How to Choose the Best Way to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets: Transform Your Kitchen with Paint

Read this step by step guide on how to paint your kitchen cabinets. We share a side by side comparison of mineral paint vs. acrylic paint, and the pros and cons to help you choose.

Painting your kitchen cabinets is no small project.

white kitchen after transformation

In this post I’m going to answer all your questions to help you decide:

  1. If you should paint your cabinets
  2. What type of paint to choose: mineral or acrylic

I’m going to compare the two processes side by side to make it easy for you to decide.

I will show you how to paint your kitchen cabinets step by step so you can save thousands of dollars.

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Home Value and Kitchen Cabinet Painting

Let’s talk about the value of your house. I’m talking real value, which is only equal to the resale value of your house. The focus is always on the kitchen.

If you have old cabinets in your kitchen you obviously will improve their value by painting them.

But if you are like me and have wood cabinets that are new or are in good condition you might hesitate before painting them. If there is “nothing wrong” with the condition of your cabinets, it’s a little less clear whether painting your kitchen cabinets will actually result in a higher home value.

If you are considering giving your kitchen a facelift you have several choices:

  1. replace your cabinets
  2. reface your cabinets
  3. hire someone to paint your cabinets
  4. paint them yourself

You can pay someone to replace your cabinets or paint them for you. However, I suggest reading what I did. I painted them myself. You can literally save thousands of dollars by doing what I did and paint them yourself.

Here’s what my cabinets looked like BEFORE I painted them.

dark wood kitchen cabinets before

farmhouse white kitchen transformation

Should you Paint your Kitchen Cabinets?

No matter how much you want to paint your cabinets there may be nagging questions:

  • Will painting the cabinets decrease the value of my kitchen/home?
  • Will I ruin perfectly good cabinets with an amateur paint job?

and lastly, but no less important:

  • Can I convince my husband?

Because of the above questions I ended up not painting my kitchen cabinets for over 4 years.

Here are a few more before photos. For several years I contented myself with painting only the outside of my island. It was a small task and easy to paint over. Plus, two-toned kitchens are very on-trend.

dark farmhouse kitchen, dark wooden cabinets

green kitchen island before

How to Get your Husband to Let You Paint your Kitchen Cabinets

You can wait for years to try to get your husband on board with this project, or you can try what I did. I told him I wanted to remove all the upper cabinets and install “open shelving.”

  • Don’t just say it.
  • Start cleaning out shelves and throwing away all the extra, unwanted stuff that has accumulated, so he knows you’re serious about it.
  • Talk about how great it’s going to be, the kind of shelves you’re going to get, and how you’re going to want to tile the entire wall up to the ceiling.
  • Once he gets an idea of what a massive project it’s going to be, he will end up begging you to “just paint” the cabinets.
  • Or, he might like the idea. You’ll have a new kitchen either way.


On a side note, there is absolutely nothing wrong with beautiful wood cabinets. But that’s an entirely different discussion. I assume you wouldn’t be here unless you wanted to know how to paint your kitchen cabinets. So, let’s go!

white painted kitchen cabinets

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What is the Prepping Process? 

Now that everyone is on board it’s time to prep.

Step 1. Start by cleaning the surface before you begin to paint kitchen cabinets.

  • No matter which paint you use, latex, chalk, or mineral paint, it’s important to start by cleaning the cabinets with TSP.
  • This is a cleaning product that is available at any hardware store.
  • TSP removes any grease or residue.
  • Do this before you sand.

Step 2. Do you need to sand before you paint kitchen cabinets?

  • This is the same whether you are painting with either latex, chalk, or mineral paint.
  • The answer depends on the condition and finish of your cabinets.
  • If your cabinets have a very shiny, slick surface or varnish, giving them a light sand (like a scuff) will help the paint adhere.
  • If you are painting on a surface that has any chipping, flaking or uneven surface, you’ll want to sand to make it smooth.

Step 3. Wipe down your cabinets after you sand.

  • Make sure you wipe down your cabinets with a damp lint-free cloth after you sand to get all the dust off the surface.

Step 4. Do you need to prime before you paint kitchen cabinets?

  • Fusion Mineral Paint has a built-in primer, so you do not have to prime. Save on Fusion Mineral Paint here.
  • With latex paint you will need to prime first. I recommend using Zinsser 123 primer.

white kitchen cabinets make all the difference

Let’s Paint:

Are there any fumes or smells?

  • Fusion Mineral Paint:  No, this product is completely non-toxic and has no odor. It’s completely safe to paint inside and doesn’t require any ventilation. All Fusion products are lead-free, have no volatile organic compounds (VOC) and contain no ammonia or formaldehyde.
  • When choosing acrylic paint, you will want to paint in a well ventilated area. 

For Julie’s kitchen remodel she used an oil-based paint from Sherwin-Williams which creates a very lasting, high-quality finish. The downside is heavy fumes. Many people will get a hotel for a couple nights because the fumes can lead to headaches etc. Summer months with all the doors open would obviously help, but it’s something to keep in mind.

How many coats does it take?

  • Fusion Mineral Paint: In some cases, it might take 2 coats, but for me it took 3 coats to cover the dark wood using the Raw Silk color. Save 10% when you shop through our savings link here.
  • Acrylic Paint:  This will depend on the surface you are covering. It will also depend on the paint color you choose. If you choose a bright white that doesn’t have any warmth to it you could end up painting as many as 4 or 5 coats of paint like I did. (I used Magnolia Home True White)

How much paint did you use to paint kitchen cabinets?

  • Fusion Mineral Paint:  I ended up using about 8 pints. My project involved painting 43 cabinet doors and 21 drawers, plus the entire back side of a large island. As I mentioned, I painted 3 coats everywhere.
  • Acrylic Paint:  I purchased 2 gallons of paint for 8 cabinet doors. Typically, the volume of acrylic paint needed to cover is greater than the amount of mineral paint needed.

white farmhouse kitchen makeover

What paint color did you use?

I chose Raw Silk by Fusion Mineral. I couldn’t love the color more. You can purchase it here:

How much did it cost to paint kitchen cabinets?

  • Fusion Mineral Paint:  The total cost for paint was about $200 for my entire kitchen plus bar area cabinets.
  • Acrylic Paint: The total cost for paint was about $90 but this project was about one-fifth of my kitchen project.

If I had used acrylic paint for my kitchen it could have cost about $450. 

The reality is that because of the amazing coverage of the Fusion Mineral Paint I was able to save hundreds of dollars on this project. If I had purchased acrylic paint like the Magnolia Home brand at $45/gallon the project would likely have cost at least $600 or more.

When Julie did her kitchen cabinets with Sherwin-Williams brand paint she paid $90/gallon and her paint costs were over $1000.

Fusion Mineral Paints is a cost-saving choice. And we love that our followers save an additional 10% when using our affiliate link.

How long do you have to wait between coats?

  • Fusion Mineral Paint:  This product dries quickly. It dries to the touch within minutes. It is recommended to wait 2 hours between coats.

If you need to sand an area (because of visible brush strokes, for example) you need to wait until the paint completely cures or about 48 hours.

  • Acrylic Paint: You should wait between 2-3 hours between coats. Longer in high humidity or extreme temperatures.

If you need to sand an area (because of visible brush strokes, for example) you need to wait until the paint completely cures or about 48 hours.

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kitchen cabinets painted white

Do you use a brush, a roller, or a sprayer to paint kitchen cabinets?

  • The method you choose is a personal choice.
  • Use whichever method you are most comfortable with.
  • I used a brush because that is what I was most comfortable with.
  • I have used rollers before, both large rollers and foam rollers, but I have never used a sprayer.
  • The same is true for both Acrylic & Fusion Mineral Paint.

Do you need an expensive brush?

  • Fusion Mineral Paint: 
    • Use whatever brush you are most comfortable with.
    • I used a medium quality angled brush because it was light weight, easy to work with and easy to control.
    • I was able to direct the paint where I wanted it quickly and effectively.
    • This is important with this paint because you don’t want to have to go over your paint strokes to do your edging.
    • You also don’t want a heavy brush that will create heavy strokes and leave marks in the paint.
  • Acrylic:  I alternated coats between a brush and a small foam roller to try to cover brush strokes.

Do you need a sealer or topcoat when you paint kitchen cabinets?

  • Fusion Mineral Paint: 
    • This depends on how you are going to use the piece or surface.
    • If it’s a high-use surface like a kitchen then yes, you will likely want to seal the surface with a topcoat.
    • If you are painting a piece of furniture that doesn’t get much use, there probably isn’t much need.
    • Fusion Mineral Paint makes a high quality non-yellowing clear top coat called Tough Coat.
    • It was very challenging to apply without getting streaks.
    • I opted to use a non-yellowing acrylic polyurethane topcoat by Benjamin Moore instead. The product is called Benwood Stays Clear. I used the flat finish. You will need to apply a minimum of 2 coats but I recommend applying 3 coats.
    • I had experience using this product before and knew it went on easily without streaks and without yellowing.
  • Acrylic:  No sealer or topcoat is required.

farmhouse kitchen transformation using white paint

My Personal Experience Painting Kitchen Cabinets

My original experience using regular acrylic or latex paint on my dark wood upper cabinets in my laundry room (identical to the ones in my kitchen) made me dread the project in my kitchen because it was so long and difficult.

Reasons why painting with latex paint was difficult:

  1. I had to work outside in my garage because of the fumes.
  2. 2 coats of primer (I thought this might save on paint).
  3. I painted 4 coats of paint, 5 coats in some places.
  4. To have better coverage I attempted to apply the paint thicker and I ended up with a lot of drips.
  5. The paint was thick and physically exhausting to apply.
  6. The project took much longer than I ever imagined and made me think I never wanted to paint cabinets again.

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white painted kitchen cabinets in large great room with hanging pendent light lights and shiny stone floor

My Fusion Mineral Paint Experience

I found Fusion Mineral Paint after a lot of research. I knew the experience would be very different, and it was.

  1. The application process was very calming and very meticulous.
  2. Instead of feeling like a physical fight against the paint it was more of an artistic endeavor.
  3. The paint is very thin and glides on very easily. It never feels like you are struggling.
  4. There definitely is a learning curve. I had to figure out how much paint to apply and how quickly to move.
  5. At first I started with too much paint on my brush and ended up leaving brush strokes.  

Reasons I found the Fusion Mineral painting process enjoyable:

  1. I was able to paint right in the living room because there are no fumes or toxic chemicals.
  2. Only light sanding was needed.
  3. There was no priming.
  4. The paint only required 3 coats of paint (vs. 5 with acrylic).
  5. The coats dried so quickly I was able to do several coats per day.
  6. Coverage was so good that the project moved quickly, and I saw results almost immediately.
  7. The project left me feeling like I was ready to take on any painting project.

Lessons I Learned from Painting Kitchen Cabinets

I wish I hadn’t spent four years wondering whether or not to paint my kitchen.

Follow your gut. If you are tired of your kitchen I highly recommend trusting your own instincts and getting busy. 

Also, with my experience using both Fusion Mineral paint and acrylic paint I am a huge fan of Fusion Mineral paint. The process is so much more enjoyable. I never thought I would say I enjoyed painting cabinets, but I actually did enjoy painting my kitchen. And we all love the new light, bright kitchen. It feels like a new house.

jodie & julie


How to Choose the Best Way to Paint Kitchen Cabinets
Article Name
How to Choose the Best Way to Paint Kitchen Cabinets
Step by step how to paint kitchen cabinets. Side by side comparison of mineral paint vs. acrylic paint, pros and cons to help you choose.
Publisher Name
The Design Twins
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  1. Jill says:

    Hello! Did you remove the doors from the kitchen cabinets when you painted them?
    Thank you,

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Hi Jill, Yes, I removed all the cabinets and was able to paint them on tables set up in my great room. Since there are no fumes I could paint inside my house and have my favorite tv show on in the background 🙂 Good luck with your project. XO ~ Jodie & Julie

  2. Kathy Nicholls says:

    I love your new cabinets 😍. I want to paint mine too. I was confused tho! Did you use only the Mineral paint? Or both types of paint? Thank you

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Hi Kathy, I used the mineral paint for my entire kitchen. I was comparing my experience using acrylic paint on my laundry room cabinets (that were the same exact cabinets as my kitchen). Good luck with your project! ~ Jodie & Julie

  3. Hi Jodie and Julie!
    I have been wanting to paint my cabinets for years!! After having many bids my husband was not thrilled about paying thousands of dollars when there is nothing wrong with them. (I am tired of orange cabinets, Cherrywood) I was not sure about how to do it and very nervous I would screw it up! After reading this, I am convinced that I can do it! Thank you for sharing all your wisdom about this subject! Much appreciated. I’ll let you know how it turns out! Thank you!

    • jjdesigntwins says:


      We are so glad this post has inspired you to tackle your kitchen cabinet project! It’s absolutely doable on your own and we are so excited for you and to see the finished product! Best of luck!

      Lots of love,
      Jodie & Julie

  4. TB says:

    Super psyched! In addition I am going to use an easy to self install stone look tile on the exposed side on my island.

  5. Cindy Allen says:

    I thought mineral paint was only used on projects that you wanted stressed?

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Hi Cindy,
      No, that is a misconception. It’s fabulous on all kinds of projects, as you can see 🙂 We recommend. All the best, Julie & Jodie

  6. Melissa says:

    Hello. Long time follower. I redid my kitchen. Husband picked out mocha for the outer shell of the kitchen and white for the center island. It was ok for a while, but I’m not 100% a fan. Bought 2 things of mineral paint. However a brush is leaving the brush lines. And a small roller is leaving an odd texture.
    What brush did you use on your cabinets??

  7. Diana says:

    Did you use the fusion mineral top coat or benjamin moore top coat for your kitchen?

  8. Angela says:

    Do your cabinets have any texture or grain on them? My wood cabinets have a very shallow grain texture on them. They aren’t completely smooth. I really dread sanding them and wondered if a primer would help smooth them out or keep the grain from showing through. Any ideas?

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      You’re going to have to sand them. Get a sander or hire someone. Prep work is the most important part of painting.

  9. Erin Besser says:

    I was wondering if you could share the exact top coat you used to get a streak free application?

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Hi Erin,
      I talked about it in the post:
      “I opted to use a non-yellowing polyurethane topcoat by Benjamin Moore instead.
      I had experience using this product before and knew it went on easily without streaks and without yellowing.”
      I haven’t actually applied the top coat yet, but this is based on other projects. It’s great.
      Good luck with your project, Jodie & Julie

  10. Lisa says:

    How did the cabinets hold up since doing them almost a year ago? I’m considering doing my kitchen cabinets in the Raw Silk but not sure how durable it will be compared to Benjamin Moore advanced paint for cabinets.
    Thank you!!

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Hi Lisa,
      My cabinets are doing great. They are holding up exceptionally well so far and I haven’t even added the optional top coat. Don’t know how it compares. Of course the goal is for it to last for years and years, and we have to wait for that test 🙂 Good luck with your project, Jodie & Julie

  11. Albina says:


    Love how the kitchen turn out. Can you give us an update on how they are holding up with mineral paint?

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Hi Albina,
      They are holding up perfectly. We are all so pleased. I didn’t even paint a top coat yet and they are still looking perfect. XO ~ Jodie

  12. Juliana says:

    Hi! Thank you for sharing your experiences. I was just wondering if your cabinets had a visible wood grain prior to painting and if so, could you see the grain when finished? Thanks!

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Hi Juliana,
      My cabinets didn’t have much visible wood grain. You can’t see any grain now. It covered completely. I would imagine if you have a heavy wood grain you can always paint another coat. Good luck with your project, Jodie & Julie

  13. Catherine Landeka says:

    Hi! These look wonderful!, such an inspiration! I have purchased all of my products and will be beginning my process of painting our kitchen cabinets today. I was curious if you decided to paint the backs of the cabinets as well, we are toying with the idea of just painting fronts and sides. Look forward to hearing your thoughts. Thank you!

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      You don’t need to paint the insides of your cabinets but I think you’ll regret not painting both sides of the doors of your cabinets. That’s just my opinion. Best of luck, Julie

  14. Carriann says:

    hi ladies! just wondering did you do the inside of your cabinets?
    they are so beautiful!

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Hi Carriann, I didn’t paint the inside of my cabinets. Maybe one day…haha but I doubt it. I’m on to the next project and just don’t have time. But honestly it’s totally fine, and doesn’t bother me at all.
      Good luck with your project,

  15. Laura says:

    Hi J&J!

    Can I use mineral fusion paint on Merillat cabinets? They’re that funky white. They’re not inbad shape just dated.

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Hi Laura,
      I am not entirely sure. I would ask our friend and expert of Fusion Mineral paint, Katie Baker @baker_nest on Instagram.
      Best, Jodie & Julie

  16. Rachel Steinhouse says:

    I have an old desk with a chipped chibese motif paint on it. I’ve wanted to paint it for years but didn’t think I could do it. After watching you paint so many different things, I decided to paint this desk which has 3 different funky chairs which I’ve kept. I’ve reupholstered the chairs but now want to paint them. I’m confused about colour so will check with your friend for advice. Thank you for pushing me in the right direction and not be afraid of doing it myself.

  17. Esther says:

    Where do I find the link to the paint brush you used on your paint project?

  18. […] Jodie from jodie.thedesigntwins completely wowed us with this kitchen makeover in Raw Silk, it was a deep dark brown, and Jodie hand painted it and documented the process! You can see that here and more tips on how she painted her kitchen over on her blog  […]

  19. Julie and Jodie, thank you very much for sharing your experience in all fields.
    I love the idea of repainting furniture. In my opinion, it’s a very effective and affordable way to refresh the look of a home. I love unusual solutions. For example, repainting the front door in mustard color. But whatever the color is, it’s always a good idea. As for the option for the finish, I would recommend a semi-gloss one. Semi-gloss paint gives you a smoother surface than lower-sheen finishes and has a degree of shine, providing a visual contrast.

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Thank you Regina. We love your reply and we love your ideas. Yes, semi-gloss is a good idea, we agree. Best, Julie & Jodie

  20. If you are looking to paint your kitchen cabinets, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. First, make sure to choose the right paint supplies for your job. You may need a variety of colors, depending on the overall color scheme of your kitchen. Additionally, you should keep in mind the types of paint that will be used. If you are planning to paint a dark color, it is important to choose a light-colored paint. Finally, be sure to get help when painting your kitchen cabinets. There are many people who can help guide you and ensure that the job is done correctly. high end home builders melbourne

  21. Terri says:

    How have the kitchen cabinets held up?

  22. Helen says:

    What is the color name of paint and product on your island? It looks like a soft pinkish white?

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Hi Helen,
      The color is Raw Silk, and I linked the product right inside the post. In real life (not pictures) there isn’t any pink to it. But it is a beautiful white. Good luck with your painting, Jodie & Julie

  23. cathy says:

    Do you know how to paint formica cabinets?

  24. Rosemary says:

    Hello. I have cabinets that have a ‘plastic’ like coating In my kitchen and bathrooms. In some spots it is chipping. I really dislike this and want to repaint. I’m not sure how difficult though, the removal process will be. That is what is holding me back.
    What do you suggest? Do I just call in a cabinet company to remove the coating? Then I could paint them?
    I’m not sure if this can be painted on top of this coating!!!!
    Any advice would be helpful!!!
    Thank you so much!

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Hi Rosemary,

      So glad you asked us. We have worked with a variety of surfaces over the years. And there are excellent products to help you handle this situation. We recommend products from Fusion Mineral Paint. Use our coupon code JODIEKAMMERER to save 10% and use our link here: The product you want is called Ultra Grip. You can always hire a professional and give them the product. Either way. Using the right products gives you the power. Good luck, Julie & Jodie

  25. Julie Ward says:

    I had painted my kitchen cabinets several years ago using a sponge roller and they have a textured finish to them that I hate and i want to repaint them to get rid of that texture. Did you scuff sand between coats or how or what do I use to get a smooth finish this time???

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Hi Julie,
      You’re right. Texture is key. Honestly it’s another reason we love painting with Fusion Mineral Paint. (use our savings link in the post). Fusion Mineral Paint has a thin more liquid consistency that does not create texture. It goes on super smooth and yet it’s highly saturated. Just don’t apply too heavily. Watch for collecting in moldings (then you have to catch any drips). But apart from that it’s much easier to work with and provides a smooth result. Good luck, Julie & Jodie

  26. Alice Shipman says:

    Personally, I liked the dark wood before you did anything to it. When I changed my cabinets from Maple to Expresso, I used Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation. In two of my homes. Thank you

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Hi Alice,
      The beauty of this world is that we are all different. We all have our own aesthetics and opinions. Thanks for sharing yours with us. Best, Julie & Jodie

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