In this post: How not to paint kitchen cabinets. Unless you want your cabinets to resemble a piece of furniture found in a dilapidated shed after 50 years!

How not to paint kitchen cabinets

When it comes to painting kitchen cabinets, a Google search will get you any number of tutorials. Everyone from DIY bloggers, to HGTV and the DIY Network seems to have a tutorial on painting kitchen cabinets.

In case you’re short on time, the gist of all of them is to remove your cupboards, clean them really well, sand them, prime and paint a couple of coats.

(Don’t mind the paper skeletons. The kids were learning about bones in homeschooling!)

There are a few variations such as using more than one coat of primer or sanding between each coat of paint.

Some people use tack cloths to remove sanding dust while other use a vacuum or wet paper towels.

A few brave souls skip sanding all together and just use a deglosser.

But everyone – EVERYONE – insists upon cleaning the cabinets to remove cooking grease and splatters. And lots of those people say to use TSP.

According to Wikipedia TSP is:

Trisodium phosphate (TSP, E339) is a cleaning agent, lubricant, food additive, stain remover and degreaser. It is a white, granular or crystalline solid, highly soluble in water producing an alkaline solution.

If you want to take the easy way out with TSP (and not have to mix the powder yourself), you can buy it in a spray bottle like I did. Nothing really wrong with that. But you should probably put your glasses on, or get a magnifying glass out when you read the directions.

The directions say “Spray on and wipe clean with a cloth soaked in clean water.”

Yeah. Unfortunately I read it as “spray on and wipe clean with a cloth.”

When really it meant “be darn sure to wash off all TSP with clean water or else your corners and edges won’t take paint or primer no matter how hard you try or how much you wish they would!

One coat of primer + one coat of enamel paint on top of TSP = no adhesion! The photo above is NOT sanded. That is what applying paint on top of TSP not washed off looks like!

On the other hand, I did discover a new way to get a really chippy painted look!

chippy painted white cabinet doors

I suppose instead of “How NOT to Paint Kitchen Cabinets” this post could be titled “For the Love of Pete, Wash Off ALL the TSP!”

chippy painted white cabinet doors

But I think you get the picture. If you don’t wash off all the TSP, your paint job is going to resemble a piece of furniture found in a dilapidated shed after 50 years! Not cool.

Unless you’re going for that look in your kitchen. Which was definitely not what we were going for!

Oh and you probably shouldn’t use enamel paint that has a cure time of 30 freakin’ days either. Don’t ask me how I know. I don’t really want to talk about it.


Subway Tile Wall Rustic Coffee Bar Kitchen

Have you tried painting your own kitchen cabinets? Any good or bad stories to tell?

shannon photo and sig oct 2022