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DIY: How to refinish kitchen cabinets with Chalk Paint


This story is sponsored by KSL Classifieds. Learn more about KSL Classifieds.

Thanks to Brittany Fenton at Salt Sky Utah for providing this article.

Cost: $350

Time: 16 hours

Difficulty: Easy

I’ve been looking at refinishing my kitchen cabinets for a while now and found that it was either a nightmarish amount of work or would cost thousands of dollars to have them done professionally.

I have small children so spending hours on end sanding, scraping off old paint and repainting cabinets seemed like a bad idea and having the cabinets refinished professionally wasn’t in the budget.

I decided to take the less conventional approach. One that would save me both time and money while giving me the look I was looking for, so I decided to paint my kitchen cabinets with Chalk Paint.

Why Chalk Paint?

The benefit to Chalk Paint is that it goes over most surfaces smoothly with minimal sanding. I absolutely love how they turned out and how my whole kitchen transformed into an updated space. Chalk Paint will not give you the latex smooth finish of traditional cabinets but it gave me a modern farmhouse look that I simply love. I can clean the cabinets easily and they have held up well with lots of little kids running around.

Start to finish, it cost me $350 and took 16 hours to refinish 16 cabinet doors, the cabinet frames and an island.

If you’re feeling inspired to do a chalk paint kitchen refinish, here are all the steps and the info you need for this awesome DIY project.

What you need

  • Chalk Paint: I used the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint brand. This is the most expensive option in chalk paint but because I have used it before and trusted this brand I knew it would work out well. There are many other options out there but I’m comfortable with this one. Note… Chalk Paint is NOT the same as chalkboard paint. I painted my cabinets in Annie Sloan Pure White and love the clean fresh look.
  • Chalk Paint Brush: These brushes are round with natural bristles and can be found at most craft stores. They range from $12-$75 depending on the brand. I purchased one for $20 and it did a wonderful job. Regular paintbrushes will leave streaks and not go on as smoothly. Invest in this brush and clean it out well in between coats. Chalk paint dries fast and clumps if left unattended so give it a good clean in between uses.
  • High quality flat paintbrush for shellac.
  • High quality flat paintbrush for Polycrylic top-coat.
  • Shellac, clear
  • Polycrylic Semi Gloss
  • Fine sand paper block for smoothing out mistakes and for light buffing.
  • Wood putty for fixing any holes in cabinets if needed.
  • Grease cleaning dish soap. I used Dawn but many brands will do.
  • Painter’s tape


1. Remove all doors and drawers from cabinets along with all the hardware.

2. Scrub all cabinets, doors and drawers with a grease cleaning dish soap. This step is IMPORTANT. You need your cabinets to be extra clean so they will turn out their best in the end. Scrub with hot water and dish soap while removing anything stuck to doors. If you have little kids like me, you’ll find that you do a lot more scrubbing than you expected.

3. Tape around cabinets, and anything else you want to keep clean from paint. This will give you clean lines.

4. When cabinets, doors and drawers are all clean and dry, brush a clear Shellac over them with a flat high-quality brush (do not use a sponge brush). This will seal in any oil stains or imperfections that would naturally come through the paint. This step is crucial or you will find that stains come through as soon as the paint begins to dry.

5. Leave everything to dry 24 hours.

6. With the Chalk Paint brush, paint your first coat of chalk paint. The number of coats will depend on how you want your cabinets to look. I painted white over green and beige colors so it took me 3 coats to get the color a rich white that I wanted. I waited 24 hours in between each coat. Before each new coat, check to see if you have any drip marks that you over looked or places where the chalk paint built up in corners. Use your fine sand paper and lightly sand off these areas. They will smooth down quickly and blend easily. Wipe down your cabinet and add the second chalk paint coat.

7. Chalk Paint is usually finished with a wax coat, but I didn’t want my cabinets to have a matte look. Wax also takes about 40 days to cure. Keeping my kids from rubbing dirty little hands over something for 40 minutes is enough to kill us, so I chose a Polycrylic semi gloss top-coat. This top-coat goes on a milky white and dries clear with a pretty sheen. I love how they gave my cabinets a fresh, finished look.

8. Wait 2 hours in between Polycrylic coats and add more coats until you get the desired look. I did 3 coats on mine.

9. When everything is completely dry put all the hardware back on (or add new hardware for a brand new feel), attach all your doors and insert drawers.

To make the whole experience a little easier on a home that still needed a functioning kitchen, I worked in two phases. I painted, finished and hung all the upper cabinets first and then moved to the lower cabinets. It was less overwhelming and gave me motivation to finish the project in a timely manner.

The results

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