between coats for best results.

pro painting tips spray tent

Pro Painting Tips:

Do not take shortcuts in painting.

The best advice from Felipe is: Do it right the first time so you have beautiful lasting results.

pro painting tips process

Do You Need to Empty Your Cupboards?

As you can see, the good news is you do not need to empty your cupboards. As long as there is a little room between your items and the edge. This is the case assuming you aren’t painting the insides.

You will need to empty the drawers. This was a big enough project. On the positive side, I cleaned out my drawers!

pro painting tips process

Pro Painting Tips: When Should I Roll, Brush or Spray?

When to Roll: Best Roller for Painting Cabinets

Roll when you have a textured, imperfect surface. The roller pushes the paint into the surface, creating better coverage. A paint brush or spray may not cover well enough. It is faster for larger areas as well. In terms of the best size roller for painting cabinets, smaller is better.

When to Use a Paint Brush

Use a quality brush for detail work and smooth surfaces. A paint brush gives you control in areas where spraying is undesirable, and a roller is too big. Every job will require some paint brush work.

When to Spray

Obviously, this professional’s tool is useful, especially for larger jobs. It can save a lot of time and arm fatigue. Pro recommendation is to use a high-quality paint for the best finish. Remember that your prep work needs to be extra meticulous if you are spraying inside.

Create a spray tent (as Felipe did in our garage) to facilitate spraying. Temperature can’t be too cold or too hot. Oil based paints need temperatures between 40 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Latex paints require 50 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

kitchen pro painting tips

Do You Need to Leave Your House?

See the open door? That’s for ventilation. It’s very important, especially if you use the heavy-duty paint oil-based primer which Felipe recommends. If you have decided to go with a water-based primer instead, you can skip this section. You won’t have the same problem with fumes and won’t have to leave your home unless you simply want to avoid the inconvenience of not having access to your kitchen.

Click here to subscribe
If you can have doors and windows open airing out the house, you might be able to stay in your home. It also depends on personal sensitivity and how far your bedrooms are from the actual painting.

Felipe says that about 50% of his clients find it necessary to stay a couple nights in a hotel as the primer dries. Luckily, I was out of town. My husband stuck it out. My son stayed over at a friend’s house because he was more sensitive than my husband. It is something to consider and prepare for.

pro painting tips drying time

Pro Painting Tips: Tool Recommendations

Felipe highly recommends Purdy paint brushes. He says he has Purdy paint brushes that are 10 years old! If you use inexpensive brushes, you’ll end up buying new ones for nearly every job. Purdy brushes are made by Sherwin-Williams. I joked with Felipe that he is a walking advertisement for Sherwin-Williams, and he giggled his cute giggle, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “When this is your life’s work, you need to use the best!” See what I mean?

Take a Look at More of the Photo Gallery AFTER Pics Below:

paint kitchen cabinets like a pro


pro painting tips


after kitchen photo pro painting tips


stove view pro painting tips


stove view pro painting tips


pro painting tips kitchen cabinets


coffee station pro painting tips


pro painting tips

Pro Painting Tips: The Key Points

Oh, the power of paint! I feel like I have a new house. It’s amazing. It is a magical transformation. I have communicated with many people regarding their cabinet repainting projects. Everyone says they wish they had done it sooner. I feel the same way. It was so worth it.

Click here to subscribe
Having had many conversations with my pro painter there was one over-arching theme that came up again and again. The main thing I learned from Felipe is that if you want quality lasting results you can’t compromise. You can’t skip steps or cut corners. Attention to detail is key. And you need to invest in high-quality paint if you want the finish to be smooth and you want your paint to stand the test of time.

jodie & julie
How to Paint Cabinets: Pro Painting Tips
Article Name
How to Paint Cabinets: Pro Painting Tips
Paint cabinets just like a professional with these pro painting tips. Painting your own kitchen cabinets is challenging. It takes time and commitment and plenty of know how. Here are top pro tips to help you achieve beautiful, lasting results.
Publisher Name
The Design Twins
Publisher Logo
  1. Thanks for sharing. Your kitchen etc looks great…..loving it! A couple years ago we had the outside of our house painted and the man we hired to do that had been using Sherwin Williams paints for 25+ years and would use nothing else. I love their color palette too and have their colors all through my home.

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Tara, thank you so much for your kind reply. Isn’t that interesting? The pros know what they’re talking about! Felipe won’t use anything else either. He says it’s hard work and reputation on the line and paint matters! I didn’t know this before talking and learning from him. Have a beautiful day, My Friend! XO ~ Julie & Jodie

  2. B H says:

    Thank you! This post couldn’t have been more timely for me. I am currently choosing a color to have my kitchen cupboards painted out. Your ideas and process just firmed up my decision to get this professionally done. Beautiful before and after pictures!!! Thank you!

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Well, how perfect is that? We are so glad we could help! We hope your project is successful. We also hope you continue to enjoy our blog! XO ~ Julie & Jodie

  3. Keisha Thompson says:

    I have light oak cabinets that keep looking more and more orange as well! We highly recommend Sherwin-Williams paint as well! Did he sand down anything or just use the primer? Did he roll everything except the cabinet doors that were sprayed in your garage? Did he do anything after the paint? I am worried about fingerprints/kitchen spills on the white paint.

  4. Becky says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this process! We are in the process of purchasing a home and the cabinets are stained a medium oak. I’m wanting to paint them white so this was such great info for me! And I love the peel and stick!! I have granite now for the backsplash that is brand new. Excited to get going! Thank you again!

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      We are so glad you found this post helpful. Sounds like you are doing great things in terms of kitchen choices and congratulations on your new home. Thanks for checking out the blog and we hope you will come back to visit soon!
      Lots of love,
      Jodie and Julie

  5. Roberta J says:

    So very helpful and your kitchen looks beautiful!!! Thank you so much for sharing this valuable information!!!!💖

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Thank you for the sweet comments dear! We are so glad you are enjoying the blog.
      Lots of love,
      Jodie and Julie

  6. Arif B. says:

    Wow! I am absolutely amazed at the results you got. The difference in the before and after pics is huge! I couldn’t agree more on the point that a high quality paint is more cost effective than a cheap one. Felipe is definitely right.

    Thanks for writing a post this long.

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Thank you so much! Yes, we were equally as stunned regarding the transformation. We are so happy you found this post helpful. You are so welcome! We hope you will check out more of our painting related blog posts. Hope to hear from you again soon!
      Lots of love,
      The Design Twins

  7. JoAnn Besso says:

    Hi Julie,
    What a transformation!! So inspiring! I have a question? Did he spray the boxes of your cabinets as well as door and drawers? Or did he roll those?

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Hi JoAnn, So glad you enjoyed the post and are inspired. I think you’re asking about the interiors of the cabinets? We left the interiors alone actually. It was already such a huge job and I thought the interior contrast of the undamaged, quality wood was fine to leave as is. Good luck with your project! XO ~ Julie

  8. Brenda says:

    I like the painting of mantle and cabinets by fireplace.. Can you tell me what is the black above cabinets? Is that trim painted black or is that opening for TV equipment? I cannot tell looking at picture.

  9. James Baker says:

    very helpful content and your kitchen looks very beautiful! i really like your pictures. Thank you so much for sharing this valuable information

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Thank you for your kind comment! We really appreciate it. We’re so happy you enjoyed this blog post, you are so welcome.
      Lots of Love,
      Jodie & Julie

  10. James Martin says:

    I am a huge fan of your website. I love to read your blog post.

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Thank you for the kind comment! We really appreciate this. Hope to see you on the blog in the near future!
      Lots of love,
      Jodie & Julie

  11. Archie Dunbar says:

    Great article but why does no one show a true closeup of the finish. It is all about that. Easy to look good from 15 feet away.

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      We are sorry you were dissatisfied with the photos. We were simply trying to capture the bigger picture and overall effect of white cabinets. We have plenty of other painting posts where we show up close shots. Hope that helps.
      Lots of love,
      Jodie & Julie

  12. Awesome tips on kitchen cabinet painting. I think this tips and ideas help to paint the kitchen cabinet like a pro!

    Thanks for sharing. Please keep it up!

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Thank you Teena. We’re glad you found our tips helpful. All the best, Julie & Jodie

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Teena, We are so glad you enjoyed these tips. We have many painting posts, so we hope you will continue to read and enjoy. All the best, Julie & Jodie

  13. Bath Advice says:

    These kitchen cabinet painting tips are awesome. I believe these tips and ideas can help you paint a kitchen cabinet efficiently and effectively!

  14. Albat says:

    Thanks for share…….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

for our latest DIY's, decor, recipes, and more direct to your inbox!