How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets So It Lasts

updated May 4, 2022
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If you’re going to go through all the effort to paint your kitchen cabinets (it is not exactly a quick or easy project!), you want to make sure it’s going to last. You don’t want to go through all that effort, only to have the paint start chipping off a few months later. To make sure that doesn’t happen, we talked to three bloggers who painted their kitchens a while ago. Here’s the one thing they each did, which they credit to keeping their cabinets looking brand new.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

1. Clean, clean, clean!

For Ashley Mayes, the blogger behind Bigger than the Three of Us who painted her kitchen almost a year ago, the secret was in all the cleaning before she even busted out a single paint brush. “The cabinets were in good condition, so I just cleaned them thoroughly first,” she says.

You want to make sure your cabinets’ surfaces are as squeaky clean as possible — even a trace of residue or grease will make it tough for paint to cling to the foundation. Once you’ve sanded, give all the wood an additional wipe-down (you can even vacuum them!) to avoid any dust particles mixing with the fresh paint.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

2. Don’t skip the primer!

Primer is a must, according to Melissa Mortensen, of Polka-Dot Chair. If you want to fully hide whatever is below the paint (especially if its a darker wood), this is not a step you can skip. It makes a visible difference down the road and it helps give the paint something to hold on to.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

3. Consider adding a clear coat

“My biggest advice would be to take an extra day to apply a clear top coat for a stronger durability on the cabinetry,” says Kassandra DeKoning, of Little DeKonings. “Overall our cabinets have held up incredibly well over the past two years. We touch up an area here or there, but other than that, it’s a DIY that’s so worth doing.”

Bonus tip: Use felt feet instead of rubber ones!

The professional painters who painted an entire kitchen for us at the end of the summer (Chris and Lexi Dowding of Michigan-based SwatchOut) have one last tip: Use felt feet on the cabinet doors and drawers instead of rubber ones. Rubber could stick to the paint and peel it off, which could lead to bigger flakes over time.

More on Painting your Kitchen Cabinets

Do you have painted kitchen cabinets? How are they holding up? Do you have any tricks to keep them looking like new?