If you are looking to update your kitchen but are on tight budget, consider refacing your cabinets. We have found that painting and refinishing the cabinetry makes a tremendous difference in how a kitchen looks and feels. You really can be bold and make a statement with a pop of color. While it is time consuming, it is a relatively easy and inexpensive project to undertake yourself.
The kitchen cabinets was one of our first projects we tackled in our old house and we absolutely loved how they came out. Our style is a mix of farmhouse/rustic/cottage and we were able to incorporate our style perfectly by painting and distressing the cabinets. So we decided to do it again in Wanda.
We followed the same process for the oak cabinets we had in the house and on the cabinets in Wanda (wood fronts with veneer frame) with one caveat. The kitchen cabinets in the house were in real bad shape and had a very thick layer of grime and grease on them, so before we started we had to use a degreaser and scrape them, which was definitely as gross as it sounds.
Lets get started!
Step 1: Dissassemble the cabinets
Remove all of the hardware (hinges and handles/drawer pulls) and take off all of the cabinet doors. If you are reusing the hardware, keep all of the pieces together so nothing gets lost. If you dont like the color or finish of the hardware, you can spray paint them (more on that later).
Step 2: Sand
Our advice would be to invest in a decent palm sander. We use a Makita B0530K 5 inch Random Orbit Sander. It will save you a lot of time! You need to sand everything to get the prior finish off the cabinets so the cabinets will absorb the new paint. For this step we use a 60-80 grit sand paper. Try to remove all the prior color or stain and go down to the bare wood.
Tip: Wear a mask to avoid breathing in all the dust.
Step 3: Prime
Set up an assembly line outside, in your driveway whereever you can really spread out and start priming the doors and drawers. We used Rust-Oleum 2004 Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer, 1 Quart, 946 ml, White When one side is done, head inside and start priming the frame. By the time you are done inside, you should be able to prime the other side of the doors and drawers.
Step 4: Paint
Really let the prime set and dry before you start painting. We let the cabinets sit overnight before we started painting.
As far as the paint, make sure you use kitchen/bath paint for the cabinets, it is a specific kind of interior paint with stain blocking properties in a satin sheen. For Wandas cabinets we used Behr Premium Plus Ultra with a Satin Enamel finish.
You will need to paint two coats on everything. We used paint brushes for the trim and hard to reach spots and a roller for everything else. Make sure the paint fully dries and cures before doing the second coat, otherwise you will pull paint off as you are trying to paint another coat.
Hinges/Hardware: if you don't mind the style of your door handles or the drawer pulls but the color/finish isn't great try to spray paint them. Our hardware was originally a satin nickel finish which we were not wild about, so we used Rustoleum Universal All Surface Metalic Oil Rubbed Bronze Spray Paint. After a few coats they were as good as new.
Step 5: Distress (If a distressed look is not your thing skip to Step 6)
We like the look of distressed furniture, we distress pretty much everything we build or redo, it is kind of an obsession. To get a distressed look on cabinets, you do need to sand by hand which warning you now, is a tedious process but definitely worth it. We typically use a 220 grit sand paper (although we used 100 in certain stubborn spots) and fold it into a pretty small piece. We start with the frame and try to sand down where normal wear and tear would appear, near the edges or seams. Try to sand the top paint color off completely while allowing some of the white primer to come through and some smaller spots of bare wood.
There is no rhyme or reason to how we do this, we don't plan ahead but just go for it and sand what we feel like without doing too much because in this instance, less is more. Once the frame is done, work on distressing the cabinet doors and drawers. To make sure the spots are spread out, lay the doors/drawers out in front of the frame and mark where you want to sand. That way you avoid having too much next to each other.
Tip: Don't forget to wear gloves for this step or the sandpaper will rub your fingers raw.
Step 6: Apply Polycrylic
After the paint has dried you will need to finish the cabinetry with Poly. This will give you a nice smooth finish and protects the cabinets from water, stains, heat and wear and tear. We like this Minwax Polycrylic in a clear satin finish. It looks like elmers glue but it dries completely clear. Use a good quality bristle brush to apply this. Poly is not like regular paint, you do not want to put a thick coat on, you want to apply it thinly and evenly.
After the first coat dries, you will notice a rough texture. You need to lightly sand the cabinets, with a 220 grit sandpaper until it is smooth. After sanding brush the dust off and use a tack cloth to make sure the surface is completely clean. You will then have to repeat this process by applying another thin coat of poly and light sand.
Step 7: Reinstall all cabinet doors and hardware
If you decide to try out this technique, send us some pictures we would love to see how your cabinets turn out!
By Ashley Quiambao
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