How To Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets for under $100

In early 2016 we had the opportunity to buy and help renovate a house, including finally getting the painted white kitchen cabinets I’d longed for for years. We desperately needed more space with seven children, and the idea of having all renovations done before we even moved in was a huge selling point for me.

I had already been pinning just about every “How to paint your kitchen cabinets” pin on Pinterest known to man, and I was still at square one. Okay, I only have 35 pins on painting kitchen cabinets. I knew I wanted to paint them, I just didn’t know how to get the results I wanted. Luckily, I was raised to be a DIYer. If other people could do it, then I could too.

As we toured this rather dark and gloomy home, our realtor showed us how we could make it our own, and what changes could be made. She was getting ready to flip the house anyway, but since we were now her buyers, and we were friends with her and the original owner (who had been renting it out and lived out of state), we were allowed to help/take control of the design process.

<Insert starry-eyed daydream face here>

I had been dreaming of white cabinets in my kitchen since I built my home 14 years before, and it was my chance to finally get that. The cabinets before were a darker oak and they were looking dingy and tired.

I don’t think at the time that my realtor really believed in my color scheme of white cabinets and lights gray everything else. Even my husband was leery, but I bullied them into accepting my perfectly sound decor choices.

I started narrowing down my Pinterest pins and finally settled on using an alkyd enamel paint from Home Depot, after reading another blogger’s story about using it on their bathroom vanity. With seven kids, I felt like any paint that could withstand bathroom moisture, could withstand the water from dishes and the other abuse my kids could dish out.

I had about a two week window to get these done, in addition to working full time and my other obligations. I had a friend help me clean the cabinet doors with TSP substitute, and remove the cabinet doors. If I’d had more time I would’ve removed the hardware, but I really only had an hour here and there to devote to this, which didn’t leave time for all of the extra steps.

. I chose Swiss coffee in this Behr enamel, since I knew the baseboards would all be painted in Swiss coffee and I didn’t want the cabinets to compete for whiteness with the surrounding trim. After we cleaned the cabinets and I was ready to go, I went around 10p.m. to start painting by myself. Can I just say what an anxiety-filled moment that was for me? I took a picture after I rolled the first side of the cabinet. (Also, I didn’t tape off the upper cabinets because the walls were slated to be painted immediately after I finished with the cabinets.

My anxiety soon turned to excitement, and that soon gave way to exhaustion. But the show must go on, and we needed to close on this house ASAP. (I can only imagine my realtor’s anxiety at allowing me to do this to a house I didn’t even own.)

I started with the cabinet bases and then moved to the cabinet doors. I started on the back of the doors so that I could flip them over when they dried without fear of the paint sticking to the plastic sheeting I used to protect the new tile floors. Also, use clean plastic sheeting. I didn’t think about this but I did have a problem with some of the spray paint sticking to the new paint when I flipped the doors over. Ugh! Be smart, use new plastic drop cloths.

I found as I rolled on the paint, it was best to let it set for a moment and then go back over with a very light touch. Using an extra smooth roller will give it the smoothest finish possible without using a sprayer.

If I could change anything about my process (now that it’s been two years since I painted them) here is what I would do differently: I would make sure to clean the cabinets with TSP substitute on the really greasy areas a second (or third) time. There are a few areas I didn’t give extra attention to that were the main drawers/cupboards for the family who lived here before, and those are the areas that now need to be touched up. Mainly that left drawer on the island (can you see that it’s lighter in the top picture?

The drawer sliders are also bent and as a result we have barely used that drawer). The very top where they used to pull it open needs touching up now. I have since installed drawer pulls, which helps immensely in the wear and tear on painted cabinets.

I would also caulk the bottoms of the cabinet doors, cause guess what? When you’re painting them on a horizontal surface it isn’t possible to see that the paint is going to leave small gaps where food and dirt can get trapped when you’re wiping your cabinets down. (Let’s be real, white cabinets don’t make your cabinets any dirtier than they were before, you can now see when they need to be cleaned, though)

I found some inexpensive beautiful cup drawer pulls on Amazon and knobs for the doors.

Hubby used a template that we got on amazon to measure and drill the holes for the cup pulls and door knobs.

If you are looking for a flawless finish without any wood grain showing through, this probably isn’t the product for you. However, if you’re looking to DIY your cabinets in a finish that is lasting and beautiful for the price, but without the professional tools or price tag, then an alkyd enamel might be for you. It dries hard (which is what an enamel does), not sticky or tacky like most latex paint does.

I really only get compliments on my cabinets from everyone who comes to my house. It can be a very daunting task, but even if you don’t have the luxury of weeks on end of painting on the floor of your home, this could reasonably done over the course of several weeks when you put your little ones to bed and allow for dry time of each coat.

Things I used for this project:

ultra smooth foam paint roller

painter’s tape

TSP substitute

rags to clean the cabinets

2″ paint brush

plastic drop cloth

2 gallons of alkyd enamel paint

When I get around to doing touch ups, I will definitely be caulking the bottom of the doors to make for easier clean up!

You can transform your kitchen for less than $100, and have a beautiful space to live in for years to come, and that is the Divine Art of Homemaking!

XO- Deena

*This post contains affiliate links, but all opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this post.