Kitchen Reface with General Finishes Milk Paint – What to Use for a Great Result

This post is all about how to use General Finishes Milk Paint to do a Kitchen Reface.

painting cupboards kitchen

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Published December 21, 2021
Updated March 29, 2022
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Last week I started a project to Reface the Kitchen cabinets. Out with the old stained Golden Oak cabinets and in with the newly painted cabinets. This has been on my to-do list since we moved into our home two years ago. With a home that was built in the 90’s, every product that is wood is golden oak. What really bugs me about the cabinets is not the stain, but the fact that they have since turned an orange that is unpleasant.

Below is a picture of little miss Elliana helping me the other week with a baking project. If you see behind her, the kitchen cabinets are SO orange golden. Isn’t she cute though!?!

A product I love already

While I am not saying to just go out and buy any-old-paint to paint your cabinets, research and product testing is also super important. For the last two years, I have been using this product from General Finishes to paint random things in our house. The master bathroom vanity, master bedroom dressers, Sam’s nightstand and more. In doing this Kitchen Reface, this was not the first time using their Milk Paint, so I can say with certainty that I am a pro and know how to use it well.

While I am not saying to just go out and buy any-old-paint to paint your cabinets, research and product testing is also super important. For the last two years, I have been using this product from General Finishes to paint random things in our house. The master bathroom vanity, master bedroom dressers, Sam’s nightstand and more. In doing this kitchen, this was not the first time using their Milk Paint, so I can say with certainty that I am a pro and know how to use it well.

Clean First

Learning how this paint reacts to different brushes, pre-painted, pre-stained, sanded or just buff sanded is really important. I have tried using foam brushes to paint G.F. Milk Paint, and it just is not my favorite look. After two years of samples and tests, a 2-inch angled brush works the best for any surface. It can get into the tight edges and corners while allowing the pain to finish in a smooth look with little to no brushstrokes.

Prep is one of the most important, and labor-intensive parts, of this project. If your cabinets have a semi-gloss or a satin stain, you will need to sand them for the pain to adhere and not just flake off. But, before you sand, you will need to prep the cabinets and clean them. What is recommended to use is Goo Gone, sprayed on the cabinets and wiped off to clean any and all residues. I have never worked with Goo Gone, so starting this kitchen reface, I did not want to bust out a new product.

I highly recommend using Dawn dish soap, warm water and a Scotch-Brite scrubber pad to clean the surfaces of the cabinets before sanding. When all grime, dirt and food residue are off of the cabinet doors and surfaces, wipe them dry with a towel.

Sanding is Key

A basic 150 grit sandpaper does a fantastic job to buff off the top layer of stain. Use a sanding block to hold the sandpaper evenly as you run it along the grain of the wood. When the surfaces have been sanded, wipe them clean again to remove all dust from sanding. Make sure that any job you do, especially a Kitchen Reface, that you sand so the paint does not flake off.

Milk Paint for the Kitchen Reface

Tyler and I decided to use Patina Green for the lower cabinets and Snow White for the uppers. General Finishes has two dozen Milk Paint color options, and I highly recommend checking out their selection! They also have topcoat available, which helps give your project an added layer of protection in high used areas. They also have wood stains, glaze effects, gel stains and more. The prices are really comparable, and actually better in my opinion, than buying one from a big-box store.

Once all of the cabinet doors were removed, pulls taken off, cleaned and sanded, it is ready to start painting! This is by far the most fun part because the transformation is almost instant. General Finishes Milk Paint is such a high pigmented paint that two coats cover the surface perfectly.

The first day, the drawers were painted, and I was so forgetful to take pictures! So sorry! I took the brass drawer pulls off, set the drawers on the countertop and painted them one-by-one. After 2 hours, with a recommended drying time of 1 hour between coats, the drawers were given their second coat. Leaving them to dry overnight and painting the faces of the cabinets.

repainting kitchen cabinets

A few years ago, we went to a benefit for a good friend who was going on a mission trip with our church to Burkina Faso, Africa. She made these giant clocks out of wood spools. The one we fell in love with has an image of Africa at the #12 and the quote “Jesus Living Water” with a woman and child carrying a bowl. Without realizing, we chose the color for our cabinets that is remarkably similar to the clock. I’d say that is a win!

kitchen milk color

I ended up painting the doors on top of my fantastic Tupperware on the countertop. The peninsula area was best as it has a bright light above and can help see what I am doing while painting.

general finishes milk paint kitchen cabinets

A gift from Tyler

As you can see, below the upper cabinets are still stained golden oak. Hopefully by the end of the year I can have those finished and white! Stay tuned for a second blog about the whole Kitchen Reface that is finally finished. This is a great picture, as Samuel has his hands in his pants. What a kid. All my guys are in the kitchen inspecting my work. Got to love their ideas!

Plus, we were discussing a gift Tyler gave to me. Before this project started, we decided to keep the pulls brass. There were two reasons for this decision. The first was a cost factor. Cabinet pulls can get quite expensive, and as we would need 31, we didn’t factor the extra cost into the project.

The second was an aesthetic reason. At first, we thought the brass would look decent with the Patina Green and White cabinets. However, after the drawers and doors were put back on and the pulls put back on, Tyler decided our original design with wanting copper pulls would be the better way to go.

So, my Christmas gift this year are copper pulls for the cabinets! Woo Hoo!! I cannot wait to add them to the drawers and doors when they are delivered.

paint ideas for kitchen cabinets

Brass or Copper?

Below are the two options for pulls for the cabinets.
On the left is the original brass pulls. Cost $0.00.
On the right is the new idea for copper pulls. Cost $94.00 with shipping and tax. These came to $2.72 each.

Don’t forget to paint the vents in a Kitchen Reface

We also had a vent below the sink cabinets that was dark brown. I gave it a good wash, sanded every surface and painted it with the same Patina Green Milk Paint from General Finishes. This way, the vent will blend in with the cabinets and not be noticeable. As this refinishing was not the end-all to our kitchen woes. It is basically my idea of a Band-Aid until we can fabricate and design our dream kitchen for this house.

milk paint on kitchen cabinets

Yes, I could have not done this project and waiting a few more years. But honestly, the cabinets look SO good! I am so proud with how they turned out and would not go back in time to not have done this job.

Cost breakdown for this Kitchen Reface project

General Finishes Milk Paint $70.24
New Copper Pulls $95.76

Cost up to this point is $166.00
The paint cost less than the cabinet pulls! How crazy is that?! But seriously, this paint is the best. This can was enough to do two coats on every door, drawer and door faces. Not bad for a week of work so far!

Since using this product on a few different projects before doing the kitchen, I was sure that it would not be a bad product to use. In the past, we have painted trim paint onto wood surfaces, and it chips and shows age very quickly.

In the master bathroom, our vanity was painted with General Finishes Perfect Gray one year ago. It has literally no chips, cracks or damage to the paint finish. Even using it in the bathroom as a high-humidity area, the paint is holding up very well. So, there is little to no worry about this product holding up in the kitchen.

milk paint kitchen

The pulls were bought online, as we needed 30 at a pop and could not find them instore. Hopefully they will be here before Christmas, and we can have them installed by then! Below are the kitchen base cabinets done with the original brass pulls. We put them on, so our kids do not scratch the cabinets by not using the pulls. This just adds a layer of protection on the finishes before the new pulls arrive.

milk paint kitchen cabinets diy

This kitchen is going to be so much fun to cook in! I seriously LOVE the color and am equally impressed with the General Finishes Milk Paint product. Stay tuned for my blog about the finished upper cabinets! Hope to get those done before New Year. The manufacture recommends that you use up to three layers of topcoat in a kitchen. We will need an estimated gallon to do the entire surfaces, which will cost over $90. I did not add that cost into this blog as it was not a purchase made for this project so far.

This post was all about how to use General Finishes Milk Paint to do a Kitchen Reface.
~Monica

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For more updates on the Finished Kitchen Cabinet Milk Paint Project, check out the link below!

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