How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets with Chalk Paint

Painting kitchen cabinets can transform the look of your kitchen quickly and easily. With chalk paint, you can achieve a distressed, vintage look without as much prep work as traditional paints. Chalk paint adheres well to surfaces and provides good coverage without requiring sanding or priming. Read on to learn how to use chalk paint to update your kitchen cabinets with beautiful results.

Materials Needed

Painting cabinets is an easy DIY project if you have the right supplies on hand. Here is what you’ll need to paint your kitchen cabinets with chalk paint:

  • Chalk paint – Choose chalk paint in your desired color. Annie Sloan and Rust-Oleum are popular brands. You’ll need about 1 quart per cabinet.
  • Paint brushes – Angled sash brushes work well for painting cabinets. You’ll need a 2-3 inch brush for large surfaces and a 1-2 inch brush for trim and edges.
  • Sandpaper – 220 grit sandpaper for light sanding between coats
  • Painters tape – To tape off edges and protect countertops
  • Drop cloths – To protect floors and counter surfaces
  • Tack cloth – For removing dust before painting
  • Clear wax or polyurethane – For sealing the chalk paint after painting
  • Sanding pads – For distressing and sanding, if desired
  • Rags – For applying and removing wax
  • Cups or containers – For wax and paint

Prep the Cabinets

Proper prep ensures the paint adheres well and provides a smooth finished look. Follow these steps:

  • Remove cabinet doors and hardware. Take the doors off the hinges and remove all the hardware, including knobs, handles, and hooks. This gives you easier access to paint.
  • Clean the surfaces. Use a degreasing cleaner to remove any built-up grime or oils. Let the cabinets dry fully after cleaning.
  • Lightly sand. Use 220 grit sandpaper to scuff the surfaces lightly. This helps the paint adhere.
  • Remove dust. Wipe all cabinet surfaces with a tack cloth to remove any dust.
  • Tape off edges. Use painters tape to cover any countertops, walls, and trim adjacent to the cabinets. This protects these surfaces from drips or splatters.

Apply the Chalk Paint

Chalk paint typically requires 2-3 thin, even coats for full coverage. Follow these tips when painting:

  • Stir the paint well before starting and periodically as you paint. Chalk paint separates and needs to be mixed.
  • Work in sections. Paint one cabinet section at a time, such as a bank of uppers or lowers. Wait 2-3 hours between coats.
  • Use even, overlapping strokes and maintain a wet edge to prevent brush marks.
  • Work into edges and corners carefully using a small brush. Chalk paint can build up in detailed areas.
  • Paint sides and edges that will be visible, in addition to front surfaces.
  • Remove tape immediately after painting. Don’t let painted edges dry with tape on.
  • Let paint dry fully before waxing or distressing.

Distress and Wax

For a vintage, timeworn look, you can distress and wax chalk painted cabinets. Here’s how:

  • Sand paint edges lightly once fully dry using sandpaper. Concentrate on areas that would naturally wear.
  • Further distress using tools like a wire brush, scraper, or sanding pad. Create worn edges, scrapes, and flaked paint.
  • Apply wax. Use clear or tinted wax, working small sections at a time. Remove any excess wax with a clean rag.
  • Buff with a soft cloth once the wax dries for a smooth sheen. Repeat as needed for desired look.
  • Consider a topcoat of clear polyurethane if you prefer a lacquered finish over waxed.

Reinstall Cabinets and Hardware

The final step is putting the cabinets back together:

  • Hang cabinet doors back on their hinges and adjust as needed.
  • Reinstall all hardware like knobs, pulls, and brackets using a drill.
  • Give cabinets 24 hours to cure before use and gently open/close doors at first.
  • Avoid placing heavy items on shelves or overloading drawers initially.

With some chalk paint and a few simple steps, you can easily transform your outdated or drab cabinets. The distressed finish gives cabinets an aged, timeworn look with lots of character. Enjoy your revived kitchen!

Frequently Asked Questions About Painting Kitchen Cabinets with Chalk Paint

Painting your kitchen cabinets can seem daunting, but using chalk paint makes it an approachable DIY project. Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about using chalk paint on cabinets:

Does chalk paint require sanding or priming?

The beauty of chalk paint is that it adheres well to surfaces with minimal prep. You only need to do light sanding to scuff up the finish so paint sticks. Priming is not required.

What type of brush should be used?

Angled sash paintbrushes work well for painting cabinets. Look for good quality bristle brushes around 2-3 inches wide for large surfaces. You’ll also need a smaller 1-2 inch brush for trim and edges.

How long does chalk paint take to dry?

Chalk paint dries quickly, within 30 minutes to the touch. But it’s best to allow chalk paint to cure for 24-48 hours before waxing or distressing. Drying times can vary based on humidity, ventilation, and thickness of paint.

How many coats of chalk paint are needed?

Typically 2-3 thin coats of chalk paint provides solid coverage on cabinets. If covering a darker stain or paint, an extra coat may be needed. Always maintain a wet edge and overlap strokes to prevent brush marks.

Should cabinets be sanded between coats?

Lightly sanding with 220 grit sandpaper between coats helps smooth out the finish and improves adhesion. Be sure to wipe away any dust before applying the next coat.

Can chalk paint be distressed?

Yes, one of the popular finishes for chalk painted cabinets is a distressed look. Once fully cured, you can sand paint edges, use tools to scrape off some paint, and apply wax for an antiqued finish.

Does chalk paint need to be sealed?

Chalk paint can be left as-is with a matte look. But sealing it with wax or a topcoat like polyurethane provides added protection. Wax also gives chalk paint a nice sheen and distressed look.

Can chalk paint be used on laminate cabinets?

Chalk paint can successfully be used to paint over laminate cabinets to give them an updated, coastal look. Be sure to prep and clean laminate cabinets well so the paint adheres properly.

Painting kitchen cabinets is an affordable way to update the look of your kitchen. With chalk paint, you can achieve a distressed, vintage style without heavy sanding or priming. Follow the tips above to prep, paint, and protect your cabinets. Soon you’ll have a kitchen updated with just a couple coats of chalk paint!


Chalk paint offers an easy, mess-free way to paint kitchen cabinets and give your kitchen a quick facelift. With minimal prep and just a few coats, you can transform the look of your cabinets with a unique distressed finish. The key steps are proper surface preparation, applying thin and even coats of chalk paint, and then waxing for protection and an antiqued look. Chalk paint is beginner-friendly, dries quickly, and provides good adhesion and coverage. Following the techniques outlined above, anyone can pick up a brush and chalk paint their way to a stylishly updated kitchen. Don’t live with dreary cabinets when you can chalk paint them to be cute and coastal-chic!

How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets with Chalk Paint: An Extensive Guide

Painting kitchen cabinets can be an easy and budget-friendly way to give your kitchen a fresh, updated look. Chalk paint has become a popular choice for DIYers wanting to tackle cabinet transformations thanks to its excellent adhesion and coverage and simple no-prep application. In this extensive guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know to paint your kitchen cabinets beautifully using chalk paint – from prepping to painting techniques to distressing and sealing. Let’s get started!

Choosing Your Chalk Paint

Chalk paint was formulated specifically for painting furniture and cabinetry. When selecting a brand of chalk paint, go for quality over cost. Some popular options include:

  • Annie Sloan – Originator of chalk paint and offers wide color selection
  • Rust-Oleum – Available at most hardware stores; more budget-friendly
  • Waverly – Good quality at a lower price point
  • Dixie Belle – Nice selection of unique colors like teal and navy

Buy samples first to test colors. You’ll need approximately 1 quart per standard cabinet. Opt for a matte or eggshell finish over high-gloss.

Prep Work – Cleaning and Sanding Cabinets

Preparing your cabinets well is one of the most important steps for getting a smooth finish. Here’s how to prep cabinets for painting:

  • Remove doors, drawers, and hardware
  • Wash cabinet boxes and doors with a degreasing cleaner
  • Rinse thoroughly and let dry completely
  • Sand lightly with 220 grit sandpaper to rough up the surface
  • Wipe away all dust with a tack cloth

This process removes grime and creates texture for the paint to adhere to.

Setting Up Your Workspace

Painting requires some organization of your space. Be sure to:

  • Clear countertops and move appliances that may be in the way
  • Cover floors, countertops, and backsplashes with drop cloths
  • Have paint supplies easily accessible – don’t forget painter’s tape!
  • Set up an area to let doors dry flat after painting
  • Use plenty of lighting so you don’t miss any spots

Having a properly prepped workspace makes the painting process flow smoothly.

Applying Chalk Paint

The painting begins – follow these tips and techniques:

  • Always stir paint before and during use; chalk paint separates easily
  • Use high-quality angled sash paintbrushes for best results
  • Maintain a wet edge and paint in sections to prevent lap marks
  • Work paint into corners, grooves, and edges for full coverage
  • Use painter’s tape for clean lines around cabinet frames
  • Remove tape promptly after painting before edges dry
  • Allow each coat to dry 2-3 hours before applying second coat
  • Lightly sand with 220 grit sandpaper between coats for smooth finish
  • Apply 2-3 thin coats until fully opaque for best durability

Take your time with each coat for a professional painted finish.

Achieving a Distressed Look

One of the popular looks chalk paint lends itself to is a distressed or antiqued finish. To distress cabinets:

  • Allow paint to dry fully for 24-48 hours before distressing
  • Use sandpaper or sanding pads to rub away paint in areas that would naturally wear
  • Try using tools like scrapers, wire brushes, or screwdrivers to chip away paint
  • Focus distressing on corners, edges, and crevices for an authentic look
  • Apply glaze or dark wax to recesses and corners for contrast
  • Seal your distressed paint with a layer of clear wax for protection

Distressing adds vintage character and dimension to your updated cabinets.

Waxing and Sealing Chalk Paint

Waxing your chalk painted cabinets adds richness to the look and protects the finish.

  • Always wait at least 24 hours after painting before waxing
  • Use clear paste wax or dark colored wax for a distressed look
  • Rub wax on with a lint-free cloth or pad applicator using thin, even coats
  • Work small sections at a time and buff off excess wax as you go
  • After wax dries completely, buff cabinets with a soft cloth for sheen
  • For added protection, apply a top coat of polyurethane over cured wax
  • Use wax to touch up nicks or scratches in the future as needed

Be patient – properly waxed cabinets are worth the time and effort.

Reinstalling Cabinets and Hardware

The finishing touches involve putting your cabinets back together:

  • Carefully rehang doors and drawers on their hinges and slides
  • Adjust alignment if doors or drawers don’t close correctly
  • Drill new holes if needed for hardware that doesn’t line up
  • Reattach all hardware like knobs, pulls, handles, and brackets
  • Take care not to slam doors or overload shelves initially as paint cures
  • Touch up any scratches or nicks that occur at first with wax

With your painted cabinets reinstalled and accessorized, it’s time to enjoy your brand new kitchen!

FAQs About Using Chalk Paint on Cabinets

Still have some questions about using chalk paint on your kitchen cabinets? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

How long does it take for chalk paint to dry?
Chalk paint dries very quickly, within 30 minutes to the touch. But allow a full 24-48 hours drying time before waxing or distressing for ideal results.

Does chalk paint require primer?
Chalk paint is formulated to adhere well directly to surfaces, so primer is not necessary. Proper prep like sanding provides sufficient tooth for chalk paint.

What sheen is best for kitchen cabinets?
Opt for a classic matte or subtle eggshell finish on your kitchen cabinets over shiny, high-gloss sheens. This gives a natural, sophisticated look.

Can you use chalk paint on laminate cabinets?
Chalk paint can successfully be used to paint over laminate cabinets. Scuff the surface well before painting so the chalk paint adheres properly.

How do you apply chalk paint smoothly?
Use high-quality angled sash paintbrushes, apply in thin coats, and maintain a wet edge to prevent visible brush strokes in your chalk paint finish.

Does chalk paint need to be sealed?
Sealing chalk paint with wax or a top coat like polyurethane is highly recommended for durability and to protect the finish from scratches.

How do you wax chalk paint?
Use a lint-free cloth or applicator pad to rub paste wax or dark colored wax on in thin, even coats. Let dry completely and buff for sheen.

Be bold and try chalk paint for your next kitchen cabinet makeover. With proper prep and application, you can easily transform your cabinets with gorgeous, unique results.


Chalk paint offers an easy DIY approach to transforming outdated kitchen cabinets on a budget. With minimal preparation needed, chalk paint adheres well and provides beautiful, trendy finishes full of character like coastal, antique, or shabby chic styles.

Following the steps above to clean, scuff, and apply multiple thin coats of chalk paint, you can achieve an updated look for your cabinets. Distressing techniques like sanding, scraping, and waxing produce dimensional, timeworn effects. With just a little chalk paint and some elbow grease, your kitchen can get a full makeover.

Chalk paint is beginner-friendly and dries fast so anyone can pick up a brush and paint their cabinets with ease. Don’t put up with dreary cabinets – chalk paint offers an easy path to stylish kitchen cabinets without the mess and cost of stripping or refacing. Your dream kitchen awaits just a couple coats away!