Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets!

Are you one of those people who are bored with your oak kitchen cabinets? I was such a person, but no more! I took the plunge and painted them, and I can tell you step by step how to paint your own and have them turn out beautifully.

But, please heed these words of caution! If you don’t have a lot of time, endurance and patience, or if you know your painting skills aren’t up to par, my advice to you would be to leave your cabinets alone.

I remember a few years back looking at a house that I was interested in purchasing, and someone had done a not-so-lovely job painting the kitchen cabinets. They were destroyed by drips, globbed up hardware and very heavy brush strokes. It kept me from buying the place. I would have preferred to have the outdated, unpainted cabinets that I could have redone myself. A bad paint job on cabinets–or on anything for that matter–is difficult to correct once the damage has been done. And of course it can hurt your home’s resale value so I hope you’ll keep that in mind. But if you believe you have the patience, I say go for it!

I have always wanted a white kitchen, but all of the homes I’ve owned have had stained, usually oak, cabinets. Oak in the kitchens. Oak in the bathrooms. Oak, oak, oak. Enough! I think oak is nice and everything, I’m just in oak overload. My current home is very cookie cutter, and I’m trying to give it some personality. As you can see, I have a teensy, weensy kitchen, but it serves me perfectly. I like having everything within reach and it’s quite functional. But this kitchen is sort of tucked into a windowless corner and feels dark.

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Here’s a brief kitchen history. When I moved in, the countertops were white, with a raised-up section by the bar stools that I had removed to make better use of my limited counter space. (Sorry, no pictures of the old countertops.) I thought the raised area looked really nice, but I needed to be practical with gaining every possible square inch of work space.

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I added the two far right end cabinets (upper and lower pictured below) to give me more storage and more counter space. I had to strip and restain the bottom one since it was brand new and didn’t match exactly to the old cabinets. And now after all that work, I’m painting over it!!

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I also changed my sink from a double bowl to a single bowl, which I love. A large cookie sheet will lay flat in it, and a single bowl takes up less counter space. I also changed the hardware from brushed nickel to oil rubbed bronze. My idea in switching from white counter tops to dark ones was in anticipation of someday mustering the courage to paint my cabinets white. My friend, that day has arrived!

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Since I don’t have a basement to work in, and it’s too cold to work in the garage in February here in Illinois, I’m working in sections in my kitchen. I need enough space to spread out and work on the doors I’m going to remove. I start with all the uppers for my first round. Step one is to remove the hardware and then the doors themselves. Tip: When taking down the doors, remove the top hinge last. Trust me on that one.

As I remove each door, I number them inside the hole created for the door hinge after I pop the hinge out. It’s a much nicer paint job if you remove the hardware as opposed to trying to paint around it.

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Please do not underestimate the importance of this step—especially if you have doors like my lowers that are the same right side up and upside down. This is especially crucial if you don’t have holes drilled for knobs or pulls. Numbering them will save you a trip to your “happy place”. My uppers are curved at the top so at least it’s clear which end is up, and I have pilot holes for knobs which helps too. I label them none the less as I learned my lesson long ago. I like to remove every screw and every hinge and put them in a bag separate from the knobs and handles and their corresponding screws.

Next I remove all the bumpers with a razor blade. If you paint over them, it doesn’t look very nice, and it’s pretty difficult to paint around them. They’re also a place for drips and runs to form if you leave them on. It’s worth the extra time to remove them and put on nice, new ones when you’re finished. If your cabinets are old, I’d bet my first-born that they’re pretty smushed from all the wear and tear anyway.

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I had “Merillat” stickers on some of my doors. I break out the “Goo Gone”, and spray where each of the bumpers and stickers are, as well as areas where I have grease and grime built up. I let it sit for a minute and razor off the adhesive and then completely clean those areas with more Goo Gone and a paper towel. It doesn’t matter what you use to clean your cabinets, but all the dirt and grease has to be completely removed in order to get a good result. I would advise using a cotton rag instead of a paper towel because I have some areas where I rub on the door fronts, and some fine bits of paper towel pull off into the grain. The “fuzzies” will be sanded off in the next step, but an ounce of prevention…

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Next I use the sander (using 100 grit sandpaper) that I borrowed from neighbors George and Deb. Thank you for making my life a lot easier, guys! As always, the idea isn’t to remove all the varnish or polyurethane, but rather to rough up the surface to help the primer to adhere. The areas I can’t get to with the sander, I sand by hand. I wipe all the dust off the pieces, using an old brush to get into the groves. Now comes the time-consuming part. My kids say I’m obsessive compulsive, and this next step might just prove they’re right.

I would like my cabinets to look as close to sprayed as possible, not like hand-painted oak cabinets. The problem is oak has a heavy grain that shows through when you paint it. Sanding alone will not get rid of this. If I just paint directly over the wood, my cabinets will scream, “This lady couldn’t afford new cabinets so she just painted us white–and we’re oak!” How embarrassing to have screaming cabinets. Especially oak ones. And maybe having the grain show through isn’t an issue for a lot of people, but it bothers me.

I did some checking into grain fillers that are designed to fill the grain on woods like oak. It sounded to me like you had to be a professional wood worker, an engineer and a rocket scientist to be able to use it, and I didn’t want to experiment with it on my kitchen cabinets. So this time I have a plan B. I read on the internet that you can float a thin layer of joint compound over grain to fill it.

Drywall tapers and woodworkers everywhere will find that idea amusing I’m sure, but I tried it on a frame of an oak cabinet in my laundry room that I bought for a dollar at a garage sale, and it worked quite well. The cabinets were pretty beat up, but a coat of fresh white paint is a cure-all in my book. I even bought my white porcelain knobs at another garage sale–a bag of 5 for a dollar! So the three cabinets and knobs cost a total of $4. Really. I used to have a wire coated rack instead, but I really needed cabinets for storage. I figured if my grain-filling idea didn’t work out, it wouldn’t matter much on my $1.00 garage sale cabinets, and they’re in my laundry room for goodness sake. Who’s gonna see those? They turned out quite lovely. Sorry I don’t have before pictures. I wasn’t thinking “blog” at that time.

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So look at this picture of my laundry room. Close your eyes and imagine nothing but an overloaded wire shelf above the washer and dryer. There’s your before “picture”. Now open up and look at the picture again and wha-la! Nice improvement, right?

Since the slanted ceiling didn’t allow enough room for a fourth cabinet, I just built a custom shelf to fit the space. I despise dead space in any room where storage and function are needed. The beadboard paneling in the back of the shelf was purchased at a box store, but the rest of the wood was purchased at my local Habitat Restore.

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The final part of this tangent is showing you my space-saving, wall-mounted, super-duper drying rack. Sorry to distract from my kitchen cabinets, but I’m excited. I purchased nothing to construct this since I already had the drying rack, leftover beadboard paneling from the shelf, wood from the frame of the shelf and of course my use-all-the-time white paint. FYI–I used exterior paint since it will be in contact with wet clothing.

Even the screws and bolts I used were leftover from something else. On the very rare occasion where I absolutely cannot salvage something, I remove every screw, washer, nut and bolt and save them. This has been my saving grace when I’ve needed hardware. The drying rack and the built-in shelf are both constructed with simple butt joints. I routed a groove on the back side after I constructed the box for the drying rack so that the beadboard paneling sits down in the box, but you wouldn’t have to do that. It’s just a cleaner finish when you view it from the side. So here’s my drying rack that’s similar to ones that sell for major bucks in the Pottery Barn and West Elm type catalogues. It’s a wonderful addition for a small laundry room, and it’s strong enough, even when fully extended to support a wet, queen-size comforter.

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Now where were we…Oh yes.

Instead of regular joint compound, I use Durabond which is a type of drywall mud that dries much harder than regular joint compound. It comes in a powder form that I mix with water, and it dries more quickly than joint compound depending on which type I choose. I believe you can buy anywhere from 5 minute to at least 90 minute Durabond. The minutes would be my working time before it sets up. It generally sets up before the number of minutes listed, but it depends on the temperature of the water I mix with it, the humidity and other factors. To mix Durabond, I just add the powder to water (as opposed to adding water to the powder) until it’s a consistency of thin peanut butter. Then I’m good to go.

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I want to put the Durabond on thin enough that I can see the wood showing thru or else I’ll have a lot of unnecessary sanding to do as well as a much bigger mess. Keep in mind that Durabond is harder to sand than regular mud which is another reason not to put it on too thick. Remember, the idea is mostly to fill the little holes from the grain and cover any raised grain areas. I only floated the frames of my doors on the uppers because I have a process for the panels for later. I was too impatient to wait for the mud to dry on its own so I helped it along with my hair dryer.

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Once they’re dry enough, I sand them smooth, being careful to leave a very thin layer of mud. All this prep work is very time-consuming and very messy but it all pays off. I realize I could have put the Durabond on even thinner than I did. Mental note for when I do the lowers.

Now I get to paint. First I prime the fronts and backs and let them dry. I use a brush where I need to get into the nooks and crannies and use a small mini roller to do the rest. I also prime the cabinet boxes on the wall.

I use 220 grit sandpaper to lightly sand the dry coat of primer before I apply the first coat of finish. This removes any little bits of “stuff” that float around in the primer and get stuck on my project. Since I’m getting to the end of my can of primer, it appears that those little floaties have been multiplying. You can strain your paint to cut down on the little varmints with a paint strainer that you can purchase anywhere paint supplies are sold. I most certainly should have done that.

I’m using Sherwin Williams’ “pure white” in a latex satin. Most people would use a semi-gloss for kitchen cabinets, but I don’t want that much sheen.

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For the center panels on just my upper cabinets I want to apply bead board wallpaper. I tried this out on my laundry room cabinets and was very pleased with it. It actually has raised areas and grooves just like real bead board and there’s no way to tell it’s not the real thing. Time will tell if it’s durable enough to use on my kitchen cabinets. If it gets too beat up or tears, I’ll simply remove it and paint in the panels. I prime the panels before I insert the wallpaper.

I purchased the wallpaper at Menard’s, and it’s plenty wide enough to fill in even the widest panels on my cabinets without having a seam. I follow the manufacturer’s instructions to apply it, which are pretty standard. Wet it, book it and it’s ready to install. It’s pre-pasted, which is nice, but it’s difficult to cut. I use a fresh blade for each cabinet, score it well and still have trouble with it tearing instead of cutting. It’s a bit like cutting wet tissue paper, so I just have to baby it a little. Despite the cutting issues, I still manage to do a good job, and remind myself that I’ll be caulking around the perimeter where some edges are a little rough so it’ll be just fine. You can see a bit of a gap where the “bead board” and the frame meet.

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Pardon my glob of caulk. I tried to slow down so my son could take a picture, thus the glob. Normally you would want a nice smooth bead, and then you want to smooth it with a wet fingertip to make it nice and even and push it into the groove. I use caulk all around each panel where it meets the frame on all the doors.

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I did some research online about this bead board wallpaper before I purchased it. I read some complaints about it coming loose when you paint it so I prepare myself for a bit of a battle, but I don’t have any problems with it at all. I make sure it’s completely dry before I paint over it, and I think that probably takes care of any potential catastrophes. FYI-this wallpaper is designed to accept paint. Otherwise I would NEVER advise painting over wallpaper! If you want to see a painter squirm, mention painting over wallpaper.

Yet another home purchase was knocked out of the running for me because the homeowner had painted over all the wallpaper in the main living areas. Every seam was accentuated and screamed, “Look at me! I’m wallpaper that no one wanted to take the time to remove, and look how obvious it is!”. The only thing worse than screaming cabinets is screaming painted-over wallpaper. Once it’s painted over, it’s very difficult to remove because the paint forms a barrier and makes it harder for the wallpaper to become saturated for removal. Wallpaper isn’t fun to remove under the best of circumstances. No need to add to the misery. If you remember nothing else from this post, I hope you remember never to paint over wallpaper.

In addition to caulking around all the panel edges, I need to caulk the cracks where all the separate cabinets meet on the boxes so the cracks don’t jump out at you. (We don’t want them screaming too.) They’ll show up as black against the white paint. Pretend not to notice the prescription drugs. Oops.

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Here’s a crack caulked halfway up so you can see how much better the caulked area looks.

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For clarification, I want to prime, let dry, lightly sand, apply the wallpaper, let dry, then caulk, apply a finish coat, let dry, lightly sand again and then apply my last coat of finish. Order is important here because I don’t want to be sanding right after caulking or I’ll mess up my caulk. Remember the sanding after priming and then between coats of finish paint is with a high grit like 200 or 220. And after sanding each time, I need to brush off all of the sanding dust so it doesn’t end up in my beautiful, smooth paint job.

FYI–I also had to redrill the pilot holes for the hardware because they filled with Durabond when I floated them. No big deal because the holes show on the backs of the doors where I didn’t do any floating, so I know exactly where to redrill.

So after 14 hours of labor, I complete the upper cabinets. Yes 14. Yikes. This was for 7 doors. Keep in mind it took longer because of my OCD with the grain issue, but I’m thrilled with the smoothness of the wood. They’re as close to looking sprayed as you can get. That’s what we want!

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Now for the lowers. Deeeeep breath. Some of my drawer fronts don’t want to come off because I realize my pilot holes for the screws that I installed a year or two ago for new hardware are too small. The screws are in the wood so snugly that they won’t budge. I can’t even remove them with a hammer. Live and learn.

So I’ll have to paint some of the drawer fronts while they’re still attached to the drawers. And a huge pain in the patooty is working around the random screws that were too stubborn to come out. As you can see, I’ve put tape around the threads so as to not fill them with Durabond or paint. I’m careful not to get too much paint built up around the screws so the paint won’t pull off when I remove the tape. Sorry about the blurry photo.

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I float mud on both the frames and the panels this time since I’m not inserting wallpaper on the lowers. Again, it’s a lot more work—and mess–than just painting them, but well worth it for this DIYer’s peace of mind. This picture is after I floated the door.

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This photo shows how little Durabond is left after sanding.

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Again I prime, lightly sand, caulk around the inserts and the cabinet boxes, apply finish, lightly sand, and apply the final coat of finish paint.

Here’s a picture of my paint shop, aka workbench, aka kitchen table.

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I decide not to keep track of my hours for the lower cabinets because it’s way too scary. All the DIYer’s whose blogs I read before I decided to go through with this all said they wished they’d done it sooner, and I whole-heartedly agree. They also warned of how very time-consuming it is, and I agree there too.

There will always be the oil verses latex, satin verses semi-gloss, to polyurethane or not to polyurethane debates. I have painted many vanities and pieces of furniture over the years, and I did a lot of research on the internet about different processes people use to paint their cabinets, but ultimately decided on what works best for me. I’m expecting to have to do touch ups on my paint job over time just as I have to touch up my interior doors and trim that are currently painted white. I love the crispness, brightness and contrast that white paint adds to my deep wall colors, and am willing to do the work to keep it that way. Check out my before and after photos.

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I hope if white cabinets are your heart’s desire, that you’ll give this a try. It does take some time to do it correctly, but if you break the job down into manageable sections, it’s not quite so overwhelming. There’s no reason why you can’t do a section, take a break for a few days or a week or two and then start again. If you have a basement or garage to work in, that would be a huge plus, but it can be done in a tiny space like mine too. And if you do it yourself, it’s immensely cheaper than investing in new cabinets. Everything I needed for this project, I already had on hand so I didn’t have to buy anything. But had I gone out and purchased the wallpaper, primer, paint, caulk and sandpaper, it would have cost less than $75.00. Now I feel like I have a new kitchen. Why did I wait so long?!!!

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

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93 thoughts on “Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets!

  1. tim hewitt says:

    looks great tracy,,jen’s father-in law

    • Kris says:

      Thank you for your tips on the durabond and caulking. These are very helpful tips. I have yet to paint my cabinets. However, when I do, I will definately look into using the durabond and caulking to minimize the woodgrain visibility. The wallpaper looks great as well. Just wondering what type of primer and paint you used?

      • Tracy Evans says:

        Hello, and thanks for your interest. The primer I used was Sherwin Williams’ Multi-purpose Latex Primer that is both interior and exterior. The paint was also from Sherwin Williams. It was Promar 200, zero VOC, interior latex in an eg-shel. The color was “Pure White”. Happy painting, Kris!

    • WOW GREAT JOB !!!!! Your website is my inspiration & my go to . I have a question On the cabinets you said you used Durabond because it was harder than mud , well I can’t find Durabond :( I wonder if using joint compound with wood filler mixed in to add hardness would work for the skim coat ?

      • Tracy Evans says:

        Thank you, Heather! I personally would not try mixing joint compound and wood filler as I would think the wood filler wouldn’t mix into the joint compound very well. I also don’t know if those two products are compatible with each other. I purchase bags of Durabond at Sherwin Williams, although I think at my local stores, it’s stored in the back, and you have to ask for it. In one of the comments, someone mentioned they found it at Home Depot. I would imagine that it would be sold anywhere joint compound is available. I’m sorry you’re having trouble finding it. There’s a picture of the product in my post, “Window Trim Ideas–How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casings”. Good luck!

      • pabs1 says:

        hey Heater… not sure where you are from but I’m from a fairly small town and every hardware store here has it.. it’s a pretty standard product for doing drywall.. if your stores don’t have it try and find a local drywall company and ask them where they get it or if they can get you some… but I really don’t think you will need to go that for.

        this is what you would be looking for
        http://www.homedepot.ca/wcsstore/HomeDepotCanada/images/catalog/17068.380321_4.jpg

        good luck

  2. Cheryl says:

    Love your pictures and details!! This is exactly the info I was looking for! How is the beadboard wallpaper holding up? I’ve seen online reviews of some of the thicker (foamier) stuff being dent-able or fragile, and I’m worried about it holding up to a kitchen’s abuse. I put real beadboard up other places in the kitchen and it’s holding up well but was a very painful experience!!

    • Tracy Evans says:

      Thanks, Cheryl! The beadboard paper is holding up beautifully. It is still flawless as of today’s date. I’m sure the paper I used is the thicker, foamier kind that you’re refering to, but it doesn’t appear to be all that fragile in my opinion. For a little test, I just tried making a dent in it with my fingernail. It left an indentation, but when I rubbed my fingertip over the dent, it disappeared. Weird, I know, but it’s true. I’m sure if I ran a sharp knife across it, I’d be in trouble, however. But stained wood cabinets would also show damage if scratched with a knife. I will admit also that I don’t have small children living here contributing to wear and tear, just two college-age children. Also, remember if you paint your beadboard as I did, that will give it some protection as well. And like you, I have also put up “real” beadboard and didn’t enjoy the experience either. I say “kudos” to beadboard wallpaper! I don’t regret doing for one minute. Go for it!

  3. Nicely done and with great detail. I always like to let my customers know that they can save a lot of money when they can do things themselves. Your post will be a source of inspiration! Thanks!

  4. Cristina says:

    Your ktichen looks fantastic! I have similar kitchen cabinets that I am painting. My husband says that I shouldn’t caulk the area between the panel and the cabinet door frame because the panel is meant to move and it could cause the caulk to crack during the winter. However, the gaps in places are pretty large (cheap cabinets) and I would really love to caulk them. Did you have any problems with cracking?

    • Tracy Evans says:

      Thank you for your question, Cristina. I understand your husband’s concern. However, caulk is also flexible and allows for movement. I haven’t had any problems with caulk cracking on my cabinets. Professional painters often caulk around painted baseboards where they meet the wall, between cabinets and walls, countertops and walls, etc… It’s the same scenario where there could be some movement due to shifting walls and foundations which is why caulk is a good choice for these areas. I’m confident that your caulk will not crack.

  5. Kimberly says:

    Your amazing,this is exactly what i was looking for when i thought about doing my kitchen! Thank you for taking the time to share this with us!

  6. Vicki says:

    Can you tell us where you purchased dura bond? Thank you for the great information.

  7. Donna says:

    Love, love, love it! Am just starting the process in my kitchen so thanks for all the tips. What color did you use on the kitchen walls? It’s exactly what I’ve had in mind.

    • Tracy Evans says:

      The paint color I used in my kitchen is a Sherwin Williams color #6109 Hopsack. I used #6108 Latte in the adjoining entry/foyer area which is the same color only a tint lighter. I LOVE both colors! Very warm and cozy. Sherwin Williams sells generous samples of their colors if you’re unsure and would like to sprinkle the color around the room in different areas to see what it looks like before investing in a full gallon.

  8. Annette White says:

    Thank you so much. Since we bought this house a year ago, I have hated the oak cabinets, which some people say are beautiful. I have a lot of cabinets, and it is a dark kitchen as it is. I have to show your website to my husband, as I know it is something that we could do!! What a difference in your kitchen!!

    • Tracy Evans says:

      I hope your husband approves! Next to my wall frame wainscoting (another post), it’s my favorite home improvement of all that I’ve done. I know it’ll make a huge difference in your kitchen. Good luck!

  9. Laura Frederick says:

    Hi Tracy – - did you do the durabond process on the frames as well? I’m ordering new cabinet doors, as mine are not in the best condition, but the frames are still in great shape. I was planning to just sand and paint white, but now I’m wondering if I should durabond the frames.

    • Tracy Evans says:

      Hello, Laura! If by “frames” you mean the boxes that remain on the wall after the doors and drawers have been removed, no I did not put durabond on those. I did have a chipped area on one of my boxes that I filled in with durabond and that was it. For me, they don’t show enough to mess with, but that’s a personal opinion. What I can suggest is that you prime and paint one of the frames and see what you think. If there’s too much grain showing for your taste, you can durabond over the paint with no problem and then prime and paint again.

  10. Bob Snyder says:

    One of my concerns is if I remove the hardware will it not make the holes loose when I put them back?

    • Tracy Evans says:

      Well, Bob, I’ve never had an issue on oak cabinets with the holes becoming loose, and I’ve removed several oak doors in my day. Oak is such a dense wood that it doesn’t give easily. I did, however, have an issue when I took all my hinges off my interior doors and sprayed them to match my new oil-rubbed bronze door knobs that I installed. Imagine my dismay when I put the screws back in some of the hinges and they just kept spinning! Bummer. The jambs were pine, and pine is more prone to the problem you describe. I also had the same problem with holes becoming loose on a screen door that took incredible abuse from four healthy children and two big dogs who would slam against it every time they went outside. I do have a solution. If you find that your screws are no longer snug, you can put some glue into the holes and break off toothpicks into the holes after you’ve put the glue into them. (I’m sold on Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue–next best thing to duck tape and WD-40!) Then reinsert the screws. The toothpicks and glue will do the trick, I promise. If it held up on my interior doors and to my family’s abuse on that poor screen door, I know it’ll work on cabinets too.

  11. Bev says:

    I am considering painting my oak kitchen cabinets as well. However, I’m thinking of doing them darker. We have an open concept home with 10 large windows in front, so there is no shortage of light. The cabinets all face the bright light at the southwest side of the house, so any and all mistakes would be obvious to the naked eye. So I am a little gunshy about doing this. The cabinets are 16 years old and still in good shape, and I don’t mind the wood grain showing as we have a lot of wood in our home. It’s a Linwood Cedar home, so the ceilings are cedar, and we have hardwood floors throughout the main area of the house. The plan is to have lighter color hardwood floors (we are having new ones put in in the next couple of months) and we are thinking darker cabinets and granite counter tops to update the kitchen. Do you have any recommendations for staining/painting them darker and still having them look beautiful? Thanks. Bev in Prince George, B.C. Canada

    • Tracy Evans says:

      Wow, Bev!! Sounds like you’re going to have quite a change coming in your home! It sounds beautiful. Lucky you to have all that natural light! The sky’s the limit then for you as far as color choices. I would go onto the internet and look at all the pics you can find of darker colored cabinets. I personally think black cabinets are stunning, and I would have them if I had the light that you are blessed with. But I’ve seen just about every color under the sun. Gray-blue or the right color of green can also be gorgeous. It’s also interesting to paint the uppers and lowers different from each other, but again, not an option for me in my tiny space. I’d be willing to bet you’ve already spent hours scouring the internet, but Better Homes and Gardens and HGTV have really nice websites you could google for ideas as well. Don’t forget you can always just get a quart or a small sample and paint one cabinet before you take the plunge. If the color doesn’t make you melt into the floor, you can just paint over it. In my opinion, paint is full-proof. Try and try again as the saying goes! As far as staining over existing stained cabinets, I haven’t done much of that because, for me, it’s a bit complicated trying to figure out what a chosen stain from the paint store is going to look like over the stain you already have unless you can completely strip your current cabinets of their existing color. There’s also a lot of prep-work as far as removing all of the previous varnish so that the new surface will accept your stain, so I’m sorry I can’t be much help as far as staining goes. As far as the process of painting cabinets however, your process would still be the same as the post whether the paint is white, black or any other color. Hope this helps!

  12. kelly witt says:

    Your step by step instructions plus pictures are wonderful! The way you post is just as if you are explaining the process of painting cabinets to me in person. Thank you so much for posting this, I am going to try and follow your steps to achieve your results!

    • Tracy Evans says:

      I’m so happy to know you enjoyed the post, Kelly. I figure there’s no point in making things seem harder than they really are with complicated words and boring commentary! Who likes reading an encyclopedia, after all? It’s great to know I achieved my goal of making you feel like I was speaking directly to you. Mission accomplished!

  13. Olga says:

    How did you paint the sides of the cabinets? The same wayvas the doors?

    • Tracy Evans says:

      Yes, Olga, I did paint the sides the same way as the doors. My side panels were the “pretend” wood so there was no issue with grain showing so I just primed and painted them.

      • amber says:

        With the pretend wood did you also sand? I want to paint my cabinets but they are all pretend my doors are not real wood. So I’m not sure how sanding will work?

      • Tracy Evans says:

        Amber, it doesn’t matter if your cabinets are “real” wood or not. The idea is just to rough up the surface so that your primer will have better adhesion. Remember to use a sandpaper that’s not too gritty–a 200 or 220 would be great so as not to leave scratches on your surface. Happy sanding, and good luck to you!

  14. Lori Hanson says:

    We just purchased an old house (1948) that we had to completly paint the inside, all new carpet, etc. There was alot of dry rot from the kitchen sink so all the lower cabinets had to be torn out. A friend of a friend :) is making new bottoms but because of finances I can not afford to do the uppers for quite awhile. They are a medium oak door but the frames were painted a burgandy kind of color. I was going to paint the frames and doors along with the new bottoms to all match but am running out of time (we have to be out of our current house on 11/15}. I have all ready primed the frames and all the doors are off. Now im thinking i need to just put the oak doors back on but have no idea what color to paint the frames and bottoms. Would that look way to weird to have painted bottom cabinets and painted upper frames AND oak doors on the top? The tops also are just flat with 90 degree angles and no knobs. Thinking knobs and handles would help. Any color help would also be appreciated. By the way I really enjoyed your blog!

    • Tracy Evans says:

      Well, Lori, if I’m understanding correctly, you’re just wanting to get the kitchen finished before you move into your new home. But can you finish your cabinets after you move, and take time to figure out your heart’s desire as far as color? I’ve not seen cabinets with the bottoms painted, and the upper boxes/frames painted with stained doors so I’m afraid I won’t be much help there. My advice to you if you’re feeling like your head’s gonna pop off, is to just put the stained doors back on and then once you’re moved and settled, finish the doors if you think they look out of place stained on painted frames. Another thought is to carefully putty the holes on the frames, sand them smooth, paint them and then leave the doors off and have open cabinetry. I’ve seen this and it looks nice to paint the insides (semi-gloss paint) a contrasting color. Say if your lower cabinets and upper frames are green, the insides might be a complimentary tan color, for example. If you have junky “stuff” in your cabinets that’s not display-worthy, you can get some neat baskets and put your not-so-lovely things like tupperware, metal baking pans and so on, inside them. You can also use the beadboard wallpaper in the backs of the cabinets and paint it a contrasting color. As far as knobs, you can’t go wrong adding them! There are so many gorgeous ones out there now. Adding knobs is also a good investment as far as saving your new paint job from wear and tear if you do decide to paint your doors. I hope this helps!

  15. Shara Stone says:

    Hi Trace,
    Your cabinet looks so beautiful. Your detailed steps are so helpful.
    My cabinet looks the same color (as your before picture. Bu kinchen has the same colors oak hardwood flooring. I’d like to change the color of the cabinet. The door style of cabinet is kind of like Lexington, so I don’t think i can borrow your idea of bead board although I really like it.
    I have questions about the finish and color.
    1. Do you think I can stain it instead of paint using the same technique you use (especially the mud and float part)?
    2. I am thinking of go darker. Do you think somethink like walnut or or vineyard will look good?
    I am pretty inspired by a lovely and will-sharing lady Tracy. But I am a new DIY’er. your any suggestion will be high appreciated.

    • Tracy Evans says:

      Unfortunately you wouldn’t be able to put stain over durabond, Shara. The white would show through your stain since stain is transparent. As far as a darker stain, I can only say follow your heart! Maybe you could go to a cabinet showroom or check out display kitchens in some of the box stores for an in-person visual of color choices. I would also warn that staining, at least in my opinion, is a more complex process than painting. But I don’t do a lot of it, so maybe people who do more staining than painting would disagree with me. You would have to sand all the varnish/polyurethane off your current cabinets and then there are several steps to follow that would be too lengthy to mention here. I would advise you to search the internet for information regarding staining. Good luck with your search, Shara!

      • Shara says:

        Thank you very much Tracy for your response. This is very helpful. I very appreciate your time and sharing.

  16. Lynda says:

    HI
    I have a ton of cupboards in my kitchen but they are all the light oak (very 80ish), my husband does not want to paint any of them white but will agree to stain. Is it okay to have the main cupboards around the walls a light honey oak and the island a dark dark wood stain. I usually only see the painted white cupboards with the dark wood islands. What do you think

    • Lynda says:

      Hi
      Opps I goofed, the cabinets were originally light oak, but he has started staining the wall cupboards with a maplewood stain which has a bit of a orange richer look than the light oak, the floor is gunstock medium oak. The stain he is painting now goes much better with the floors than the light oak did so we are heading in the right direction. Any help would be appreciated. I am just not sure about a dark stained island

  17. Lynda says:

    I should clarify this, I know I can paint them but from a decorating view would they look okay

    • Tracy Evans says:

      Unfortunately, Lynda, I’m not very experienced in mixing cabinets with different stains, so I would refer you to the internet to see if you can find some pictures of what your husband is wanting to do. Then you have a visual, and can judge for yourself. I don’t want to see you on an episode of “Divorce Court”, but maybe you could suggest a white painted island to go with your maplewood stain. A black painted island would look great with that stain as well, depending on your countertop color. If the issue is that he doesn’t like to paint, maybe you could offer to do it for him. If you’re not a DIYer and your husband knows it, maybe he’ll step in and offer to paint the island after you tell him you’re going to do it. (You know, sort of a reverse psychology thing.) Good luck!

      • Lynda says:

        Hi
        HE doesn’t mind doing it I was just not sure from a decorating view if light and dark oak would look good together

  18. Emily says:

    I saw you have white trim in some of your pictures. Did you paint that yourself, also? We have oak trim, cabinets, and a built in office nook in our house; I’d love for them ALL to be white, but the task seems just a little daunting :) Can you have white cabinets in your house if the rest of the house is still oak? :/

    • Tracy Evans says:

      I did not paint the trim in this house, but I did paint all the baseboard and window and door casings in my last house. I had a large two-story, and I really wanted white trim and decided to just do the trim in my master bathroom. Of course then I ended up doing the whole house. You just have to keep telling yourself just one room at a time. If you think about doing a major project like that and expect to do it all at once, you’ll find yourself in a padded cell. Plus if you do a room at a time, the job doesn’t seem unfinished since the entire room has been completed. I also split the door jambs, doing only the insides until all the bedrooms were done. Then in the hallway, for example, you can finish all the outsides of the door jambs and trim at the same time so you don’t have one white one and four stained ones showing in the hallway. Most of the time there will be a place to cut off your paint job in main areas as well, although sometimes that may not be possible. And you absolutely can have white cabinets in your house, and still have oak trim elsewhere. You can also have white trim and stained cabinets. Mixing and matching seems to be the trend right now. Baby steps, Emily!

  19. Tom Hinrichs says:

    I am going to paint my cabinets Black. can a sealer such as clear poly be used on the cabinets as a protector of the color?

    • Tracy Evans says:

      I can’t answer that question without knowing what paint you’re going to purchase. The best way to find this out is to ask at the paint store where you purchase your paint if a poly can be applied over the top of the type of paint you choose to purchase, or check the manufacturer’s instructions on the can. I’m sure it depends on the brand, whether or not the paint is latex, oil, etc… I only know not to put a poly over white paint because it will yellow over time. I LOVE black cabinets–good luck!

  20. Donald Cuttie says:

    Tracy: I can’t adequately tell you how much we all appreciate the time, effort and encouragement you continue to put into this blog. We would like to (and will) do exactly as you have done with the oak cabinets. We do have a minor difference though; ours are raised panel, rather than flat panel, and I don’t believe the wallpaper will work. Do you recommend trying to get the Durabond into the beveled edges of the panels, or do you recommend only addressing the frame and flat, center area of the panels? Again, thank you…

    • Tracy Evans says:

      First off, you’re welcome! Second, if the grain is heavy in the area surrounding the raised panel, which is what I’m assuming you mean by the “beveled edge”, I would skim it. If it’s a tiny bevel, and you don’t think it would bother you, I’d leave well enough alone. And keep in mind, if you don’t float mud over it to begin with, and decide it bothers you, you can still add it afterwards. You’d need to skim it with the durabond, sand, prime and add another coat of paint to the area. Ahhhhh. The beauty of paint is that you can always try again!

  21. Anj says:

    I can not even thank you enough for sharing this method. I have been wanting to do this for twelve years now, and scanning the Internet just as long for “OCD” ;) detailed instructions. I found myself time after time regardless of author rarely reading past paragraph three. Giving up on this project because the instructions left me feeling inadequate. Here is a hypothetical example.
    Author states in instructions:
    “To keep wood grain from showing use any durabond product of your choice, prior to priming.”

    Right there I would stop reading and give up until I regain the intelligence/ability confidence in my self I just lost. I don’t know what durabond is. What type I need, how it comes prepared, how to mix it etc…
    You explained what it is, how to mixit, discussed water temp etc. Any area I did not understand about this process you explaind in such detail that I am beyond motivated and as I have known all along…. I am fully capable, intelligent enough, and posses the skilles to do this successfully!
    I have one question…
    My oak cupboard doors/drawers are flat surface (slab?) with thoes 1990′s ROUNDED corners and are void of hardware pulls or knobs. Do you think I could apply a THIN frame or boarder on the doors and achieve the inset breadboard look you used here? Or will adding this frame make the doors to thick?Creating a 1/2″ or more distance from
    the top surface of the added cupboard door frame
    and the cabinet surface?

    I don’t want to simply paint the oak and still have the same style. I am open to suggestions other than this style also!

    Thank you so much!
    You are a fantastic writer and teacher!
    I AM GOING TO DO THIS NOW!
    only need to decide what I can do
    To change the rounded corner slab look.

    • Tracy Evans says:

      Anj, I’m so glad my OCD has been of benefit to someone!! Adding a frame to your existing cabinets is a fantastic idea. I’m sure you can find some youtube videos on that subject. I’ve also seen a video on the BHG.com website (Better Homes and Gardens). There are so many different types of trim that would be beautiful. Even just to use simple, flat wood lath boards with the wallpaper would look great. You may just have to plan on spending a few dollars and buy a couple different kinds, cutting some frames to fit and seeing which you like best. It may benefit you to check out my post on wallframe wainscotting, as the frame construction would be the same as on your cabinets. Another suggestion is if you have a Habitat Restore in your area that carries used cabinets, maybe you can find a door like yours to purchase and experiment with. At any rate, I would attach your frame to the cabinets first, and then add the beadboard wallpaper as opposed to putting the paper on and then placing the frames over the top. That way, if your beadboard wallpaper gets damaged, it’ll be easy to remove and replace. To date, I’ve had absolutely no issues with my wallpaper, and it’s showing no signs of wear. It’s so rewarding to create a new kitchen yourself, and for a minimal cost. Good luck to you, Anj!

    • Jen says:

      Ang—- I have the same problem with my cabinets (except that they DO have an ugly “western” frame that is plastic and just attached to the fronts—) You might want to check out my Pinterest board where I’ve been pinning lots of ideas from around the web about doing this beadboard design but also adding TRIM.
      Hope that helps you a little bit!

  22. Courtney says:

    Hi Tracy!
    We are looking at purchasing a new house with a darker color stained cabinets (think 1990′s) and was desperately trying to find an inexpensive way to “fix” the cabinets. I mean who wants to spend a huge amount of money on a house only to then throw even more in to it. If we couldn’t find anything, I must say we probably won’t buy the house because it bothers me that much (crazy to complete nix a house because of cabinets, but that’s me). Will your method still work even with darker cabinets to start with? Will I need to remove more of the polyurethane and stain or just plan on adding another layer of the white paint? Thanks so much for your post! It definitely calmed my nerves about basically redo-ing a kitchen on the cheap!

    • Tracy Evans says:

      It doesn’t matter how dark the cabinets currently are as far as painting them any color–even white. You still only would need to rough up the surface as opposed to trying to remove the old poly and stain. As you mentioned, you may need an extra coat of white paint. A very important tip is to still put on thin coats of paint instead of trying to glop it on too thick in an attempt to put on fewer coats. If you put paint on too heavy, it will never dry correctly and will be sticky. It’s also imperative that you let each coat dry completely before applying another coat or you’ll have a sticky mess there too. By all means, don’t let that stop you from purchasing the home that you love!

  23. Elizabeth says:

    I actually am doing the cabinets this week and as a fellow OCD person I am fully researching techniques to use on my cabinets. Ihave two weeks to get them done before my new countertops arrive. I have very similar oak cabinets as yours the frames on the doors are a little different but overall the same oak look. Love the durabond idea and beadboard wallpaper. I just have a few questions for you if you don’t mind. Why did you choose not to do the wallpaper on the bottom was this for asthetic purpose? Also as far as inside the cabinets on the shelves did you paint those too? If so was the primer and paint enough to make a good seal as to not peel?

    • Tracy Evans says:

      Hello, Elizabeth. I didn’t really have a reason for not putting the beadboard wallpaper on the bottom cabinets, other than I didn’t think in my galley kitchen, they would show all that much. It probably would have been easier to wallpaper them than durabond them, however. If you have small children who will be banging toys against the lower cabinets, it might be a good idea to forgo the wallpaper. I’ve had no durability issues at all with the wallpaper, but I don’t know if it would stand up to the abuse of the average rug rat.

      I did not paint the inside of the boxes or shelving of my cabinets because mine are nice, clean formica-coated boards. I think they look perfectly fine unpainted. (I did paint the insides of the doors.) I also have the nasty habit of putting my dishes away before they’re dry, which disqualifies me as a candidate for painted shelving. I did, however, paint the entire inside of my cabinets in my laundry room because they had more of a particle board-type shelf, and didn’t look all that great unpainted. Those look much better painted white. If you decide to paint your shelves, I would recommend a good primer, and semi-gloss paint for the shelving. Just remember as with the outside of the cabinets, if you’re going to paint the insides, let them dry completely between coats, and don’t put the paint on too thick or it’ll stay sticky. Good luck to you, Elizabeth! Enjoy your beautiful, new kitchen!

  24. elba santos says:

    I have beautiful oak door style but color I don’t care for it. I like the dark cherry colors, how can I paint and make it look nice?

    • Tracy Evans says:

      I’m sure there’s probably a way using paint to get the look of cherry, but unfortunately, I’m not knowledgeable in that department. The only way I would know to accomplish that look is for you to sand all of the varnish/polyeurothane off of your cabinets and start from scratch by restaining them the cherry color you desire. I’m guessing somewhere out there in internet-land you could find someone who’s done what you’re wanting to do with paint. Sorry I’m not much help on that one. Good luck to you!

  25. Dianne says:

    We are currently in the process of painting our dated oak cabinets. Your kitchen looks fantastic, you did a great job! I don’t have the time, patience or nerve to do this myself. We hired a a painting contractor to do the work. Came home last night to find everything primed. A bit of shock at first but I am starting to see how this will end.

    Again great job!

    • Tracy Evans says:

      I’m so happy for you that you’ve decided to take the plunge. It’s great that you know when to do projects yourself, and when to hire it done. Good for you! I know the process is inconvenient and messy, but boy is it worth it. Enjoy your new kitchen!

  26. Amanda Quam says:

    I just wanted to thank you for this awesome tutorial!!! I just painted my very very grainy oak front door and the durabond made it look so fantastic! When I went to home depot, we coincidently had a dry wall repair man help us find the durabond, and he said he had never heard of it being used in such a way! So, way to get creative and I really really appreciate it!

  27. taylor lester says:

    I love your work and I actually just re-did my oak vanity in my bathroom and it turned out great with some of your tips! But my real question is, where did you get that beautiful shelf at the end of your bar?? Lol!

    • Tracy Evans says:

      First of all, thank you, and I’m so happy you had a great result on your bathroom vanity! I bought the shelf at Pier 1 a few years ago, but I think they still carry it. If not, I know for sure that they’ve got others that are similar. It’s great for fruit which we won’t eat if it’s hidden in the fridge turning green, and for items that get used a lot like our cloth napkins. My son Ross, hates it however, because he’s always stubbing his toes on it. I say wear shoes. Happy shopping, Taylor!

  28. Pablo says:

    HI Tracy

    fantastic work and great detailed step by step…
    I’m in the process of redoing my kitchen. all oak cabinets as well. was nervous about wood grain showing too much after reading many blogs online..
    many sites did mention using Spackling Compound… you say you used Durabond which is a very hard cement like product…wouldn’t spackling compound work better because it’s a little more flexible?

    have you had any issues with the compound detaching itself from the wood?

    it’s been echoed here a bunch of times but thank you so much for taking the time to blog your project out… really helps others when you’re about to take a project

    • Tracy Evans says:

      First of all, thank you, and you’re welcome! Next for your question. Durabond is identical to joint compound, only it comes in a powder form and is harder than joint compound after it dries. It doesn’t in any way resemble cement, and I’m sorry for the confusion. Since it’s designed to be applied to drywall, there’s no chance it will detach itself from your cabinets. It fills the grain perfectly. So the answer to your question is that I have not had any issues with the durabond detaching itself from the wood. I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t also use joint compound since it’s pretty much the same product. Enjoy your project!

  29. Gillian says:

    I have lots of questions! I guess the first one is: How did the wallpaper hold up? And where did you buy it? I’m looking to paint my oak cabinets a really dark grey/black color with the beadboard center.

    Your project looks awesome!

    • Tracy Evans says:

      The wallpaper was purchased at my local Menard’s, and it has held up wonderfully. No blemishes of any kind. Keep in mind, I only installed the bead board on the upper cabinets. I’m sure your project will be beautiful too! Good luck!

  30. Jackie says:

    Great job! The finished product looks fantastic. However, my question is: where did you purchase the black 3-tier stand on the side of your island? I love it and it would fit perfectly in my kitchen and it’s beautiful!

    • Tracy Evans says:

      Well, Jackie, you are the second person who has written a comment wanting to know that. Too funny! I purchased the metal rack at Pier 1 Imports. I love that little thing. I keep fruit in the top so we won’t forget we have it, and it actually gets eaten. I use cloth napkins (save the earth) and those are in the middle tier and a basket with potatoes, onions and garlic has a home on the bottom. It’s a pretty handy piece, and I love it too! I bought it about three years ago, but I think they still carry it. I hope you find one!

  31. Caite says:

    This looks amazing! Great job and thanks for sharing

  32. cathy says:

    Nice job Tracy! Can you tell me how many hours this took you to do? Thanks….Cathy

    • Tracy Evans says:

      I only kept track of my time on the upper cabinets. For seven uppers it took me 14 hours from start to finish. That of course, does not include drying time. That’s just hands on time working on them. Thank you for your question!

  33. WOW!!!!! I love this transformation! I’ve been looking at loads of homes on the market and why they continue to install oak cabinets even today I have NO clue. This step-by-step is so thorough- thank you, thank you! What an amazing transformation you’ve created!

  34. Emily says:

    I’ve searched over the web for a good tutorial on how to get rid of the oak grain as I’m about to embark on my own cabinet-painting adventure! I’ve read and re-read this tutorial so many times now and I’m going for it!

    What’s funny is that I’ve watched so many DIY shows on TV and I recall that on one show they used drywall compound over the cabinets before painting. So that’s always stayed in my mind but like you, I was only finding information on wood primer putty that was way too complicated (and pricey) to use. I’m so glad I’ve found this solution and your great results give me confidence that I can do this!

    I’ve got my first set of cabinets down. They’ve been scrubbed and will be getting sanded and filled tomorrow. Yikes! I’ll report back when I’m done. It’ll probably be a month. :)

    Thanks for the tutorial!

    • Tracy Evans says:

      Emily! I’m so looking forward to hearing how everything goes with your project. I’m interested to know if the post gave you all the information you needed in order for you to do this on your own. I tried to be thorough enough that anyone could do this from the information I provided. All it takes is lots of time, and of course, a little courage. :)

      • Emily says:

        I’m baaaaack! I finished hanging the last set of cabinets just yesterday! Like you, I have really limited space in my house to do this. In fact, I mostly painted the cabinets in my bedroom. My husband took down our closet doors and we propped them up as a table using huge plastic totes. It definitely saved my back! Anyways, I am happy to report that after an estimated 40 hours of labor (maybe more), the cabinets are DONE and are beautiful! Your tutorial was great! I did a few things a little different. Didn’t use Durabond. Just used what we had laying around. It worked out fine. I also didn’t do the beadboard wallpaper. We’re actually getting the house ready to sell and I figured why spend the extra $? Also, the only regret that I have now is that I didn’t use a better quality paint. I used a paint I found at Lowes for Kitchen/Bath in a Satin white, but I am finding one problem with it that many folks probably don’t realize could happen. I thought that some grease spots were coming through the paint… especially on the cabinet boxes. The problem isn’t happening so much on the front side of my cabinet doors, but some spots are coming through on the back sides. I was mad because I really scrubbed at these cabinets with TSP. After doing some research I found that they are probably not really grease spots. It’s some of the original oil stain seeping through. I hope it won’t be a problem on the cabinet doors but my hope is that the grain filling will prevent that.
        Anyways, thanks for the great tutorial! Everything went great and I am very happy with the results!

      • Tracy Evans says:

        Congratulations, Emily!!! I’m so happy that you had a good result on your cabinets! I’ve never heard of spots of previous oil stain seeping through, and that’s a huge bummer. Sometimes knots will bleed, but I wouldn’t think your cabinets would have had knots in them. I appreciate you mentioning it so people can be on the lookout for that. I would have to say, regardless of what the spots are, the paint quality probably wasn’t the issue as much as the type of primer you used–assuming you used a primer. All primers are not alike. There are very specific types of primer that are meant for certain issues. Some basic primers are for simple situations such as a basecoat for sealing new drywall. Then there are more specialized primers that are for water stains and smoke. Then there are super-duper primers that keep knots in wood from seeping or keep ink from bleeding through your top coat. For example, if you buy a primer meant for new drywall, it probably won’t keep an ink mark from bleeding. Just a little FYI for future projects. Thank you for mentioning how you were able to work in a small area because I think a lot of small-space folks are intimidated by not having a basement or garage to work in. It can be done, and you and I are living proof! And thank you so much for taking the time to let me know how your project turned out. Best of luck to you in selling your home!!

  35. lydia says:

    I have a very large OAK kitchen. It didn’t really bother me at first but with all of the other oak in the house (feels like a log cabin) I wanted a fresh look for my kitchen. I don’t have a bunch of money to spend, nor am I the type to sink thousands into any remodel. I am excited to see how to update my kitchen on a budget and still get a wonderful look. I know I will get grief from my husband bc he thinks all of the wood is wonderful but it has gotten to be too much for me. I look forward to presenting this detailed approach to him and remodeling our kitchen. Your method allows me to focus money on a countertop, backsplash and new hardware which is pricey enough already.

  36. Colleen says:

    Well. I’ve read and reread your blog and I’m on my way. We bought the house about six months ago and I’ve been dreading spending the money on new cabinets. So.. I’ve primed/skimcoated/sanded/painted one drawer front to start just to get all the steps down that you’ve documented and to see that the result is something I can live with.. These are Merillat Oak cabinets as well, but the inside shelves and drawers seem to be particle board with contact paper stuck over them (by the mfr).. so I’ll have to figure out what to do with them once i get the outsides done. Anyhow the one drawer front looks good which means a mess in the kitchen until further notice lol. Can’t see the oak grain anymore which was a real concern to me..

    Thank you so much for these detailed steps. Gonna make a big difference in the kitchen…

  37. jen says:

    As stupid as this sounds, we are having our home built atm, and white isnt an option but dark is (not going with clear because the floors are clear maple and I do not want them to be the same colour and wood). These are specific options to keep costs down, so my plan for now is to see how the dark cabinets go with the light floors. If I hate it, I might paint the uppers white and see how that goes, then if I still hate it I will paint the lowers. I am going with a white/grey countertop to account for either option.

    Anyways, my question is… maple cabinets with a dark brown stain. Would I need to fill it or is maple relatively smoother compared to oak. And would I need to do extra stain layers in case I do paint? The home style is contemporary, with plain shaker cabinets.. so I want really smooth and crisp looking white, if I do it.

    Does this sound crazy, or doable?

    • Tracy Evans says:

      First things first, Jen. Am I to understand that you are installing brand new cabinets? I would most definitely visit show rooms in your area or go to google images and search until your eyeballs pop out trying to find examples of kitchens you love. Maybe see what results you get from google when you type in something like, “dark maple kitchen cabinets with clear, light maple floors” or “dark stained maple cabinets with light-colored floors”, and see if you find pictures you like. Or maybe you can find a website of virtual kitchens that will allow you to switch out cabinet colors, countertop colors and floor colors so you can get a visual. If you are, in fact, installing new cabinets, I would make every effort to be certain of your choices ahead of time. I would never advise anyone to paint over brand new cabinets! Can it be done? Of course it can. But my purpose in publishing the tutorial on painting kitchen cabinets was to provide a possible solution for people who have dated, builder grade oak cabinets, and are on a budget or don’t want to do a complete kitchen remodel. But to answer your other questions, there would be no grain to fill on maple as it’s a very smooth wood, and no you do not need extra layers of stain for any reason in relation to painting, if that’s what you choose to do. I hope I understood and answered your question!

  38. Micah says:

    Hi Tracy, very nicely done. We are also painting white and I’m also looking to eliminate the oak wood grain in my cabinets. How is the durabond holding up? I know drywall compound can shrink and am also concerned about adhesion after all the opening and shutting of the doors.

    • Tracy Evans says:

      Thank you! The durabond is doing just fine. Joint compound doesn’t shrink after it dries. It shrinks as it dries, but once it dries, it’s not going anywhere. There are no adhesion problems. Remember, it’s just the thinnest coat, only thick enough to fill in the tiny grain divots. Basically, you put it on an then wipe almost all of it back off and then sand off what’s left after it dries, leaving only the divots filled. Durabond as well as joint compound are meant to adhere to vertical surfaces, so it’s not going to fall off. You also have primer and two coats of paint over it too. It’s not going anywhere, I promise! The most important step is to make sure the cabinets are completely clean and free of grease and grime. Good luck!

  39. elainecarnithan@yahoo.com says:

    What is the paint color of the kitchen wall?

  40. Pablo says:

    Hi Tracy…finally doing this next week!
    was curious…would it not be better to prime the cabinets first, apply durabond or similar and then prime again before the paint.
    I noticed you applied the compound directly on the stained wood.. would guess if they were primed that the bond would be that much more solid no? I don’t see any negative side effects to priming first (aside form the labor and extra primer)

    curious what you think of that

    • Tracy Evans says:

      Pablo, I agree with you that I also don’t see a problem with priming, applying the durabond and then priming again if that would make you feel more confident about the whole process. Durabond is designed to be applied to raw drywall, then primed over, then painted. I just followed that same procedure on my cabinets. The only disadvantage I can think of (and I thought long and hard) is that it will be difficult to see how much durabond is actually on the surface if you put it over white primer. If you put it on too heavy and don’t remove enough of it, your surface will appear wavy. It was a benefit for me to be able to see that I was only filling the grain with no “leftovers” so that my cabinet surface would be nice and flat. Other than that, it’s worth a try! Good luck to you.

  41. Good information, Kudos.

  42. […] Continue reading here: Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! | Home Staging In … […]

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