Paint Kitchen Cabinets Espresso Brown

This past week I created an espresso brown wood grain on a set of island cabinets in a kitchen.  This project really came out great.  The butcher block on the island is new also.  This first photo is the completed island.

paint kitchen cabinets

The next two photos are the before pictures.  The built-in wine rack was a challenge to get around.  The second picture here I had already taken off the doors and drawer fronts.

The first step is to clean the kitchen cabinets really well.  In the kitchen they are going to have cooking oils and grease on them no matter how well they are kept clean.  So what I do is wash them down really well with a degreaser then rub some 320 grit sandpaper over the all the surfaces.  Once I tack that I prime the cabinets.  The next three photos show the island primed.  I take home the doors and drawer fronts to do at home.

 After the primer is dried I apply the base coat of paint as you can see in the next photo.

Once the base coat has dried over night I tape off the panels on the back side of the island so I can paint the espresso wood grain on.  With the three panels there I tape off the top and bottom and then paint the vertical wood grain in across all three at once.

 Once the vertical grain painting is dried I re-position the tape and paint the horizontal wood grain pattern on.

The following photos are of the finished product.


  1. Robert,
    This looks good. What were the colors used?

    1. As you can see from the photos I used a medium dark gray primer, then the base coat of paint is a Sherwin Williams color called Turkish Coffee, then I created the wood grain with a SW black color called Tricorn Black. Hope this helps.

    2. By the way the black was thinned down some.

    3. Did you use a enamel paint or a laytex paint with sealer?

    4. I use an acrylic paint from Sherwin Williams, it's the Emerald line they sell. However, with all my cabinet work after they are painted I apply two coats of a clear acrylic sealer called Varathane and I get it at Home Depot They probably sell it in other stores also. I highly recommend you apply this water based polyurethane over any cabinet work or furniture work.
      Here is the difference to me what using a clear coat does. If you paint your cabinets and do the best paint job imaginable when people see it and touch it they will say, 'Wow that's a great paint job." After applying two coats of this clear coat they will say, "Wow, you got new cabinets." I only use the water based because it will not yellow over time.

  2. Robert, what do you mean by "I created the wood grain with a SW black color"? did you apply one more coat of this paint? Sorry, new to the painting.

    1. SW is for Sherwin Williams paint. I used a black paint from them. I like the emerald line of paint they have for interior projects. Goes on great and has really good adhesion.
      As for the technique of creating a wood grain I use a 2 inch angled Wooster Chinex brush. You can get them from Home Depot. I use the thin profile and not the full one.
      Once the base coat is dry, which in this case was a dark brown, I then thin down the black paint and use a dry brush technique to create the wood graining.
      I have a tutorial on this, here on this site under the Garage Door Tutorial tab at the top of the page. It shows how to paint garage doors with a wood grain look but it's the exact same process no matter what I create a wood grain on.
      Hope this helps.

    2. Thanks for clearly explaining the details Robert.


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