Hello world! Last week I shared with you our DIY kitchen makeover that we did on the cheap that ultimately saved us thousands of $$ from replacing the whole kitchen. I basically turned a super grungy filthy kitchen into my dream kitchen, no joke. Well, okay, my dream kitchen is actually a lot bigger and has a built in wine bar, but honestly other than those two things this is seriously my dream kitchen! I wouldn't change a thing! (Except maybe finding space for a wine bar...)
Today I'm gonna explain how I painted the cabinets for only $120. (Brace yourselves, it's a long one.)
And honestly, this could have been done for cheaper than $120, but I'm all about quality, so I definitely spent money on a super high quality paint and bought only the best brushes and rollers for this project. I had confidence that with a little TLC I could make this the kitchen I wanted without having to gut the whole thing, and since there were a million other projects around this house to do, I knew a $30,000 redo just wasn't in the books for us-- ever. So I wasn't looking for a quick fix, I wanted a fix that was good enough for forever, and using cheap paint was not the way to go.
Enter Sherwin Williams.
I freaking love this store and I love their paint. They are so helpful and they only sell the best products. Really, the best. The best brushes, the best rollers, the best paint. And it comes at a price. But that's okay because I was willing to spend a few extra bucks for the long haul. I asked the guys at SW a million questions about their paints and learned they sell a paint that's "self leveling," which means it basically is super forgiving and will yield a product with no brush strokes or roller marks (granted, you have to use the right brush and roller, of course). It's their ProClassic line, for about $80 a gallon (I used a 40% coupon and got mine for about $50) and I used semi gloss for an extra durable finish. I believe Benjamin Moore also sells a paint that's self leveling. (Price breakdown and list of other supplies is lower on down the page)
**UPDATE: If choosing a paint now, I would use the Advance line by Benjamin Moore. I use this on most of my painted furniture now, and it the most durable latex paint I have found. It acts like an oil based paint because it dries extremely hard, but it cleans up like a latex paint (soap and water). It also has self leveling properties, which is extremely beneficial for this project.
Choosing a color was my first step.
I knew I wanted light and bright, but I did not want white-white. I also didn't want it to have any yellow, grey, or pink undertones like a lot of off-whites do. I thought this would be an easy decision, but every paint store seriously has a million colors of "white" all with hints of yellow, pink, or grey. WHO KNEW?! What a headache!! So yes, I sat at the store for over an hour with a handful of whites in front of me, contemplating this very serious life altering decision.
Finally I landed on White Duck (SW 7010). It is like an antique white that has a SLIGHT (oh so slight!) undertone of brown, which made it PERFECT for what I wanted. It is bright, warm, and creamy-- plain and simple.
Okay, so on to the real work of this project!
The good news: painting cabinets really isn't a complicated project and it certainly doesn't take any math, measuring, or fancy tools. But the bad news: it's SUPER time consuming.
For starters, let me throw out this huge disclaimer: THIS IS NOT A WEEKEND PROJECT!! I know what you're thinking, "Sure, you say that, but I am awesome and I know I can bang this out in a couple of days." Yeah, I was thinking the same thing when I started our cabinets! I read blog after blog about painting kitchen cabs and I thought for sure these people were full of it! I even admit I had a little bit of judgement against anyone who was "inefficient" enough to not get this done in a few days. BOY WAS I SO WRONG!! That's what I get for judging, heh ;).
This project will take over your life, and certainly your whole house for at least a week, if not two or three. You probly won't feel settled until it's done, though if this ends up being a walk in the park for you, then kudos to ya. I found that doing this right meant taking my time. It's definitely a labor of love, but one that is SO WORTH IT.
See how messy my kitchen is? This was taken right after we installed the recessed lighting, which is why everything is covered with towels to avoid the dust :)
I should also note that this tutorial is for painting wood cabinets, not laminate cabinets. If you have the latter, I would suggest using chalk paint on them, as it adheres to any surface without any sanding prep. Click here to see why chalk paint is awesome and to be directed to tips and tutorials on using it.
I didn't use chalk paint on my cabinets because I hadn't yet heard of it or learned how to use it. However, if I were to go back and do my cabs again, I would do them the exact same way I did: with latex. I just like the look of the latex paint on my cabs, and I have literally zero brush strokes because of the paint I used. Plus, I really would prefer to paint 4 coats (2 primer, 2 paint) of latex than to paint 2 coats of chalk paint and then have to wax the whole thing-- I like my arms and want to keep them attached to my body! (anyone who's waxed a large piece of furniture knows what I'm talkin' about here!!)
Here is your supply list. Plus, a price breakdown:
$4 * TSP (tri-sodium-phosphate): This is a heavy duty cleaning agent/ degreaser. I found a box at Home Depot in the painting aisle (NOT the cleaning aisle). You can't find this stuff at your local grocery store, so learn from me and save the trip.
$3 * Dish gloves, bucket, and a sponge: Use these when cleaning your cabinets with the TSP. You can buy them at the dollar store.
$4 * Medium grit sandpaper: This is for sanding your cabinets before you paint them. You can buy an orbital sander if you want-- it's not totally necessary but will definitely help get the job done faster.
$4 * Fine grit sandpaper: This is for sanding your cabinets in between coats of primer and paint. I did not use my orbital sander for this.
* Vacuum: For cleaning all the sawdust after your initial sanding job
$3 * Tack cloth: This is a super sticky yellow cloth that will help wipe up all the little bits of sawdust that your vacuum may have missed, and also for using in between paint coats. Trust me, this is worth the $3 to make sure your paint doesn't end up with dust in it.
$21 * Gallon of primer: Get the stuff you paint on, not spray on. Don't be lazy. I recommend KILZ, and you'll wanna use water-based NOT oil based for this project
$50 * Gallon of high quality paint: As mentioned, I used Sherwin Williams ProClassic because it is a "self leveling" which means it is very forgiving and will help eliminate brush strokes and even out any pooling that may accidentally happen. This is regularly $80 a gallon, but I used a 40% off coupon.
$12 * High quality angled paint brush: Don't go cheap on this! I bought a 2.5 inch angled Purdy brush from our Sherwin William's store when they had a 30% off sale. You can buy these on amazon.com too. This brush, along with the quality paint, will ensure that you have ZERO brush strokes on your cabinets!
$14 * High quality mini roller system: Not the foam kind, and not the kind with a super soft, thick nap. I ONLY use the blue rollers for this. They don't sell these at your local hardware store. Go to a paint specialist store and ask for a mini cabinet roller or buy them online here for $7. You'll need a special mini frame for your roller too, and a mini paint dish like the ones shown here for $7. This is totally worth the money and, again, will yield a perfectly smooth finish when used with quality paint. I bought my system at SW during a 30% off sale, so I spent even less than $14
$5 * Painters tape
* Screw driver
* 2x4 boards: This is optional, but I'll tell you that this made my job so much easier. I had a few boards laying around from the demolition we did on the kitchen ceiling, but these are only about $2.60 new. I laid them on the ground and placed my cabinet doors over top of them so they would be off the ground and easier to paint, plus the doors cured quicker this way.
Grand Total: $120!!!
Prep your space: Clear out a large floor space where you can lay you cabinet doors out. Some people use their garage, but I did this in our dining room because we didn't have furniture yet and it was too cold to do this anywhere but indoors. Here is the space I cleared! This is our dining room 2 days after moving in and about 3 weeks before I started painting our cabs. Yeeeeeeps, so messy!!!
Remove the doors from the cabinet base and dismantle the hinges also. Lay the 2x4s on your prepped space and place your cabinet doors on top of them.
Clean all the doors and cabinet bases with the TSP! DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!! Kitchens are super greasy places and your cabinets are no doubt caked with stuff that will inhibit the paint from adhering to them. There are directions on the box of how much to mix with warm water. Use your gloves and sponge to scrub all the surfaces-- this should be a quick process as the TSP is a heavy duty cleaner and will easily take off any grease or dirt. Here is proof that you won't want to skip this step: this is the dirty water after I cleaned my cabs!!
Next, sand everything with medium grit sandpaper. Do this AFTER cleaning, not before. You want clean wood to sand, rather than trying to sand through all the gunk and clog up your sandpaper. I used an orbital sander for this step, though it isn't necessary. I think I bought mine for $20 at Home Depot. You can see here I hadn't yet gotten the genius idea to prop my doors on 2x4s. You can also see my drawers on the floor here in the upper left-- the faces of the drawers didn't detach, so I had to bring the whole drawer into this room to paint the fronts. It made for quite a functional kitchen :)
After sanding, vacuum all the dust and use your tack cloth to make sure all the dust is wiped up.
Now you can tape off the cabinet bases where you don't want paint getting on the walls, counters, or floors. Anywhere you don't want paint: TAPE!
DAY 2-5 (one day for each coat)
Now the fun part, priming and painting! I painted 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of paint on everything.
Start with your cabinet doors BACK side UP on the 2x4s. This way you can paint the backs, wait for them to dry, and then flip them right side up to paint the front, without worrying too much about fudging up the paint on the back. Make sense?
Here is the order/sequence I painted my cabs in, so I could get a whole coat done (front and back) in one go-round:
1) Paint the back of the doors
2) Paint the base of the cabinets while I let the backs of the doors dry
3) Paint the front of the doors (back should be dry enough to flip now)
4) Come back tomorrow
5) Lightly sand the doors with fine grit sandpaper (wipe dust off with tack cloth)
6) Repeat painting cycle with another coat!
I used the brush for detailed edging or moulding, and the roller for all the large flat parts.
You can see above that the door fronts have beveled edges. This required detailed attention while painting. Here is the method I used to ensure even coverage without pooling or brush strokes:
1) Paint the beveled edges with the brush in long smooth strokes, in the direction of the wood grain. Use a lot of paint to ensure a smooth finish, but make sure to wipe any excess paint with your brush so it doesn't gather in the creases.
2) Paint the center part of the door with the roller, always always going with the wood grain and using long even movements. Again, make sure to use plenty of paint, but make sure you overlap each stroke by 50% to ensure even coverage. Get more paint on the roller after a couple strokes if needed. Once the whole center is painted, go back over it with the same strokes but without adding any more paint to your roller-- this ensures a smooth finish with even coverage.
3) Paint the raised flat perimeter with the roller, using the same method as the center: long strokes with plenty of paint in the direction of the wood grain, then go back over it with the same strokes without adding any more paint to the roller and make sure you "lap up" any excess paint with the roller.
4) If necessary, use your brush to LIGHTLY go back over the beveled edges in long smooth strokes. Do not add any paint to your brush for this step!! This is basically to smooth out any excess paint that landed here from the roller, and to create a polished coat without paint pooling in the creases.
The primer and paint should each dry to the touch after about an hour, depending on the temperature and humidity of where you live. Keep in mind that DRY does not mean CURED! Your paint will take weeks to completely cure or harden, so be gentle with your newly painted cabinets! Once they are dry, you can reattach the doors to the bases, but I waited an extra week to do this to make sure they were a little more cured to handle.
NOTE: If you have holes from the hardware in your cabinets and you want to add DIFFERENT hardware that requires different holes, you will need to fill in the current holes with wood filler/putty and sand them smooth with your cabinet wood before you begin painting! When the cabinet doors are mounted, you can then drill new holes for your new hardware.
I recommend using the same hinges your doors came with, otherwise you're likely to be filling and drilling a lot of holes!! I updated our brass ones by cleaning them with TSP and then spray painting them with Krylon Oil Rubbed Bronze. Make sure you give these a week or so to cure, otherwise the paint will chip off easily.
Mount doors onto bases, add hardware, remove tape (use a razor/ exacto-knife if necessary), grab a cold beer, and stare at your handy work!!!! PHEW, you are DONE!
We actually didn't add our hardware til several weeks later, after I saw the finished cabinets and was able to decided what handles and knobs I wanted. I bought them online, from amazon I think, and paid about $80 to outfit the whole kitchen with them. I painted the laminate counters months later, and then we installed new floors and stainless steel appliances. Here it is finished!!!
Isn't it just LOVELY!?!? I am just so so proud of the transformation!! The lighter brighter cabinets make all the difference! And for just $120! Who can beat that though, I mean really? :)
Happy painting my friends!