How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets with Chalk Paint: A Comprehensive Guide

Bob Thomas


Tired of your old kitchen cabinets but not ready for a full remodel?

Painting your cabinets with chalk paint is a budget-friendly way to give your kitchen a fresh, new look. Chalk paint is easy to work with, requires minimal prep work, and can create a beautiful, durable finish.

As a qualified painter and decorator, I've used chalk paint on numerous projects, and I can personally vouch for its versatility and ease of use.

In this guide, I'll share my expertise and personal experiences to help you successfully paint your kitchen cabinets with chalk paint.

Quick Summary

This article provides a step-by-step guide on how to paint kitchen cabinets with chalk paint, including tips on preparation, application, and finishing touches. Learn how to transform your kitchen cabinets with minimal effort and create a fresh, updated look.

Materials and Tools Needed


Chalk paint

Paint for cabinets


Prepares surface for better paint adhesion (optional)


Apply paint

Foam rollers

Smooth paint application

Painter's tape

Protect adjacent surfaces

Drop cloth

Protect floors and countertops


Lightly sand cabinets before painting

Clean cloths

Wipe down surfaces


Remove cabinet hardware

Paint tray

Hold paint


Protect painted surfaces

Prepare the Cabinets

  1. Remove cabinet doors, drawers, and hardware: Use a screwdriver to remove the hinges, handles, and knobs from your cabinets and drawers. Keep the hardware in a safe place so you can easily find it later.
  2. Clean the surfaces: Wipe down the cabinets, doors, and drawers with a clean, damp cloth to remove any dirt, grease, or residue.
  3. Sand the surfaces: Lightly sand the cabinets, doors, and drawers with 120-150 grit sandpaper. This will help the paint adhere better and create a smoother finish.
  4. Wipe down again: Use a clean, lint-free cloth to remove any dust from sanding.

Protect Surrounding Areas

Use painter's tape to mask off any areas you don't want to be painted, such as countertops, walls, and appliances. Lay down a drop cloth to protect your floors.

Apply Primer (Optional)

Applying a primer is not mandatory when using chalk paint, but it can provide better adhesion and coverage, especially on dark or stained cabinets.

If you choose to use a primer, apply it evenly with a brush or roller and let it dry according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Paint the Cabinets

  1. Pour your chalk paint into a paint tray.
  2. Start with the cabinet frames: Use a paintbrush to apply a thin, even coat of chalk paint to the cabinet frames. Make sure to get into any corners and crevices.
  3. Move on to the doors and drawers: Use a foam roller to apply an even coat of chalk paint on the flat surfaces of the doors and drawers. Use a paintbrush for any raised or detailed areas.
  4. Let the first coat dry: Chalk paint dries relatively quickly, but it's important to let each coat dry thoroughly before applying the next. Follow the manufacturer's recommended drying time, usually around 1-2 hours.

5. Apply additional coats: Depending on the color and coverage you want, you may need to apply 2-3 coats of chalk paint. Always allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next one.

Distress the Cabinets (Optional)

If you want to create a distressed, vintage look, use sandpaper to lightly sand the edges, corners, and raised details on the cabinets, doors, and drawers.

This will reveal the wood or base color underneath, giving the cabinets an aged appearance.

Seal the Cabinets

To protect your newly painted cabinets and ensure their durability, apply a clear wax or sealer.

Use a clean, lint-free cloth or a wax brush to apply the wax or sealer in a thin, even layer.

Allow the wax or sealer to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions, and then buff it to a soft sheen with a clean cloth.

Reassemble the Cabinets

Once the paint and sealer are completely dry, reattach the hardware to the cabinet doors and drawers.

Use a screwdriver to secure the hinges, handles, and knobs in place.

Reinstall the cabinet doors and drawers, ensuring they are aligned properly.

Frequently Asked Questions Section (FAQs)

Q. Can I use chalk paint on laminate or melamine cabinets?

  A: Yes, you can use chalk paint on laminate or melamine surfaces.

However, it's essential to clean and prime the surface properly before painting to ensure the paint adheres well.

Use a bonding primer specifically designed for glossy surfaces to achieve the best results.

Q. How can I create a smooth finish with chalk paint?

  A: To achieve a smoother finish with chalk paint, mix in a paint conditioner or add a small amount of water to thin the paint.

Apply thin, even coats and use a high-quality brush or a foam roller. Sand lightly between coats with fine-grit sandpaper for an ultra-smooth finish.

Q. Is chalk paint food safe?

  A: While chalk paint is non-toxic, it is not certified food-safe. If you're painting surfaces that will come into direct contact with food, such as countertops, it's better to choose a food-safe paint or sealer specifically designed for that purpose.

Q. How do I clean chalk-painted cabinets?

  A: To clean chalk-painted cabinets, use a damp cloth and a mild, non-abrasive cleaner.

Avoid using harsh chemicals, as they may damage the paint or wax finish.

Regular cleaning will help maintain the beauty and durability of your painted cabinets.

Q. Can I use chalk paint on my kitchen walls?

  A: Yes, you can use chalk paint on walls to create a unique, matte finish.

Keep in mind that chalk paint is more porous than regular wall paint, so it may show stains and marks more easily.

To protect the surface and make it easier to clean, apply a clear wax or sealer designed for use with chalk paint.

Q. How long does chalk paint take to cure fully?

  A: While chalk paint typically dries within 1-2 hours between coats, it may take up to 30 days to cure fully, depending on factors such as humidity and temperature.

During the curing process, the paint becomes more durable and resistant to wear.

It's important to handle your painted cabinets gently during this time to avoid any damage.


Painting your kitchen cabinets with chalk paint is an easy and affordable way to transform your kitchen.

By following this comprehensive guide, you'll be able to achieve a beautiful, durable finish that will refresh your space and make your cabinets look like new.

Remember to take your time, be patient with the process, and enjoy the satisfaction of giving your kitchen a fresh, updated look.

Suggested Products:

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint: Annie Sloan is a leading brand in the world of chalk paint. Their paint is easy to work with, offers excellent coverage, and comes in a wide range of colors. It's perfect for giving your kitchen cabinets a fresh, new look.

Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer: Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer is a water-based primer that offers excellent adhesion and stain-blocking properties. It will create a smooth surface for the chalk paint, ensuring a durable and long-lasting finish.

Purdy XL Series Glide Angular Trim Paint Brush: The Purdy XL Series Glide Angular Trim Paint Brush is a high-quality brush that provides a smooth, even application of chalk paint. Its angled design makes it perfect for reaching tight corners and edges on your kitchen cabinets.

Wooster Brush R232-9 Epoxy Glide Roller Cover: The Wooster Brush R232-9 Epoxy Glide Roller Cover is designed to work with thicker paints like chalk paint, ensuring a smooth and even application on larger cabinet surfaces. This roller cover works well with various surfaces and provides a professional finish.

3M Assorted Grit Sandpaper: 3M Assorted Grit Sandpaper is a reliable option for sanding your cabinets before painting. With different grits included, you can start with a coarser grit to remove any existing paint or finish and then progress to finer grits for a smooth surface.

Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish: Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish is a clear, water-based topcoat that provides a durable finish for your chalk-painted cabinets. It dries quickly, doesn't yellow over time, and offers protection against daily wear and tear.

About the author 

Bob Thomas

A fully certified interior decorator and house painter , Bob Thomas brings immense expertise and knowledge amassed from many years of hands-on experience with residential, commercial and specialty painting and decorating projects of all sizes and scopes.

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