Architectural Home Designs & Decorating Ideas

DIY weekend chalk paint cabinet transformation!

Gabriela Connell
3 minute read

If your kitchen cabinets are looking tired and dated, a fresh coat of chalk paint may be just what you need to give them a quick makeover. Chalk paint is ideal for creating a gorgeous, distressed finish on kitchen cabinets to give them a vintage farmhouse feel. With some simple prep work, chalk paint can transform the look of your cabinets in as little as a weekend.

Let’s get started!

Gather Your Chalk Painting Supplies

Chalk paint comes in a range of colors from bold hues to natural wood tones. Once you settle on a color, you’ll need a few additional supplies:

can you use chalk paint on kitchen cabinets

High quality brushes designed specifically for chalk paint will make the job much easier. Rollers quickly cover the broad fronts of cabinets. An orbital sander makes prepping efficient. And polyurethane is ideal for a protective top coat since cabinets need to stand up to wear and tear.

Prep Cabinets for a Smooth Paint Job

Prepping your cabinets is an important first step for a flawless chalk painted finish. Here’s how to get cabinets paint-ready:

Clean and Dry the Cabinets

Remove all doors and hardware if possible, and wipe cabinet boxes and doors with a mild detergent. This removes built-up grime and oils so paint adheres well. Allow cabinets to fully dry before moving onto sanding.

Lightly Sand the Surfaces

Use 220 grit sandpaper to scuff up cabinet surfaces. This helps the chalk paint grab on evenly. Focus on sanding doors and cabinet frames but avoid sanding down to raw wood. After sanding, wipe away all dust with a tack cloth.

Apply Primer

A coat of primer gives the chalk paint something to “stick” to. For best results, use a bonding primer designed for slick surfaces like cabinets and laminate. Allow the primer to fully dry overnight before painting.

Paint Cabinets with Chalk Paint

Once your cabinets are prepped, it’s time to apply the first coat of chalk paint. You can use a brush, roller, or paint sprayer – choose whatever tool works best for you. Here are some application tips:

Brushing and Rolling Techniques

Dip your chalk paint brush into the paint, then brush it on in thin, even strokes. Chalk paint dries fast, so work in small sections. Use a roller on broad cabinet fronts and doors for the smoothest finish. Apply multiple thin coats vs. one thick coat.

Paint Sprayer Method

For fastest application, use an airless paint spray gun. Thin chalk paint slightly with water according to manufacturer directions. Hold the sprayer 6 inches from cabinets, moving at a steady pace to avoid drips. Let each coat dry before the next.

Tips for Beautiful Results

Maintain a wet edge as you paint to avoid lap marks. If brush strokes are visible, gently sand them smooth before the next coat. Work systematically around the kitchen, and allow at least 2 hours drying time between coats. Your last coat of paint should be in the same direction.

Distress Cabinets for a Vintage Look

Here’s where the magic happens! Once fully dry, you can distress the chalk paint to create a worn-in, antique look. There are a few different techniques:

Distress as little or as much as desired – for cabinets, you likely want a subtle, chips-and-rubs aged look. Remove any loose paint flecks before sealing.

Seal the Finish

Chalk paint needs to be sealed for protection, especially on kitchen cabinets. You have two good options:

Polyurethane Top Coat

For durability, 2-3 coats of water-based satin or semi-gloss polyurethane are perfect. Poly creates a smooth, wipeable finish.

Wax Top Coat

If you prefer a matte look, rub on a thin coat of paste wax using a soft cloth. Buff off any excess wax with a clean cloth for protection with a subtle sheen.

Your distressed, chalk painted cabinets are gorgeous but still need TLC. Use mild dish soap and water for cleaning. Re-apply paste wax every 1-2 years. Avoid abrasive cleaners or scrub pads, which can damage the finish over time.

With proper prep work and application, chalk paint can transform tired cabinets into a stunning focal point of your kitchen. So grab a brush and give those old cabinets new life with chalk paint!