DIY White Kitchen Cabinets

The request for this post has been overwhelming! I totally understand why though. I did exactly what everyone else does when wanting to refresh their kitchen – scour the internet for tutorials and images, and find the most budget friendly way to accomplish it! This was definitely a time-consuming task, and without the help of extended family, it probably still wouldn’t be finished.

While we do live in a new construction home, we didn’t pick the color scheme since we bought after the home was completed. I wanted darker espresso cabinets when we moved in, but as time changed, I craved the light + bright look of white cabinets. It took us a long time to make color changes in our house. It’s never been a priority before, since most apartment buildings don’t allow paint, and we only stayed in each of our apartments for about nine months at a time.

Finally in August I bit the bullet, bought the tools and paint, and started on the upper cabinets. I’d watched enough videos and read enough blog posts that I felt (fairly) confident in what I was doing, though still totally terrified of messing them up. Cost was around $100 for the entire project and the list of things you’ll need are as follows:

  • Easy Liquid Sander – so much easier than sanding, especially for prefab cabinets
  • Plastic Sheeting
  • Small paint roller – I used two, one for primer and one for paint, and kept them separate. It made painting a lot of doors and cabinet boxes go a LOT faster.
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Painters Tape (optional)
  • Small paint brushes in multiple sizes

So I feel like painting cabinets is pretty self-explanatory. I didn’t have success using any type of paint brush to solely paint my cabinets, so I stuck with small paint rollers. I didn’t need the paint brushes at all actually, I just used one to wipe away any running paint. I did try using them, but it left paint brush strokes on the doors when it dried and looked very messy, so I stayed away from brushes from there on out.

ALSO there are about 17 billion different shades of white. So. There’s that.

Everyone has different styles of cabinets so the type of sanding/deglossing you’ll have to do will vary. Mine are straight from a warehouse, not custom, and not porous. They looked flawless to the naked eye, but painting them white definitely exposed numerous imperfections, so just note that going into this. Once you get in a groove, it goes pretty quick, besides waiting for the paint to dry 😉 My steps were as follows:

  • Saturate cloth in liquid sander solution and in circular motions, wipe down all cabinet doors (removed) and the cabinet boxes. Be generous as this removes the finish permanently and you want them to look as matte as possible, so you know the finish is removed and ready for primer.
  • Wait 10-15 minutes for the liquid sander to dry completely.
  • Using your paint roller, apply 2-3 coats of primer to the doors and boxes, keeping with thin coats. I found that the doors looked so much better using more primer than multiple coats of paint, so I kept that my rhythm.
  • Once your 2-3 coats of primer are dry, using the other roller, apply 1-2 coats (as necessary) to the doors and boxes. I found a select few doors needed a second coat of paint while others looked fine with just one coat.  Allow to dry OVERNIGHT. This is water-based paint and takes about 16 hours in cool temps (no humidity) to dry completely.


Granted, it definitely took a long time, about 4 months total because I couldn’t do the bottom cabinets with my kids around. Uppers took 4 days, and the bottom ones took 5 days to complete. I love the end result! I feel like having white cabinets opens the door to so many different decor options now, and not just something that blends with the brown.

I hope this is helpful! Leave any questions in the comments below and I’ll answer them as best as I can. Happy painting!

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