The Comprehensive Guide to Painting Your Kitchen Cabinets with Dixie Belle Paint: Everything You Need to Know



Considering painting your own kitchen, laundry or bathroom cabinets?  Then you’re in the right place!

It’s not 100% complete yet, but oh my goodness Friends, this kitchen has come a long way!  When I met my husband 20 years ago, he owned this home and had just renovated…you guessed it…the kitchen.

Unfortunately, his design choices were not what I would have chosen.  Can you relate?! So, I waited him out and wore him down.  And finally, this kitchen has my personality!

First, let me show you what I was working with BEFORE.

fridge area before
china cabinet before
built in desk before

Removing Cabinets

Before I painted the cabinets, there was one big structural change to take care of.  The huge bank of upper peninsula cabinets had to go.  They blocked the sight line and closed in the whole space.

It took all 4 members of my family to pull this monster down, but it was totally worth it. See the difference?

upper peninsula removed

I painted the walls and ceiling in Behr Ultra Pure White.

Prepping Your Cabinets for Paint

I was lucky that we were also replacing the floor, so I didn’t have to be too worried about getting paint on it.  I also didn’t stress too much about the countertops, since paint scrubs right off of them.

If you have surfaces you want to preserve, you’ll want to cover them with painter’s paper or a drop cloth.  I used a vinyl tablecloth on my floor (pictured below).  Smaller than a drop cloth, it was just easier to manuever and did the trick.

peninsula before

Materials List

(Note: These are affiliate links for which I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Thanks for your support!)

kitchen cabinet supplies list

All of this info is available FREE as a downloadable Guide by clicking here: 

Removing Doors & Drawer Fronts for Painting

Next, you’ll want to remove your cabinet doors and drawer fronts.  You can use a drill or screwdriver to do this. 

I recommend leaving the hinges attached to the cabinet frames.  This will ensure your doors still hang exactly the same way when you put them back.  Otherwise, you’ll have to make a lot of adjustments to get them looking straight again.

You can number your doors with a small piece of painter’s tape if needed.  I did my project one section at a time, as opposed to all at once, so I wasn’t in danger of mixing up my doors.  Also remove knobs and handles at this time, and put them in a safe place.  

cabinet sink area

Repairing Your Cabinets for Painting

If you have any dings or gouges you want to fill, now is the time to use your Dixie Belle Mud and make those repairs. Also, if you are replacing the hardware with something that requires different holes, you can use Mud to fill the existing holes as well.

To fill the holes completely, put the Mud in a plastic baggie and pipe it into the hole. Mud comes in 3 colors, black, brown and white, so choose the one closest to your paint color. (Note: Don’t rinse Mud down your drain.  Wipe with paper towels and discard.)

You can tell when your mud is dry (15-20 mins.) because it will lighten in color. Thicker areas will take longer to dry. Sand it lightly until it is smooth.

kitchen cabinets above stove

Cleaning & Scuff Sanding your Cabinets for Painting

To clean your cabinets, mix up 2 heaping Tablespoons of White Lightning in a bucket of warm water.  Wear latex or rubber gloves to protect your skin.  Wash down frames, doors and drawer fronts.  Then rinse it all with clean warm water, and allow it to dry.

I prefer the Surf Prep sanding pads because they are durable and flexible.  I used the blue (Fine) one, and did a light scuff sanding by hand over all the surfaces.  

Dust and wipe down your cabinets once more.

kitchen desk close up

Priming Your Cabinets for Painting

Since I want this paint job to last as long as possible, I opted to prime for extra adhesion.  I also thought it might help fill in the oak wood grain pattern a little bit.

To prime, I painted one coat of white BOSS and allowed it to dry for one hour.  If your cabinets are not wood, you’ll need to use Slick Stick instead of BOSS.  This will make your slippery surface much less slippery to accept the paint. (Note: Slick Stick drying time is 2-3 hours).

If you have oak or other grainy wood, you may be concerned with how much grain will be visible after painting.  I find you can’t see it at all except up close.  Here is an ultra close-up of what my grain looks like painted.

kitchen cabinet grain closeup

This is where those little painter’s pyramids come in handy.  Painting the frames goes pretty quickly, but those doors can take quite a chunk of time.

With the pyramids, you can paint the back of your door, flip it over immediately, and then paint the front side and edges.  The tiny point of the pyramid doesn’t leave any detectable mark on the paint job.

Painting Your Cabinets

Choose your color.  Sounds easy, doesn’t it?  If you are struggling with what color to use, look for inspiration.  Not only online, but look at your closet and see which colors you gravitate towards.  Of course, also consider other items like your floor and countertop.

You’ll be painting two coats, allowing at least an hour of dry time in between.  Since chalk paint is so thick, you can use a misting bottle to apply your second coat of paint.  You can spray water either on your brush or your cabinet surface, and this will help you achieve a super smooth finish.

Speaking of your brush, I found the large round size worked the best and made the job go quicker.

kitchen peninsula stove

Gel Stained China Cabinet

I have this built-in china cabinet that I wanted to look more like it’s own stand-alone piece of furniture.  I painted the frame in a warm white color called Fluff.

Then I used a combination of No Pain Gel Stain in Walnut and Picklin’ White on the doors.  The grain still shows through the stain, and I think it gives a really pretty effect.  If you want to see more details about this project, here is a whole post on it.

The picture below shows the BEFORE on the left and the AFTER on the right.

china cabinet before and after

Backsplash & Floor

You may have noticed we also installed a new tile backsplash and vinyl wood floor.

There are a few projects still pending.  I may paint or stain some of the remaining oak doors and window frames.  And we will be adding a crown molding to the cabinets as well as replacing a couple appliances.

kitchen backsplash installation
kitchen floor installation

We installed these floating shelves where the upper peninsula cabinets used to be.  I love the tile behind them.  These shelves are spruce wood stained with Voodoo Gel Stain in Tobacco Road followed by White Magic.

floating shelves

I had previously painted my kitchen table and done a mini-makeover of our eat-in nook.  You can see that full post here.

The color on the table base and island is Sea Glass, and the front door is painted Peacock.  I also added WoodUBend applique #2082 to the island.

kitchen table area

Sealing

Before sealing your amazing new paint job, do a super light hand sanding with a yellow (Super Fine) rad pad.  Make sure all dust is removed before adding clear coat.

You can seal your cabinets with any sheen, but I’d recommend satin clear coat or Gator Hide.  Both will be wipable and durable.  Gator Hide has slightly less sheen than satin, and is also more water resistant.

Using the mini synthetic brush, brush on at least two coats of your chosen sealer, allowing about an hour dry time between coats. (Note: For Gator Hide, allow 2 hours between coats.)

kitchen view from front door

See the pantry doors on the left there?  I waited until after Easter to start, but those are being painted now in the same Driftwood Gray.

 

Glazing

I wanted to mention glazing, even though I didn’t glaze my cabinets.  If you like the old world depth and dimension of a dark shadow in the door recesses, you can achieve it with glaze.

Do your glazing after your doors and drawers are sealed.  Using a very small brush, apply glaze where desired.  With a soft rag, wipe away any excess.  Here’s an example of glazed cabinets from blog.kitchenmagic.com.

Cleaning Your Brushes

Almost all the products I’ve mentioned are water-based and clean up with soap and water.  In the midst of your project, you don’t have to wash your brushes daily.  Just place them in a plastic baggie and they will last several days without drying out.

Scrubby Soap is a great inexpensive product that cleans and conditions your brushes.  It has soap on one side of it and an abrasive scrubber on the other side.  If you don’t have it, you can use mild dish soap.

No Pain Gel Stain is oil-based, so I like to use an applicator pad to apply it and toss it when I’m done.

Silk paint line

Silk All-in-One Mineral Paint

When I started my kitchen project back in October, Silk was not available in the U.S. yet.  It certainly would have made life easier, though!

With Silk, you do a scuff sand, optional prime with BOSS, and two coats of paint.  There is no need to seal.  The Silk line has 20 beachy colors to choose from. 

You can read more about the differences between this line and the Chalk Mineral Paint line at the end of this post.

Feel free to leave any questions you might have in the Comments, and let me know if you need more encouragement to go paint some cabinets in your home!

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