How to Paint Oak Kitchen Cupboards

Written by leigh white
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How to Paint Oak Kitchen Cupboards
Transforming outdated oak cupboards with paint (modern kitchen with cabinets image by redking from

Oak kitchen cupboards have a coarse grain in the wood that takes a bit more care to cover up with paint than other types of wood with a finer grain. With patience, attention to detail and some effort, you can paint your outdated oak cupboards to totally transform the look of the kitchen. By taking each step and completing it thoroughly, the finished project will not only look great, but function with a high degree of durability as good kitchen cupboards should.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Degreaser or bucket of hot soapy water
  • Cloth
  • Zip-style plastic bags
  • Electric or hand sander
  • Tack cloth
  • Screwdriver or screw gun
  • Latex primer
  • Latex paint
  • New hardware (optional)

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  1. 1

    Prepare cupboard doors for removal. Use a cloth and household degreaser or hot soapy water to clean the doors thoroughly. Allow to dry before removing hinges and other hardware. Place hardware in zip-style plastic bags and place inside the cupboard they were removed from.

  2. 2

    Prepare the cupboards and doors for sanding. Lay the doors on the painting surface. You will need to hand- or electric-sand doors and cupboards with a high-sheen finish, just enough to dull the finish. For those without a sheen, this step can be omitted--though for optimal results, it may be prudent to lightly sand all finishes for better primer and paint adhesion. Use a tack cloth (sticky cloth found in hardware sections) to clean sanding dust from the doors and cupboards.

  3. 3

    Apply two coats of latex primer--preferably a stain-resistant product, such as Zinsser or Kilz--to inhibit bleed-through of any previous wood stain on the cupboards or doors. Allow primer to dry completely between coats.

  4. 4

    Apply two coats of paint to the doors and cupboards, allowing adequate drying time in between coats. Alternately, you may use a paint sprayer on the cupboard doors, taking care to spray evenly for a clear, smooth finish.

  5. 5

    Replace hardware. This can be done by using the existing hardware or by updating to new. Re-attach the doors to the cupboard frames.

Tips and warnings

  • Oil-based primer is an option for promoting strong durability for painted kitchen cupboards. Take into consideration that it requires longer drying time, has a strong odour and is more difficult clean up.
  • Sand, prime and paint in a well-ventilated area. Use safety glasses and a mask while sanding to avoid eye or respiratory irritation.

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