How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets with Chalk Paint

Woman painting a kitchen cabinet

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Project Overview
  • Working Time: 6 - 8 hrs
  • Total Time: 1 - 2 days
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $150 to $300

Give your kitchen a whole new look by transforming your cabinets with chalk paint. Chalk paint gives a wonderful matte look to cabinets and is easy to distress if you'd like to add some character to your kitchen. It goes especially well with shabby-chic or farmhouse decor.

Chalk paint is incredibly easy to work with, making this a project perfect for the confident beginner looking for a bigger project to handle. It requires very little prep, letting you reduce the amount of time spent sanding before applying paint. Using chalk paint on kitchen cabinets can save you time and create a unique look that you can't get anywhere else.

What Is Chalk Paint?

Chalk paint is a specialty paint that when used creates the look of chalk on a surface, creating an ultra-matte finish. Chalk paint is latex-based so spills can easily be cleaned up with water. Chalk paint shouldn't be confused with chalkboard paint.

Before You Start

Before you can begin painting, you need to protect the other surfaces that you won't be painting. Newspapers can be used to cover flooring and drop cloths or plastic sheets can be used to cover up any other surfaces that might come close to where you're going to paint.

Safety Considerations

You should plan on wearing safety equipment when you're painting. This will protect you from fine particles and noxious fumes. That means that wearing a face mask and goggles is needed. Wearing gloves to keep the mess of paint splatters off your hands is also recommended.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Drill or screwdriver
  • Shop towels
  • Paintbrush
  • 150-grit sandpaper
  • 220-grit sandpaper (optional)


  • Wood filler (optional)
  • Primer (optional)
  • Degreaser
  • Chalk paint
  • Polycrylic Protective Finish


  1. Remove Cabinets and Hardware

    Use a drill to remove the cabinet doors from the cabinet boxes. Keep the hinges in a safe location unless you're planning on attaching new hardware, then you can toss them. You also need to remove the drawer fronts from the drawers, being sure to keep any internal hardware. Remove any hardware like knobs and pulls.

  2. Use Wood Filler to Fill in Holes (Optional)

    If you plan on using new hardware, you'll want to take this extra step to get a smooth finish. Use wood filler to smooth in any holes left over from the old hardware. Allow the wood filler to dry and then sand to smooth.

  3. Clean the Cabinets Thoroughly

    This is a step you don't want to skip! It's important to clean the cabinets really well so your coats of chalk paint are smooth and even. Any grease stains are likely to show through if not cleaned properly. Use a degreasing agent and some shop cloths to thoroughly clean anywhere on the cabinet that you'll be painting. You may want to do this process a few times to make sure they're good and clean.

  4. Sand and Apply Primer

    Priming before painting with chalk paint is completely optional. One of the many advantages of chalk paint is that you don't need to prime or sand the kitchen cabinets heavily before you apply the paint. Lightly scuff the old glossy cabinet finish with 150-grit sandpaper everywhere to help the new paint adhere long-term. This doesn't have to be intensive sanding, just enough to upset the sheer gloss texture. If you would like to you can apply primer now. Allow the primer to completely dry before moving on to the next step. Sand the primer coat lightly if required by the primer's instructions.

  5. Apply the Chalk Paint

    Use a paintbrush to apply the chalk paint to the kitchen cabinets and drawer fronts. Use even strokes and work fairly quickly, chalk paint dries fast. Allow the chalk paint to completely dry between coats.


    How many coats of paint you want to use will depend on several factors like the color of the wood you're covering and how thick you're applying the paint. Three coats should give you plenty of coverage but less coats may give you the farmhouse look that you're after.

  6. Sand the Paint (Optional)

    After your chalk paint dries, you'll notice pretty visible brushstrokes. This is normal for chalk paint and you may love how it looks. If so, leave it how it is or use sandpaper to even further distress it.

    If you don't like the brushstrokes, you can easily sand the chalk paint. Sanding the paint will remove the brushstrokes and give you a smooth finish that feels great to the touch.

  7. Seal the Cabinets

    Chalk paint is traditionally sealed with wax and you can use this here if you'd like. Since kitchens cabinets are high-use, it's recommended you use a water-based polycrylic sealer. It will protect the paint against everyday wear and tear and will prevent the chalk paint from yellowing with age.

  8. Install Hardware and Hang Cabinets

    Put your old or existing hardware on your cabinets and drawers. Reattach the drawer fronts and install the drawers. Hang the cabinets and enjoy the fresh look that a coat of chalk paint can make in a kitchen.