Top Mistakes to avoid when Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Saad Iqbal | 🗓️Modified: April 2, 2024 | ⏳Read Time: 11 min | 👁Post Views: 3

Are you thinking about painting your kitchen cabinets?

Trust me, kitchens are so important in the world of design because they’re in an area of your home that you’ll be spending a lot of important time in every single day.

So you want it to look good. You want to feel good while you’re cooking up some beef wellingtons or something.

Don’t think you stir a beef wellington. Also, it ends up being a showpiece that tends to reflect how the rest of your home might be.

And you already know this if you’ve ever looked at a real estate listing in your spare time.

Nine times out of ten, you usually go straight to the kitchen.

You see the state of it, and if it’s a nightmare, then you just swipe left.

Here are five of the most common mistakes that you should avoid.

Mistakes to Avoid When doing Kitchen Cabinet colours

If your kitchen cabinets are in need of some TLC, chances are a couple of coats of paint is all you need to make a drastic transformation. You can invest a ton of money just gutting your kitchen completely, but a much more cost-effective solution is picking some new colors instead.

#1 – Not hiring professionals

You didn’t hire a professional. I’m kidding, but seriously, painting kitchen cabinets is very labor-intensive, and you really should know what you’re getting yourself into.

#2 – Not knowing cabinet materials

Mistake number two: You’re not sure of what type of cabinets you have. Knowing what type of cabinets you have will decide what type of primer you should use.

For example, if you have cherry wood, then your best option is probably an oil-based primer or maybe even a shellac-based primer. The same goes for old cabinets. But if you have laminate or Formica cabinets, your best option is going to be a water-based primer.

#3 – You don’t do sanding

Mistake number three: You didn’t sand before priming. You should always, always, always sand your cabinet before you prime and between each and every coat.

#4 – You don’t have proper tools

Mistake number four: You’re not using a good quality brush or roller. Invest in a good paint brush and some mohair rollers to get the best finish possible.

#5 – Not using the right paint type

Mistake number five: You’re not using the right paint. When you’re looking for what type of paint to buy, I suggest you look for urethane alkyd enamel. It’s a water-based product that is very user-friendly and perfect for DIY. And although it’s a water-based product, it acts just like an oil-based paint. It levels out and is very durable.

#6 Not Testing Paint Colors

The first and most obvious mistake that people make with their kitchen cabinet colors is they don’t bring their colors home with them.

Yes, I’m talking about testing here. You have got to test your paint colors, whether you’re painting your Powder Room, your hallway, or your kitchen cabinets, especially your kitchen cabinets because there’s a pretty good chance that you’re either going to be spending a lot of your own time doing it yourself or your money hiring a professional company to spray them out for you.

The least you can do is take that one step further from perusing the internet for colors or just checking out your local paint store for some swatches. You need to bring those color samples home and see it in your kitchen specifically. You don’t want to be the person that thought they picked a light brown only to paint their cabinets and find out it’s actually kind of a peach.

Not cute. Your home, with all of its charm and individuality, it also has its own lighting, furniture, flooring, all that.

So please, before you start your project, solidify your color choice by testing it out in the space first.

Time for the next mistake.

#7 White is not always good

Okay, don’t default to white cabinets. White cabinets are such an immensely popular trend, almost to the point where it’s sort of exceeded trend status because it’s been so trendy for so long. Some might call it timeless, but I don’t know. The truth is white cabinets, they can be very beautiful and sleek, whether you’re into something a little more contemporary or even more of a traditional aesthetic. Versatility is there.

But honestly, it might be a good idea to explore some other options, maybe the 399 other paint colors that exist before you settle on a classic white kitchen cabinet.

If it’s something that you know you want, then that’s fine. But also don’t even get me started on all the different kinds of whites you can go with.

That is a whole other can of worms that I don’t feel like getting into in this video because we got a few other things to talk about.

#8 Picking colors that are impractical

If you’re wondering what’s impractical about white kitchen cabinets is keeping them clean and pristine and white all the time. I get the draw with nice clean white cabinets because I guess it’s the same reason that I like to see clean white sheets at the hotels that I visit.

There’s nowhere to hide on white surfaces, unless we’re talking microscopic organisms, but who cares about those?

So if you want to commit to these lighter, brighter colors, namely white, that are admittedly nice and vibrant, they’re only going to stay that way if you’re very diligent with your cleaning regimen.

Not all people think of that aspect of paint colors, but I do.

One way you can sort of combat this is just shifting towards maybe the off-white spectrum of colors. You could really save yourself a few cleaning sessions if you just go a little bit darker with something that is white-ish.

I feel like you think that I don’t keep my house clean because I’m bashing white cabinets. I think they’re fine, actually. My wife calls me House Man because I love a bit of a tidy house session.

Next mistake, don’t be too trendy, which is a funny thing to say because I talk a lot about paint and decorating trends on this channel that are happening. But really, I just like the idea of observing trends. I think it’s a pretty fun aspect of design because you start to see where things are heading rather than what’s currently happening.

So you can kind of predict the direction we’re all going in. And when we’re talking about trendy colors, we’re not only talking about what can go on your walls or your kitchen cabinets, in this case, but they’ll be part of a lot of the accessories that you might find at your local Ikea or your Creighton Barrel, and then occasionally, your Costco.

Do you think I won’t buy my bean bag chairs in bulk? Just watch. The thing is it would be way too tedious and expensive to keep up with the latest trend of colors on your kitchen cabinets specifically.

I mean, if we’re just going based off of color of the year, we know that every company is going to change things up year over year.

So that’s like five grand a year to repaint your cabinets every winter. And that’s only if you’re talking about one paint company.

Am I right? Just too much.

The only time to pick a trendy paint color for your cabinets is if you genuinely love that color, if it’s a paint color that really resonates with you regardless of whether it is the new trendy thing. That’s the only situation where it should matter.

A cabinet refinisher friend of mine, Elsinore, said to me, “It’ll only go out of style if you get sick of it.” And you’ll be way less likely to get sick of the color that you generally are just passionate about.

#10 Going for two-tone

Next mistake, don’t force yourself to go two-tone.

Okay, I know we all love the uppers and lowers aesthetic, maybe a cheeky kitchen island color change, all that’s fine in dandelion.

But it’s also okay to just stick with one paint color for all of your cabinets. For one, it makes the color selection process twice as easy or half as difficult because you’re only accounting for a single paint color rather than two or sometimes three.

It also makes the application process a bit easier because everything can be done all at once with the same paint, which is a plus. And finally, design-wise, there are kitchens where going two-tone can actually detract from the overall look.

When you’re adding a second color to your cabinets, you’re adding another design component to the big picture of your kitchen.

And if you already have a lot going on, that’s fine, but then that kitchen island color could just be one color too many, unless you’re like a super maximalist Bohemian that just wants all the colors all over the place, then maybe you’ll be okay.

But for everyone else, if you have an interesting countertop or a really fun colorful backsplash, maybe hold off on that upper and lower cabinet combination. It’s okay if you just want to go with one.

#11 Not considering the flooring

Another big mistake people make when they’re picking their cabinet colors, don’t forget about your flooring.

Your floor is part of this color selection puzzle, and you want to make sure that you’re actually considering it when you’re picking your cabinet color. The big thing is take note of any conflicting color hues that may exist in your floors, whether it’s the floor that’s right there now or the flooring you’re going to be putting in as part of a larger renovation.

You have to consider it. You don’t want any conflicting color hues that may exist in your floor with your cabinet colors. But if you’re rocking some gorgeous orange Honey Brown hardwood, maybe hold off on those blue cabinets because I don’t know if you know a lot about color wheels and color theory, but orange and blue, they complement one another, which sounds nice, right?

Compliments are good.

But what it really means in this case is they’re in opposition. So they’re really going to make the other extremely pronounced, probably not the look you’re going for.

One practical piece of advice that I will give you is try and leverage contrast when I think about my cabinet colors and my floors. It’s always kind of nice to have some level of contrast between the two so that you’re not just kind of blending everything into one another.

So if you have a much lighter kind of bleached flooring, let’s say, maybe think of adding a little bit of depth to those lower cabinets to allow them to visually separate themselves.

Not a must necessarily, but just make sure you’re taking your flooring into account before you finalize your colors.

And by having that little bit of contrast, it might allow one to sort of pop off the other just a little bit.


So, you see there’re al lot of things to consider while picking your kitchen cabinet paint colors. I believe you’ll keep note of these mistakes, and next time you’re into a venture of painting kitchen cabinets; you’ll try not to repeat these mistakes.


Leave a Comment