Kitchen Cabinet Upgrade

Danny gives some valuable tips on how to update the look and style of your kitchen cabinets without the time and expense involved in replacing them. These include:

  • Changing the existing hinges and knobs
  • Replacing the cabinet doors
  • Repainting the cabinets

Watch this video to find out more.


  1. I want to change the color of my kitchen cabinets. I currently have oak but would like to change to a blue, or green color, but maintaining the grain in the wood.

    My question is this, “Do you have a video, or something else, I can look at that will give me a step by step instrucion on how to achieve my goal.

    Any response would be greatly appreciated.

  2. my kitchen drawers will no longer slide back in as they are suppose to. Do you have any response on what I can do to fix this?

  3. This depends on the type of drawer system you have. If you have full extention runners, you can check that the all the screws are fastened. Sometimes they come undone and this could cause the drawer to get stuck when you try to slide it back in.

  4. Danny mentioned using a “conditioner” in the paint when painting the cabinets. What exactly is this product and how much should you use per gallon?


  5. Mary,
    The paint conditioners Danny talks about are made by Flood. Their conditioner for exterior oil-based paint is called Penetrol and the product for interior or exterior latex paint is Floetrol. The amount of conditioner added can vary, so be sure to read the instructions on the can, but on average you should add from 8 oz. to 16 oz. of conditioner per gallon of paint.

  6. We recently had our kitchen totally renovated with light maple cabinets. Within 6 months the cabinet doors had all turned orange. The company replaced them and we are now starting all over again installing new doors. We are worried that the sun will discolour them once again, however. Is there anything we can do to prevent that?

  7. Elaine,
    Many unstained woods change color significantly over time mainly due to exposure to light. Cherry and mahogany become much darker while walnut can actually lighten in tone. Maple tends to take on an amber color as it ages. Since this change is mostly caused by exposure to ultraviolet light, a finish with UV blockers will help to slow this process, as will limiting the amount of strong sunlight or florescent lighting it receives. The type of finish used can also make the wood appear darker or lighter as well.

  8. We have Cabinets that are in good condition but the are dated. They are laminate. Is there a way to udate these cabinets with paint, changing doors, any thing etc. We are on a tight budget. Thanks

    • Hi Rowanna,
      Yes, it is possible to paint over plastic laminate cabinets, but it requires some careful prep work to be sure the paint adheres well. The first step is to clean the cabinets thoroughly to remove any grease or grime, then remove any residue with a sponge and clean water. Next, sand the laminate lightly to rough up the surface and help the paint bond. After wiping off any sanding dust, prime the cabinets with a solvent based primer (oil or shellac based). Finally, topcoat the cabinets with two coats of a quality oil or latex enamel paint.

  9. What is the best type of paint to use on kitchen cabinets. My cabinets are about 20 yrs old, were a light colored wood with a clear varnish ?, that has yellowed. I want to paint them white. I have read your tips, re: sanding and primer. Should I use high or semi gloss? A man @ Home Depot told me I should use an oil based paint? Is that so? Should I put a clear, protectant over it? Also, what is the best way not to have brush marks on the main part of the door.
    Thank you, Debby

    • Hi Debby,
      Start by cleaning your cabinets thoroughly to remove any dirt and grease. Next, lightly sand the cabinets with fine sandpaper to dull the gloss, wipe off any dust, and prime with an oil or shellac based primer. Once they’ve been primed, paint the cabinets with either oil or latex paint (oil will give a smoother and harder finish). As far as the gloss, that’s up to you. Personally I’m not a fan of high gloss and would use semigloss or eggshell, but it’s mainly a matter of taste. You don’t need to put a clear sealer over it. As far as brushstrokes go, spraying is the best way to eliminate them. If that’s not an option, use a high quality bush, work at a steady pace, and don’t go back over areas that have started to dry. Since oil based paint takes longer to dry, it doesn’t show brushstrokes as much, since they have more time to even out. Laying the door flat while painting helps reduce brushstrokes, as does lightly sanding between coats. Wipe off any dust with a tack cloth or a cloth dampened with the thinner for the paint (either mineral spirits or water).

  10. I had tried painting in the past and I never liked the results. So after watching your video “kitchen cabinet upgrade” I decided to look into repacing my doors and drawers with new ones. I found a great company on line,Taylor Cabinet Door, who helped me from the begining to the end of my project. They made it a snap to do and there when I needed help. Along with them suppling my new doors & drawers I was able to get all of the hinges, slides, screws from them too. I am so happy with the way my kitchen turned out that I show it off to everyone that comes over.

  11. I have pressboard cupboards covered with a paper that looks like a walnut wood. Can I prime my cupbords and then paint them a light color with a good enamel paint? I can’t find anything on line that talks about pressboard cupboards.

  12. By the way, I am not physically able to do the work–want to use my kitchen with the pressboard cupboards as a make-over? I’d love it!

  13. I have the same issue as Connie Gerber and have been searching for an answer to this question myself. Have not had any luck though. Any suggestions for the pressboard? The face of my cabinets are wood, but the exposed sides are the pressboard with paper (that is starting to curl at the bottom). Need help too!

  14. In our second home, I have a kitchen dating back to 1970. We are planning to sell but need to do a little TLC befor selling.

    I have a contractor and he has said to paint the formica cabinets and fill in the incision on the doors.. change hardware of doors and tile the counter… but since I watch you on TV and you know what your business well, I need your advise. By the way, he did not explained how he was going to paint them, what technique.

    The cabinets(wood) inside need to be sand,cleaned and painted since they have contact paper on the bottom. The shelves are integrated to the cabinet. The doors have a deep incision all around them, making a design and the exterior of the cabinets and doors are lamintated with formica ( white withvery light beige swirls imitating the rings of the bark of the tree.)

    If the cabnets are painted, must they be removed or can we do it directly on the wall. Would it have to be done with a paint compressor or can it be done manually. If so, how?

    I was wondering whether the cabinets may be painted all white and change the doors to solid and others in milk glass. Obviously changing the hardware. Giving it an uplift.
    Where could I go to get new doorsin case the actual doors cannot be facelifted? This is in Miami, Fl 33183

    the counter is in beige formica. I have been informed that the granite cover is very expensive. Would it be wise to put tiles on the counter and remove the look of just plain formica?

    Thank you for your help.

    Rita Rodriguez

    • Hi Rita,
      Your cabinets can be painted right on the wall. You could either spray or hand paint the interior. If you spray be sure to close off the kitchen from the rest of the house, cover everything you aren’t painting to prevent overspray, and provide plenty of ventilation. The kitchen cabinet department at home centers, like The Home Depot, can order custom made doors in a number of styles, either prefinished or unfinished. Be sure to order the doors in advance of starting the job, since it can take 2-4 weeks for them to arrive. We did an episode on a kitchen cabinet project similar to yours that might help. You can watch the show and read about it at Budget Kitchen Makeover. For more on tiling your countertops, check out our article on How to Install a Granite Tile Countertop.
      Good luck with your project!

  15. Hi!
    I have 50 years old kitchen with costume made wood cabinets with a walnut stain that are in very good condition, however the doors and drawers fronts are made of half and inch plywood double with and oak veneer?. I would like to replace the doors and drawers and keep the original cabinets that are customized through all the house, a beautiful 50 years old ranch in a colonial style. I like to keep the integrity and beauty intact. Can you help me with some ideas about the replacement of doors and drawers? How can I replace them? How can I match it to the original finish, walnut? How do I replace the drawer fronts that do not pull apart? What is the least expensive way to do it? Thank you for your help.

  16. I have a fairly new kitchen with about 20 upper and lower cabinets in varrying sizes. Although it is still new and the work is good, the face of the doors is a little plain and i would like to replace them. How do i go about doing this? Im satisfied with the drawers, but if im replacing the doors on my cabinets should i replace the drawers to? Also, how do i match wood grain and color variations? Any answers would be helpful. Thanks.

    • Hi Andrea,
      It’s a good idea to replace your drawer fronts when you replace the doors so the color, style, and finish will match. Good luck with your project!

  17. I have stained oak cabinets and would like to paint them with semi-gloss white oil paint. I would like for someone who has had good results painting cabinets to post on the best way to eliminate the wood grains which are most evident after two coats primer, two coats oil base paint. Is there a spray on filler which can be used? I doubt it but thought I’d ask. Thanks for your help.

  18. Hi, My kitchen is only about 8 years old and the white covering on my cupboards is fraying and peeling off at the edges. My house is pretty new so I don’t just want to do any old thing. How can I fix this problem? The white covering on some of the base is also peeling and brittle so just doing the cabinet doors will not work. Should I contact the original cabinet store? My guess is its to late and they will not help me. Eileen

  19. I have 20+ year old kitchen cabinets stained a very dark walnut/black. I would like to lighten the kitchen…is is possible to antique the cabinets? if so, how do I go about it? do I have to paint the cupboards white first and then put a glaze over them? suggestions?

  20. I have formica kitchen cabinets, they are covered in a thick white plastic imitating wood. They are in good shape but I want to add a coupl of more cabinets and I also want to change the doors to glass doors. How do I find the manufacturer of this type of cabinet doors.. I cant afford to redo my whole kithchen so I want to just add a couple of pieces and possible replace the doors. Please help.

  21. I have 10 yr old cabinets by a Canadian company (Canac) that has since gone out of business. The edges of the drawers and cabinets are pealing away. Can I replace these even though they are from a Canadian company where the measurements are slightly different? Know of any good references? Thanks!

  22. I recently purchased some custom made cabinets that turned out to look much more bright and orange toned than I was wanting. Is there something I could put over top of them that would mute, fade, and lighten the colour? I don’t know what kind of products are out there. Would some kind of a glaze work? Or maybe some kind of a bleaching product?
    Thanks for your help.


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