We are finally done!! Let me tell you, painting your kitchen cabinets is not a difficult task, but it is also not for the faint of heart. The entire transformation took four weeks, working mostly on the weekends, to complete. It is a lot of work, but I absolutely love my “new” kitchen; it’s light and bright, has much better flow without the breakfast table in the middle of the walkway, and I have counter space enough to start a baking business (although, I am a terrible baker – too much measuring.)
So, here’s the wrap-up on how we went about painting our honey-oak cabinets:
Because it’s a big kitchen (and we had to live through it), we decided to attack the cabinets, drawers, and boxes in shifts. We started with the left side, which included taping around the refrigerator and double ovens. This is where I learned the importance of not only numbering the doors as they are removed, but also numbering the hinges. When we put the doors back up after completing the first section, every one of them had to be adjusted to hang properly where it belonged. Do yourself a favor, and don’t skip this step.
Once the doors and drawers were removed and the hardware was removed, they had to be scrubbed with a de-glosser and ScotchBrite Pad. This is where I conducted my first experiment: I used Krud Kutter on half the cabinets (including boxes) and Clorox Wipes on the other half. I’d seen in my web-trolling, that many people only use Clorox Wipes. So, I tried it and found that I got pretty much the same result with both. I guess the takeaway is that either way you go, the General Finishes Milk Paints go on beautifully.
My wonderful husband agreed to help me with this giant project, bought us a finish paint sprayer, and even built a makeshift spray enclosure in his garage. Being able to spray the cabinet doors made the whole project go much faster. And, this is where I conducted my second experiment: would the paint cover the wood grain better or go on any easier if I primed the doors first? I used Zinsser BIN Interior Primer Sealer, which I learned the hard way cannot be sprayed on. But, I found the doors primed first did not cover the wood grain any better than the ones without primer. In fact, I found that if I brushed on the first coat of paint, then sprayed the second and third, followed by three topcoats, I got the best finish and definitely the greatest diminishing of the wood grain. I used General Finishes Snow White Milk Paint and General Finishes QTHS High-Performance Water Based Topcoat in Satin both of which I purchased from Amazon, at a cost of about $30/quart.
I painted all of the boxes with a brush, which is time-consuming, I won’t lie to you. But, since the General Finishes Milk Paints self-level, I ended up with an absolutely beautiful finish, which made all of the time and effort totally worth it! You can see from the picture above that the wood grain is only noticeable if you look hard for it. Once one side of the kitchen was done, we put all of the hinges back on the doors and hung them on the newly painted boxes them. One thing to note here: we decided to put new pulls on all of the doors and drawers. In the case of the drawers, we just replaced the knobs with new ones. The cabinet doors were a different matter altogether. We decided to go from a knob to a true pull that required a second hole be drilled in each door. We measured with a knob and pull template that’s available at any Home Depot or Lowes. The important part of this is that the holes should be drilled BEFORE painting in order to be sure any splintered areas get paint coverage.
That’s it! Four weekends and about $200 in supplies (not including the paint sprayer which we bought from Amazon for $104) and I have the kitchen I envisioned when we bought the house. I really couldn’t be happier with the result. Oh, and I saw an idea on Pinterest that I thought was brilliant, so I hacked it. You know those faux drawer fronts in front of your sink and sometimes in front of your cooktop? Well, I didn’t want to put tilt-outs like we’ve done in previous homes. So when I saw the idea to put towel bars that match the cabinet pulls, I was thrilled. I hate having dish towels on the drainboard so for me this was perfect!
And finally, the finished product:
Tips & Tricks Learned:
- Be sure to number cabinets, drawers AND hinges. This will save you a lot of time in the end.
- Probably the most important step is cleaning the cabinets. My cabinets appeared to be clean until I got them down and started the cleaning process. Yuck! The amount of grease that builds up on your kitchen cabinets is really amazing. If you don’t get all of that grime off, it will eventually bleed through your paint.
- Take the time to decide on exactly the color you want and whether or not you want a glazed look, a distressed look, or just a clean solid look. You really want to do this before you start so that you can keep moving forward once started. It’s also a good idea to decide on pulls and knobs ahead of time.
- When we finished painting the boxes and hanging all of the cabinet doors, the spaces between boxes stood out much more than it ever did when they were orange. We took care of this and created a very finished look with white paintable caulk. Once it was dry, I went over it with two topcoats so that it would have a seemless finish.
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