How to chalk paint your cabinets

how to cabinets

  I have joined the chalk paint movement.  Check out our kitchen before… outdated oak cabinets that really took away from the modern look of our house.


 Hank was trying to pose for the picture!



I love white cabinets- they make a kitchen look so fresh and clean!  And I’m on summer break… so why not tackle a giant project!?

Follow these steps on how to chalk paint cabinets!  I chose to use CeCe Caldwell’s Chalk Paint in Simply White and her Satin Finish.  In researching different types of chalk paint, I really liked that her paint is non-toxic (NO VOC’s, acrylic co-polymers, solvents, formaldehyde, ammonia, ethylene glycol or toxic heavy metals).  It also is only chalk +clay in a water based solution (some chalk paints still have latex in them and a low number of VOC’s).  Everyone seems to have their favorite chalk paint brand so I’ll try not to be bias.   Regardless of what brand you use, chalk paints are self-priming so that cuts out a step in your painting process!  The prices of different brands are comparable; a quart of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is only about $4 to $6 more than CeCe’s.  If you have a personal favorite, please leave a comment.  I would love to try it out!

Painting cabinets in the middle of July = having to paint inside on and off for several days.  The fact that her paint AND satin finish is odorless was a big plus for me.  DSC03012-001

These are the supplies I started with: a hand sander, rubber gloves, tack cloth, paint, and an angled brush


drill-001 1.  Prepare: Take off your cabinet doors and any hardware you have.  Take out the drawers.  I used my handy dandy pink power screwdriverTape off the floor and where your cabinets meet the countertops and walls.  I used Frog Tape.

2.  Clean your cabinets.  Clean your cabinets well.  Use any household cleaner to degrease them.  My cabinets had a LOT of buildup in some areas.  I don’t think they had ever been cleaned over the years.  When we moved in last year, I wiped them down but did not give them a good scrubbing.  A small amount of dawn dish soap, a wet rag, and also a couple of Clorox wipes worked for me.  Apparently there were two doors that I didn’t clean as thoroughly, so after I painted there were hidden little brown grease spots that showed through the white paint.  They didn’t show up until the paint dried.  It is very difficult to sand them down and re-clean them so this is a VERY important step.  Make sure they are dry with no residue before continuing.  In the close up picture below, you can see that my cabinets were really in need of some tender love and care. DSC03023-001 3.  Everything I read said that it is a waste of time to sand before painting with chalk paint.  Chalk paint can be used on virtually any clean surface.  Could it really be that easy? (Take note: The first time I ever used chalk paint was on an entire kitchen.  That means you can do it too!) For my first section, I went ahead and sanded the surface (Shhhh!) and then sanded in between coats.  Because you know, I didn’t think it could really be that easy.  It took a long time and more paint, created a mess of chalk dust, and did not change the result.  For the rest of the cabinets, I ONLY sanded down “problem areas” before painting and I did NOT sand in between coats of paint.  **BUT if you currently have hardware on your cabinets and will be changing the hardware, you will need to fill the holes before painting. 4.  Paint your first and second coat.


This was my first section after one coat of paint.  This paint is thick and has GREAT coverage!  I tried a foam roller for cabinets out for this large area, but since the chalk paint dries SO fast, it wasn’t really a wet area so the angled brush worked much better.


This is what the first section looked like after the second coat.  Woohoo!  Making progress!

Note from this photo: No, I did not paint inside the cabinets.  I’m the only one that will see them and it would take a lot of time and paint.  You can if you want!  It just wasn’t worth it to me.  Also, that meant that I did not have to take everything out of the cabinets and create an even more giant mess.  I can always go back and do this later if I change my mind.

Also note:  In order for me to function in my house during this project, I finished half of the cabinets completely before moving onto the other half.  Most people would want to do it all at once, but I simply did not have the space or surface to put more drawers and doors.  It was WAY too hot to use the garage, otherwise that would have been a different story.  Also, I cook a lot and wanted to be able to use the kitchen without getting stressed during the more than week-long project.

Moving on….

5.  After the second coat, make any touch ups you need to make with a small brush.  When it is completely dry, use a FINE/FINISHING sanding block (the one I used is pictured below) to gently sand the flat surfaces.  Do not sand the corners and edges- just give the middle flat surface a little finishing.


6.  For the satin finish, I used the foam roller mentioned and pictured above for the large areas and a brush for the small areas.  Paint a thin first coat and let it dry overnight before painting the second coat.  The satin finish goes on clear and is a very durable finish after two coats!  On the CeCe website, it gives detailed instructions on how you can dilute the finish.  I chose not to dilute it since the kitchen gets such heavy use.  Let the second coat dry overnight.

7.  Put your doors and hardware back on.  Notice that our cabinets did not have hardware before.  But I desperately wanted shiny new silver hardware, but I knew it would be out of our budget to install it in the whole kitchen.  Luckily, I stumbled upon Live Love DIY blog.  Virginia posted the link to where she found hers, D. Lawless Hardware, with a 10% off promo code.  I LOVED the look of her kitchen and adored the hardware she bought.  SO I bought the exact hinges, drawer pulls, and handles.  There is free shipping over $50 and with her 10% off code, I bought enough for my entire kitchen for $120.  WOW! There was a really heavy box on my doorstep within a few short days!!  Virginia didn’t use chalk paint for her cabinets, but she has a great tutorial on how she did hers too!

chalk painting cabinets

Had to break out the big drill for this part!

Funny story… when we began installing the hardware, I got out all the supplies and was coaching my hubby and his friend.  I quickly took our dog outside, and when I came back they had drilled holes in the center of the doors.


I ran in “WHHHHATTT is going on?”  They were so sweet to help me with the hardware, but I had to pull up photos online to convince them that people don’t put handles in the middle of doors and helped them measure.  Taylor said, “You shouldn’t have left us unsupervised!”  Hahaha I spent a lot of time filling in holes with wood filler.  If you have spots that need fixing (little spots in your cabinets before you paint or after you paint and if your husband might possibly maybe messed up the drilling) this was a great product and it’s white!


The holes were deep- all the way through the wood- I filled them easily, sanded it down, painted over the spots, and re-finished them.  You can’t even tell so all is well!

how to use chalk paint


chalk painting cabinets

Time: This project took me 11 days, but I only worked on it a few hours a day and I did the kitchen piece by piece instead of all at once.

Amount of paint: just a little over 2 quarts

Amount of satin finish it took: 1 and a half 18oz containers

Price for this renovation:  $300

What do you think?  Have you tried something else on your cabinets?  I’d love to hear your feedback or answer any questions you have!




Check out how we painted our bathroom cabinets using REclaim paint!

Bathroom Cabinets Reveal

 Learn more about Arbonne and what it can mean for your family here!


  1. Elaine says

    Katie, I absolutely love the look of the white cabinets. Your new hardware adds a great touch to the whole look, too! Am in the process of doing my cabinets, but am way behind you:). I am using Reclaim.

  2. says

    You totally outdid yourself. I want to do my Mom’s cabinets in the worse way. This is such a wonderful and inspiring post. I would love it if you would share this post at our WIW linky party. Hope you can join us today!


  3. says

    Wow. What a beautiful transformation. I have done cabinets the old fashioned way,,,,with degreasing, sanding, priming and spraying with gloss paint. OMG,,,,
    Great job you did. You know what would just set it off? Is a mosaic carrara marble
    backsplash. You don’t have that much to do so it wouldn’t cost too much (check craigslist for remnants). I thick it would look great with the black/turquoise wall colors (love those btw!). It’s not hard to do!

    • says

      Thanks Beth! This cut out a lot of steps, but it is still durable and easy to wipe clean. Thanks for your comment. That is a GREAT idea! I’ll have to check around for some deals. It would look better with new countertops too, but one step at a time!

  4. Annette H says

    Love your blog! Just found you from your link on MMS today and just subscribed. I do have a couple of questions about your fabulous kitchen redo. Which hinges did you use and is it tough to replace cabinet hinges? I’m getting ready to paint my cabinets and the only thing stopping me is fear of hinges! Great job!

    • says

      Hi Annette! I totally understand your hesitation!! Our old hinges were gold and kind of rusty. My husband just wanted me to spray paint them silver, but I found them at a good price. Here is the link to the hinges I used:
      They are satin nickel self closing hinges. It probably would have been a lot easier to use the hinges where the screws are only on the inside of the cabinet doors. It really wasn’t that bad if you have an extra set of hands though! These were 2.35/pair at D. Lawless Hardware online. (I was accidentally 2 short because I’m blonde and I counted wrong, so I had to go get two of the exact same at Lowe’s and they were 5.04/pair… so D. Lawless is the way to go if you decide to do this!) Hope that helps. :) Thanks for subscribing!

  5. says

    This looks great! I click over to see because I have been debating doing the very same project on my fugly cabinets for months and I think you just convinced me! :)

  6. says

    I love how your kitchen turned out! I can imagine how upset you must have been to come in and find they’d drilled holes in the wrong spot! I would have been so mad! I’m glad to hear you were able to fix all the holes. It looks fantastic!

  7. Pam says

    Hi Katie, new to your blog and I’m so glad I came across it. I soooo want to paint my cabinets white but I’m afraid. My dad and stepmother did theirs a few years ago and he said it was a terrible job. They used regular paint. Is this project too hard for a beginner. I don’t have much experience with DIY projects. Thanks!

  8. Kristi Hudnall says

    Katie – Jennifer just told me about your blog/vlog. Now I’m at the office getting absolutely NO work done because I’m browsing your posts. :)

    Your cabinets look amazing. What a darling home you are creating for you & Taylor. I can’t wait to keep browsing & see what else you’ve created.

    Take care!!

  9. Audra says

    The kitchen looks wonderful!!! I’ve been hearing a lot of people talk about chalk paint. I have never used it myself. I am planning to paint my kitchen cabinets and was wondering how the chalk paint has held up? Does it chip or wear off in frequently touched areas? How about cleaning the cabinets?


  10. Renee' says

    Your kitchen looks great!!…I have started to paint the section under my bar area when i came across your blog..Thanks for posting!..Was wondering if you had trouble with brush strokes and what you did to minimize them?. I had read that they are just part of the chalk paint look.. I have put 3 coats on and there are brush strokes.. I am using Annie Sloan CP, I will be using her wax as the finish ..any tips would be appreciated!



  11. Tammy says

    Love it. I want to do a gray color on my cabinets but I’m afraid it won’t look the same without the wax! Did the satin finish change the color of the paint any? And what is the beautiful gray you have on your wall? Thanks!

    • says

      Tammy, the color did not change at all with the satin finish. Sometimes you have to be careful with white paint, but not this stuff. Have you checked out the Reclaim Paint line? I encourage you to check out my bathroom cabinets post (see sidebar) with Reclaim Paint. That may be more the look you are going for and they have a great grey color! The color on our walls is Glidden Alpine Ashland!

  12. Katy says

    This is really inspiring. I just won an old pine kitchen on eBay for £62 and am trying to decide what to do with it. This may be a winner! I’ve used Annie Sloan before but maaan does it add up price-wise. I’ll have to see if I can find your brand over here in London! Xxx

    • says

      Hi Katy! I’m not sure where to look there. What part of London do you live in? My sister and I spent 2 weeks there this summer and totally fell in love with the UK.

  13. says

    I love what you did and I’m going to use the exact same pulls. Thanks for all the information. I’m not sure who’s chalk paint I’m going to use and I’ll be glazing lightly with deep brown into the crevices, but otherwise leave it very clean.

  14. says

    Katie, I honestly laughed out loud when I got to your comment and photo about where your ‘helpers’ had drilled the holes for the door pulls! Seriously?
    I’ve never posted a comment (no joke) before, but wanted to thank you for sharing how simple and worthwhile this DIY project is. I look forward to attacking my kitchen with chalk paint this year. Thanks,
    Another Katie

    • says

      Ha! Yes, that really did happen unfortunately! Men! :)
      Thanks for posting your very FIRST comment. Good luck on your project- it is totally doable!

  15. elizabeth says

    Your kitchen looks great! I have a few questions.
    1. Have you noticed any yellowing of the paint as time as passed?
    2. Can i use the chalk paint on painted cabinets? We started a kitchen remodel in September using Rustoleum and it has been terrible. We are having to do 5-6 coats and I am seeing some of the areas start to yellow already. We haven’t even finished yet because it is taking so long with all the coats. We started with the outdated oak just like yours but now all the boxes and a lot of the doors have been painted.


  16. Lisa Rolf says

    Hi Elizabeth
    I’m planning to renew my summer house kitchen and your project is inspiring. White chalk paint on wooden cabinets seems perfect. I hope my kitchen will look as wonderful as yours.

    Regards from Lisa, Sweden

  17. Michelle Rank says

    Stumbled upon your blog and we are wanting to repaint our kitchen cabinets because the paint on them is chipping off! After getting quotes for a professional to repaint them, well, it’s too expensive! The one thing that bugs me about DIY painted cabinets I have seen with traditional latex paint, is the brush marks. When painting with the chalk paint, are brush marks visible?

  18. KathyDe says

    I love what you did. But one comment……. When I first painted my old, dark wood cabinets, I took the time to paint the insides 2 coats of high gloss white. I’m telling you, the inside of a dark cabinet can be lived with……… but the inside of high gloss white cabinets is like installing a light bulb in each one. Even the back corners are visible. I highly recommend taking the time.
    Now, on to chalk painting the outside. Thank you for all the info.

  19. says

    Did you have a lot of noticeable brush marks? I have been using chalk paint on a some smaller furniture pieces and noticed a lot of brush strokes showing on them all!

  20. Michelle says

    I’ve been wanting to refinish my cabinets the easiest way possible! Thank you for this, and the fact that the paint is free of VOC and formaldehyde is a plus plus plus since I am so sensitive to chemicals! Question, why did you choose a Satin finish over Endurance? Is it just preference? I’m not sure which to order.


  21. Meghan says

    Hi Katie-
    Love your blog! Was thinking of chalk paint for my kitchen cabinets until I saw your post on Reclaim Beyond Paint! Love the concept and the ease of it! Can you tell me if you’ve used the Off White? I can’t decide if I should paint my kitchen cabinets Bright White or Off White. Also, I’ve seen a few reviews that when using the Bright White you need more coats because the color is so pure. Did you find this when using it compared to the other colors you used? Thanks for any tips! Can’t wait to get painting! :)
    Thanks so much!

    • says

      I Meghan! I have not used the Off White, but I’ve used bright white, licorice, and mocha. No problems with bright white! The bottom of my kitchen table is painted with it and so are two tables in my craft room. I love it but the off white looks pretty on their site! Good luck. I’d love to see pictures of your project!

  22. says

    You’ve done a great job! My cabinets are wooden too and I want to paint them in white so, you gave me incredible advices. Thanks a lot for sharing all of this information! Regards!

  23. Chris says

    Hi Katie,

    I know it’s been a while since this post, but I wanted to ask how the Chalk Paint handled filling in the grain of the Oak cabinets? Could you still see the grain at all or did it do a good job of filling it in and making it smooth? Your pictures look like it did a great job, but sometimes it’s hard to tell until you get up close and personal! :)

    Thank you!

  24. Cindy says

    Love, Love what you did. I have been thinking about taking on this project myself. I have one concern…….painting the cabinets looks fairly easy to do, however I have butcher block colored counters in my kitchen. How is this going to look with those??????

    Any suggestions on an inexpensive way to change these counters????

  25. kamili says

    hi katie,

    i just found your blog, during my endless search on the how-to’s of cabinet painting. so glad i did! i had no idea there were other chalk paints out there, besides sloan’s! i’m even happier to have discovered your post on reclaim paint! i just ordered a quart and cannot wait to try it! Was the finish smooth? The instructions on their site say to use a thinner coat for a smoother finish, but that’s relative to when you lay it on thick. I don’t want textured cabinets. I”m going to test it on something first, but I’m really hoping its going to be the stuff of my fantasies.

    Happy Decorating,

  26. Brittany Lake says

    HI great work!

    I have the same ugly cabinets and want to try white chalk paint as well. My concern is it might look too matte and it will be hard to clean. do you feel the satin finish made it shiny even to clean easily?

  27. Emily says

    Love your results! I have a couple questions…since chalky finish paints are all expensive, is there a good reason to not use a white primer first, then use white chalk paint as second and third coat? I’m about to paint my light maple kitchen cabinets with Americana Decor white chalk paint and I thought I’d use some BIN white primer after cleaning them so I could get a cheaper coat of white on them before I use my chalk paint. Thoughts? Thanks!

    • says

      That’s an interesting idea. You may end up with a different texture that way. I haven’t ever used chalk paint over regular paint so I don’t want to steer you wrong :)

  28. Constance Gidzinski says

    You refer to “satin finish”. Is that a wax or a urathine? The Sloan sit said to cover with wax.I want to do my kitchen cabinets and want to be clear about the top coat. Thanks for your time. CG

    • says

      Hi Constance! I can’t used Annie Sloan so I can’t compare. The Cece Caldwell Satin Finish isn’t either… it is a separate product. However, since this project they have come up with a product for high use cabinet surfaces that would be an even better option. Every chalk paint is different, so stick with the line of paint you bought for the next step :) Hope that helps!

  29. catherine says

    Hi! I am wanting to paint my kitchen cabinets. I enjoyed your post, thank you for all of the info and feedback. I just wanted to check- if you knew then what you know now, what exactly would you use on your kitchen cabinets? I have black stained cabinets I am looking to paint and chalk paint seems like a great choice, but I want to hear what you would suggest.

    Thank you so much!!!

  30. says

    My friend just recently told me about chalkpainting so I thought I would check it out. I was so excited to see the results and trying to read as fast as I could, I did not see (but it might have been there) anything about formica cabinets. Is this doable on formica?

    • says

      Only use this on wood! Our countertops are formica, but I only painted the edge that was the same wood as the cabinets. We did NOT paint the counter tops with chalk paint. : )

  31. Elizabeth says

    I love the way this turned out! my cabinets are really dark. Do you think i would need to do more than the two coats of white chalk paint?

  32. Rachel Fung says

    Totally inspired! Now to see if I can find similar products here in the UK. Thanks so much for sharing :-)

  33. John says

    I read that the wood grain shows up through the paint when you paint cabinets. Does the chalk paint cover the wood grain or can you still see it when you are done?


    • says

      It fills it better than most paints, but if you are looking for more of a professional gleam try I have SEVERAL blog posts over this paint company… check out our master bath and guest bath posts!

  34. Sarah says

    Finally! Someone who has the same Formica inlay countertops with wood trim and tackled the kitchen cabinet conundrum. I have pickled oak cabinets with a faint pink cast (lovely) and have wanted to paint them since we moved in but have been held back by the wood trimmed Formica. I have been blessed with tons of counter space, which make it prohibitively expensive to replace, so it is a lot of trim and sees a lot of wear and tear action with my herd of kids. My questions are 1. Did you just tape off the Formica to paint the trim? 2. How are those edges holding up over time? I know you like the Reclaim paints, but is that what is in the kitchen? Thank you for the posts of your hard work and beautiful cabinets.

  35. Teresa Young says

    Your kitchen is beautiful. I have a 30+ year old oak dining room table/chairs and china cabinet the same color as your cabinets.
    I recently shopped for a new dining set and it is over $2500 ! I am seriously thinking about painting mine! My question is, so much of chalk painting I see is “distressed or old” – and I don’t want that look. I want a clean white look. It looks like that is how your kitchen turned out??
    I would greatly appreciate any input. I also see that you did this back in 2016, how has it held up?

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