hands opening a paint can

How To Paint Kitchen Cabinets Dark Chocolate

Originally contributed by • last updated 5/4/2021

BeginnerDifficulty Level
8 hrs.Time
Blue Bird
BeginnerDifficulty Level
8 hrs.Time

Renovating a kitchen can take a lot of time and be a huge drain on your wallet. If you're capable of doing some of the work yourself, turning to DIY can save you a lot of money.

Oftentimes, it only takes a few adjustments to make your kitchen shine like new. If you focus your energy on prominent features like cabinets, countertops, or the backsplash, you're able to completely refresh your kitchen without gutting it.

Learning how to paint kitchen cabinets yourself can be a massive help when it comes to saving money. And with the right guide, it can even turn out really well!

Though there are so many amazing examples of kitchen makeovers out there, Andrea's post on Remodelaholic takes the cake.

Having just moved to a new home with more space than they were accustomed to, the design possibilities were endless (even though their budget was not).

Hitting two birds with one stone, Andrea decided to completely DIY her kitchen cabinets and created a transformation for the books. 

Opting for a dark chocolate cabinet color, she also installed a lovely glass-tile backsplash and completely new hardware.

Instead of starting from scratch, Andrea actually used a little bit of a design hack: Rustoleum's Chocolate Cabinet Transformation Kit!

Doing away with the grueling task of pre-sanding kitchen cabinets, the kit includes a de-glosser which does most of the hard work for you.

Follow along to see more of Andrea's helpful guide and learn how you, too, can paint kitchen cabinets yourself!

Let's Make It


  • Sand Paper
  • Screwdriver
  • Paint Brush


  • Wood Filler
  • Paint
  • Door Hardware
  • Glaze (Optional)
  • Clear Coat

Remove The Cabinet Doors


Before you start doing any scrubbing or painting, you need to remove all of the cabinet doors from your kitchen.

To do this, simply use a screwdriver to loosen the hinges, then remove the cabinet from the frame.

Spread the doors out on a sheet in a well-ventilated work area.


Remove The Handles


Start by removing the hardware and unscrew all of the handles from the cabinets and drawers. 

If you're swapping the old handles for new ones, fill the holes with wood filler. Allow the wood filler to dry, then sand it down to make sure it's flush with the rest of the cabinet. 

If you are keeping the original hardware, you can skip the wood filler step.

Wash the doors with a damp cloth to remove any dust.


Prepare The Surface


Next, prepare the surface so that the new paint has something to stick to.

Because the kit comes with a deglosser, there's absolutely no need to sand! This will help speed the process up and save you from a whole week of sore elbows.

Of course, if you do prefer to sand the cabinets, feel free! You'll just have some very finely honed muscles by the time the job is done.

Vigorously scrub the deglosser over the kitchen cabinets until all of the previous shine has disappeared.

Skipping this step and leaving the original finish will make it harder for the new paint to adhere to the surface. This could cause an uneven look, or worse, chipping paint in the final result.


Paint The Kitchen Cabinets


Working one layer at a time, paint a thin coat of paint onto the cabinet doors.

Keeping a 'less is more' mindset will really help to minimize brush strokes and drips. Multiple, thinner coats will help both with the final look and the durability of the paint job.

Allow the paint to dry thoroughly between each coat. Stop when you can no longer see the old wood beneath.

Don't forget to paint the backs of the cabinets, and make sure you allow them to dry before flipping them over.


Paint The Frames


Even though your cabinets have been painted, you still need to paint the frames to complete the look. (It would look quite silly to have cabinet doors that don't match the wood framing!)

These should be deglossed and painted the exact same way the kitchen cabinets were.


Apply A Glaze


The glaze included in Rustoleum's kit creates a wonderful wood grain texture when it settles, darkening the color as it dries.

If you prefer your painted kitchen cabinets to look flat and smooth, feel free to skip right by this step. 

Apply the glaze with the cloths provided, or use an old rag you don't mind getting dirty.

Be sure to follow the instructions on the product label for all of the application details.

After applying the glaze, allow the product to rest for a few moments, then wipe off a small amount at a time. (The darker you want the glaze to be, the less glaze you remove.)

Allow the remaining glaze to dry for approximately 12 hours.


Apply A Clear Top Coat


In order to have an easy-to-clean, long-lasting finish, it's important to apply a top coat to your kitchen cabinets.

Also included in Rustoleum's kit, brush the top coat evenly over all of your painted surfaces.

Allow it a minimum of 12 hours to dry.

Once that's done, you should be left with DIY kitchen cabinets that are just as stunning as they are durable!


What do you think of Andrea's dark chocolate kitchen cabinet transformation? Has it inspired you to try your own DIY kitchen cabinet makeover? Is there anything you'd do differently?

Share your before and after images with us if you have a project you're particularly proud of! We love supporting the talent of our DIY community.