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Prepping, Deglossing, & Painting Our Cabinets

My last post was about the amazing deals we found on our cabinets, and how they all came together (size & layout) so well. Now for the “fun” part: making them all match! I’m not going to sugar-coat it. It ended up being an extremely long and labor-intensive process. BUT, we saved a ton of money, and I love the outcome.


Step 1: Cleaning

The first step in our process was cleaning the cabinets: The dark ones were the only used ones, but they had years of kitchen goo on them. They were still in great condition, just needed a good scrub down! We used soap & water for the initial cleaning and also took out any extra screws, nails, etc. that were left behind.


My grandma removing the back of this cabinet. It used to be a sink base, but we took the doors/back off to make it our microwave base.


This is what was behind one of the drawer fronts. Years of crumbs stuck to the other sides! Yuck! We also removed all the hinges. I ended up replacing them to match the style of the new cabinets.


Step 2: Deglosser

After doing a lot of research, we decided to use deglosser to prep our cabinets instead of sanding them. I was assured by both the internet (ha!) and the people at the hardware store this would be enough to help the paint stick. If you do this, you’ll want to use a deglosser that says “liquid sander” not just a cleaning deglosser. Deglosser is pretty harsh stuff: it recommends you use both chemical safe gloves & protective eyewear when applying. Because I was still nursing at the time, my grandmothers refused to let me help with this process incase any of it got absorbed. Not sure if that’s necessary, but I went with it!


BTW, notice the tape? We made sure to label EVERYTHING, so it would be easy to put back together


De-glosser is applied generously using circular motions then left to dry. It does not need to be “rinsed” or wiped off. The de-glosser leaves a light film. This is normal and does not need to be removed.


 Step 3: Primer

After the de-glosser has dried (approx 15 min) cabinets are reading to prime! We went with rollers for both the priming & painting: I think this gave everything a smoother finish. We used Zinser 1-2-3 (blue can), which is supposed to work with any paint type. Just make sure your primer & paint are compatible! We ended up doing 2 coats of primer (on each side for the doors)

Eventually we moved the doors to saw horses and spread out the cabinet bases.


Step 4: Paint

After priming, the obvious next step is to paint. We brought in a drawer front of the cabinets we wanted to match, and they mixed a custom color for us. We used Ace Hardware’s Cabinet & Trim paint because it had the best reviews online, but after trying the Valspar Signature Paint & Primer on our baseboards, I would have to say I definitely prefer Valspar! To cover the dark cabinets we ended up using FOUR coats of the Ace paint, even after the two coats of primer. In contrast, when we painted the dark baseboards with the Valspar Paint/Primer it took three coats total to cover. Additionally, our finished cabinets already have a couple minor spots where the paint has chipped and you can see the dark wood underneath (the corner cupboard where the door rubs when you close it, for example.) However, we have had no issues on the baseboards that used the other paint! (And I can assure you they’ve had a lot more hitting up against them.) Long story short, if you’re going to skip the sanding, make sure you have a really good paint! (well, either way really.) I will say the areas that don’t have any rubbing on our cabinets (the vast majority) look great though, so not totally a bust!


You can see in addition to the rollers, the also have foam brushes for the little bevels…. very helpful!


Step 5: Glaze/Pinstripe

You may recall, the cabinets we were trying to match had a subtle pinstripe in all the groves. I looked everywhere for a place to match a “glaze” so I could do the whole “wipe on wipe off” method. Pretty much everyone around here acted like I was crazy wanting to tint a glaze my own color (I know it’s a real thing people!) but finally an “expert” and Sherwin Williams suggested another solution. She gave me a regular quart of paint, matched to the pinstripe, and told me just to water it down…


Luckily I had a test door ready to go. Perhaps I did it wrong, but watering down my paint, did not make it wipe off like a glaze. My test door came out terribly, so in the end I decided to hand stripe my doors! With a tiny paint brush. Sigh. This was done just before we moved in, so I don’t have any pictures yet, but I’ll point it out when I post our finished kitchen!




  1. Don’t stack your doors, even if you think they’re “dry” the paint will stick and pull off!
  2. Paint the sides of the doors when you do the front side, so if it runs it will go towards the back and not be visible. (I always brushed off any visible runs, but somehow a few would occasionally pop up during the drying process.)
  3. Sand between coats for a smooth finish.


It’s crazy to sum up our painting process in a single post, because it literally took months! Of course it was going on at the same time as all our other renovations, but they seriously took a lot of work. Can’t wait to share the final product!

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