5 Tips for Painting Your Kitchen Cabinets White

Get the job done right with these helpful pointers.

<p>John Keeble/Getty Images</p>

John Keeble/Getty Images

Could your kitchen use a little refresh? One easy way to do this is by repainting your cabinets. Not sure what color to go with? It's pretty hard to go wrong with white—but white isn't just one shade and painting your cabinets is more than just taking a bush, dipping it in a can, and going at it. From choosing the right shade to prepping the cabinetry, here are five helpful tips from the pros for painting your kitchen cabinets white.

Related: 7 Simple Steps for Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Make Sure Your Cabinets Are Paintable

This might sound obvious, but before starting this project, it’s essential to make sure your cabinets can be painted. If your cabinets are made from engineered wood, stainless steel, laminate, or vinyl, it’s not a good idea to paint them. If they're made from solid wood, you're probably good to go.

You also want to make sure your cabinets are going to be easy to paint. Anything with a very intricate design or a lot of grooves or texture may end up looking uneven.

Choose The Right Shade Of White

Not all shades of white are created equal. With hundreds of shades in the white family with their various nuances, it’s hard to know exactly what’s going to work. If you’re not sure how to choose the right one, Jamie Davis, co-founder of Portola Paints, says to start by considering the other elements in the space. “Are you working with an existing trim color? Are there architectural breaks in the space?”

Some of his favorite Portola Paints colors are White Cliffs, which Davis says is a cool-toned gallery white, while Disco and Snow Leopard are warmer and more saturated. “Neither is better than the other; however, they can look different based on the space.”

Additionally, he recommends looking at the other elements of the room for inspiration, like natural wood flooring or painted ceilings. “For example, Kashmir is going to feel like a warmer white if you have white oak floors. Similarly, if you have walnut flooring, you might consider an ivory off-white like Figueroa, otherwise, your walls may feel too cool and blue.”

If you’re deciding between several colors, don’t be afraid to get samples and try each one out. Paint several, large swatches and live with them for a few days. This will give you a more realistic idea of what the color will look like with the light in your kitchen at various times of day.

Related: 7 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Picking Paint Colors

Prep Properly

You can choose the perfect color paint and have a gorgeous kitchen, but if the cabinets aren’t prepped properly, they won’t look right. First, start by removing the cabinets and hardware. After removing the cabinet doors, they need to be sanded and primed. If you don’t have experience doing this yourself, you may want professional help because you don’t want to make a mistake.

Consider New Hardware

A few coats of paint can breathe new life into your cabinets, but if you want to take them to the next level, replace the knobs and pulls. Will Zhang, director of design and product innovation at Emtek, always recommends working with contrast when pairing hardware with your white cabinets.

Zhang says, “Go bold with a finish like flat black, or add gold tones like satin brass for a touch of elegance. If you’re looking for the perfect middle ground, consider unlacquered brass or antique brass finishes that bridge the gap between elegant and bold.”

Related: 14 Kitchen Trends Taking Over the Design Industry in 2024

Don’t Forget To Enhance The Rest Of Your Kitchen

Davis suggests repainting the rest of your kitchen to make your new white cabinets pop. “You can enhance elements of your walls by bringing in different shades of white within your trim color. I’ve seen instances where people have used Figueroa for their walls and Piano Room for their trim, making Figueroa look much whiter in comparison. No matter what a shade of white looks like on its own, even if you think it’s too dark, it will feel white if it’s the whitest shade in the room.”

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