This may be the biggest “bang for your buck” project we’ve ever done.
We have builder grade oak colored cabinets in our kitchen. They were in pretty good shape but we were getting tired of the oak finish.
We decided the best choice for our budget would be to paint the cabinets we had instead of replacing them. Painting the cabinets is MUCH less expensive than replacing them!
I’ll take you through the process and share little tips that worked well for us.
Before we get started here are a couple things to think about. Painting all of your kitchen cabinets is not hard but it is pretty time consuming. Be ready to live in a mess for a couple days. Here’s some suggestions I have to make that time a little easier:
- Think about making some meals ahead of time or getting a lot of take out since your kitchen will look like a war zone for a couple days.
- If you have kids, see if they can spend some extra time with friends or grandparents during this process. It’s really hard to get painting done with little ones running around.
Allright, on to the project!
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Major supplies needed:
- High quality paint brushes like these
- TSP to help clean the cabinet surfaces
- White paint in a satin finish (this is what we used. You can choose gloss finish if that is more your style)
- Paintable wainscoting wallpaper to give the cabinet ends a custom look
How To Paint Cabinets
First step: get some good music playing. Something that will put you in a good mood because this project will take a long time!
Clean out the cabinets. We took out all the dishes and glasses and left the non-eating items and pushed them all the way in the back of the cabinet to protect it from dust and chemicals. Looks nice, right?
Prepare All Surfaces For Painting
To sand or not to sand. That is the question.
We really debated about whether or not to sand. No sanding = less time. Sanding = better results.
We decided to do a quick sand and then treat the surfaces with a TSP product similar to this one. The main goal of this project was to get good results so we took the extra time & it was worth it!
We used medium grit sand paper block and lightly sanded the cabinet frames, doors, and drawer fronts. While we didn’t do much sanding on the “skeleton” part of the cabinets, more time was spent outside sanding the drawer faces and cabinet door faces. We used a small motorized sander and roughed up the surfaces. We didn’t feel the need to sand all the way to the wood, but it helped provide a good, smooth surface for the primer. Little to no time was spent on the inside of the cabinet doors. In this picture I sanded the bottom part to give you an example of the “light” sanding I did.
After the sanding is all done, wipe off dust and sanding residue with a dry clean cloth.
Then we primed all the surfaces with Zinsser primer.
We took off all the doors and drawer fronts and painted them outside so we had more space to work.
Here’s a quick tip: while taking off doors and drawer fronts, clearly label the doors and where it came from with the same number. This will help make sure all the fronts go back to the right spot.
Next we started priming the cabinet doors and drawer fronts. My hubby discovered the secret to a very smooth finish on painted cabinets…
We took the doors and drawer fronts outside and used spray paint primer. Spray paint primer is thin enough to let the wood grain show through but is substantial enough to give the final paint a surface to stick to. We only used the spray primer on the doors and drawer fronts since those could be taken outside to paint. The rest of the cabinet frames were primed using the conventional primer.
After the coat of primer was dry, we started painting with our final paint. We used Krylon acrylic latex enamel paint in white with a satin finish. We chose this paint specifically because of its thin texture. Using a thin paint helps the wood grain show through the dry paint, giving a more realistic look.
We began by going to the local home improvement store and buying the expensive, custard like paint, and we hated the results. We much preferred the thinner paint and more coats.
We painted with a lot of thin coats and were really happy with the results. Look how you can see the wood grain through the paint!
The best tip I can offer you is to take your time when you paint using thin coats and a paintbrush. Don’t glop it on. It’s better to put on a couple thin coats of paint and get a smooth finish. Some of the bottom cabinets we only used a couple coats of primer and a couple coats of finishing paint, while on some of the uppers, we used more coats (my hubby is a bit obsessive). After the cabinet doors are re-installed, a coat of paint takes almost no time at all.
One problem with painting cabinets is once the project is done, the cabinet doors and drawer fronts can stick to other painted surfaces and end up ripping off dry paint. I have a solution to that problem that I found online.
When we put the drawers and doors back on, we put little foam pads on the corners. Then we wiped a little Vaseline on the pads so the pads won’t stick to the paint. Even though the paint is dry to the touch, it isn’t cured yet so that leaves a lot of opportunities for the paint to flake off. Not good after spending all that time painting!
After all the surfaces were dry, we put the doors, drawer fronts and pulls back on and were amazed at the results. Seriously. This was the one project we’ve worked on where the results were BETTER than we expected.
Here’s the results!
I love how bright and cheery it is!
The white cabinets really make our counter tops stand out!
We could never figure out why the builders of our house didn’t continue the upper cabinets all the way to the end like our lower ones. So we added a new cabinet to fix that awkward looking corner. Woo-hoo for more storage space!
We put some wainscoting wallpaper (that looks like the real stuff!) on the ends of the cabinets and are ecstatic with how it looks! Not only was this much cheaper than using traditional wainscoting, it was much easier to work with. I’ll be sharing all the details on this in a future post soon! But for now I’ll just tease you with this:
It’s amazing how much brighter the whole kitchen looks now!
I hope this inspires you! If you try this leave a comment and let me know how it turns out!
This post linked to Create It Thursday, Tatertots and Jello, Give Me The Goods Monday, Whimsy Wednesday, Serenity Now, Home Stories A to Z, Whatever Goes Wednesday, Saturday Show and Tell, Wine’d Down Wednesday, Moonlight and Mason Jars, Throwback Thursday, Link’n Blogs, Thrifty Thursday, Inspiration Monday, The Makers, and Inspire Me Please
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