I promised a tutorial on how I painted my kitchen cabinets, and I'm making good on it (finally). I apologize for the delay, but these things take time, right? (Or maybe I was just trying to forget the experience altogether before reliving it in tutorial-form).
If you're interested in reading about this project in process, you can read about it here and here. You can see the kitchen reveal here and the full evolution of the kitchen in photos here.
If you're in the Dayton/Cincinnati area, and want a quote for painting your cabinets, contact me.
UPDATED (January 20, 2014)
More tips and tricks for tackling oak cabinets, including how to hide the grain, and some great go-to paint colors! Click here for all of the details!
UPDATED (June 24, 2013)
Are you painting oak cabinets? Take a look at the builder grade transformation I did for a client here.
UPDATED (June 11, 2014)
Are you concerned about prepping your cabinets? Are they unfinished or previously painted? Check out this post on 5 Cabinet Painting Problems Solved.
UPDATED (September 2, 2015)
The more projects I do, the more tools and products I find. Here is my latest list of great tools to get the job done more efficiently and with a great finished look. Five Favorite Tools for Painting Cabinets and Furniture.
*This post contains affiliate links*
I apologize in advance on the length of this post, but I wanted to make sure I covered everything in one fell swoop. That said, I'm sure I forgot something, so feel free to ask any questions you may have.
First things first. These are some of the most important things to know and consider before taking on a project like this.
1. Unless you have hired help (or a household that will take on all of your responsibilities while working on this), the rest of your house will suffer during this process.
Ok, maybe I'm being a bit dramatic here, but this was my personal experience. However, I should preface this by also mentioning that I worked full-time (outside of the home), when I painted my cabinets, and spent just about every non-working moment on this project in order to get it done. So, for me, this meant that my typical laundry "pile" turned into a laundry "mountain". The entire house was a wreck, and the hubby and kids had to fend for themselves for the 2-3 weeks that I spent focused on painting. My kids may or may not have eaten cereal out of the box for dinner
2. Invest in help from the experts.
I had three big questions in researching this project:
- How do I best prep my cabinets for painting?
- What kind of paint do I use?
- How do a I choose a paint color?
I also went to a builder's supply center and looked at different cabinet finishes to find the color/finish I wanted to have in my own home. I took cabinet samples home and decided on colors based on those samples. The awesome guys at the paint store did a color match on the samples, and I'm thrilled with the result.
Here are the samples I used and had color matched for the island and the kitchen cabinets.
UPDATED: January 2, 2015
I have gotten a lot of questions about the color that I used on my cabinets. As I mention above, I had the cabinet samples above color matched for my kitchen paint colors. Below is the formula for the white I used on a bulk of my cabinets. This is a formula for Benjamin Moore paint, and I used their Advance paint product for my cabinets. Don't use this formula for other paint manufacturers.
3. What is the best method to get the job done and make it look professional?
I know there are a lot of opinions and methods out there, but after painting the kitchen island, (using a sprayer for the doors, and hand painting the frame), I knew that painting the cabinets with a brush would not produce the look that I wanted. Everyone is different, but my cabinets have a lot of raised panels and nooks and crannies, just screaming for drips and brush marks, despite my best efforts.
However, if you don't have a lot of raised panels on your end cabinets, I say paint your frames with a brush/roller. I still recommend spraying your doors and drawers, but there is some wiggle room with the frames. Just make sure you use a high quality brush like this one, and mohair rollers. Using high quality tools will give you a high quality finish.
|Picasso angled brush|
|Mohair roller for a smooth finish|
The clincher for me was seeing this video of someone painting kitchen cabinets with an HVLP sprayer. HVLP = High Volume, Low Pressure. It is a dream for a project like this since you have so much control over the spray in terms of volume and area. You can dial it down to a targeted, narrow spray for corners and small areas, or you can open it up to give you a much broader spray as well. I didn't buy the sprayer in the video, but the seed was planted. I knew this was the way to go (for me).
However, these paint guns can be expensive, since they hook up to a turbine. But, I did some (more) research, and found one that I could hook up to our air compressor (ours is a 6 gallon 150psi, which was more than enough power) for a fraction of the cost. Enter the Wagner HVLP Conversion Gun of Awesomeness.*
(Ok, it's not called a Gun of Awesomeness. I just think it is.)
If you don't have an air compressor, you can go with a gun like this Graco TrueCoat Plus II paint sprayer. Thrifty Decor Chick used this to finish off her cabinets after my house call when I had the opportunity to walk her through the process.
So, let's get to the details. How did I prep my cabinets? What kind of paint did I use? What finish did I choose?
Since my cabinets didn't have a glossy finish on the to begin with, I started by giving them a light sanding, and then used Krud Kutter Gloss-Off, which is a great all-in-one cleaner AND deglosser. So, you can kill two birds with one stone with this product.
But, before you can get moving with your actual priming/painting, you need to remove your cabinet doors and drawers. I highly recommend putting together some sort of numbering system so that you don't lose track of what goes where. While it all seems to make sense when you're planning, trust me that you will be glad you did this when your paint-weary brain goes to put the doors and drawers back.
TIP: I started out my labeling like this, but ended up putting the post-it notes INSIDE the cabinet door and drawer frames and taping the number (with a little description) with painter's tape on the actual door/drawer. The description came in handy - i.e., left bottom, right of stove. Just trust me on this.
Below, my cabinet coding translates to - Right of stove, cabinet #28, right bottom (RB). Believe me, when you're
This is especially important if you currently don't have knobs on your doors, and you're planning on adding them. Label the door so that you know whether it's a right or left sided cabinet so you make sure to drill your holes in the correct spot. Just trust me on this.
You will also need to tape off the insides of the cabinets, the countertops, floor, even some of the ceiling. If you're planning on painting the walls, do it after you paint the cabinets - you'll save some time and trouble in taping off the walls in addition to everything else. This was, by far, my least favorite part of this project. Taping off the insides of cabinet frames is harder than it sounds. But, I can offer you some advice that I learned along the way.
TIP: Tape off the bottom, sides and top of the frame first (newspaper works well for this), and then tape off the back of the inside frame.
You can see what I mean here:
Versus here where I was trying to tape off right at the edge of the inside frames. Don't ask me why it took me so long to figure this out, but it was a maddening process. (And don't mind the water spot on the contractor paper - it's from the water dispenser in the fridge. I swear.)
When you take off your cabinet hinges, put them in Ziploc baggies and tape them to the inside frame of that cabinet. This makes rehanging much simpler!
You will need to go all Dexter-like and tape off any open areas in your kitchen to avoid spray particles from floating through your house.
|Note: I don't flip my cabinets and paint the other side without waiting. I have never been successful in that, and if you are, I'd love to see your technique. But, these are great to use when spraying your cabinets.|
Then, fill in the center area, working side to side, ensuring complete coverage.
- Lightly sand the frames (I used 220 grit sandpaper)
- Remove excess dust and wipe clean with tack cloth
- Clean and degloss the frame surface with Krud Kutter
- Prime cabinet frames and allow to dry 24 hours
- Lightly sand and use tack cloth before painting
- Paint cabinet frames with 2-3 coats of paint, waiting 24 hours in between coats
- Wait 2-3 days for paint to cure before rehanging doors
In case you missed it - here is my post from January 2014 with tips and tricks on painting oak cabinets.
In April 2014, I gave Behlen's Grain Filler a test drive to get rid of the oak grain on a cabinet project.
Here is a post showing an oak kitchen transformed (by me) for a client.
Here are some links to some other resources that might be useful:
Melissa at 320 Sycamore
Traci at Beneath my Heart
Sherry and John at Young House Love
Marian at Miss Mustard Seed
Traditional Painter Hand Painted Kitchens and Furniture - a treasure trove of information from seasoned pros, on materials, supplies, prep and technique, along with loads of photos of kitchen transformations. One of my favorite resources!