painting cabinets | applying the paint

by | Sep 25, 2017 | All Things Home, home improvement, Kitchen, My House, Painting & Refinishing, Tutorials | 49 comments

I know this series is called “painting cabinets”, but painting is just the final and probably the easiest step!  Before you break out the paint, make sure you check out the first two posts in this series…

painting cabinets | prep

painting cabinets | priming

Now, let’s talk about the paint.

For the cabinets and trim in my house, I’m using Benjamin Moore’s Advanced paint in the Satin finish.

It’s a waterborne paint that behaves a bit more like an oil.  It has a long open time, which means you can brush over it, fix drips, etc. without pulling off the drying paint.  I think the reason I like using this paint so much, though, is that it is thinner, like milk paint.  The advantage to thinner paint is that it’s self-leveling.  Brush and roller marks disappear, making for a beautiful finish.  The disadvantage is it doesn’t cover quite as well as a thicker paint, which means more coats, and you do have to keep an eye out for drips.

Another advantage is that it is a dream to put through a sprayer.  It doesn’t need to be thinned with water, like the primer or most other paints.

As I did with the primer, I sprayed the doors and painted the cabinets with a brush and roller.

Once the primer is dry, that’s the time to fix any imperfections – sand out drips, texture, sprayer splatters, etc.  As I mentioned in the post on priming, it’s not about how the primer looks, but how it feels.  Take a minute to run your hand over the primed surface.  If you feel lumps, bumps, drips, etc., then it’s worth taking the time to sand them out.  They will, most likely, show through the final coat of paint.

Use a very fine sand paper, like a 320, and sand the trouble areas by hand.

(My mom helped me on this step when I was painting the living room built-ins when she was visiting a few weeks ago.)

Once everything was smoothed out (and most of the cabinets and doors didn’t require sanding), I sprayed the doors with my little spray set-up…

…and let them dry.

You can find tips on spraying in THIS POST.

And I painted the cabinets with a brush and roller in the same manner and with the same tools that I used to apply the primer.

I had to apply two coats on the cabinets, though.  The first coat looks pretty ugly…

But the second coat looks great.

Now, I know you’re going to ask about a topcoat.  If you use a quality paint with a satin gloss (or glossier), you do not need to apply a topcoat.  It is basically built into the paint.  It will dry hard and will be durable and wipeable.

There are many paints on the market that don’t require priming, but the tradeoff is that, in most cases, they require a topcoat.  So, you can pick if you’d rather prime or apply a topcoat.  Either way, it’s the same amount of steps.  One option isn’t right or wrong, it just depends on the look and finish you are going for.

Most paints and finishes take 30 days to fully cure.  You can put the doors back on when they are dry to the touch, but just ask your family to be gentle with them during that cure time.

Jeff laughed when I requested that of him and asked, “How exactly do I do that?”

“I don’t know!  Just be gentle with them!”

So, this week is going to be an exciting week for the kitchen.  I painted the crown over the weekend and will paint the walls and island this week.  Also, the new hardware is coming in the mail and my new gas range will be delivered and installed!

It has involved hours and hours of painting, but I can see the finish line…

You can see the reveal of the painted cabinets HERE.


  1. Ruth in NZ

    Well done! You have almost inspired me to get rid of the bright blue and yellow kitchen I inherited when we bought our house. Trouble is…everything else needs changing too! One day….

  2. Ramona

    Love, love, love the white cabinets! Nothing any prettier!

  3. Diane

    I like very much all the changes and the decorating you have done to your new house. I’ve enjoyed following your blog and watching the changes unfold. Its been fun!
    But, I hope you have built in some good break times during this moving in and painting marathon. If you haven’t, please do. ‘NO REST’ will always catch up with you. Been there, done that!
    All the best and rest!

  4. Sue N

    Looks great! Are they oak? Oak grain always shows through painting. Thanks for the info.

    • Patricia

      They are maple cabinets which are great for painting. All those with oak who need to paint envy maple!

  5. Cheryl

    I like this paint too. But it does have oil (alkyd) in it. The label says waterbourne alkyd, and their site calls it Water Reducible Alkyd. But it does have low VOC’s and cleans up with soap and water. Just be aware of the alkyd content. I had heard that some states do not allow the sale of paint containing alkyds, so I wonder if this is available everywhere? I miss BM’s Impervo paint, which was a beautiful-to-use, hard-as-nails latex and has lasted 7 years on my baseboards and trim without a nick or chip . At any rate, I have only painted the trim in one room with Advance, and after two years it’s holding up well.

  6. Brenda

    Lots of hard work but the results are phenomenal. The kitchen will soon be “yours.” Because it truly is the hub of the home, the work time is well spent. Good job!

    I LOVE white cabinets.

  7. Sara

    Very beautiful. Do you plan on applying an glazing or any other type of finishing touches?

  8. Heidi

    Excellent choice in paint. I selected this brand over a year ago and have been so pleased with it. Covers amazingly well and stays so very nice. Love it!

  9. Chris

    The cabinets look fantastic, I love the transformation! Been wanting to do this with my oak cabinets, just need to find the time. Thank you for sharing the products that have worked well for you.

  10. Tracey

    Quick question…how did you paint the sides of the cabinets? They are a big flat space, so if you roll, you might see the texture, but it is a lot of area to brush. I would want the texture (or lack of) to look the same, but even with a foam roller, you can see some texture marks. Thanks!

    • Marian Parsons

      I used a roller, but one that is meant for cabinets/trim, so it doesn’t leave marks. That combined with the self-leveling paint meant a nice, smooth finish, even on the ends.

  11. DeAnna

    All your hard work is paying off. Those cabinets are looking beautiful! Also, I want to mention something regarding your previous post on your goat cart. My husband has a picture of his grandma when she was about 6 years old sitting in a wagon like cart with her little brother. We never realized until reading your post, but it’s a fancy goat cart and has the year 1926 painted on it’s front. We also never noticed in the picture before, but you can see the goats rear end in front of the cart. Just wanted to say thank you! You taught me about goat carts and we learned something more about his grandmother’s photo.


    Marian, your cabinets look so nice! You have done such a fantastic job! So glad that you are nearing the end as you have just been so busy! You are one amazing gal! Take time to enjoy all your many hours of hard work! Blessings!

  13. Jan Schouw

    You definitely have re-inspired me to paint my cabinets white. I love the clean look. Right now I’m painting my She Shed, and yes it is white. Clean and neat.

  14. Elizabeth

    You are good to go into great detail with your painting instructions. If someone follows your how-to carefully, they’ll save themselves lots of headaches while getting a nice finished product. The white of your transformed kitchen cabinets ties in nicely with your very white studio visible through the door. Great job of tying things in.

  15. Helen

    I can’t wait to see how it all turns out; I am planning to paint my kitchen cabinets soon; I will get new countertops on the 28th and hope to get my island painted before they install that top. My kitchen is very similar to yours in design; I have oak cabinets and the kitchen is a very dark one. Were your cabinets oak? I think the white cabinets will just brighten everything up and change the whole look. Thanks for all the information!!! I am still contemplating about getting the sprayer you used. I did get the spray tent tho.

    • Marian Parsons

      My cabinets are maple, not oak, but oak will paint up just fine! Good luck on your project.

  16. Lelanie

    It is all coming along nicely! Well done 😀 Are you still on track with your diet? I’m curious because I really need to do something myself, but I need inspiration.

  17. Joanne Mathis

    The cabinets look lovely. What color did you use? This looks like a nice bright white.

  18. jill

    Looks wonderful! I took would be interested in the shade of white you used. and how you did the large open spaces on the exposed ends of a row of cabinets. My cabinets are also maple but the exposed ends/sides of the cabinets boxes appear to maybe be sort of a fake finish…almost like a wood looking sticker was applied. Also from the photo it looks like instead of taking the entire drawer out of the cabinet box, you somehow removed just the wood front piece?

  19. MaryLisa Noyes

    Looks really awesome! Terrific job!

  20. Marianne

    The cabinets look beautiful ! I do no this think I would have the patience or the talent .

  21. Marianne

    It should have said that I do not think I have the patience .

  22. Barb

    There is ABSOLUTELY no substitute for good paint (or good prep)!

  23. Norma Rolader

    So pretty and thank you for keeping us informed God bless

  24. Betty

    You are such a neat painter. I end up with paint all over me and I am constantly doing clean up but alas I still make a mess. I painted my cabinets white when we moved into our home 7 years ago. It was a chore but so glad I did it. There is nothing better than white cabinets in a kitchen.

  25. Mary

    I have never met a wife of a preacher that had time to accomplish so much in so little time. You’re lucky to have his support and he is lucky to have yours. Beautiful paint job, yes prep is 80% of a good job.

  26. Connie McDonald

    I am very excited about the timing of your cabinet painting because we are building a new house and bought unfinished cabinets with the plan to paint them. It is great to have a just-in-time tutorial. I hope ours turn out as well as yours have!

  27. Rebecca Neustel

    The cabinets look amazing, but I can’t imagine painting all the trim in a two story house. Are you going to take a break between floors or just push on and get it all done?

  28. Karin

    I am currently in the dreaming/planning stage with my own kitchen makeover and I really appreciate all of your tips and suggestions. Sure makes me feel a little more confident that I can actually do this! And thankfully we have maple cabinets! Love how yours turned out!

  29. Mary E Stewart

    I recently got a job painting kitchen cabinets for a home that going on the market soon. I used the same paint that you did I’m a big fan of Benjamin Moore.

  30. Tanya

    I’m using this same paint on our new kitchen cabinets that my husband is building. It really is a dream to work with!! It reminds me a lot of the old oil paint I used to use, but it’s so much easier to clean up and doesn’t smell like oils. I don’t have have sprayer, so I’m hand brushing everything, but the consistency of the paint is so nice that I’m enjoying the process.

  31. Tammy

    Actually, I am really liking the counter top against the painted white cabinets. I looks beautiful and what a huge difference in the room. You did a wonderful job transforming this space.

  32. Lisa

    Looks so good! I’m actually going to be using this brand of paint to paint my kitchen cabinets soon, so this couldn’t have come at a better time – thank you! What kind/size tip did you use for your sprayer?

  33. Alicia from California

    Marian, just finished painting my entire kitchen and cabinets white just before you moved. I can attest to how clean and bright a kitchen looks in white. I can also attest to how important it is to do the prepping. The cabinets were original to the home built in 1955 but my budget couldn’t handle having new ones installed. Not only that but the cabinets were in good shape and made out of wood (pine and plywood but wood nonetheless) and it was a shame to just toss them. SO back to prepping. I had to remove very old shelf paper with a blow-dryer in the heat of summer! Then remove the gummy residue by sanding because the odor of removers was too powerful for my lungs. And next, cleaning the shelves of all the sawdust. Then applying the primer. You don’t think it will take that long but it does if you’re doing it alone. Finally, painting. Whew! I ended up doing 3 coats because I started with a less expensive brand and ran out of paint and when I purchased the last gallon from an actual paint store I gave the entire kitchen two coats because the whites didn’t match!!! And like you Marian, I removed the cabinet doors before sanding, priming and painting. I’m glad you mentioned it takes about 30 days to cure. I was concerned about the slightly tacky feel one week after painting but all is well now. If I had it to do over again I’d purchase the paint you mentioned today – the one that is almost as thin as milk paint. That would have been a dream to paint with. I made the mistake when laying on the primer to use a brush when painting the outside of the cabinets as well as a portion of the walls underneath the cabinets. Even though I applied the paint with a roller you could still see the brush strokes from the primer. So take heed everyone. It took a long time overall to finish the kitchen but I just had visitors over and they admired my paint job. And look at the money saved! So, follow Marian’s steps and you’ll be proud of your efforts in the end!

  34. Katy

    In one of your recent posts you said you had relagated that charming cow painting to the garage. I’m a painter and very minor art collector, and I think that banishment is a mistake. Eulalie? is a lovely piece, and although your new home isn’t a farmhouse, she would be appropriate anywhere simply because it’s a well executed work, has history with your family and is, as I said, charming. A little whimsey never hurt any room.

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh no! Eulalie is hanging in a prominent spot above the fireplace. It was the metal cow head (a reproduction) that is currently in the garage. 🙂


    Marian, somewhere in this post or the last one you were asked what color you actually used on the cabinets. I am sure it is in front of me somewhere but save me the looking. Your home looks great and am envious of how industrious you are! Thanks!

  36. Erin

    What roller did you use? The one in the blog post? Just want tO make sure I used the right one. Could using a roller and paint brush rather than spraying turn out well too?

  37. Janice

    Hi, Can I ask what color paint you used for your kitchen cabinets?

  38. Jennifer

    Hi there. Can I ask what color paint you used on your cabinets and also on your kitchen walls? I’ve read through all your posts but I don’t see the colors mentioned anywhere…

  39. Wendy

    Do you paint the insides of the cabinet doors or just the outside? Will you share a pic with an open door?

  40. Jessica

    Beautiful job! What color white did you use?
    Thank you!

  41. Nancy

    Hello! Just started on my kitchen cabinets…thanks for your posts! So very helpful! Also wondering what kind of paint and what the name is the name of the color on your door? Thank you! Nancy

    • Marian Parsons

      It is Card Room Green by Farrow and Ball. I had the paint color matched at Benjamin Moore.

  42. marcia

    Since you kept the hinges in place, how did you avoid spraying them white?

  43. Lauren

    Your cabinets look wonderful! I’m wondering why you didn’t use milk paint? I want to use your line to paint my cabinets so badly but now that I see you used regular paint, I’m nervous to do so.

    Thank you so much.


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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