How to Paint Cabinets With Chalk Paint

Lead Image
  • 2-8 hours
  • Beginner
  • 75-150
What You'll Need
Chalk paint
Paint brush
Wax brush
Sandpaper (200 or 400 grit)
Small container for water and brushes
Lint-free cloth
Soft towel
Painters tape

If you’re looking to revamp your kitchen in a fun and creative way, we have just the idea that is not only easy, but looks impressive once finished. Using chalk paint to refinish your kitchen cabinets is a fun update that doesn’t take a ton of time, effort, or money, especially since it’s something you can do completely on your own. Before we delve into the steps of how to paint your kitchen cabinets with this product, let’s first discuss its unique nature and what makes it easy to use without sacrificing results.

Time: 5-7 Hours || Cost: $115-$175

The Unique Nature of Chalk Paint

There are several things about chalk paint that make it different from its competitors. One of the great things about it is that it allows you to transform anything quickly from start to finish—painting your cabinets can be totally done in a day! This is because it requires very little preparation, meaning you don’t need to worry about sanding, priming, or otherwise prepping your cabinets prior to painting them.

The paint also dries impressively quickly. While the finish of this paint naturally dries down to matte, this is something you can easily adjust to your tastes; adding water to the paint will make it more washed out as it dries, or leaving the lid off of the container for a while will thicken the paint and give the dried job a different look and texture. The paint is also odor-free and environmentally friendly since it contains uniquely low volatile organic compounds. Finally, this type of paint is unique in the fact that it is extremely easy to clean up in the first 24 hours of application.

How to Paint Your Cabinets

Step 1 - Clean the Surface

First, clean the surface of the cabinets. This should be done thoroughly with a degreaser like Oil Eater. Ensuring that the cabinets are completely clean allows the paint to adequately bond to the cabinet itself instead of any foreign particles that could reside on them prior to the cleaning. This will give the finished product a smoother and all-around better look.

Step 2 - Remove Doors

Remove the cabinet doors for painting. To do this, use common tools such as a screwdriver to take the hinges off and allow the cabinets to be released. (Some cabinets are designed with levers behind the hinges that pull forward and release the cabinets automatically for easy removal.) To make reassembling quick and simple, store the hardware in an organized fashion. Lay the cabinets down on soft towels to prevent scratches and to ensure that the paint doesn't get on your floor or furniture. Chalk paint is very soft until you apply a finish to it, so you want to do everything you can to avoid a scratch or movement that causes an imperfection.

Step 3 - Apply First Paint Coat

Next, use your paintbrush to begin adding your first coat of paint to your cabinets. For best results, make long, straight strokes with the paint rather than short back and forth ones. Remember that a little bit of chalk paint goes a long way, so you don’t need too much of it on the brush at once. The first coat should be even across the entirety of each cabinet’s surface. Allow about an hour for the first coat to dry.

Step 4 - Apply Second Paint Coat

Once the first coat is adequately dry, apply the second coat of paint, leaving approximately another hour for it to dry.

Step 5 - Even Out Paint Application

Apply the third coat of paint, paying special attention to the thin areas to even out the look of the cabinets.

Step 6 - Allow Paint to Dry Thoroughly

After the third coat has dried, it's up to you whether or not you want to apply a fourth coat, depending on what you want the overall look of your cabinets to be. Remember this is your project—make it your own so that it matches your tastes and vision! After the cabinets are painted to your satisfaction, allow approximately an hour for the paint to dry completely.

Step 7 - Decide How to Distress

We recommend putting your cabinets back in their proper locations at this point. That way, you can see how they look in your kitchen before you take any action towards distressing them. This makes it easy to get the bigger picture before moving forward from a stylistic point of view.

Step 8 - Lightly Sand Paint Surface

Begin your distressing process as desired. Chalk paint distresses very easily, and you should start by lightly sanding the cabinets with a 200 grit sandpaper (if you prefer a smoother look that negates brush strokes, use a 400 grit sandpaper instead). If you over-distress at any point, don’t fret! You can easily touch up the cabinet with another thin coat of paint, then let it dry, and re-distress until you reach the desired aesthetic.

Step 9 - Remove Dust and Apply Wax

Dust the cabinets, and then it's time to wax them. No polyurethane or further finish is needed given the cabinets are for indoor use only. A recommended wax product is Minwax Paste Finishing Wax, which can be purchased from Amazon or at your local hardware store.

Step 10 - Buff the Wax

Let the wax coat dry completely, and then buff the cabinets to remove any excess.

Step 11 - Buff With Second Coat of Wax

We recommend re-waxing your cabinets after buffing them since they are in a high-traffic area of your home.

Step 12 - Remove Excess Wax

Finally, buff your cabinets again to remove any excess wax from the second coat. For a more matte look, we recommend buffing lightly during this second time. If you’re looking for something shinier, buff more and more vigorously.

It’s as easy and as quick as that! Once your cabinets are complete, they do not require much maintenance or upkeep, which is another great thing about chalk paint. However, it's best to reapply a new coat of wax to your cabinets every few years, especially if they require excessive wiping in their lifetime to remove stains, food, or other marks. If any touch-ups are needed, simply reapply chalk paint to the areas that are lacking and then rewax and buff the area after the newly applied paint has dried to ensure they look as good as new!