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Design, DIY

April 21, 2017

How to paint your kitchen cabinets!

How to paint your kitchen cabinets! | Fredericksburg, Virginia | DIY


I tackled a project I had on my “to do” list for a while. I constantly put it off because I was SO nervous to even attempt it. You’re kitchen cabinets are a HUGE part of your home and I didn’t want to be the one who completely ruined them, (oh the pressure!) I also knew that it would take a lot of time to come together so I wanted to make sure that I had at least a week to work on it (consistently).

I want to jump right in with the “how to” part but I should warn all of you guys first, THIS IS A HUGE PROJECT. It takes so much time and patience (which I have little of to begin with). So prepare yourselves.

I started with these amazing builder grade cabinets. I liked them, but it never escalated to love. They were made of engineered wood and they were stained to a color calle

d maple expresso; a super dark black-brown color. I began by making sure that all of the cabinets were free of grease and dirt. I looked up many different cleaners and finally ended up going with a TSP solution. This stuff works wonders! I went with the liquid solution, but they also sell a powder that you have to mix and transfer into a bottle. With the liquid TSP I used about 8oz of the solution and mixed it with water. I emptied an old Method Cleaner bottle and used that because I didn’t have an empty spray bottle around. I would definitely make sure to pick up a spray bottle when you go to get your supplies. Cleaning your cabinets may seem like a total waste of time, but this is definitely a step that you do not want to skip or skimp on. Your kitchen cabinets see SO much use. You touch them and grease from food gets on them when you cook. If you also have fur babies walking around imagine how much of their slobber and hair gets on them, just gross.

Once you’re done cleaning them its time to remove the hardware. I went through so many sandwich baggies, but this part is important to ensure that every screw and hinge gets put back into the same place. Some of my cabinet doors had two hinges and some had three. I removed the screws one at a time and placed them into a baggie the went with what hinge it came from (top, middle, and bottom). For example, I numbered all of my cabinets. So, for cabinet #1 I had one baggie that said ‘cabinet #1’, then I placed the pull-knob and the pull-knob screw in that bag. After, I removed a screw from one of the hinges , I would place that screw in another bag that was labeled either top, middle, or bottom, which stands for what hinge the screw came out of. After removing all of the screws and placing them into their bags, I put all of the baggies into the bag that was labeled cabinet #1 (four baggies total). Hope that’s not too confusing. You could always come up with your own method, that’s just what came to mind for me first. After I remove

d all of  the hardware on a cabinet I would place the bag inside of the cabinet to keep them from getting all mixed up. Once I removed the door of the cabinet I placed a piece of Frog Tape, for delicate surfaces, on the door hinge and wrote what cabinet it went to. I only ended up removing the screws that held the cabinets up; I left the hinges on the doors. To me it was too much work and I was totally fine with getting a little bit of paint on the hinges.

After you have removed all of the doors, It’s time top start sanding the cabinet frames. This part tedious, but again SO necessary. Sanding the surfaces, especially if you have older cabinets is a must. By sanding them you are creating a texture for the primer and paint to adhere to. If you don’t sand, then once you get paint up it will not stick very well and would be prone to scratches and nicks. I sanded the cabinet frames by hand using a 220 grit and I ended up buying a cheap electric sander when I started the doors. It was seriously so helpful. After sanding I cleaned the doors again using my TSP solution. This wiped away most of the dust. If your cabinets have trip like mine I would definitely recommend get

ting some tack clothes. This helps to get the dust out of the small crevices.  After I sanded everything I was still nervous about having the paint stick well so I went out and bought a sander deglosser. I would definitely recommend picking this bad boy up just as reinforcement. What I wouldn’t do is completely substitute your sanding steps with the deglosser.

Once you have sanded sand re-cleaned everything you’re ready for primer! I used a multi surface latex primer called KILZ. It was amazing. I cut in all of the corners using a Purdy 1.5 inch angled brush. Then smoothed out the edges using a Purdy paint roller. Make sure that if you are going to use rollers that you get the pack that has for smooth surfaces on it. This helps so much when the paint is drying. I am sure that you don’t want to see paint brush marks on your cabinets once you’re done. I did two coats of primer letting the coats thoroughly dry before painting the next coat. After, the second coat of primer I let the doors sit to cure over night. and began painting the next day.

Before I began painting a using an ‘in between coats’ or extra fine sanding block that helped knock away any of the hard brush marks I got from priming. Keep in mind that primer is thinner than paint so it won’t be perfect. Try not to apply too much primer. Once you finish all of those steps you’re ready for you first coat of paint.

Paint was a huge part of this whole project (obviously), I wanted to make sure that I didn’t buy. cheap paint and that it would last. I researched so much before f

inally deciding to go with Sherwin Williams Pro Classic Latex Interior in a Semi-Gloss finish. I didn’t want to do semi gloss in the beginning, but after completing the project I am happy I did. Semi-gloss is so durable. By going with an eggshell or satin you would most likely have to put a poly protective or top coat on after the paint fully cures. Semi-gloss is a all-in-one type of deal! This paint costed a pretty penny, but I am sure it will be well worth in the long run. When you go to buy your paint I would make sure to get a Latex or water based paint. This paint is easier to clean up and easier to work with, period. I wouldn’t get anything oil based. Oil based paint is nice, but requires so much to clean up. I would leave that to the pros. I chose a color called Alabaster, and I LOVE it. It compliments our granite and the color tones of our home perfectly.

Painting was fun to me. I was finally starting to see the entire project come together after about 4 days of prep work. I began by cutting in the edges again with the paint brush and rolling of the flat surfaces to get that clean and soft look (with NO brush marks, woohoo!). Trying not to get brush marks was hard, but I think that had a lot to do with the quality of the materials I was using, Yes, I paid $75 for a gallon of paint, but if you’re choosing to do this project I would choose to do it the best way possible the first time around to avoid having to touch it up in a few years. I let each coat of paint dry for a day before going over it again. Like I said, this is no weekend project. It took me 7 days to complete and I worked all day long from about 9am to 8pm. I painted the cabinet frames first and then began painting the doors. Don’t rush to do this guys, you will regret it in the long rung.

All in all that was the entire project. I know for a fact that there are somethings I would choose to do differently if I had to do this project again. First, I would buy an electric sander to use from the beginning. I am pretty sure I lost about half of a day by having to sand the cabinet frames by hand. Second, I would tape more efficiently. Latex and water based paint is easier to clean up, but I will tell you that I got little specks of paint on my hardwoods and it took a lot of elbow grease and rubbing alcohol to remove. As far as the entire project, there isn’t much that I would change. I loved the paint I got and I am so so happy with the final product.

If your interested in learning more about painting your kitchen cabinets or any in-home vanity feel free to email me at I would love to see some of your finished products, as well!

Thanks so much for reading & good luck!


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