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DIY Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen update on a budget

By Kristen Mehne- Realtor ®

If you look closely, this kitchen is actually pretty up to date! There is beautiful granite, tile black splash, stainless steel appliances, and trendy, ceramic wood-looking tile. The outdated 1980’s oak cabinets completely take away from all of the beautiful updates! To really make this kitchen stand out, we needed to give the cabinets a beautiful contrasting color to really bring it all together.

Kitchen cabinet renovation project

To start, I cleaned the cabinets with TSP, this cleaned the years of grime and grease that had naturally built up. Next, I applied a de glosser, which removes and dulls the finish, allows the paint to adhere without needing to sand (Note, I did lightly sand any areas that were raised/ needed to be smoothed down – ie. Wood grain or dried drips of the previous stain).

Here are all the supplies I needed for this project:

Material for Kitchen cabinet renovation

HomeRight Finish Max- Spray gun

DeWalt Screwdriver

Face Mask 

Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer

Varathane Ultimate Polyurethane – crystal clear in satin

Dixie Belle – Fluff (I needed 3 for this project) 

Rust-Oleum Metallic Burnished Amber 

De Glosser I used Jasco sold at Lowe’s, here is one comparable. 


Painters Tape 

Painters plastic

Sand Paper

Zibra paint brush 

Roller and Pan

Cheap brush or another Zibra brush

I am a very messy painter, so I took extra precautions and tapped off areas surrounding the cabinets (ie. Walls, floors, and appliances). This was time-consuming and took about an hour or two, however, it may not be completely necessary for you if you are a neat painter. I also covered countertops with painter’s plastic. Drips are almost inevitable.

Next, I removed the door fronts to the cabinets. Too keep organized, I made a chart for the hardware and doors, this allowed me to be able to locate and place all pieces back to their original spot.

DIY kitchen cabinet hardware

I attached the hinges and screws to a poster board with a number and also numbered its respective door, to protect the number from paint, I put painters’ tape over the number to protect.

During this process I noticed small screws went into the door and larger screws attached the door to the cabinet. I noted things like this on my poster board. Looking back, taping screws to the board was a waste of time, it is ok to throw them in a Ziplock bag or somewhere safe. I kept my hinges in order, I’m not sure if it was 100% necessary because I believe all the hinges were the same, but I would still keep them in order because it’s better safe than sorry!

After about 4 hours of prep and organizing, I was ready to finally get painting!

Prepping the Kitchen cabinet for the renovation

First up, I used

When applying the primer, I used a brush for smaller areas and corners and a roller for the large areas (note: immediately after rolling I would go back and smoothed the paint with my brush to insure an even finish, some rollers roll better and give a smooth finish, this roller was not one of them).

Once done with the body of the cabinets I applied a coat of primer to the backs of the doors. I laid these on a sheet of painters plastic in a shed. I recommend placing them on something This shade of white was perfect because it has gray undertones which goes perfectly with the tile but is still bright enough to provide a nice contrast.

I applied one coat to the body, then went out to spray the backs of the doors. This allowed the body of the cabinets to dry and by the time I came back to them, I was able to apply the second coat to the body and then a second to the doors backs, then repeated for the fronts. I allowed this to dry overnight to insure a good bond. 

Starting the DIY Kitchen Cabinet renovation

For the cabinets I sprayed the doors using

After spending hours of work getting to this point it is SO important to protect your investment. For the topcoat to get the old build up off. This allows the spray paint to adhere well. I used Rust-oleum Spray paint in the shade  I like to apply paint to the backs first, let dry, apply second coat, dry fully for at least a couple hours, then apply to the fronts. I let these dry overnight before installing. 

DIY Kitchen Cabinet primer

Once the topcoat has had a chance to harden overnight, I attached the doors to the cabinet bodies. Letting the paint harden overnight helps prevent dings in your paint. The paint will need 30 days to fully cure so remember to handle with care!

DIY Painted white Kitchen cabinet

Now for the big reveal!

(The bottoms of the cabinets will have trim added later) 

Next, up we’ll add hardware pulls!

All together this project took 29 hours. It was definitely a big project but is a lot more cost friendly than installing all new cabinets. I would definitely recommend this to anyone as long as you prep correctly and have patience, your kitchen makeover will turn out beautiful as well!

***In the desire for full disclosure, I want to say up front that certain products and links to products on this page are affiliate links, and I will earn a commission for any purchases you make. This will not incur additional cost to you.***

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