Saturday, January 3, 2009

DIY: painting kitchen cabinets

Since I promised a few people that I would post up some DIY information on kitchen cabinets, I figured I would put up some how-to info (and give a sneak peak of the kitchen).

My kitchen cabinets are completely cheap. The doors are warped and open/close rather wonky. My room layout is terrible. The whole kitchen had horrible spongepainting and borders everywhere. The floor was peel & stick floor tiles. Pretty nasty. Since I cannot afford a full, wonderful, renovation now, I have to settle for an "interim" fix. Just making it livable and not hideous.

One of my first steps was to paint the cabinets. My lower cabinets I did in a sage green color ("Fairy Wren" by Ralph Lauren) while the tops I did in white ("Picket Fence" by Ralph Lauren). I removed some of the doors to create a pretty display for my dishes... which the more I looked at, made me hate the rest of the cabinets. So I decided to remove all the doors from half of the kitchen and refinish those the same way. (The remaining cabinets will get new hardware, trim and a cool caning treatment which I will post up later).

I used Kilz primer, flat latex paint, flat enamel paint, and flat polycrylic sealer. I wanted a chalky finish like old milk paint, yet I wanted to be able to scrub them. If you don't care about sheen, use a satin. I use enamel on furniture I want to make "kidproof" for my 4 little boys, so it is a no-brainer to use on lower cabinets. Always take the time to degrease first. And use a good quality sealer unless you really want to redo them in a year.

Step One:
If you are removing the doors, use wood epoxy to fill in the holes. Sand. Then you may need to refill the holes a second time and sand. Give all the cabinets a good sanding down if they are "slick."

Step Two:
Prime. My primer here is still wet and shiny. Sometimes it takes another coat since that cheap particle board likes to soak up the paint. Primer is cheaper than paint - when in doubt, PRIME! If your primer doesn't seem to be sticking, so note above about cleaning them... they may be greasy. Simple Green is my favorite for deeping cleaning.

Note on primer - if your cabinets have been stained, you may need to use a primer for covering oil-based rather than latex. Kilz Original formula is oil-based good for sealing and priming woodwork. For a latex-based, Kilz Premium is nice because it is mildew resistant (nice for when water gets splashed on a cabinet.)

Step Three:
Paint! Use a good brush - it makes all the difference. My dad recommends Purdy, but any good quality brush will do.

You may need to do 2 or 3 coats, depending on the color and finish you have chosen. I used flat latex on the top cabinets and flat enamel on the bottom. Why? Well, my lower cabinets take more of a beating than the top ones. You could do enamel on both sets (and your trim) if you like. Personal choice.

Step Four:
Sand using a fine grit. Get out those brushmarks and, horrors, any runs. If you don't mind brush-strokes, you can skip this step. I like a nice finished look, so I sand. If you are a shabby chic person, you can run a piece of sandpaper along the edges on the cabinets and give it a distressed look. I tend to go for a traditional look, since I am a preservationist.

Step Five:
Seal in your hard work! I use a poly-acrylic by Minwax. I like a matte or satin finish to go with my flat paint. If you are all about scrubbability, you've probably been using satin or glossier, so pick satin or gloss in that case.

I will be covering up that bright yellow paint with a creamy white, and I don't have everything rearranged yet, but I wanted you to see an after.... so I threw up a few things for a picture.


nkp said...

What an amazing home you have! I'm sure it's worth all that effort to uncover such a treasure. Good luck with your renovations!

Blue Muse said...

Hey Puck!

Are those hardwoods under that peel and stick?! What a treat! Your cabinets look good and thanks for all the advice! It's going to get put to good use :)

xo Isa

niartist said...

Hi Puck!
Isa (Blue Muse) had me come by to see you, she said I wouldn't be disappointed - and she was right! What a great blog you have here! I'd love to see that sage green color you were talking about on the bottom cabinets. I've been toying with the idea of painting my white cabinets sage green for a while now. Off to read more of your blog!

klcampo said...

I was googling kitchen inspiration and stumbled on your blog. Thank you so much for the beautiful inspiration. I envy your house. How lovely to have something with character. I'm getting ready to paint my kitchen cabinets too and have been struggling with color. White cabinets, or cream, or pale blue or light green. Hmmm. I've got a center hall colonial knock off circa 1990, yes that's 1990. It's a boxy builder home, one we could afford, so I'm slowly trying to add character where there is none. I can't wait to see more pictures of your finished spaces!

Govindan said...

i was about to renovate my kitchen fully but after seeing your article i feel that the look of the kitchen can be change by mere adjustment and coloring.

karaxcupcake said...


i am redoing my cabinets. i have never used polyacrylic before. the can says to apply 3 coats. (so far one coat of primer and 3 coats of semi gloss are on there.) so i am supposed to sand beforehand and after each coat?

thanks for any advice!

puck said...

kara -

i don't think you will have great luck doing the spray cans. i tried that product once on a coffee table and it didn't apply an even coat, and it wasn't very thick.

you can get polycrylic in a can. minwax makes it, and i believe it is a teal can. you will be much happier with a brush-on version.

a light sanding between coats helps get rid of streaks and brush marks.

Jaz said...

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Huck said...

Hey! I'm Emily Anne - but I go by Huck -- and I'm a preservationist, too! I'm also elbow deep in a rehab. And I also blog about it all.

Love your site and am looking forward to exploring it more!


Victoryperfect said...

nice guide! thank you!/I love it ! Very creative ! That's actually really cool Thanks.
Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen Cabinets said...

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kitchen cabinets long island said...

Painting your kitchen cabinets can be an inexpensive way to breathe new life into an old space. All you really need is good information on how to do it correctly.

Liz said...

Looks nice!

Brian Walls said...

Great work and way to add something personal to your home. When we moved into our new house we need to fix an existing kitchen cabinet. These guys had an exact match! Amazing. . .