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Painting cabinets is totally a game changing diy for your space — it has huge impact but the process can feel intense, especially if you're a beginner.

I'm here with some time-saving hacks to help you skip some of the hard parts and get a super amazing result the easy way.

before we dive into the tricks, I will say that it is worth it to take the time to get a good finish — it will last longer and not scratch every time you bump into it. So here are all my pro tips for painting your cabinets.

the process:

01. clean + degloss

02. prime

03. paint

04. seal (optional)



how to skip sanding!

not going to lie, sanding is the best way to ensure you have a perfect base for your paint to adhere to, since it gets the cabinets down to the raw wood / boards — BUT there are ways around it. If you take the time to BOTH degoss + clean AND prime them, this will give your paint a solid base to grab ahold of and help keep it from dinging or scratching.

what to do:

make sure you (1) clean (2) degloss and (3) prime before you move on to painting!

clean + degloss

This is possibly the most important step! You want to start with a clean surface to give your paint a good base to adhere to. Most cabinets have a glossy finish on them and paint WILL NOT STICK to this! while initially the paint will look good, over time with every bump and ding they will scratch and the paint will scrape off.

The way to prevent this is to make sure your cabinets are free of grease + grime, which can also cause your paint to not absorb / chip and scrape off and then remove the gloss coating so the paint doesn't just sit on top of this, but it absorbs into the cabinet so it sticks better.

what to do:

clean: use a heavy duty cleaner to remove ALL the grease, grime & residue, like TSP — you can use a scrubbing sponge to help get the layers off easier.

degloss: Wipe down your cabinets with some LIQUID DEGLOSSER following the instructions on the back. This will break down the glossy coating so your paint can stick better

prime time

Not going to lie, I usually hate priming, BUT it is such an important step to make sure not only that the paint sticks and bonds well to the cabinets but also that you're starting with a clean base so your new paint color doesn't pull any weird undertones from the existing cabinets.

what to do:

Apply 2 coats of primer using a roller made for smooth surfaces — make sure to let the coats dry completely in between. My favorite primer is this one, but you can also opt for this one if you want a layer of protection from mold / mildew. If you don't apply it smoothly and you end up with bumps, you can lightly sand it smooth before moving onto the painting step.

a perfect paint finish with NO sprayer!

My magical process to a perfect finish without using a sprayer is a 2 step situation — first, you want to paint using thin coats and allow them to dry completely in between so there is no dripping or uneven areas. Regular indoor paint is usually latex paint, which creates an almost plastic layer over what it covers.

If you paint on the first coat too thick, then paint the second on before the first has fully dried, it can cause sticky goopy paint that will take MONTHS to dry. This happens because the top layer dries first since its exposed to the air around it, forming a plastic-like layer over the second coat and not allowing air in or moisture out so it can't fully dry and remains goopy.

Second, my pro hack is a magic potion called Floetrol — this additive will help the paint to spread out more evenly as you apply it, eliminating roller strokes or any texture the roller creates as it's applying the paint.

what to do:

mix: floetrol into your paint according to the directions on the back.

apply: using a roller made for smooth surfaces, apply a thin coat of paint, making sure it's as smooth as possible.

let dry & layer: allow the coat of paint to dry completely, even overnight, before adding another thin coat. Continue until the cabinets are fully covered and dry.



sealing (optional)




01. floetrolpaint smoothing additive

02. cleaner — TSP heavy duty cleaner 

03. sealant remover — liquid deglosser

04. smooth surface paint roller

p.s. This post may contain affiliate linking for your convenience. These links don’t cost extra for you to use + I always share my honest opinion.

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I'm Cara, the designer & diy queen behind Never Skip Brunch. I'm a color & prints obsessed DIY queen who's here to help you create a beautifully lived-in life through home design advice and chic DIY tutorials

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