How to Paint a Kitchen Island – Part 1

I promised a tutorial on how I painted my kitchen island, and I’m finally making good on it.  It was a project I approached with great trepidation, but I am very pleased with the outcome. 

I am going to break this down into two parts, since the method I used on the drawers and doors was different from how I tackled the rest of the island.  Let’s call this the Paint Sprayer Method.

I borrowed a paint sprayer from a friend of mine, since I have been contemplating painting ALL of my kitchen cabinets.  But using this tool was a good test for me.  I only wish I could have used it on the entire island!

First, I removed the doors and drawer fronts and cleaned them with TSP – Trisodium Phosphate.  It’s a great cleaner to get rid of any dirt and grime that you may have on your cabinets.

Once I cleaned them and wiped them down, I pulled out my new best friend, my orbital sander.  How I have lived this long without this little darling, is beyond me. 

This really helped to get all of the gloss that was on the cabinets since I was totally paranoid that I would do something wrong in the prep that would send me up sh*t creek without a paddle jeopardize the whole project.   (I actually ended up sanding them even more than what is shown in these pictures.  I wanted to be sure there was no sign of any gloss remaining).

In selecting paint, I talked to a couple of my “local hardware men” about my cabinet painting project, and I think they both thought I was crazy to attempt this on my own, which really kind of annoyed me.  I was showing them my cabinet door samples and even brought my actual kitchen cabinet door into the store, and yet I got a comment, “Did you get this idea from HGTV?” 

Whatever.  I just wanted advice on paint, I didn’t need a lecture on how much time and effort is involved in painting kitchen cabinets.  I am DIY Woman, hear me ROAR!

As for paint, I chose Benjamin Moore acrylic latex paint in a low lustre finish.  (In looking at my paint can again, I bought an exterior paint vs. interior.  Don’t know why, BUT, I had a lengthy conversation with the hardware guys, about latex vs. oil, and they said latex paints have come a long way and this acrylic latex would work.  They also told me that I didn’t need to prime my cabinets.  Yes, you read that correctly.  No priming.  More on that later. 

One of the Local Hardware Men did take my black cabinet sample and did a paint match for me, which was great.  I’m really pleased with the final color.

I think this is where I had a temporary memory lapse and didn’t take any pictures.  I used the power sprayer to spray both the fronts and the backs of the cabinets.  It was a whole lot of “hurry up and wait”, since the sprayer made quick work of the cabinet doors.  And like they instructed, I didn’t prime the cabinet doors and drawer fronts.  (I was freakin’).

But, since I sanded them really well, and was going to lightly distress them, the no priming method worked to my advantage.  They distressed nicely and I was pleased with how the doors looked.

There are a couple of spots that are more distressed than I’d like, but some brilliant readers suggested touching it up with a black stain.  Now why didn’t I think of that?  So, I purchased some of that today and will be putting it to work for some of my trouble spots.

I finished it off with a coat of Minwax Clear Wipe-On Poly in a satin finish.

So, there you have it!  Or at least, part of it.  🙂  The rest of the island was a horse of a different color, but definitely rounded out my cabinet painting experience.  Part II will be coming soon…

Home Stories A2Z – Tutorials and Tips Link Party
Savvy Southern Style – Wow Us Wednesday
DIY by Design – Fall into Fall Party
Remodelaholic – Remodelaholic’s Anonymous
Sawdust and Paperscraps – Trick or Tip Party


  • Reply
    ℳartina @ Northern Nesting
    October 24, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    It looks fabulous Jenny! I love an island that stands out from the rest of the kitchen, we did the same thing to ours a few months ago. Martina

  • Reply
    A Vintage Vine
    October 24, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Looks great Jenny!….I am coveting your neighbors sprayer…Just wondering,do you think the wipe on poly is easier than brush on? I was also wondering what kind of rag you used?

  • Reply
    The Starr Family
    October 24, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Oh, that makes me tired. And inspired. And motivated to sorta someday do mine 🙂

  • Reply
    Honey at 2805
    October 26, 2011 at 12:51 am

    Nice work, Jenny! Looks great!

  • Reply
    October 26, 2011 at 1:03 am

    You did a great job! I love the island with the distressing. I'm here from Wow Us Wed.

  • Reply
    All That Glitters
    October 26, 2011 at 1:08 am

    Wow! Your island looks amazing!

  • Reply
    Designs By Pinky
    October 26, 2011 at 2:31 am

    SIGH>>>>I wish I HAD an island to paint. I wish I had granite counter tops too. Alot of wishing here:):) Your island looks fabulous!! XO, pinky

  • Reply
    Kristens Creations
    October 26, 2011 at 3:13 am

    Gorgeous! I love the black, it looks wonderful!! Kristen

  • Reply
    Miss Kitty
    October 26, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Hi! I need to repaint my kitchen cabinets so this post was really great for me to see. Thanks for posting your tips! I saw your post over at Savvy Southern Style.

  • Reply
    October 26, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    I loved your story because I have been painting my infernal kitchen cabinets for six months. Finally finished. Still not quite finished with the walls which I covered in beadboard paper and the floor which I am white-washing. Whatever possessed me to do this? I think it was the devil. But it does look good. I love your black island. I debated black, but decided that with all my black appliances, maybe not.

    I'll follow!

  • Reply
    Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking
    October 27, 2011 at 2:02 am

    Oh my goodness what an awesome transformation!! It looks beautiful and you did an excellent job!!

  • Reply
    October 27, 2011 at 4:31 am

    Thanks for the tutorial! I've been wanting to paint some of my cabinets (kitchen and bathrooms) but I'm to chicken!

  • Reply
    The Rooster and The Hen
    October 27, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Wow, this is amazing – awesome job!

  • Reply
    Between Blue and Yellow
    October 28, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    That looks great. Plan to paint my cabinets soon, thanks for the tips!

  • Reply
    Sawdust and Paperscraps
    October 28, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Looks so good!

  • Reply
    November 2, 2011 at 1:51 am

    I just found your blog and I am excited that I did. I love your newly painted kitchen island. You did a great job. I look forward to hearing more on this project. I've been considering painting my powder room cabinet black and distressing it.
    It is scary when I think about doing it myself. Seeing that other diy-ers have sucess gives me courage that maybe I, too, can do this!
    Thank you for sharing your tips and tools!

  • Reply
    November 2, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Wow ! Looks amazing – good for you. I have been contemplating painting my kitchen cabinets – how did you like using the paint sprayer ? Is it a lot easier than painting with a brush ? The finished product is so smooth – no brush strokes. Looks fantastic……

  • Reply
    Cindi @ Rustique Art
    November 2, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    I love it, wish it was mine and I was done with this whole "what color should I paint my cabinets" business. It's great to see how mine could look if I went with the black. You did a great job, I hope mine turn out as nice as yours.

  • Reply
    November 2, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Looks great! Reminded me of when I did the same project using creamy toned paint. Wish I had thought of using a paint sprayer back then!

  • Reply
    November 5, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Did you spray the cabinet boxes inside your house? Did paint go everywhere? Just curious, b/c we're painting our cabinets, and it takes forever by hand 🙂 Yours looks fabulous!

  • Reply
    Lisa Fryer
    February 5, 2012 at 4:05 am

    A…MA…ZING!!! What I would like to know, though, is how did you do the distressing? I am sooooo curious. Did you just lightly sand before putting on the poly? I love the look!

    • Reply
      Betty parker
      February 18, 2018 at 4:22 pm

      I am painting a very old bench black I would like to diddtress edges

  • Reply
    The Corney's
    June 12, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Glad I came across this! We are thinking of doing the same thing to our island. How and when did you distress it?

  • Reply
    Traci Kammer
    September 12, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    I love it! I'm about to start my kitchen make-over soon and was curious about the exact names and colors you used for the island and the kitchen cabinets. If you wouldn't mind, could you post the "shopping list" for the paints? Thanks for sharing your kitchen!

  • Reply
    Jen C
    October 4, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    I love your island! Ours has become faded by the sun and making the maple turn a weird yellow in places. I was trying to figure out what I can do to fix it and I think I just found it! I have black appliances too, do you think a black island would be too much?

  • Reply
    Audrey Carter
    January 31, 2013 at 9:01 am

    Thank you so much for letting us know this one. I'm glad to see your kitchen cabinet. Very attractive design I like it. I will visit your blog everyday to look if there is an update. Anyway if you want to have an example of Kitchen Cabinet Design just Get more information here.

  • Reply
    Verna Lucas
    February 1, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    Your kitchen island looks amazing! It even looks professionally done! Choosing that color made it stand out. I will try to repaint some of part of the kitchen too.

    Verna Lucas

  • Reply
    April 10, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    What is the name of the black paint used on the island?

    • Reply
      April 12, 2018 at 9:42 pm

      I’m not sure – I’m sorry! It’s been so long since I painted it!

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