Painting my Kitchen Cabinets

Before we even moved in to our apartment, I told my husband I was going to paint the kitchen cabinets. He thought I was nuts. Well, actually, what he said was “I think I have to be away that weekend.” While all I saw was the potential for an affordable and quick facelift for our dated rental kitchen, he saw hours of sanding, priming, painting, and manual labor. Since he did end up being the only person painting our living room, bedroom, dining room and nursery, I could understand his reluctance.

Clearly, if this project was going to happen, it would rest solely on me.

What I needed to know about painting cabinets

I have never really painted anything before. I had to do some serious “pinvestigation”. You know “pinvestigation”, the way by which one investigates DIY projects via Pinterest? Yes. That is a term. Obviously, I created a Pinterest board, and started looking at various projects describing how to paint cabinets. I had a few concerns/ requirements for this project.

  1. No sanding.
  2. Affordable.
  3. The project had to be doable in a max of 7 hours.
  4. Easy care (I have a toddler after all).

Choosing my paint

After evaluating the various options for paints, I decided to do chalk paint. The low/ no VOC was fairly instrumental in my decision. This project was going to be done in a single day, when my office was closed, but daycare was open. In the event the weather didn’t cooperate and I had to paint inside, I didn’t want Amelia to come home to an apartment filled with fumes.

Chalk paint offered a few other advantages. Mainly, I wouldn’t have to sand or prime the wooden cabinets. A little bit of elbow grease, Dawn, and a sponge would be the only prep the cabinets needed. Finally, I loved the finish that chalk pain provided.

Our rental kitchen has lived through many tenants, and not all were kind to it. The doors have dings, and a few of the panels have clearly been glued back together several times. Nothing I did, sort of replacing them all, would make them look “new”. Instead of running from the natural “character” our kitchen had, I wanted to embrace it. Chalk paint works well with the chic distressed look. A few imperfections are almost required for a good shabby chic look.

I chose a navy blue chalk paint, and ordered 1 quart. This brand has the added benefit of also being available in an aerosol version, if that is your thing.

Project Time!

The day of the project I dropped Amelia off at daycare, grabbed a coffee from Starbucks, and set to work. The first thing I did was to label all of the cabinets. On the inside of each door I drew a number in chalk, so I would remember which doors went where at the end. Next, I took off all of the doors, attaching all the hardware to the back side of the door with tape.

Before

The day of the project I dropped Amelia off at daycare, grabbed a coffee from Starbucks, and set to work. The first thing I did was to label all of the cabinets. On the inside of each door I drew a number in chalk, so I would remember which doors went where at the end. Next, I took off all of the doors, attaching all the hardware to the back side of the door with tape.

The Prep

When all my cabinets were off, I laid them out on the ground. I took the lazy path here, and decided I was only painting the outside of each door (the inside of the cabinets were too daunting to attack). That in mind, I only had to deal with cleaning and painting one side. I mixed a capful of dawn in a bowl of warm water, and cleaned the decades of dust, dirt and grease from the cabinet doors. After this, I wiped them all dry with a cotton rag.

Painting Time!

Now, they were ready to be painted. Using the recommended brush for chalk paint, I applied my first coat. It was recommended to wait two hours between coats, so while I waited for the first coat to dry, I taped off and cleaned the cabinet edges, and applied a first coat of paint to them.

Cabinets painted just in time for dinner!

After I applied the second coat to everything, I let them dry again for another 2 hours before applying the first coat of sealing wax. This part was the most cathartic part of the project. I channeled my inner Daniel Russo, and repeated “wax on….wax off” to myself the entire time. I then took a dry cotton rag, and “buffed” the wax as noted in the instructions to give it a really nice sheen. Finally, I was ready to put all of the cabinet doors back in place.

All in, the whole process took me about 7 hours of work. By the time Amelia came home, everything had been cleaned up, and she was able to have dinner in the kitchen, as always.

Finishing Touches

Painting the cabinets was only one piece of a larger kitchen re-do. In addition to this project, we did a lot of things to update our tired old rental.

  • Changed out cabinet hardware;
  • Applied marble look contact paper to countertops;
  • Stripped and painted oven hood;
  • Peel and stick backsplash;
  • Removable vinyl flooring;
  • Replaced appliances with secondhand items; and
  • Painted remaining walls, panels and molding.

However, two years later, and I can say the paint job is holding up perfectly! I have zero regrets.

Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Instantly upgraded my kitchen cabinets in one day, using chalk paint.
Cost: $50

Materials

  • Paint Brushes This set comes with a brush for paint, and a special one to apply the wax.
  • 1 quart Chalk Paint I used Kiltz in Authentic Navy. It only took one quart to do all of my cabinets and drawers with two coats.
  • 2 tins Clear wax sealer I used two tins of this.
  • 1 roll Painters Tape
  • 1 Tarp or clear plastic sheet You can buy the special ones at home depot for painting, or use an old garbage bag. We had leftover from painting the apartment, so I just used that.
  • Cabinet pulls We upgraded to these nickel bar pulls, and it really made the project feel "finished"

Instructions

  • Using chalk, mark each cabinet with a unique number so you can remember what order to replace them in. Take off the hardware, and onto door, or keep in plastic bag.
  • Using a capful of dawn in a bowl of warm water, scrub the cabinets with a new sponge. Dry vigorously with a cotton rag. Repeat on cabinet edges.
  • Tape off cabinet edges so that paint stays in the desired area. Lay cabinet doors out on plastic mat face up.
  • Apply one coat of paint to each cabinet and cabinet edges. Allow to dry for 2 hours. Repeat.
  • When second coat has been able to dry for 1-2 hours, use the wax brush to apply a smooth layer of the wax sealant. Let dry for about an hour, and repeat.
  • Replace cabinets and hinges in appropriate order. Add on new cabinet pulls.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating