I was not intimidated by painting the kitchen cabinets. I was intimidated by picking a color! The main reason I wanted to paint the cabinets was because when you walk in the kitchen it’s an overwhelming amount of wood, I wasn’t trying to turn that into an overwhelming amount of blue instead. So needless to say, it took a while to pick a color. And now that it’s painted, I have to be completely honest, I’m not totally in love with the color. But I am definitely happy it’s not the wall of yellow oak it once was! We got to the point we’re at now over a 2 month time period, doing it right takes a long time. Also, there’s a lot of waiting involved in painting cabinet so you’ve gotta pack your patience. It helps to set up a good system to store kitchen stuff so you can still cook (or, make sure you have an arsenal of friends and family close by to feed you while you’re kitchen-less). While the cabinet boxes and insides are done, we are not completely finished because we have decided to make our own doors. So this post is strictly painting information. Now without further ado…
Step 1: Cabinet Door Removal
This process went pretty slow at first because Evan hid the power tools from me (just kidding, they were in the shop and I do NOT go into that shop when the weather is warm–bees, spiders, and snakes! oh my), so I was unscrewing the hinges by hand. Not difficult, just time-consuming.
When Evan got home and got me the drill, it took about an hour to get the rest of the the doors off. Here are some of them (yes, just some).
Yes, that is an ironing board in the kitchen. I may or may not be using it as a table. Remodeling demands comprise!
Step 2: Cleaning
I was dreading cleaning these cabinets because number 1, it sounded tedious and boring, and number 2, it sounded tedious and boring. But in reality it wasn’t that bad and since it’s pretty much a requirement of painting cabinets, we got to work. My trusty assistant (Mom!) came to help me. We used TSP (which seems to be the standard in pre-painting cabinet cleaner) and as much as I wanted the cabinets to look miraculously cleaner and brand new and maybe come out looking like completely different cabinets…no such luck. They did look a little bit cleaner, but I’m pretty sure that unless you were the one who did the cleaning, you probably wouldn’t notice.
I like this picture because the light reflecting off the cabinet makes them really shine!
So anyway. Cabinets clean. Wait about a month.
Yeah seriously. So a month later I get my act together and move on to Step 3.
Step 3: Wood Filler & Sanding
Wood filler smells funny. Which kinda explains why when I woke up the next day and the hot water heater had exploded, I thought the smell was just the wood putty drying. But more on that later. All the screw holes from the hinges needed to be filled because I’m replacing the exterior hinges with the kind that are inside the cabinet.
Those ceilings though.
Mom and I then got to work sanding. I read a lot of information about painting cabinets and the required prep work and found two basic school’s of thought. The first being what I’ll call “The This Old House Kind of Technical” School, which, if you’ve ever seen an episode of This Old House, you can imagine what this is like–probably overkill for cabinets that in reality should really just be replaced. The other school of thought is more of a “Fake if Till you Make It.” Obviously, I am a fan of the latter. So we lightly sanded with a 120 grit sandpaper to rough up the surface. We then vacuumed up the dust and used a spray cleaner and tacky cloth to get the rest of the dust.
When that was done, off we went to Lowes to get the paint!
Step 4: Prime
Ta-da! Doesn’t that look better already?!
I can’t exactly remember our logic on painting the outside first, I would recommend to others painting the inside first because, while you want it all to be perfect, it’s not as big a deal getting a little bit of blue paint on the inside as it is to get a little bit of white paint on the outside! But anyway, priming was easy but ugly. Most paints today are paint + primer, so when you put on that first coat, it looks pretty much painted. Primer is ugly. It doesn’t cover consistently, and it smells. But it’s going to work a lot better than paint + primer on never before painted surfaces, especially unsealed wood. The inside of the cabinets are wide planks of untreated wood which would just suck up the paint. And 2 in 1 paint won’t stick to the glossy surface of the cabinet fronts as well as primer will. Plus, it’s cheaper than paint (yay!). On word!
Step 5: Paint (Outside of Cabinets)
Mom’s really good at pushing me to get stuff done when I start to get lazy. I think her strategy is to just not give me time to think about it, just gotta keep moving! So everything from Step 3 through Step 5 happened in one day! She’s a very good assistant and I’m lucky to have her help!
Just a quick side note, if you’re wondering where Evan is. He’s not the painting type. He does a lot of projects around the house that I hate doing or can’t do (plumbing, gutter cleaning, repairs, electrical, wall removal(!), etc), while I do these kinds of projects (painting, popcorn removal, unpacking (still), decorating (not yet), etc). And we are very lucky in that our parents live close by and help us out, we appreciate the help more than you know! We’ve got a great team 🙂
I’m still working on getting Evan to write some posts for the blog about his projects, once I get caught up I’ll be sure to get some on here. For instance, Evan and Mike are planning some things for the shop as soon as the weather warms up (no heat out there yet!), we’re all very excited for that!
But back to the painting! The color I ended up choose is a Mona Lisa. Every place I have painted a sample of this color it has looked completely different! From purple to gray to dark blue to light blue. It’s the most variable color I have ever seen. I user Valspar Ulta Semi-Gloss, Autumn Fog 4007-1B. I’m not sure if I had a good reason for using Valspar Ultra over Reserve (top tier Valspar paint), or ever Signature (middle tier), besides the fact that Ulta (which is the bottom tier of Valspar but still very good paint), is about half the price. It looks great, I just wonder if the Reserve would have looked better. But oh well!
I do really like it, but it’s definitely a brighter blue than I thought it was going to be. Sometimes it’s hard to add color to a large amount of space so I think a good way to do that is to do it on accident!
Step 6: Paint (Inside of Cabinets)
The next weekend we worked on the inside of the cabinets. Obviously, this took a lot longer than the outside because there’s a lot more surface area and cutting in to do. Plus, the corners of the cabinets are pretty tight to get into –you practically have to army crawl halfway into the cabinet to get it painted. If you’ve ever painted, or even gotten wet, old unfinished wood, then you know what I’m talking about when I say that it smells really bad! It’s like a musty, old basement kind of smell. Not very pleasant to climb into. But we prevailed!
The inside of the cabinets got two coats of Valspar Ulta Semi-Gloss, Ultra White. Then, something unexpected happened…
I decided that I’m going to leave off the doors on the back wall of cabinets. The very top row will get new glass doors, but the bottom will remain open shelves. So I painted the back of those cabinets in Valspar Ulta Semi-Gloss in Almost Charcoal 4008-2B.
I think it turned out pretty good. But I still felt like something wasn’t quite right with these, that they still looked like cabinets with the doors taken off, rather than shelves. So off to Lowes again!
More coming soon!