you asked - painting kitchen cabinets

kitchen before

kitchen facelift=complete (kinda)
How hard was it to paint your kitchen cabinets? I would love to do it, but it seems scary.
i'm also curious about your kitchen cabinet painting experience - how much did you sand the cabinets first? and how long did it all take? what'd you use for primer...i'm worried the paint wouldn't stick to my cabinets.
Ellie Schultz
di and ellie,

painting was easy.  i mean painting experience and some skill is involved for sure.  but this is definitely a doable project for the average diy-er.  so far, i have only seen one or two super small chips and these are where the kids knock the step stool against the cabinets.  (and i don't even cringe anymore when it happens.)

here is what we did: 
  1. removed the doors and hardware
  2. sanded the surfaces to degloss and rough up the wood a bit
  3. wiped down the surfaces with denatured alcohol to cut some of the grease
  4. primed the cabinets with latex zinsser 123
  5. lightly sanded the surfaces (because the primer slightly raises the grain)
  6. caulked any gaps between the wood (these gaps are not obvious when the wood in unpainted but they really stand out when painted
  7. applied two coats of latex paint (satin gloss) (not too thick)
now a key point here is to allow the coats of primer/paint to fully dry between coats.  and even more important is allowing the cabinets to cure before using the.  err on the side of waiting too long. believe me that living with the contents of your kitchen cabinets on your dining room table for a week is not fun, but you don't want to pull up the paint after all that work.  with the time we had available, we did a coat a day.  and we also made it more manageable by breaking the work up by separate banks of cabinets. 

also, we chose not to putty the holes left after removing the hardware on the upper cabinet doors.  wasn't quite sure if we would keep them off (which we will, but i wasn't ready to commit two months ago).  but if you have holes to putty, then you would want to do this before the priming.

i am not a professional painter, but i am the daughter of one.  and so is jesse (a son of one that is).  our fathers actually worked together 20 some odd years ago almost a decade before we met.  considering my dad lives with us on the weekdays and he helped out a ton with this project, i can confidently tell you that the above steps will work.

this is not for everyone, but if it is for you, then go paint!!!  and share your stories if you do!

living with a painter


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