How To Paint Your Cabinets Like The Pros, and Get the Grain Out!

Ok guys, first of all I need to thank you all SO much for all of the love on the kitchen makeover post. I truly appreciate each and every one of you who have commented, shared, and emailed me! I just love it so much. :) And I have already had several of you ask me about the paint on our cabinets, like how my painter got this amazing finish on our very heavily grained oak cabinets. I am going to do my best to share his professional secrets with you all today!

How to paint cabinets

One of the main concerns I had when I was thinking of painting my cabinets white was the oak grain. I did not want it to show through. Remember that first sample I had made a few years ago from a different painter that did not look good?


That first sample actually had deterred me from painting them for a while. Then I found Adel from Wood Finisher Pro & Repair, Inc. (who I’d highly recommend to any Houston area locals) and his sample he made was perfection.

White Cabinet

I will say it again, you get what you pay for. I already said in my makeover post that I hired this job out for many different reasons and listed them there. But I know some of you can’t do that right now and can’t hire Adel if you don’t live in the Houston area, so I am at least going to share what he did. And it will mostly be written, not photos, so you have to read the tips. :)

I know several DIY bloggers who have painted their cabinets and had great results. Please remember everyone’s kitchens are different, and everyone’s cabinets are different. And what works for some, might not work for you.  I personally do not think our kitchen cabinets would have been a DIY project after seeing what Adel went through to achieve this look. And I am so glad I went with the professionals on this project. It is a ton of work. A ton. And this has to look amazing. It can’t be one of those “okay” looking projects.

But for you that are up for a challenge, here you go.

I guess the #1 question is OIL or LATEX paint?  

This is a biggie. And I went back and forth several times with him on this. He insisted on oil paint. It’s what he knows, what he’s familiar with, knows it gives a beautiful finish and flat out said that latex paint would not hold up well.  Thinking to myself “man this guy is very old school in his ways,” he just doesn’t know the new paints Sherwin Williams has now are, like their water-based enamel paints which are supposed to harden and finish like an alkyd paint. He said the latex will chip off much more easily and when you wipe the cabinets down, the water wouldn’t do well or hold up well with multiple cleanings.  Now I have no idea if that is true or not. I have several friends who have used that water-based paint on cabinets and love it.  And they love that it’s non-yellowing and no smell like oil based paint. My main concern was the yellowing factor in oil paint. I didn’t want my pretty white cabinets to turn yellow.  But I finally came to the conclusion that by the time my cabinets might turn slightly yellow, I will want a different color on them anyway so who cares? Plus I wanted Adel to be comfortable using the product he is familiar with and will be proud of his end result.

So oil it was!

Of course we used Sherwin Williams’ top of the line, ProClassic oil based paint in Alabaster. And I have to say (again), that the finish is gorgeous.

So here are some of Adel’s secret tips and tricks for achieving that perfectly smooth finish and not showing any grain in the wood:

  1. Clean the surface really well with an all-purpose cleaner or degreaser.
  2. Scuff up everything with some sandpaper to give the paint something to stick to. If you have a heavy varnish topcoat on, you might need to do a little more sanding.
  3. Since I had molding trim on my cabinet doors, he went around and caulked everything so paint would not get in the cracks and crevices (that was a nice, perfectionist touch!). He also filled in any other obvious holes or cracks with some wood putty, then lightly sanded that down again.
  4. For the cabinet bases, he used Kilz primer and did that by hand with a brush and a small foam roller. For the cabinet doors and drawers (which were sprayed), he used a product from Sherwin Williams called lacquer undercoat. (I will have to find the right link and update this).
  5. He sprayed several light coats of the undercoat and sanded well in between each one. That’s very important especially if you’re working with grainy oak.
  6. Once the undercoat/primer cured well and was fully dry, he was ready to start painting. He sprayed VERY light coats. And several coats.  And you guessed it…sanded in between EACH one. Sanding is the only way you are going to achieve the flawless look.
  7. Once the paint was starting to really adhere to the cabinet doors (meaning not just sinking down into the grain), he sprayed HEAVY coats of paint. Like really laid it on a good 2 or 3 times.  But again, he’s the professional, has done this several times, and knows when spraying heavy coats is acceptable and necessary.  I would be terrified to do this on my own with no experience so do that at your own risk.
  8. Of course he let that dry many days and cure.  THEN he took some 320 grit sandpaper and sanded AGAIN! I thought he would have been done by now.  But he gave it another sanding and then another heavy coat of paint.

And then this of course was the result.

Kitchen Makeover

I know it was a lot of work. There is a reason a good painter isn’t what you and I would call cheap. Also, a lot of these steps would vary if your cabinets were not oak like mine were. It takes a lot more preparation to get the grain out. And the grain is pretty much completely out.  If you look up at the cabinets from an odd angle you can slightly, and oh so very slightly see some movement, but nothing that you would even think twice about.  And I hate to even say that because truly it’s so tiny and not noticeable. Believe me, I’m picky. Very picky.

When you rub your hand on the cabinet door faces, they are SO smooth and silky feeling. They are amazing. Have I said that already?

Here’s a before and after again if you missed it.

So what do you think? Are you ready to tackle this yourself?  Or do you want to save up and hire a professional? Ha!

The oil base paint really did give a beautiful finish. I can’t say if the latex version would have or not. But the clean up is SO easy on them and the finish is rock solid. I really don’t think chipping will be an issue (especially since I put felt pads on everything) but I will definitely keep you posted. I’ll also keep you posted if I notice any yellowing or anything too.

So there ya have it. How to paint your cabinets like the pros…if you dare!

How to paint cabinets

Let me know what you think! I’d also love to hear what you think about the oil vs. latex battle too.

Sharing this post at Sarah’s Before and After Party.



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  1. Beautiful! Wow! I wouldn’t dare even try!!

  2. We DIY’d painting our kitchen cabinets, and they turned out GREAT! :-) They used to be a latex paint (off-white), but they never seemed to “cure”, so they were slightly tacky even 5 years later, ugh. Soooo, after a lot of research I decided to re-do them correctly. Hubby stripped the old paint and sanded down to bare wood (paint-grade pine), I primed with oil-based primer, 2 coats of white oil-based paint, then I applied a dark brown glaze for an “antiqued” look. It turned out better than I had expected! Now, two years later…they are still holding up just as good as I first did them, they easily wipe up, and no more “tacky” cabinets!

    Oil-based paint is a lot harder to get used to working with (application, drying time, and clean-up)…but I’m convinced it’s the “right” paint to use on woodwork to give the hardened application that won’t chip w/use.

    • That’s what I have heard too about the latex taking a long time to fully cure. So strange! You’d think the latex would cure quicker than oil! But the painted seriously SWORE by oil paint. :)

    • Well, now I know why my dining table is doing what it’s doing. I bought a white floor model of the table I dreamed of having, but I wanted black. I sanded it down, primed it and painted it black. It has fold in leaves and I have to keep parchment in between them when they are closed or they will stick together. Placemats have taken up the black paint. So…now I know what I have to do. Thanks for this tutorial. Your kitchen looks amazing!!!!!!

    • Can we aee pictures!?
      I realy want to see the finish after the darl brown glaze!!

  3. okay… i’ll bite. because no one else is asking, and while i love wood… i hate wood colors? LOL… and am preparing my poor woodwoerking husband and his father to paint every little miniscule scrap of walnut stained wood in my farmhouse WHITE. glossy, sail cloth WHITE. (why? for to match my gossamer sky painted WALLS, of course! LOL! the walnut is just not doing to sky blue aqua any good… it NEEDS the white…)

    Sooo… knowing that…

    WHY was it so dire to erase the wood grain? In my way of thinking.. I would think you would WANT the wood to show thru so that it didn’t end up looking like high end MDF… as opposed to real genuine wood, which would affect resale values eventually….

    I’m not criticizing because the cabinets look AMAZING… and i can’t make mine do that so we’re ripping out my entire kitchen eventually and putting all new in… *waves goodbye to gross 50s not sure what it is cause is sure ain’t wood cabinets and laminate countertop….*

    I’m just very curious is all. :)

    • Hey Melle! Good question that I forgot to mention in my post. I just personally don’t like the look of painted oak cabinets, that LOOK like painted oak. That first sample that I had made where the grain showed a lot, I did not like it at all. When Adel made his sample it was NOTHING like my first sample. And if I’m being honest, I’d rather have the look of high end MDF (even though it doesn’t look like that) than painted oak that’s noticeable. I just don’t have a special bond with oak or anything like some do. :)

      • God… I hope that MDF didn’t come across as an insult. I’m a HUGE fan of MDF… LOL it’s so versatile..

        I have to be completely honest… I have been trying to get Hubbs to bite on white cabinets for about 2 years now… he HATES the idea of painted wood. The pics yesterday of your kitchen won him over. :)

        I, like you, have no bond with wood. Heh. I just married into a buncha wood lubbers. *smh* I love them, but frankly, I love paint fumes, too. And I really, really love the smoothness of your cabinets… So much so that I’m leaning toward a completely different look for my own now. I was going to order new unfinished doors. (Hubbs and FIL are building me new cabinet boxes and open shelving… the shelving is going to be thick planks all painted white… but I’m loving the smooth glossy texture…

        My sewing workbench is MDF… and the thing I adore is that there is no texture… it’s just…. glossy white perfection.

        I hadn’t considered that in the kitchen…. but next to the walnut countertop, I’m thinking that the lack of texture would actually let the walnut counter really shine.


        thanks for sharing your kitchen. I adore it and am so jealous…. one room at a time tho…. and I needed a studio more right now.

        • I am a bit confused. SOLID oak is outdated, but MDF is not?
          Translucent or stained oak is outdated, but painted wood or MDF is not?
          I guess Formica and vinyl veneered counters are preferred over granite too.

          I may be just another guy who prefers natural wood to chip board or MDF, but considering real wood costs a fortune today, I would think ANY real wood is a preference over composites, and to paint over it seems destructive.

          I drove by an MDF processing factory a couple of years ago and was appauled to see whole truck loads of trees being driven into the factory just to be put in a chipper and made into MDF. I thought MDF was originally supposed to be the “green” way to recycle sawdust and wood byproducts. It was supposed to be a cheaper alternative to the cost of real, solid wood. Now they are using whole trees to make MDF and chip board.

          As with all trends and fads, the stuff we are covering up oak with will eventually become outdated too.
          I read some info on websites promoting cabinet resurfacing, and they actually said they would apply a veneer of either MDF or PLASTIC film to the honey oak to update it. To imagine that some people would rather see a plastic veneer over oak appears ridiculous and petty to me, but what do I know.

          To me, cabinet refinishing is along the same lines as the people who insisted on ripping out solid oak flooring a few years ago, and replacing it with fake woodgrained vinyl Pergo. People run away from that junk now.

          In the end you have to use common sense and take a look at the big picture. Is refinishing “your” idea, or are you just getting sucked in by the fad and jumping on the refinishing bandwagon?

          So many refinishing projects ruin your cabinets, because they rarely turn out exactly like the picture on the paint can (that was done professionally), and the time and money you spend correcting your mistakes aren’t worth the project in the first place.

          If it were up to me, I would rather see real wood, over painted MDF, granite counters over Formica, and I wouldn’t concern myself over what some fad or product pushing company has to say about my personal preference for kitchen cabinets.

          Just my two cents worth.

          • Thanks for your opinion. Heavily grained oak is just not my thing and not what I consider beautiful, and I am going to do things in my home that I love, not what I think others think I should do just because oak might be considered more valuable. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with Formica. It’s gorgeous.

            • Totally agree. It may indeed be true that the look of oak will be preferred in the future, but to create what is beautiful now is totally acceptable. Besides, by the time oak is ‘in’ again, many will not even live in the same house. Do what makes you happy!
              We rent our house or I’d be trying to copy your kitchen makeover exactly! Love it! Pinning and saving for ‘someday’.

          • I can appreciate what you’re saying… because I married into a family of people They LOVE the look of simple unpainted oak… the glorious honey color… it’s just not… what *i* like.

            personally honestly I have NEVER EVER liked the color of oak… walnut? love. cherry? yeap. chestnut. Adore.

            pine? oak? keep it.

            as far as formica… i think it does have it’s place… and granite… well. I don’t like that either… it’s cold and… yeah. cold and dead. I am removing the formica put it by the folks we bought the house from who probably had a budget when formica was a new invention… (it’s really that old…) from my home and putting it walnut stained counter tops in my kitchen… (so i’m not against wood… just I don’t LIKE the color of oak… *shudders*)

            but the REALLY good thing is… i’m not married to you. so you don’t have to worry about my painting every single stick of oak in my little old farmhouse…


          • Here’s my $0.02. Oak is the official wood of the middle class. I may be middle class, but that doesn’t mean I need to shout it from the mountain tops by living with an oak kitchen or driving a Taurus. Not that there’s anything wrong with Tauruses or Oak; both are rock solid. I just prefer something fresh and upscale looking. You won’t find oak in a multi-million dollar mansion. You may not find MDF either, but you will find white woods that look like MDF. Oak is unmistakably oak, and inhabits many a trailer park kitchen.

            • Jennifer Gardner says:

              As a successful interior designer (and architect) I can definitely speak for the masses of clients I work with on a regular basis. While some are declaring they like the look of oak, I guess I have never met them, except maybe for the occasional husband that just doesn’t care. I have NEVER met a client that prefers oak cabinets. Oak cabinets look fine in an 80’s country style farmhouse, but we are not in the 80’s and if you ever want to sell your home, you better not have oak cabinet built-ins everywhere, unless you want to drop the price of your home 25%! If (and I say that with a big IF) oak ever makes a comeback, the rounded edges will not ever be trendy again! Painting them a solid color makes you not notice the rounded edges as much-so while some may think it’s ruining the “real” product. It’s better than tossing them out, which is basically the only other alternative if you want a house that doesn’t make a person with taste cringe!

              • I’m old enough to remember when painted kitchen cabinets (of any color) were considered outdated and tacky. And now they are very trendy! It is amazing what goes in and out of style in home décor and can cost a person tons of hard earned money trying to stay current!

            • The only thing worse than honey oak is tacky “pickled” oak. Whoever came up with that should be forced to quit the design business and sell timeshares forever. To my deep shame, three of the last four houses I’ve bought came with pickled oak which had to be eradicated. Each time I swore Never Again!, but it repeats on me like a cheap burrito. ????

              • I have pickled oak and I am looking forward to painting mine white.
                I am confused about whether or not to cover the grain. If I wanted plastic looking cabinets I could go to Ikea.
                I’ll keep reading.

          • THANK YOU! I’m so glad someone made this comment. Some people don’t recognize quality when it smacks them in the face.
            IF ONLY my cabinets looked like the ‘before’ picture here! (‘Before’ they were made to look cheap). OK, on to another site in my search for cabinet solutions…

          • Anonymous says:

            I’m with you!

  4. Wow, it looks wonderful. Your kitchen is so light and bright. I love the white.

  5. Thank you for these tips I will be needing them soon, I have wanted to paint my cabinets gray or white for years (since I don’t want to replace my white appliances I will be doing the cabinets gray). Your tips will definitely come in handy since I will be doing the work myself and I too have oak (yuck – sorry to those who like oak, it’s just not my thing).

  6. I think that your kitchen looks amazing!! And what a beautiful difference!!

  7. So lovely, I love white kitchens! We painted our ugly oak cabinets with Ace Cabinet and Trim– it’s a water based Alkyd and they are holding up well. Great job Adel and great job Emily– you made it yours with all of the little touches…

  8. Now I’m curious and excited to see what mine are going to look like. I am having mine painted next Monday. I had 5 estimates and only 1 guy said he would use an oil based paint. All the others said their was a great cabinet paint that would hold up great and I would never be able to tell the difference. I chose one of those guys. (b/c of price and referral) I also told him I didn’t want a stark white, but I didn’t want a white with a yellow tint, so he suggested Alabaster, which is what we are going with. Yours look beautiful and thank you so much for the felt tip. I wouldn’t have thought of that, but with kids it is a definite!

  9. We used the Sherwin Williams paint as well. My husband redid our cabinets about 18 months ago, and they still look great! Very smooth indeed.

  10. Wow, oil paint. I have to admit I hear so much about acrylic and actually used that myself a few years ago when painting my kitchen cabinets. They are not holding up well, despite the fact that I sanded and sanded them. I am thinking of stripping them and re-painting with oil paint now. Also, I never thought about the calking in the cracks idea…I can see how that would make the product more finished looking. Thanks for the ideas!

  11. Sweetscraps (Donna) says:

    you cabinets are beautiful. I’ve been wanting my cabinets painted for YEARS. I knew it would be a lot of work but wow! I know I can’t hire it done, so may tackle it one day. Thanks for all the tips.
    I do have a question though…. How long did it take for the cabinets from beginning to ready to use?

    • I was without my cabinets and drawers for about a month. Not too bad…You do want to make sure the paint is nice and dry before putting them back in the kitchen.

  12. Your cabinets look amazing! I’ve been wanting to do the same to my kitchen, but am worried about finding the right guy/gal to do the job.
    A question about your painter: does he specialize in painting cabinets, or is he a general painter? just curious!
    Jen :)

    • Hi Jen yes he does specialize in cabinetry and furniture. I wouldn’t just hire a painter that does walls. I tried that with my first sample. No bueno.

  13. I have a question about your oil-based paint. I just bought some of the same exact Pro-Classic oil-based from Sherwin Williams, also in Alabaster. I am wondering if you got the satin or the semi-gloss finish. I got the semi-gloss for cleaning purposes because it is also for my kitchen cabinets. I know that on the SW website it says that the satin is also cleanable, and the lady at the store said the same thing, that all of the oil-bases paints are more cleanable than their latex counterparts, but still I was nervous about getting the satin. I am not ready to start painting yet, but now I am really worried because the lady at the store smeared a large sample of the paint on a sample card and it looks super shiny. It seems way shinier than any semi-gloss that I have ever used in latex. I’ve never used oil-based paint before. So, which did you use? I’m wondering if some of the shine dies down once it has cured for a long time. Your cabinets do not look super shiny like my sample does. If you did get satin, have you had any trouble with cleaning them?

    • Hey Lesley! I used a satin finish. And yes the paint lady was right…oil paints are way more easier to clean than latex. The satin oil finish on my cabinets cleans VERY easily. I am so thrilled with them. A semi gloss on kitchen cabinets would be pretty shiny I’d think, but it’s really just personal preference. If you are using oil paint, I’d recommend the satin. If you were using latex, then semi-gloss. I painted my bathroom vanity in a latex (coming up soon) in satin, and it’s a huge difference in how they clean. Again, there is nothing wrong with doing a semi-gloss on your cabinets if that’s what you want. I just kind of like the look of more matte things. :)

  14. Wouldn’t it have been cheaper to just have your doors replaced and have someone paint the cabinets bases?

    • No, I had even looked into that. And it especially would not have been cheaper to get the same quality of cabinets like I had. Wanted to keep the quality since it’s a nice oak, just needed them white.

  15. I had my oak cabinets professionally painted cream with a glazing and I purposely wanted my grain to come through. Looks amazing and beautiful and I love it!! So it was a “GOOD” thing for me. As they say….Beauty is in the eye….

  16. WOW!!! Your kitchen looks amazing! It is so beautiful! I love a white kitchen and you have done a wonderful job. I actually painted kitchen cabinets in 1997 with a SW oil based paint and they STILL look good! And its been a rental for the past 11 years! I really love their products. You did the right thing using oil. By the way, just because you painted your cabinets doesn’t change the fact that they’re oak and high quality. If you ever wanted to sell your house, anyone looking at your kitchen would immediately recognize that. You have wonderful taste and a flair for all things beautiful. Please continue.

  17. Decorchick
    You sold me on the non-yellowing bit… One fear I have on having “white” cabinets in a ktichen.
    Especially one that gets a lot of use and abuse.
    My cabinets were painted a light cream and taupe when I had them custom made.
    Now they turn a yellowish color. Love to have them repainted in a soft white.
    Not to be nosey, but curious to know if it was ivery expensive to hire a professional? Did he spray or brush the paint?

    • Spray is a must Chris. To get the finish that he did. It’s not terribly expensive but it’s not like a $500 job or anything. It’s so hard to give a price point because it varies from kitchen to kitchen and how big it is, how many drawer/cabinets you have etc.

  18. Your kitchen looks great!! I don’t care for oak either and much prefer them painted. Your kitchen looks so much brighter and pretty after the redo. Enjoy!

  19. I think that everything published was very logical. However, consider this, what if you added a little content?
    I ain’t saying your content is not solid., however what if you added something that grabbed a person’s attention?

    I mean How To Paint Your Cabinets Like The Pros, and Get the
    Grain Out! – Decorchick! is kinda vanilla.

    You ought to peek at Yahoo’s home page and watch how they write post headlines to grab people to open the links. You might try adding a video or a pic or two to get readers excited about what you’ve written.
    Just my opinion, it would bring your posts a little bit more interesting.

  20. hey there and thank you for your info – I’ve definitely picked up anything new from right here. I did however expertise some technical issues using this web site, as I experienced to reload the web site lots of times previous to I could get it to load correctly. I had been wondering if your web hosting is OK? Not that I am complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will often affect your placement in google and could damage your quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords. Well I’m
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    Ensure that you update this again very soon.

  21. Christine says:

    Thank-you !! Your kitchen looks great. All your tips are so very helpful. We purchased our home 16 years ago, and of course the kitchen was #1 on the list, BUT with four sons, two full time jobs and many, many sports. We just never seen to have a extra $50 K for my dream kitchen. Boys are grown down to one in high school.
    My problem is my husband….. does not believe this will work. ” Your going to have kitchen that looks like crap. I just emailed your post to his office work LOL . Could you please let me know from the 1st day to the last, what was the time frame and cost. Thanks again for your post, just lovely.

  22. We are trying to decide between painting our old cabinets – We have a quote from a professional with all the right tools – and refacing, which means buying new doors , drawer fronts, and end panels bit keeping the original cabinet boxes. Refacing would be 3 times more expensive then painting so I think we know what we are going to do. Did you compare the cost of these 2 alternatives?

  23. I am bit confused which color to be used for kitchen cabinets. My clients are asking for wood color. But I am referring them white or any shades of blue. Can you please suggest. And one thing, all my clients are from Houston.

  24. I need to admire your style in how you painted the cabinets, this looks professionally done, congratulations!

  25. Love your cabinets!! I have been bringing home lots of white samples. In my kitchen everything except Super White have an off hue (yellow, gray, dingy, etc.) I heard a lot of people like White Dove but it looks super drab in my kitchen. I wonder if the Super White will be way too white once it is on the cabinets?

  26. Greetings from Canada. My wife and I love your kitchen. Nicely done! I’m trying to convince her to just replicate it in ours. Immitation is the most sincere form of flattery after all. :)
    Question: It’s probably just the images on the computer, but did you paint the doors in Alabaster and the cabinets they are on a different shade of white. Again, it looks like diferent colours, but probably just the shading.
    Thanks so much.

  27. Do you remember where you got your cabinet hardware? I really like the pulls! Thanks!

  28. I enjoy reading through your web site. Appreciate it!

  29. Do you know the name of the under coat lacquer that was used? Are the cabinet frames just as smooth as the doors?

  30. I was told over and over and over to avoid oil paint like the plague
    for my new home renovation…. So, I painted almost everything with the best latex
    Sherwin Williams sells…. (Which, isn’t cheap)! Well, after showing one of my
    doors (closet doors) to the guy who came to install our new heat/air unit…..
    I then took his advice! Seems he has a great friend who is a professional
    painter. I thought my doors looked great… (First timer here), and then he pointed
    out some very small flaws that could be fixed, if I used oil based paint.

    Now. I’m a perfectionist…. Really bad… So, I decided after listening to him, that he was right, and I was going
    to give it a try… Why not? Well, all I have to say is……. When you’re right, you’re right, and I went back to
    Sherwin Williams, spent hours in the store reading, looking, talking, and brought home
    the oil based paint!

    My doors, all my woodwork/trim look AMAZING! Me, I did it all by myself! Yes, I sanded here and there,
    even stripped off old peeling, cracking paint in the bathroom….. sanded some more…
    (By the way, my husband is not a fan of how long this process took).
    However, I will not paint any room, ever again that has any contact with moisture, without
    oil based paint! It makes ALL the difference in the world.

    Most contractors steer away from oil based paint, because it takes more prep, more cleanup,
    which isn’t easy…… But I love it!

    Oh yeah, your kitchen is beautiful!!!!! Great job! I’m Hopi g by the time I
    work my way around my home, I’ll be a real pro! I kinda like this line of work!!!!

  31. Thanks. This was really helpful. And I would agree with the oil base paint. I used oil base in my last house, pain to use, and I don’t like the smell, but it does hold up better. I used latex in my laundry room/mud room at this new house. It’s difficult to wipe off, and it just doesn’t last. I’m constantly touching up.

    My next project is my kitchen cabinets, and they are oak. I have seen the grain when painted and don’t like that look, however, I’m not looking for the smooth look either. I plan to stress them a bit. I will be using oil base. I was looking for a product that covered the grain. I didn’t know it was simply a process of lightly painting and then heavy paint. This was helpful. Thanks again……Eileen

  32. I love the way your kitchen cabinets turned out. My cabinets are formica, would I also be able to paint them as well??

  33. Hi Emily… I love the way your kitchen cabinets turned out. My cabinets are formica, would I also be able to paint them as well??

  34. Hi Emily, we hired a “pro” to paint our oak kitchen and we are so disappointed. This project needs a complete re-do. The grain completely shows through, chipping within one week, and the paint has seeped into the wood so much in some areas that the oak is showing through. She used latex paint. Is it possible for us to coat over with an oil based paint to achieve our goal, or do you have any suggestions to help us?

  35. I am in the process of making some decisions about placing my home on the market, and building. The house is 15yo, and well, I don’t want to completely remodel a kitchen if I don’t have to… I’d researched Formica, and found the new products… and one thing led to another – voila’ you have the counters, the exact sink, and cabinetry I expect to have! LOL Must be a Texan thing… (I am from a small town just outside Galveston)
    It’s been almost a year now, how are you enjoying the undermount sink and the counters? Any issues? How ’bout the finish on the doors?
    I find, for my kitchen, it will cost about 2200.00 to paint, and the counters will be 28.00ft w/the wonderful edge. I can’t wait to hear what, if anything, you would have done differently, and how the sink/counter experience has been thus far.

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  39. I see you removed my comments about the pro classic oil. I have sprayed 100’s of gallons of pro-c oil and like I said before you can’t do multiple coats of this product but ever 20- 24 hours. It may be dry to the touch on the surface, but it’s still gassing off and if you sand it and reply another coat to soon it will trap the gassing solvents and cause your next coat to alligator. (Crackle) if you use a safe heat source and fans you might be able to recoat in about 15 hours but your pushing your luck. I will say your kitchen looks very nice. But the painting part of the story confuses me since i am very familiar with SW Pro-classic oil.

  40. The under coater is called :ProMAR – White Lacquer Undercoater B44WT1 from sherwin Williams. It must be sprayed. It used widely by professional painters. It drys very fast, so you can build a nice primer base quickly, sanding between coats.

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  47. I am trying to come up with a color to paint my oak cabinets as well. My dilemma is that I have a faux butcher block formica counter (hideous), and biscuit colored appliances. I was thinking a medium grey color or white, but then thought that cream would be better to have the appliances blend in a bit. Do you have an opinion to offer on this? We are quite a ways away from replacing the appliances, and want to reconfigure the whole kitchen when we replace the counter tops. Just wondering what you would do, if you have a minute! Thanks.

    Yours looks stunning!

    • Hey Tammy I think a creamy white would work well! I would probably not advise doing the grey with the biscuit color appliances, but white will go with anything. :)

  48. Let’s get to the numbers already! How much did you pay for the work? :)

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  50. This looks great and I am going to try with one door first. I am concerned about the fumes because I have asthma. I am also thinking about buying new doors and painting the frames and drawer fronts. May I ask what your painter charged?

  51. The top cabinet doors look more like a creamy white, whereas the bottom looks like a pure white.beautifulkitchen.

  52. I am in the middle of painting my kitchen cabinets white. I am using a latex paint. I wish I could post a picture. The ones I have done have turned out great so far!

  53. Robin Harper says:

    Hi Emily. Your kitchen is beautiful. We too have oak cabinets (that my husband loves) that I want to paint white. Can you tell me if they painted the insides of the cabinets at all? Thank you!

  54. Robyn Marsala says:

    I had a question about the sanding. What grit sandpaper did he use between primer coats? What grit did he use between the light paint coats? Did he use a sanding block or what? Did he sand between each those heavy 2 or 3 coats when he laid it on real thick or just before the last coat? Also, how many coats of primer did he use on the bases? Getting ready to tackle this project! Thanks!

  55. Brigett Amneu says:

    A few questions that have t been answered as I am about to conquer this same project. I haven’t decided whether to hire a painter or have myself and my mom do it.
    What did you do about the “faux” wood panels on the sides of the cabinets- how did you prime and paint those?
    Did your painter take off all the doors and drawers and paint all of the inside of the cabinets as well?
    Have you considered using chalk paint to do it as it does not require sanding; and if so what clear coat do you put over it to make it last???
    Thanks- and you’re kitchen looks flawless!

  56. Can you please provide me the exact names of the primer and lacquer used. Thanks in advance!

  57. Thank you for this. I’m currently deciding on a color to paint my oak kitchen and bathroom cabinets. The Alabaster looks so dark on a chip, but it’s so light on the cabinet. I never would have expected that. I was planning on using the color one lighter-Westhighland White, but seeing this makes me realize it would be too light.


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  76. Hmmm. Looking at your old kitchen is like looking at my current kitchen. I think our homes were built by the same builder! And I HAAAAAAAATE my kitchen cabinets too. After reading your post I think I will give Adel a call for a quote. It is more work than I can do. Your new kitchen is gorgeous!

  77. Beautiful kitchen :) what kind of countertops did you use and what is the color name?

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  80. Hello!
    Very nice tutorial and useful instructions! I want to paint my wooden cabinets white too but i would like to know if it s easy to clean them. If i wipe them with a cloth will they look clean or will it leave stains?

  81. Amanda in Maryland says:

    Thanks so much for posting this advice – invaluable! I love the look of white as well. I’m installing new cabinets and am considering doing the finish myself to save $$.

    You said he used Kilz primer for the cabinet bases. But you mentioned a lacquer undercoat from Sherwin Williams that he used for the cabinet doors and drawers. Were you ever able to find out the exact product he used?

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  84. Painting oak cabinets …….been there done that like 50 times . ……sure you can use oil base to help
    Level it out and try to make it disappear, if you are painting white or off white I don’t care what kind of oil you use or hybrid like Ben moores advance it will yellow. . Most home owners will not pay the labor cost to make it disappear .
    At some point you have to think , is it worth paying 150 dollars of labor to get the grain out or go buy a new paint grade maple door for 50 dollars . I always clean sand and prime the oak doors , I spray everything , but when it comes to oak I roll on the primer and paint ( sand able waterborne ) and push into grain ( multiple costs and sand between )The trick is a end , I always use a dull precat varnish to hide the grain , the last thing you want to do is shine them up ….. The grain will show like crazy ! . When it comes to clear coats there is no durability difference in w high gloss or a dull flat finish …… Ok that was my 2 cents

  85. Hey love the cabinets!!! Also love the counters what type of counters r those???

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  87. Hello….we are trying to paint some unfinished oak cabinets. Since we wanted to hide the grain we used Behlen’s wood grain filler and have gotten the surface pretty smooth but when we applied the cabinet paint on top of the filled surface (Cabinet Coat) it basically comes right off with a light sanding after drying. So, then we tried putting Zinser’s 123 primer over the wood grain filler coating hoping that the paint would stick to that, but a light sanding of the primer is also coming off. Any thoughts or suggestions you may have would be appreciated. All products are water soluble (I read that oil based white paint yellows), all surfaces had been given more than proper drying times in between and tacked clothed to remove any dust so we think it is an issue with the wood filler causing adhesion issues. When we tried the paint on raw wood adhesion was not a problem. Thanks…

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  93. Gorgeous Kitchen and the amount of detail you wrote is much appreciated! Especially since I have a heavy grain oak cabinet kitchen! One question I do have and maybe was answered above but is there a need for the cabinets to be sealed with a Polyurethane product after painting is finished and cured?

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  95. we are moving to Katy and the house we are purchasing has oak cabinets. I’m hoping to paint them white. Do you mind me asking about how much it was to have yours painted? Also where did you get your counter top. I’m trying to decide if I should diy or hire someone to paint. Thanks

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  97. It’s been a while now, how are your cabinets holding up? Are they wearing, staining, chipping, etc?

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  99. Wow this article is definitely what I needed!! Thanks so much! I’m in the process of picking a painter to paint my oak cabinets white. The grain showing is something that worries me. But I think with your advice, it’ll turn it just right. :)

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  101. Thanks for sharing how you painted your oak cabs! Did you use a satin or semigloss finish? I too have lots of grain in my oak. Thank you for your reply!

  102. Hi,
    Love your cabinets. I’m getting mine professionally done also. What finish did you use? Glossy, matte, satin?

    Thank you,

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  105. Your kitchen came out beautiful! I’m curious what coordinating color you used for the walls against the alabaster cabinetry?

  106. Hows the paint holding out after about 2 years? :)

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  108. So if I understand correctly, the “base” you refer to is the face of the cabinet…and that was rolled and brushed? Only the doors and drawers were sprayed?

  109. What finish did you use satin or semi-gloss?

  110. I’m about to go through this same process with my very skilled painter. I’m also consulting with the manager at the Benjamin Moore paint store. They both said after you apply the laquer undercoat, you the apply the laquer top coat which is clear. You don’t need to apply oil paint.. The laquer undercoat is the oil paint.. But is dull/flat. Then the clear laquer coat makes it very shiny. Would love Adel’s opinion on this. You’re right.. It’s expensive, so I want to make sure we are headed down the right path. Thanks.

  111. Wow and more wow. I love what he did. It’s almost two months now and I’ve been trying to get my husband to please let me paint our solid oak cabinets, so far ‘no go’. I will keep on him. If he cave in, will be using alkyd or oil base paint. Since we cannot afford a pro, I am afraid of the oil base yellowing. Any tips? Again, you cabinets are beautiful.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you want bright white cabinets…yes, you will see some yellowing with oil based paint, but in my experience, it takes a few years to notice..and I only notice if I put something bright white up against the white cabinets to compare. If you use an off white paint, you’ll probably never notice. Black paint can also yellow..but once again…you probably wouldn’t notice unless you put something black up against the cabinets a few years after painting them.

  112. Just curious – now three years after you originally painted your cabinets – if you’ve noticed any yellowing. It’s the one thing holding me back from taking on the challenge. I’m not so concerned with Simply White turning to a Dove White color – but I definitely don’t want yellow cabinets.

    Thanks in advance!

  113. Can you tell me who makes the hardware for your cabinets? I love the pulls and handles. Thanks!

  114. Hi, could u tell me where the counter top came from and what’s the name? I love it! Thank you

  115. Beautiful colors !!…can I ask what kind of tiles and color they are?? Thank you

  116. Bonnie Blanchard says:

    I know this article is from 2013, but I redo my kitchen this week, and been debating about shades of SW & Behr whites for 6 months. Thanks for the advice & tips. Done, you made up my mind, I am going with SW Alabaster!


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  5. […] How To Paint Your Cabinets Like The Pros, and Get the … – Hey Melle! Good question that I forgot to mention in my post. I just personally don’t like the look of painted oak cabinets, that LOOK like painted oak. […]

  6. […] How to paint your cabinets like the pros, and get the […]

  7. […] How To Paint Your Cabinets Like The Pros, and Get the … – We DIY’d painting our kitchen cabinets, and they turned out GREAT! They used to be a latex paint (off-white), but they never seemed to “cure”, so they were … […]

  8. […] How To Paint Your Cabinets Like The Pros, and Get the … – Hey Melle! Good question that I forgot to mention in my post. I just personally don’t like the look of painted oak cabinets, that LOOK like painted oak. […]

  9. […] How To Paint Oak Cabinets White – Decorchick! – We DIY’d painting our kitchen cabinets, and they turned out GREAT! They used to be a latex paint (off-white), but they never seemed to “cure”, so they were … […]

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  11. […] How To Paint Oak Cabinets White – Decorchick! – We DIY’d painting our kitchen cabinets, and they turned out GREAT! They used to be a latex paint (off-white), but they never seemed to “cure”, so they were … […]

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  13. […] so much done, you’re now ready to begin painting your oak cabinets. Use an primer with oil to make a first coat of paint on the cabinet surfaces. After you apply one […]

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