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What Not to Do When Painting Cabinets

Painting your cabinets will transform the entire room. Many times, we take for granted what a little paint can do. If you want to paint your cabinets, the frugal way is to do it right the first time.

I’ve painted our kitchen cabinets and bathroom and share my mistakes and wins with you below.

What Not to Do When Painting Cabinets

Sanding Wrong

This was the scariest part for me and also the biggest learning curve. In our bathroom I only lightly hand sanded the cupboards. This is a mistake because the paint chips off easier.

Our kitchen cabinets were coated with polyurethane. The key with this is you need to remove ALL of it. If not one shiny little spot will show through on your cabinets. Sanding is essential for removing polyurathane on your cabinets.

In our Kitchen, I used a hand sander and then made sure to go in and sand little spots that I missed. This is crucial if you have bumps or curves on your cabinets. This will remove the spots you may have missed that are shiny from the polyurathane too.

Our kitchen cabinets are pretty basic but the corners were the toughest spot to sand.

Take your time sanding. Go over every corner carefully. Hand sand the little nooks and crannies. Wait what even does that mean?! You know … 🙂


It is crucial to get the right paint. I have found the best success with Behr Paint and Primer. I love Benjamin Moore colors and know it’s a fantastic brand, but we live in a small town.

We have Home Depot. I’ve used Behr paint and Primer for ten years now and love it. I’ve tried Valspar and it didn’t hold up as well.

I recommend the Behr Paint and Primer in Semi-Gloss for your kitchen cabinets. Check out our Kitchen Makeover Before and After here.

Save yourself time and get Paint and Primer in One- Semi Gloss for Cabinets. 

What Not to Do When Painting Cabinets


Don’t think you will remember where every cabinet door and hinge goes. You won’t. Label every door and the inside of the cabinet.

If you are spray painting your hinges and screws label those as well. For me personally, the hinges seemed to fit but there were a couple that did not line up the best when I went to put them on.

Use Painter’s Tape to label every cabinet door and base.

Not Allowing Paint to Dry completely

I painted our kitchen cabinets in March and April. We had such a long winter. Snow came again even into May. I set up a painting area in our basement.

Of course, being in the basement it took a lot longer to dry than expected. I thought I would just follow what they can said. 4- 6 hours. I started my second coat of paint and it was looking bad.

It is so important to let each coat dry completely. To speed it up and help the paint dry evenly, I put two stand fans on the cupboards. I ended up doing three coats of paint and waited a whole day for each one to dry.

Depending on where you are painting this, it may not take as long, but for me, I learned the longer you wait for the better.

What Not to Do When Painting Cabinets

When we had our mini pig living in the house with us, I painted the cabinets in our bathroom. I didn’t wait long enough or sand properly and Bentley jumped up to the toilet paper and left this beauty.


What Not to Do When Painting Cabinets
Our German Shepard Lab decided to lay against my freshly coated paint.

Again, I’m a little too hyper for some things. Learning the hard way when it comes to DIY projects. This is why you are here so you don’t have to make the same mistakes.

I painted the outside of the cupboards and did one section at a time. I did the last section and let our German Shepard Lab mix Jake into the kitchen.

Where does he decide to lay his incredibly hairy body? Right up against the bottom where I just painted?

Can you see all his hair? I had to wash, resand, and repaint the bottom.

I hope these mistakes help you when painting your kitchen cabinets or any painting. Check out the full kitchen makeover here.

TAKEAWAY: Don’t let any animals, kids, into the area until it is DRY! Set up fans.

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