KITCHEN & BATH
I would like to preface this “How to Paint Cabinets” post with a huge disclaimer: It is a lot of work and you might find yourself using words you only would have used in your past life as a sailor.
I’ll add that in addition to DIY painting our cabinets white, we were also getting new appliances that didn’t quite fit in the existing spots (yay). We unexpectedly had to knock out a small wall, the granite installers cut our sink-hole wrong, and I had just started a new project, so perhaps that added into the stress I was dealing with!
This was a brand-new house to me, so while we also unpacked, we completely renovated the kitchen. I would suggest perhaps when you undertake the painting of your kitchen cabinets, choose a time when you don’t have multiple projects or new happenings in your life at the same time. Of course, life happens, but selecting a calmer time in your life is most definitely suggested.
Below, I have provided steps so you know exactly what this project involves. Please note, it took about a month to finish this project as we only worked on the cabinets on the weekends. If you plan to do consistent work throughout the week, it will get done much quicker.
Step 1: Wash your cabinet doors and drawers.
First, unhinge your cabinet doors, remove the drawer faces, and wash them with one-part tri-sodium phosphate and four parts water. To complete this step, we mixed the solution in a bucket and then used the bathtub. Don’t forget to scrub the actual cabinets as well. It is important to let them dry well before priming.
Step 2: Prime
For this step we used Zinnser Cover Stain Interior Oil Primer from Lowes, and used a small roller for the flat surfaces and a bristle brush to get the nooks and crannies. Feel free to just slather it on there, the primer doesn’t need to be pretty.
Step 3: Paint, Paint, Paint
We used Valspar Cabinet Enamel with Semi-Gloss Finish and it turned out really nice. To get my desired coverage, I ended up doing four coats. I painted the cabinets themselves in the house with windows open and that definitely took a majority of the time. So much surface area!
Step 4: Hang and attach
After the paint was dry, dry, dry we reattached the doors and faces. We tried to make a “map” of them all before we took them off, but we didn’t do a perfect job. It was somewhat like a jigsaw puzzle getting everything in the right place. After they were all attached, I stood back and checked for spots that needed any touch-ups and went around with the white paint to fix them. I think it’s crucial to hang them and spot check before doing the final polycrylic coat.
Step 5: Polycrylic coat x2
The poly coat is incredibly important because it will make the cabinets LAST and not get dinged up from usage and general daily wear and tear.
We used Minwax polycrylic protective finish in the Satin Finish, and we needed exactly one quart to do the kitchen. I used every last drop and did two coats. You’ll want to use a brush though it does go on clear. Initially, I was afraid of it drying yellow, but we were reassured at Lowes that it wouldn’t, and they were right!
If you do find any spots where there are any “globs” (in corners/nooks and crannies) they may dry yellow, so be careful to smooth those out prior to them drying. Though if there are any spots that yellow, simply sand them down and repaint them and do the process again and they will look seamless.
Man, writing this down makes me realize that other than the time factor, painting the cabinets was the least of my worries during our kitchen reno! Just a few steps to follow. So if you’ve got some time on your hands and are ready to transform your kitchen, you are ready to rock in roll.
Below, I’ve provided a few more pictures of the rest of the kitchen transformation!