questionskitchen cabinets - to paint or not?


Don't do it! IMO natural wood looks much better. We had to paint ours because the previous home-owners had already painted our wood cabinets a poopy brown color. It took us two weeks to sand, primer and paint the cabinets. It was a major pain in the butt. We used good paint but already have some chips.

Ideally I wanted to sand it down completely and refinish the wood but I just couldn't get all of that old nasty brown paint off.


We stripped the old varnish off our cabinets, sanded, stained and re-varnished. It was a lot of work but it turned out great. As mentioned above, once you paint you're pretty much stuck with paint.

It also depends on the look you're going, casual, modern, etc. Maybe you can take a photo of your kitchen and put it in Photoshop (or something similar) and try different colors?


I agree with @tippypaws. Don't paint them. Natural wood is so much nicer looking than any paint color you can come up with. Refinish if you need to but don't paint!


Absolutely don't do it. The previous owner of our house did it right before prepping to sell, to "freshen up the kitchen". It was abysmal - the cabinet doors stick somewhat, they always look dirty (since the white paint shows EVERYTHING, and just generally looks cheap.

I'm also a fan of natural wood, not paint, but even if I wasn't, painting the cabinets yourself is not the answer.


Please, please, please do not paint those cabinets. You will regret it pretty quickly. As others have said, once you paint it's almost impossible to return to the natural finish, paint on an often used surface gets beat up pretty quickly, the maintenance is a PITA, it could decrease the value of the cabinets; and you will lose a great. subtle texture in your kitchen.

Take a sample of your new counter tops/any other changes - and find a stain color/tone/depth that will suit. It will be more labor intensive, but it will last longer, look better, and hold the value of the woodwork.


Thanks all, that was basically my thoughts on the matter too.

I think I may strip them, and make them a bit more natural looking. I think that the real problem is that the previous owner put up a pine board with a darker stain above the cabinets. It was very poorly done, and looks cheap. I think if I move the cabinets back up to their normal position (they were lowered for the previous owner who was in a wheelchair), and put up a nice oak board with a nice routed edge and some crown molding it will look a lot nicer.


those cabinets are georgous!!!! i would love to have them. i have some nasty looking painted ones.
if you just want a fresh look try changing out the handles/drawer pulls when you do the new countertop. or try changing the colors of the walls behind one section to make it into an accent wall.


As a professional painter for 10 years, I can say with confidence DO NOT PAINT THEM! It'll be nothing but headaches unless you have all the hardware removed, and then the doors removed, and then all are professionally stripped and lacquered. ANY do-it-yourself painting of the cabinets will come out horribly 99% of the time.


I say, do not paint them. It looks like a lovely color. Although I am happy with the paint job I did on my cabinets. My kitchen is tiny, 6'x6', and the cabinets were a very dark wood. It added to the claustrophobia of the place. So I painted them a sunny yellow with murals on the center panels and filled the kitchen with sunflowers and butterflies.

vote-for4vote-against do not do it!!!
I almost said 'yes' as a joke, but this is too serious to joke about.

@j5: NOT FAIR they changed the counter tops too, a slightly darker wood color with black counter tops would look better then the white and black.


@caffeine_dude: I disagree. The glazed white sets a nice contrast against the dark counter top.
For a light colored countertop, I'd go with a much darker coating.
The problem with oak cabinets is that they've been used so extensively as "builder basic" that they are universally derided by most people.

here're more pics:
(Can you tell I like Gardenweb?)

Personally, I'm not a fan of "golden/ honey/ pink/ bleh oak". I dislike it. I just bought a house full of it and I'm going to paint the living bejeebus out of it.

I completely disagree with the "it's wood, don't paint it" view, but as @kamikazeken mentioned above, you have to do it right or it will look and perform like poo.

See here for other options:

j5 j5

Refinish if you like, but I wouldn't paint unless it was an older home with very dark cabinets.


Thanks all! I'm certain we'll try to do nothing to the cabinets themselves. Change the Floor tile, counter-top, and back-splash.

@j5: I personally don't like the look of that kitchen. I was thinking something more like this:

Obviously a significantly different layout, but similar colors.


@mrmucox: Everyone has different tastes, I guess. I like the look in your original picture magnitudes better than the look in this one.


@mrmucox: yeah, ok. That look requires a "filler" coat to hide the oak grain. That's what the lady in my first link did, but then she added glazing to "punch up" the trim. Had she not done that, it would have looked like yours.
Again, the problem with the majority of Oak cabinets out there is that they are "builder basic" bottom of the line models that builders pumped into houses at an alarming rate. Now, you can get some top of the line Kraftmaid cabinets in Oak, but they will look a lot like the builder basics, so it's money wasted.
Blame the housing boom for the disfavor of oak.

j5 j5

@j5: Yes, I did read that, and that is great advice on the filler if we do eventually go that route. I actually do like the look of oak, and have used it in other places in my house. It's just the color of mine are... off. Too yellow. I'm going to try a heavy cleaning on one of them to see if they'll clean up. Maybe even a small sanding and poly.


I just did the cabinets in my bathroom, they were getting so faded and the varnish was peeling that I thought painting was the only option until I was ready to replace them, but I sanded them down and picked a MInwax Polyshades colored polyurethane, and after a couple of coats they look great. I did take the doors off their hinges and laid them flat to avoid the possibility of runs and sagging on the large areas.