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Are you tired of looking at your old wood kitchen cabinets and feeling ready for a change? Many homeowners are straying away from “safe” cabinet color choices and opting for more bold colors like black.

No, to paint your kitchen cabinets black won’t make your kitchen look small or gloomy. Instead, the only change you’ll notice is that all your friends will wish they were also cool enough to have black cabinets.

Perhaps you’ve looked into completely replacing your kitchen cabinets but don’t feel like you have time for a total remodel. The good news is that you can achieve striking black kitchen cabinets by yourself. That’s right, you can paint your old oak cabinets black, and it will only cost you the price of materials and paint.

As you gear up to transform your kitchen cabinets, you will follow the three “P’s”: prep, prime, and paint. Keep reading to learn all you need to do to paint your kitchen cabinets black!

Step 1: Prep

The most extensive step in transforming your cabinets is the preparation stage, and for a good reason. The better you prepare and set yourself up for success, the smoother the process will be once you start priming and painting. Follow these seven preparation steps before you open your paint cans.

1) Decide Between Brushing, Rolling, or Spraying

There are multiple ways to accomplish painting cabinets black. You can use a paintbrush, roller brush, or a paint sprayer. Any of the three options will get the job done in the end, but if you are looking for an ultra-smooth finish, consider using a paint sprayer for your cabinets.

A paint sprayer will also apply paint faster than a brush or roller. You can purchase your own paint sprayer or rent one from a local hardware store.

Staining wood with white spray gun, close-up shot.

2) Gather Supplies

Once you decide which painting approach you want to take, you can gather your supplies. You want to have all your necessary materials accounted for before you begin your project so that you don’t have to make an inconvenient run to the store while working. Gather the following items from around your home, or pick them up at a hardware store:

  • Paint brushes, rollers, or sprayer
  • Sandpaper
  • Screwdriver
  • Marker
  • Painter’s tape
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Rag
  • Paint tarp
  • New cabinet knobs, if desired
  • Wood grain filler
  • Primer
  • High-quality black paint

3) Remove and Label Cabinet Doors

When you’ve gathered all your materials, you can start doing hands-on preparation. Grab your screwdriver and remove the hinges and knobs on your cabinet doors. As you take down each cabinet door, use a marker to label each door with a number inside the hinge cavity. This way, you won’t have to guess where each cabinet door goes when you’re ready to reinstall them. If you will be spray painting, cover each number with a piece of painter’s tape.

Repeat this process with your kitchen drawers. If the drawer fronts are screwed on, remove the screws with your screwdriver. If the fronts are glued on, remove the entire drawer by lifting it out of the slider track. Write a number on the back of each drawer front as you remove it.

4) Clean Dust and Grease

Cleaning out your cabinets is one of the most important preparation steps. If you don’t clean the surface of your cabinets and drawers, the paint could lift and peel off the surface, leaving you with an unattractive result that leads to more work down the line.

Scrub your cabinet doors, the insides of your cabinets, and your drawers with a heavy-duty all-purpose cleaner and a clean rag. Pay extra attention to cabinet doors above your stove and microwave, as these surfaces collect more grime.

5) Gently Sand

Next, you want to remove any glossy finishes from your cabinets before painting because paint sticks better to duller surfaces. 220-grit sandpaper works well for this project.

Grab your sandpaper and lightly sand the surface of your cabinets. Be careful not to excessively sand, as sanding too much will open up more of the wood grain, which will make the filling process more difficult. Sand just enough to dull the lacquer finish on your cabinets.

a man sands his cabinets before painting them black

6) Apply Grain Filler

Many older wood cabinets are made from oak. Oak has a grain that leaves painted surfaces looking uneven if not filled. Wood grain filler helps level out the surface of the cabinets so that they look smoother once painted.

Typically, it takes two or three coats of wood filler to achieve a smooth surface. After you’ve applied your coats of wood filler, lightly sand the surface with your sandpaper.

7) Protect the Area

You’re almost ready to begin priming and painting! However, there is one final preparation step. Painting can be a messy job, and you don’t want splatters of black paint stained onto other surfaces in your kitchen.

It is essential to protect everything that is not being painted. Apply painter’s tape to the edges and corners of your cabinets. Lay a paint tarp on the ground, and cover the surface of your countertops and appliances, especially if you’re using a paint sprayer.

protect the area where you paint your kitchen cabinets black

Step 2: Prime

Once you’ve completed all of the preparation steps, you can start working on your cabinets. However, it’s not time to paint just yet. First, you should apply primer to your cabinets and drawers.

1) Select the Right Type of Primer

Choosing the right primer for your cabinets can make all the difference. There are three maintypes of primers you can find at the store:

  1. Oil-based
  2. Latex-based
  3. Shellac

When priming cabinets for black paint, avoid latex-based primers. Latex primers are intended for use on drywall. Instead, opt for an oil-based primer. Oil-based primers are the industry standard and work well with many types of wood. Shellac-based primer also works well if you want to use a sprayer.

2) Apply Enough Coats

Be sure to apply at least two coats of primer. Paint primer typically dries fast, so you should be able to apply a second coat after about one hour. Keep your sandpaper handy so that you can sand the surface in between coats of primer.

If you opt for brushing and rolling the primer, don’t use a foam roller. Oil-based primers can cause foam rollers to disintegrate. Instead, choose a microfiber roller designed for use with oil-based materials.

Repainting kitchen cabinet doors with primer before paint your kitchen cabinets black

Step 3: Paint

Now, for the moment you’ve been waiting for. Once your primer has completely dried, you can move on to the most exciting step: painting! Patience is key when painting cabinets black, as you don’t want to be left with any smudges after all your hard work.

1) Select High-Quality Black Paint

You want the color on your black cabinets to last for years without dulling. Don’t opt for the cheapest black paint when you pick out your color. Instead, select a high-quality brand that will last. Tried and true paint brands include:

  • Sherwin-Williams
  • Benjamin Moore
  • Behr
  • Valspar

It may seem like there can only be one color of black paint, but just like how there are many shades of white walls, there are many shades of black paint. Bring home some paint chips before you decide on a paint color, or consult with a professional at the store.

Brush and open can black color of paint on black background

2) Allow for Drying Time Between Coats

Black paint and other dark colors take longer to dry than light paint colors due to extra colorant. Keep this in mind as you let each coat of paint dry. Start with painting the interior of the cabinets before you move on to the exterior and doors.

Black paint will require at least two coats of paint, and you should leave 24 hours in between coats if you’re using an oil-based paint. If you paint over a coat that hasn’t thoroughly dried, you could be left with bubbles or a tacky finish.

3) Reassemble When Fully Dry

After you’ve applied your final coat of black paint, let the cabinet doors, frames, and drawers dry for about two days before you touch them. If you handle the doors too early, you could leave fingerprints on the paint, resulting in having to re-paint.

Once you feel confident that your black cabinets are completely dry, you can reattach the knobs and hinges. Reference the numbers you wrote on each cabinet door when installing them back in place.

Transform Your Kitchen With Black Cabinets

Are you ready to take what you’ve learned and give your kitchen a whole new life? Black cabinets look fantastic in kitchens with ample natural light. You may be surprised at how elegant your whole kitchen will look once this project is completed.

How To Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets Black (Step By Step) 1

If you need inspiration, or if the DIY route doesn’t seem like a good fit for you, reach out to the kitchen experts at Puustelli. You can visit our showroom and speak with a professional who will help you get started with your kitchen project in no time.

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