The right way to paint kitchen cabinetry

Professional painter and decorator Tegan Williams, known as TradieGal online, reveals her pro tricks to painting kitchen cabinetry.

If you know me from Instagram, you’ll know me as TradieGal. If you’ve met me in real life you’ll know me as Tegan, a 28-year-old painter/decorator living in Featherston, the small, beautiful South Wairarapa town.

Homes in Featherston are often beautiful old villas, cottages and the occasional new home. My partner and I were lucky enough to get into the really “slim” rental market, and luckier still our landlords have no problem letting us make our villa our home. They gave us free rein to paint what we wanted and being a painter/decorator, I was keen to get stuck in.

When we moved in, the home’s interior was in a very dated-looking shade of yellow, ceilings included.

The first thing I did was to paint the ceilings with Resene Quarter Black White. This opened up the space and allowed light to bounce around. It’s amazing what a difference a freshly coated ceiling makes.

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It’s important to make a space feel like your own, so next on the list was painting a feature wall in the master bedroom in an eye-catching dark-aubergine shade called Resene Chapta And Verse. It gives the room a point of interest and personality.

After that, we gave the kitchen a bit of a tidy-up by painting the kitchen cabinetry.

Completing these jobs makes this house a home, and I got the same feeling as when I finish a house in my professional life. I’m not just painting four walls; I’m painting someone’s home and creating a space they’re going to enjoy and look at every day.

TradieGal Tutorial

Painting kitchen cabinets

When I start any repainting job, I begin by setting it up correctly. I clear the area of ​​clutter, cover it with drop cloths and give the paintwork a good wash with Resene Paint Prep and Housewash to remove any grime.

I then mask out any area with masking tape. I like to use masking tape on small areas such as kitchen cabinets or masking tape and paper on bigger jobs so that my paintbrush or roller doesn’t accidentally hit anything I don’t want to paint.

These kitchen cupboards were in relatively good condition – they were just a couple of paint coats shy of completion.


Start with a good sanding.

Mike Heydon/Resene

Start with a good sanding.

Since these cupboards were in good nick, the first thing I did was sand down the surface. For this cupboard, I used 150-grit sandpaper to buff it up by hand to allow the paint to stick well. Wipe away sanding dust with a clean, dry cloth.


Over masking is a good technique.

Mike Heydon/Resene

Over masking is a good technique.

I masked out the small handles to ensure I didn’t get any paint on them. The technique I prefer is called over-masking, where I cover the tape over the edge and press it in around the sides and cut off any excess with a sharp craft knife.


Tape will help you get sharp lines.

Mike Heydon/Resene

Tape will help you get sharp lines.

I then masked out the edge of the window frame since the color of the cabinets and the windows were different. As this area gets a lot of use, I knew I’d see that line every day and wanted it as sharp as possible.


A brush still gives a professional finish while maintaining the home's character.

Mike Heydon/Resene

A brush still gives a professional finish while maintaining the home’s character.

I used a new brush to paint the cabinets, using Resene Enamacryl tinted to Resene Quarter Black White. This is a waterborne gloss enamel which is fast-drying and allows me to do a same-day recoat. It is hard-wearing like oil-based paints used to be, but better for the environment. It’s great for high-use areas and easy to wipe down without leaving any wipe marks.

I applied the paint using a brush instead of a roller to maintain the home’s character, which would have originally been painted with a brush. The result didn’t look too ‘new’ but is still professional-looking.


Hold your brush on the side, using the bristles on the top edge to cut in.

Mike Heydon/Resene

Hold your brush on the side, using the bristles on the top edge to cut in.

I started by cutting in the ceiling and edges to give myself a buffer space for later when painting the main cabinets. When cutting in, I like to hold my brush on the side using the bristles on the top edge to follow the line of the wall.

Don't forget about the handles, hinges and inside edge.

Mike Heydon/Resene

Don’t forget about the handles, hinges and inside edge.

Next, I cut in around the handles, hinges and inside edge before painting the entire face of the cabinets.


Get a smooth finish by laying-off the paint.

Mike Heydon/Resene

Get a smooth finish by laying-off the paint.

For the main areas, I used a 63mm flat brush. I dipped one-half of the length of the bristles into the paint container, and gave the brush a tap against the side of the paint pot to remove any excess.

I held the paintbrush at about a 45-degree angle, working with my wrist to apply long brushstrokes for even paint coverage.

To finish, I “laid it off”. I used a semi-dry brush (I used my existing brush, but didn’t add more paint) and brushed with a smooth motion from the top to the bottom. Laying-off the paint is a term we use to give a smooth finish and hide brushstrokes.


New timber or melamine cabinetry requires priming before painting. Resene Waterborne Smooth Surface Sealer is ideal for priming melamine or laminated surfaces, while Resene Quick Dry is a good option for priming most timber. If you are unsure about what’s suitable for the job, ask the experts at your local Resene ColorShop.

Tegan’s top tips

I separated the cabinet into two sections—doors and the shelf. This helps maintain a ‘wet edge’ while painting and minimizes the risk of lap marks or “fat edges” where there is build-up of paint.

Lap marks and stripes appear when dry paint and wet paint overlap. Always make sure your painting edge is wet and doesn’t dry before you finish the job.

People often ask me why I decant paint from a paint bucket into a Resene paint pot instead of dipping the brush directly into the paint bucket. I do this because the paint buckets are heavy to carry around but also Resene’s lip-less paint pots prevent paint from being caught in the lip.

A paint pot will last me six months. It also keeps the paint in your original paint can fresh which will help it last longer if you are storing it for any touch-ups or other projects later.

For more TradieGal Tutorials visit Follow Tegan on Instagram at @tradiegal.

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