How to Paint Oak Cabinets

Painting Over Oak Cabinets

Oak kitchen cabinets are a timeless style that has been in existence since the 1700s. They are prized for their rich, warm colour, and they can be found in homes all over the country. But oak is not just for old houses—it’s also a great option for modern kitchens! So, what happens when you’re ready to update your kitchen? How can oak kitchen cabinets appear modern? You might be asking yourself:  Should my oak kitchen cabinets be painted? Are they worth painting over?

The answer is YES! You can paint oak cabinets if you want to refresh them or update the look of your kitchen. 

Changing the look of your kitchen might not be as complicated as you think. A full kitchen renovation may not be necessary if you apply the right coat of paint to your kitchen cabinets. A fresh coat of paint on old oak cabinets might be just what your kitchen needs to bring it back to life.

So, what paint colour goes best with oak cabinets? The answer is, it depends. The best colour to paint oak cabinets depends on your kitchen design, the lighting in your kitchen, and personal preference. You can select from a variety of colours and finishes that will stand up to daily use and wipe clean easily after cooking. You can also opt for more modern finishes like white, black, or even chrome if you want something completely different.

Since Oak wood is an open-grain type of wood, the grain has a tendency to show through a coat of paint. This problem cannot be solved with an extra few coats. However, you can get positive outcomes as long as you take the right steps for Refinishing oak cabinets to cover the visible grain.

How to Paint Over Oak Wood Kitchen Cabinets

Interior Kitchen Cabinet Warranty

Step 1: Preparation of the Finished Oak Cabinets for Painting

  • Remove the Cabinet doors. You could take it to the hardware store along with a paint counter.
  • The pores may not have properly filled during the making of the oak wood. This could cause your paint job to look pockmarked.
  • Consult a professional for paint, primer or sandpaper that is specifically used for oak.
  • Take off the doors and the drawers from your cabinets using a screwdriver. Take note of the location of the cabinet. This will help you reinstall correctly and quickly.
  • Clean the cabinet doors and frame surfaces with trisodium phosphate (TSP). This can be found at almost all hardware stores. Cleaning Oak Cabinets before refacing them, is really important.
  • TSP eliminates all remnants of grease and dirt. This is important if you’re painting over your oak kitchen cabinets.
  • Let the wood dry before taking the next steps.

Step 2: Sand the Oak Wood Cabinets

  • Sand the surface of the primed oak cabinets with sandpaper.

  • When finished sanding, wipe it down using a soft damp cloth. Allow it to dry then dust it down with a dry cloth.

  • Spread a coat of clear- or neutral-tone grain filler. This evens out the fluctuations in depth of the oak grain. Let it dry. Sand it, then apply primer.

Step 3: Prime

  • Prime the surface of the cabinet. Use an oil-based primer.
  • Apply one coat and let it dry for about a day.
  • If the professional advises you that your oak surface was not properly filled, use an extra-thick primer.
  • Lightly sand the dried primer, and then apply a second coat of primer

Step 4: Paint

  • Spread a coat of latex paint on the cabinet doors and drawers.
  • Apply the paint with a small foam roller.  Let the coat dry for a full day.
  • Apply 1 to 3 more coats of latex paint. This depends on how well the paint covers the previous finish.
  • Let the coat dry for at least 5 days before you install the unscrewed parts back.

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At Home Painters Toronto we offer cabinet painting as one of our many product lines.   So if you feel like the job is too daunting for you, please give us a call at (416) 494-9095 or send an email to to get a free quote about the Cost to paint your oak cabinets or kitchen renovation!