Painting our kitchen cabinets

At long last, operation sexy kitchen is underway. And it’s been a slooow, labor-intensive process. At no point have we really enjoyed any of the work involved, but we are motivated to make our kitchen look less builder-basic and more beautiful. Before I get too wordy about the whole process, here are the before and after shots.

This is the kitchen before we bought the house. It had blue walls and oak cabinets.

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Then we painted the walls Behr’s Hazy Sage and painted the range hood black.

Kitchen: Progress

And here it is now after painting the cabinets Benjamin Moore’s Snowfall White, spray painting the hinges ORB, and replacing the brass handles with new Lowe’s hardware.

suddenly inspired: how to paint oak kitchen cabinets

To launch this journey, we first removed all the hardware from the cabinets. This included hinges, baby proofing locks, and handles. We saved all the hardware we planned on using again in a plastic container, but we will be donating the brass handles to have a new life somewhere else.

removing old hardware

old brass hardware

hinges removed

Since we were replacing the cabinet door handles with knobs, we needed to fill in one hole on each door with wood filler. We applied a dab of Elmers Carpentry Wood Filler to the surface of the hole, then smushed it down with a putty knife, scraping it to smooth it out.

elmers wood filler

filling holes

After the wood filler had dried about half an hour, we then used 220 grit sand paper on a sanding block to smooth over the filled in holes. We then used an old t-shirt to wipe down the cabinet doors and frames {all surfaces that would be getting painted} with Klean Strip Sander Deglosser.

primer-deglosser

Next, we taped off the floors and inside the cabinet frames with tape. I like to cut in by hand with an angled brush, but any spot I couldn’t get to cleanly, I taped off. We also moved things that were in the way out of the cabinets, but we didn’t empty them all the way out since this would have made our kitchen impossible to get around in.

We then primed one side of the doors and all the cabinet frames with Zinsser oil-based primer. We used a high density small foam roller, and any place the roller couldn’t get to we used a 2″ angled brush. My favorite brand of brush for cutting in is the Wooster shortcut. It has a short, soft handle which makes it easy to control the strokes. It’s perfect for cutting in by hand, especially when painting walls. It’s also about $6, making it much less expensive than other brands of brushes. You can find it at Home Depot or Lowe’s.

brush and roller

If possible, set every door on top of something to give you easy access to painting the edges {think paint can, coffee can, shoe box, etc}.

cabinets on cans

This primer is rather thick and goopy, and dries fairly quickly. The key is to work as quickly as possible, and apply as thin and even a coat as possible. Don’t be discouraged if there is a paint glob or drip that dries before you can smooth it over. This can be sanded later. Also, it is acceptable to prime in the fetal position. At this point we had been working about 5 hours and I was exhausted and overwhelmed.

priming cabinet bases

After the primer dried {we waited a day, but the label says it will dry in an hour}I used my sanding block with 220 grit sand paper to very lightly sand any uneven surfaces on the cabinet doors or faces. Like I mentioned earlier, the primer is glue-like in consistency, so getting smooth coats was nearly impossible. The sanding was nice to even things out.

sanding cabinet

After sanding things down, we wiped the cabinets down with a damp rag to remove the dust.  We flipped the doors over and repeated the priming, sanding, and wiping. After that, it was *finally* time to start painting them! Now if you were concerned about having perfectly smooth cabinets without any wood grain texture showing through, you may want to apply a second {even a third} coat of primer, with a light sand in between coats. However, painted wood grain texture doesn’t bother us a bit, so we stuck with just one coat of primer. The paint we chose was Benjamin Moore Advance in Snowfall White. It was recommended due to it’s extended open time {takes longer to dry, so makes it easier to paint even coats} and good leveling {smooth without brush strokes}. I have to say that after painting the bathroom cabinets with Behr paint it has seemed to scratch off or get dings in it fairly easily. We have already had to touch up some spots. We are much more impressed with the durable finish of the Benjamin Moore Advance. We used the same type of high density small foam roller to apply paint to all the major surfaces of the cabinets, again using a 2″ brush for hard to reach angles {I used a new brush for this, just to make sure the bristles were in good shape}.

benjamin moore

We waited a full day between applying coats. The label recommended waiting at least 16 hours between coats. It took three thin coats of paint to give us the coverage we needed. We painted the cabinet frames and the back side of the cabinet doors first, then flipped the doors over and painted three coats on the front side. That’s nearly a week of painting cabinet doors. We did the drawers last, just because we ran out of space in our garage. Ugh.

Meanwhile, we also painted our brass hinges. Since we were replacing the brass handles with oil-rubbed bronze knobs and handles, we decided to spray paint the hinges to match. This saved us from buying 58 hinges. Fifty eight. Whew! I used the same method that we used when we painted our doorknobs and hinges previously. Basically, we rubbed the hinges with steel wool, deglossed, layed them on cardboard and sprayed thin, even coats of Rustoleum’s Universal Surfaces in oil-rubbed bronze. It took about three to four light coats, with a half hour drying time between coats. Once that had dried a full day, we sprayed on three thin layers of Deft semi-gloss clear coat, again waiting 30 minutes between coats. The hinges did need to be flipped over to get to all the surfaces with the spray paint.

rustoleum

brass hinges

orb hinges

After we were done painting everything, we waited a full 3 days to wait to apply hardware and rehang the doors and drawers. The hardware is from Lowe’s. This is what our kitchen looks like now:

kitchen7kitchen1kitchen3kitchen9

The other night we rented The Amazing Spiderman, which as it turns out, was not at all amazing. As a result, I had time during the movie to make the EAT letters over the stove using mod podge, MDF letters, and scrapbook paper. It was a fun, easy, and inexpensive little project that added some much needed color to the space.

eat letters over kitchen stove

We have more work to do in the kitchen. In the near future we plan on updating the window treatments, making a drum shade for the pendant light in the breakfast nook, possibly repainting the table and chairs in the nook, hanging some art, and adding some crown molding to our cabinets. I’ve even thought about distressing or glazing the cabinets. Blake is itching to get rid of that unsightly fluorescent light box and install some recessed can lights. But for now, we are going to sit back and enjoy our white cabinets.

I heard a French saying on House Hunters International the other day, “petit à petit l’oiseau fait son nid,” which means little by little the bird builds its nest. It’s a lesson in patience for life’s gradual processes, but in the case of our “nest” it is my new motto. Little by little!

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Our doors get love handled

I’m pleased to announce we have finished the upstairs door revitalization project! Before we started, our upstairs hallway looked like this:

But after removing the doors, painting them a crisper shade of white, and giving the brass hardware an upgrade, the hallway now looks like this:

Instead of buying all new doorknobs and hinges this time, we decided to give re-finishing the existing brass hardware a shot. It was a much more affordable solution. Even if the project went awry, we’d only be out about $20.

Of course, being the home improvement novices that we are, I did plenty of research beforehand to make sure that nobody nothing would be harmed in the process. I took inspiration from Young House Love (of course) here, and Pink Toes and Power Tools here and combined their instructions to make it work for us. Here’s how we did it:

1. After removing all your door hardware, gather your supplies. Here’s what we used:

  • Nitrile gloves
  • Super fine (grade 0000)  steel wool
  • Klean-Strip Liquid Sander Deglosser
  • Rustoleum Universal Surfaces Metallic Spray in Oil Rubbed Bronze (ORB)
  • Rustoleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover in Matte Clear
  • Old washcloth and cardboard box

Supplies: gloves, steel wool, de-glosser, and ORB paint

2. Sand the hardware with extra fine steel wool to make the surface a little rough and give the paint something to stick to. I found the extra-fine steel wool was enough to remove the glossy sheen without leaving any deep scratches on the surface.

3. Use a liquid de-glosser to remove any oils and debris. The bottle’s instructions said to use a coarse, lint free cloth. I used an old washcloth to wipe it on in a circular motion. Make sure you wear gloves for this step.

4. Allow liquid de-glosser to dry (the bottle says to wait 10 minutes, but we let them sit overnight.)

5. Poke the screws, knobs, and latches through cardboard box so they are in an upright position. This allows easy access to all surfaces while spraying. We just laid the hinges and latch plates on an old drop cloth to spray paint since they were relatively flat.

6. Spray paint with 3-4 thin (very thin – can’t emphasize this point enough) coats of Rustoleum Universal Surfaces metallic spray in ORB. Be sure to turn locks and hinges between coats to spray all surfaces evenly. We waited about 15-20 minutes between coats. Be sure you’re in a very well ventilated area, because this spray paint gives off strong fumes!
***Note: Some instructions suggest using a coat of primer prior to painting, which we skipped because the Rustoleum Universal Surfaces is both a paint and primer in one.

Hardware after just 1 coat of ORB

Hardware after 3 light coats of ORB

7. After the paint has completely dried (we waited about 24 hours), spray the hardware with 1-2 light coats of clear coat spray. We used Rustoleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover in Matte Clear.

8. Once the clear coat has completely dried (again, we waited about 24 hours), re-install the hardware and re-mount the doors in their frames.

It turned out pretty well. The only change I would make is to use a satin clear coat finish instead of matte (but matte was all Home Depot had). We like it so much that we decided to upgrade our front screen door knob in the same manner. Then we just have our master bath and closet door hardware to refinish and the whole house will be free of brass knobs.

In other news, we took a little time off last weekend to head to Steamboat and enjoy the fall foliage. It was nearly at peak. We love living in Colorado!