Ask Kylie: Will My Painted Maple Cabinets Really Last?
LONG story short, yes. However, we’re not friends because you enjoy my short stories…
When we bought our home 4 years ago, I knew that the maple cabinets wouldn’t be sticking around for long. They were in great condition, but just weren’t ma’ jam.
And yes, they were wood, which was lover-ly and all, but they weren’t MY type of wood. Also, buddy who owned the house before us thought he was a rocket scientist of engineering and on EVERY DRAWER front, behind the handles, he actually screwed in (with 4 screws each) metal construction plates for an authentic industrial vibe. And while you can’t really see the GLORY of them in this photo, let me tell you that they were good from far, but FAR FROM GOOD!
This meant that removing them (which was happening stat) would leave 4 holes in each drawer front, so regardless, I had some grunt work ahead of me either staining or painting.
And besides, if you’ve been drinkin’ my Koolaid for a while, I have a phrase you’re probably familiar with, so repeat after me,
‘Just because it’s wood, doesn’t mean it’s good’.
And once they were slathered in 3 glorious coats of primer and paint they still WOULD be wood – they just wouldn’t be so darned fugly.
We hired a pro painter to do the job for us (Delea of Details Painting) so that we could have everything properly prepped and sprayed. Because while I’m a fan of painting oak cabinets DIY style – I would never paint maple cabinets myself.
Why? Oak has grain, so it’s more forgiving for brush marks, roller lines, errant hairs – jazz like that (because most homeowners don’t spray). Maple is so damn smooth, there is literally NO room for error as you will see everything, it’s like white spandex.
MAPLE CABINETS MUST BE SPRAYED BY A PROFESSIONAL. For reals.
So, let’s go on a little photo journey together (who’s bringing the wine?).
Again, the kitchen before…I have no words…
And here it is after Delea worked her magic (I might have done a few things as well…)
See the original before and afters here
See how lovely it looked back then?
Well, guess what…it still looks lovely! Yes, there’s the odd tiny chip (not many though) and some very minor wear, but in all, I’m SUPER impressed with how it all looks 2 years later.
The island is virtually flawless and next to the sink cabinet, it gets the most wear and tear. In between bashing the vacuum head into it and going in and out of the various drawers and cupboards (these are high use cupboards) you’d think they’d have taken a beating – and they have. However, there is LITERALLY one…little…spot.
Will Painted Maple or Wood Cabinets Chip?
Yes, they will. But this can be said of ANY painted wood or MDF. The question is ‘how MUCH will they chip?‘
The main cupboard doors are looking great – some very minor wear on a few edges and a few weeee tiny little chips (like where the corner cabinet knob repeatedly hit the cupboard next to it as shown below).
Had I done this myself, I can guarantee they wouldn’t be looking like this. I’d be seeing roller and brush marks everytime light hit them. I’d be seeing bleed-thru where I didn’t clean the wood well enough prior to painting. I’d be seeing chipping, lots of it because undoubtedly, I wouldn’t have sanded and primed things well enough to last the long-term. Painting kitchen cabinets is not a ‘fun little job’. It’s an investment in the aesthetics of your home and should be done to LAST – you get what you pay for (so I highly recommend paying for it)!
Read more: 4 Ways to Update Wood Cabinets
Here’s the cupboard holding our plates and bowls. On the inside edge of the doors, a tiny bit of wear, but really, hardly anything relative to how much these doors are opened and closed.
The sink cabinet (naturally) is the one that shows the most use. And EVEN THEN, pretty damn good. A few chips above the knobs, but in all – FABulous. Why? Because I had a professional do it. Our home is an investment and it is WAY too nice to do things half-
You can see where the door frame meets the panel insert (above). When the cabinets were painted this was sealed up with paint, but naturally, with expansion/contraction, this has opened up. This is normal. I’ve heard of painters putting caulking there, so that when things move, the paint doesn’t, but PERSONALLY, caulking isn’t a tight enough job for me – it would be IMPOSSIBLE to not get big goobers in the corner and nappy edges, especially not on maple where EVERY flaw can potentially be exposed on its smoooooth surface.
1 year ago we ALSO did the bathroom vanity (I say ‘we’ like I actually did something – it was all Delea). And 1 year later it is ACTUALLY flawless.
See the original before and afters here
Long story short…
I’ve seen manufactured cabinets NOT hold up as well as these. I’ve seen brand-new painted maple/MDF cabinets hold up JUST as well. I’ve seen WOOD cabinets look more worn out as doors start to dry out and the stain rubs off (albeit after 3-4 years).
And the REAL question is – would I do it again? Would I paint over solid maple cabinet doors? HELLS YEAH I WOULD!
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We are SO happy with our painted cabinets…also done by the talented Delea! Although ours are oak, I still didn’t trust myself to paint them. It’s been almost a year that they’ve been done now and there are only a few minor nicks…all from a rough toddler smashing toys into them. Thanks, Kylie, for encouraging us to paint our builder-grade cabinets and for recommending Delea…even my wood-loving hubby has come over to our side 😉
YES! That is JUST what I love to hear and it’s great for everyone else too – thank you!!
Hi Kylie, they look great – what a fantastic “before” and “after.” Did you have the insides painted too? Or leave them in maple stain?
Hi Ginger, the insides were always white – luckily, or yes, I would have left them wood. The edges had to be painted (that 1″ wide strip), but the insides were left as-is!
Love the paint ed vanity – what shade of grey is it? Sheen? And what colour is the kitchen cabinets and what sheen? Thanks kindly – Denise
Hi Denise, thank you! The vanity is BM Metropolis, the cabinets are BM Cloud White. Both are painted with BM Advance in the satin finish!
Your kitchen is still gorgeous, I love it! I was curious about the paint cabinet color and looked at t he older post. Completely surprised that it is cloud white, especially with the cooler colored walls and counter. I thought cloud white had a yellow-ish undertone, but it sure doesn’t look that way in this room! Absolutely beautiful!
Thank you for this. Finally, someone telling it like it is. I’ve been thinking of painting my cabinets and everyone seems to be saying sure. Do it. Just sand and prime and paint. Yes, it will stand up. Yadda yadda. Personally, I worry about not prepping properly, brush/roller marks, etc. All the things you mentioned.
Hooray! I’m glad you found the info helpful – there’s nothing worse than going into a project unprepared and being disappointed…kitchens just aren’t an ‘easy fix’ if it doesn’t go well, so I’m inclined to err on the side of caution!
I would love to know what brand and type (semi-gloss, enamel, etc.) Delea used. Also, you mentioned 3 coats of primer followed by how many top coats. Thanks for the information. I’m sure many of your readers would also like the answer to this question.
Hi Susan, I used Advance by Benjamin Moore which is a waterborne alkyd in pearl finish. We do one coat of primer and two coats on top of that of the paint 🙂 Hope this helps!
Thanks Delea! I should’ve included that info in there. And I LOOOOVE the Advance in the pearl, fave for sure.
I am interviewing painters to paint my maple, raised panel 20-year-old kitchen. Can you tell me exactly what to look for to get a good outcome and a lasting finish? What kind of cleaning, cabinet preparation, paint steps and materials are essential? Thank you very much!
I just submitted my order for kitchen paint color and kitchen add one. I am dying to paint my natural cherry cabinets but afraid my husband would kill me. Now that I see yours…
Hooray! I can’t wait to work on it – it can be SUCH a transformation, but I agree that the hubbies are usually ‘less inclined’ to paint wood 😉
Wowww! Convinced. Amayzing! Thanks!
Thank you Kelly!
Nice work, What is the name of the counter top? it is timeless.
Thank you Gary! I’m in love with the countertop. Funny enough we have quartz on the island and laminate on the perimeter and i LOVE the laminate more than the quartz – I see every…single…thing on the quartz – drives me batty(er). The laminate is Formica Soapstone Sequoia, which is a kind of honed finish. I have mad love for it.
Hi Kylie..Love your posts and color guidance. Would you mind weighing in, if you could go back to your kitchen before having your wood cabinets white, what wall color would you use today to paint the walls (instead of the dark brown). Thank you for your time.
Oooo, good question. Well, it would depend on whether I changed the countertop and backsplash or not. But generally speaking, I probably would’ve focused my attentions on a cream, something along the lines of BM Gentle Cream or Navajo White. Warm but not TOO yellow/golden. Any cool tone (ie: green/blue/purple) would’ve contrasted, so I’m sure I would’ve kept things slightly on the warm side without going TOO warm. I hope that helps!
Deciding on doing this exact same thing to our maple kitchen cabinets also.
We’re your cabinets paint brush painted or spray painted and are there pro and cons for choosing one or the other .
I read somewhere that colours are not true when they are paint sprayed because they dilute the paint to allow it to travel through the sprayer nozzle etc. Can you advise me about this or refer the question to Delea for her thoughts and opinion based on her many experiences.
Thank you so much.
Hi Kim! So, while there were a few things…
Cupboard doors/drawers/crown molding – were all taken away and sprayed
Built-in pieces/gables – were cut in where needed, but generally speaking were rolled.
As for colour, it should definitely be true. if they have to dilute it, it means they will need to apply more coats to get coverage. The only way it wouldn’t be true is if they didn’t do enough coats to cover the primed wood (which is never a solid wood as the wood shows through) or if they added a different tint/colourant.
If it were ME, I would spray as much as humanly possible as it’s a FAR superior final finish – absolutely. If it were oak, I would still say spray, but I wouldn’t be quite as fussed about it – I hope that helps!
I love reading all your comments and suggestions, I want to do an online consultation with you but should I wait until the house is finished or should we start now? Its just in the framing the walls stage.
Hi Janis! It’s all about personal preference. If you have your main products picked, ie: countertop, flooring, etc… then I can absolutely do the consult for you based on the floorplans/questionnaire. It will just be that bit more helpful if you know the exposures in your rooms as well! If you don’t have those selected, then I’d do that first and then we can get rolling!
Looking forward to helping you…
During the makeover, did you refinish the hardwood floors too? In the “after” pictures, they look darker, so I was wondering if that is a different color stain or merely because the cabinets were painted.
Hi Donna! It’s actually laminate flooring! We put in some new stuff from Lowe’s which I LOOOOOVE. We get a lot of compliments on it as it’s so realistic looking – it’s a Mohawk product!
Hi Kylie, I’m curious what are the hardware finishes on your cabinet pulls & knobs? (both kitchen & bathroom) And should the hardware finish match the faucet or the light fixture? Thank you!
Hi June! The kitchen is like an aged silver look (kind of in between nickel and pewter). The bathroom is a polished nickel. As for matching, ideally they would ALL match, but sometimes ideal doesn’t exist 😉 So, I’m more likely to go with the light fixture than the faucet (as the faucet is quite often chrome)…
Hope that helps!
A HUGE thank you to you for this post!! I’ve been wanting to paint our cabinets (that look exactly like your “before”) but I was so nervous about how they would hold up! We are biting the bullet and have scheduled a professional cabinet painter. So now the question is what color – alabaster or pure white? Our walls are repose gray and the counter tops very similar to yours (Caesarstone turbine gray). I don’t know the exact color of the trim but I would say it’s closer to alabaster than pure white. If I had to choose I would say cabinets that are white rather than off white or cream but I want them to mesh with the other colors in the room. Love your blog and have told all my friends about it!
Elizabeth, that is just the type of comment that I LOVE to get – thank you! And oooo, that’s a tough one. Alabaster could be just a bit too creamy…you know what you could try – which is super anal, I know, but you could add 4 ounces of white to the gallon of Alabaster, just to clean it up a smidge (and truthfully, SW whites aren’t that great for coverage and this can REALLY help). Short of that…I MIGHT lean toward Pure White for a more simple white look, as long as the Alabaster trim isn’t RIGHT NEXT to the cabinets….does that help????
Elizabeth, have you finished your project? We are remodeling and have ordered white shaker cabinets. I’m currently trying to decide on both countertops and paint and am strongly considering Turbine Grey counters and Repose Grey paint (though I’ve been reading through all of Kylie’s guidance on greys and keep changing my mind)! Would LOVE to see how your project came together if it’s all done!
I love everything about your kitchen- the cabinet color, the counter tops, and the wood accents. Very nice! Could you tell me the wall color and what exposure of sunlight you have?
Thank you Barbara! The wall colour is BM Steel Wool (also in my north facing entryway) and the exposure in this room is almost ALL south, with a wink of west 🙂
Nice transformation. However, your before after photos are a bit misleading since the before was taken with an ordinary camera phone and the after image is professionally photographed with lighting. Anything looks better with some nice light and post-processing.
Hi Jennifer, you’re kind of right! The before photos were just quick shots with my old phone, which is all I had at the time. In the 2 years since then I got a decent, but not fancy camera, but promise you that those AREN’T pro photos, just me playing around with my new camera and I’m far from expert! Unfortunately I wasn’t going to bust out my old camera for the afters 😉 and even then, the results would still be striking!
I have been looking but maybe I’ve really missed it…what is the name of the dark gray color that you painted in the kitchen walls? Thank you!
Hi Leah! That’s BM Steel Wool – super gorgeous colour. If you find the article about our entryway in that home, you’ll see it there too. The kitchen was south facing and the entryway was north facing ;).
Kylie, love your easy-to-understand, common sense decorating posts! I too have maple cabinetry, black Avanza counter tops and medium dark wood look tile flooring in south facing room. The walls are BM Grant Beige and I’m thinking of BM Steam for cabinets since all adjacent hallways/room baseboards, trim & doors are this color but just not sure. Also, we’ve had 5 paint contractors come through to estimate for kitchen cabinetry who only recommend oil base paint only for cabs but it WILL yellow esp in lower light room. I’m very happy to see that you did use the BM Advance which is also supposed to yellow a bit, just not as badly as I have been very interested in this product. HOWEVER, most of the contractors seem to not like this product’s durability for kitchens or are simply not familiar with it. I have a very high use kitchen area. So here’s my specific questions:
1. Is BM Steam the right white considering my situation?
2. Is BM Advance as durable as oil base in high use area?
3. Our hinges are dark metal, European style made for Kent Moore custom cabinetry. They are a very nice style..quiet and have an exposed sliver of hinge on exterior cut out. I do not want to paint over these but wish to keep them as they are with new white paint. Do you agree?
I can’t wait to hear back from you as I am feeling so stressed about this very important decision that we have saved years to undertake!
Hi Kylie, I am so exciter to have found your blog and website really enjoying looking at your videos and doing the 4 courses. I still don’t really trust my own judgement enough 🤯. We have southern facing kitchen and on tight budget was going to basically copy your kitchen here (hope that is OK?) But we have a floor to ceiling red brick fireplace with orange yellows and a hint of purple at other side of kitchen. Would the colour your painted walls are be likely to match that or clash with it do u think?