Decor DIY

Kitchen Renovation, Part 1: Painting Cabinets


We’ve been in our house going on 3 years now (3 years, October 2018) and I feel TOTALLY stupid that it has taken me this long to paint my cabinets. I just had no idea that it would be this easy and look this good, or I would’ve done it sooner! When I say “easy” I mean that it doesn’t take skill. Anyone, even a beginner like me, can do this. What it does take is patience and time. You’re literally watching paint dry. Other than that, you’ll be rubbing your eyes in amazement that you just transformed your kitchen for under $100. This project took us approx. 3 days. Are you ready!?

Step 1: Find your inspiration. We found our inspiration from a kitchen on Pinterest that happened to list the paint color so we knew exactly what we wanted.

Step 2: Pick out your paint and cabinet hardware! Our paint is “Platinum Grey” by Benjamin Moore. When we went to the paint shop, the clerk was super helpful and knowledgeable about what type of paint we needed. She recommended Stix Waterborne Bonding Primer that was tinted close to the shade of our paint (which was amazing because I always thought it had to be white!?) For our paint, she recommended Benjamin Moore Interior Waterborn Advanced Alkyd Satin paint that cleans up with soap and water. (She had two boys and highly recommended this so we didnt hesitate.) We added in some painters tape, kraft paper on a roll, a roller and a Picasso paint brush that wouldn’t show streaks (also her recommendation). Our total came to $115.

Our cabinet hardware is the “Spritz knob and pull” from Restoration Hardware.

Step 3: Prep the area. Lay down kraft paper in your kitchen to protect your floors. Lay down kraft paper in your garage or an open space for painting.

Step 4: Clean your trim, cabinets and drawers. Get off any muck from food or dust and scrub the inside and outside of the cabinets with a hot rag. You don’t want dust and food painted onto your cabinets! Trust me on this.

Step 5: Remove the trim, cabinets and drawers. Keep up with what goes where. For the trim, we started on the right side of the kitchen and numbered the back of the trim with a sharpie: 1, 2, 3, and so on and so forth so that when we put the trim back, we knew “1” was the first trim for the right side of the kitchen. For the drawer pulls, we removed the pulls and left the pulls/knobs in the drawer that it belonged to. For the cabinets, we placed them in the garage in the order that they were removed. The right side of the garage was for the right cabinets; the left side of the garage was for the left cabinets. Basically, do your best in staying organized and do what works for you. Whatever method it may be, you don’t want to skimp on this part.

Step 6: Prime the frame of the cabinets in the kitchen.

Step 7: Prime the cabinets/drawer faces. By this step, our cabinets are in the garage laying on paper. For the kitchen drawers and the trim, they dont need a lot of painting space so both are in our kitchen laying on kraft paper. Each drawer is placed in front of its former spot. We didn’t sand anything before priming. We just thought that was an unnecessary step.

To begin, roll the front faces of the cabinets with primer. Don’t push down too hard. As my husband likes to say, “let the roller do the work”. You don’t want the paint to drip down the sides of your cabinet or you’ll have to sand them down and repaint. Once you’ve painted all the front faces of the cabinets, let them dry. Once dry, flip them over and roll the back side with primer. Let them dry. Once dry, flip the cabinet back over and roll the front side with primer. Let them dry. Once dry, flip them over and roll the back side with primer. Let them dry. You will prime each side of every cabinet twice. (Don’t worry about the edges of the cabinets right now. We’ll get to painting these later.) Our cabinets aren’t shaker style cabinets. They have trim with grooves, so we went in with a paint brush and primed the spots that the roller missed. Just use your best judgement on this!

While the cabinets are drying, roll the drawer faces and roll the moulding that goes on the baseboards under your cabinets with primer (there’s no need to paint the backside of the moulding since it will be nailed against the cabinets.) For the drawers, once the front side is dry, flip them over and roll the backside. Let them dry. Flip the front side over and roll again. Let them dry. Flip the back side over again. Let them dry. You will prime your drawers and trim TWICE.

We finished priming by 9 PM and left everything to dry overnight. Clean your roller and brush and get some sleep! Tomorrow, your kitchen will look completely different! Yippee!

Step 8: Prime one spine of the cabinet. When your cabinets are dry from primer, it’s time to prime the spine where the hinges are located. Remove the hinges. Paint the spine of the cabinets (on the hinge side) once. This should dry fairly quickly, within 30 minutes. We’ll paint the other sides of the cabinet when they’re hanging.

Step 9: Hang your cabinets. When your cabinets are dry, including the hinge side you just painted, put the hinges back on and hang your cabinets in their respective places. I know what you’re thinking: “but the other sides of the cabinets aren’t painted yet?” We’re almost there.

Step 10: Put your drawer faces back on and prime the edges of all cabinets and drawers. Putting the drawer faces on. Pull them out. Lightly roll the edges with paint. Be careful – you dont want your paint to drip! Let the drawers dry. Do not push them back in! Do the same for the cabinets and leave them open to dry.

Step 11: Lightly sand your cabinets. Wait for both your drawers and cabinets to dry before you sand. This is important. You’re going to want to sand your cabinets as delicately as possible. We used a type of sanding block that’s not very coarse. I could rub it against my skin and it wouldn’t hurt. And just like the roller, you’ll want this sanding block to do all the work for you. Don’t put a ton of muscle into it!

Going over each cabinet, lightly graze back and forth with the sanding block. Using your fingers to feel around the cabinet, find spots that have puddled up (or any raised paint drips) and sand them down. Sand the outside cabinet door, edges, and inside cabinet door. You want the paint to literally become second skin to the cabinet. If you can run your fingers over the edges and not feel anything, you did good.

Step 12: Wipe down the cabinets. Now that you’ve sanded your cabinet doors, you’ll notice a lot of residue left behind. Barely dampen a paper towel and wipe down each cabinet door, getting every square inch. You don’t want the paper towel to soak the paint. Our paint is still bonding to the cabinet, so make sure it’s barely damp. You want your cabinet faces to be as clean as possible for our last coat of paint!

Step 13: A quick recap: at this point, everything is primed, sanded and wiped down. All cabinets feel smooth, and all tricky areas like edges, corners, backs and cabinet trim have been primed. We’re almost to the final stretch!

Step 14: Paint the cabinets and drawers with your chosen paint color! Now that everything is dry, using the same roller that you primed with (but cleaned), paint both the front and backs of the cabinets and drawers, just like you did when you primed them.

At this point, it’s evening of Day 2 and we were able to get one good coat of paint on before going to bed.

Step 15: Wood putty your hardware holes. As of right now, you’ve painted your cabinets once. Now you need to wood putty your former hardware holes.

Since we chose pulls instead of knobs for our drawers, we needed to wood putty the middle knob hole.

Step 16: Sand the holes. Now that we’ve wood puttied, we want to sand the former hardware holes with a sanding block, just like we did our cabinets. Make sure to run your hands over the hole after sanding to ensure it’s now second-skin with the cabinet. Wipe down any leftover dust from sanding.

Step 17: Paint over the wood putty with your chosen paint color. 

Step 18: Add your hardware. We had to drill 2 new holes for pulls. We made a template out of cardboard so that every drawer is even. Obviously you’ll need to have your hardware to do this part! (Some would agree that hardware is the very last step. I was too excited to wait so I put it on at this point!)

Step 19: Caulk any spaces that your paint didnt get. You can see where the faces of our cabinets have space behind the trim. To make it seamless, this requires caulking!

Step 20: Paint your cabinets one final time, covering any caulk. Honestly, our cabinets look so good and the paint looks so even that we don’t really need to paint them from head-to-toe again (thank you, primer!) We’re simply painting where we caulked.

We still haven’t painted the top half. Hehe. I cant decide if I want to keep the cabinets or do open shelving. BUT…I already feel like a new woman in my kitchen, just with the bottom half painted. I just feel happier in this space now, all thanks to a can of paint. More photos to come as we progress. (I hate to complain but UGH. This kitchen needs some windows!)

Still remaining with our kitchen reno:

  • new countertops
  • replace kitchen sink
  • new stove
  • marble backslash
  • floating shelves
  • vent hood
  • bring cabinets to the ceiling
  • windows (?)
  • move pantry (?)

I hope you love your new cabinets like I do mine! Did I leave a step out? Is there a question you have that I didn’t address? Let me know in comments.

k.w.

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Chelsey Nelson
    January 2018 at 5:06 pm

    The cabinets look so good, Kaylyn! The finish came out looking so smooth!

    • Reply
      Kaylyn
      January 2018 at 6:02 pm

      Thank you, my love! We are so pleased with how everything turned out. Just scratching the surface of our kitchen reno, but it’s nice to see something checked off the list!

  • Reply
    Lisa
    January 2018 at 6:23 pm

    Looks great! Can’t wait to visit and see them in person!

  • Reply
    lisa
    February 2018 at 1:43 pm

    Love the color! Now come and do mine!

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