Oct 31, 2016

How I Painted Our Kitchen Cabinets White

(realtor picture)

There are probably hundreds of kitchen cabinet painting tutorials out there.  Today I'm going to add mine into the bunch. 

So the picture above is what our kitchen looked like five months ago before we bought it.  In real life, the cabinets looked a little less orange-y.  But anyway, they were dark and my personal taste are white cabinets.  They feel light, bright, and clean.  Yes, they do show dirt more easily, but at least you can see the dirt and wipe it away.  When cabinets are darker, it just gives the dirt an opportunity to hide. :)

This is the third home we've owned, so it's the third kitchen I've painted white.  The only difference this time is that these were the nicest quality cabinets I've ever dealt with.  In our last two homes, the cabinets were from the 70's.  I knew they couldn't look any worse than they already did, so I simply painted them without taking my time.  I didn't sand, I didn't prime, and at one point, I didn't even remove the cabinet doors.  In THIS house with THESE cabinets, I wanted to do it right!  

This is the result I got.  Awe, the power of paint and only $140!!!  There are other updates we want to make to this kitchen, but that's another story for another day.  Let's get to the painting details...


The first thing I did was remove the cabinet doors and most of the drawers too.  Then I cleaned the cabinets and the cabinet doors with TSP.  It's a strong cleaning solution that can be found as a concentrate at Home Depot in the painting department for about five dollars.  It can also be found in a ready made solution on Amazon for about double that price.


I labeled the doors with blue painters tape and alphabetical letters.  I placed an identical label inside the matching interior cabinet so that these doors didn't get mixed up down the road.


The next thing I did was lightly sand the cabinets with a 220 grit sand paper, just enough to roughen the surface a little bit.  


After cleaning and sanding, wipe down with a tack cloth or vacuum up the dust before priming.  (Sometimes I did both.)  The primer I used is called Zinsser Bullseye 123.  I bought it at Home Depot for under $20.  It says on the label that you can use this primer without sanding, but that made me a little nervous.  So I decided to play it safe and sand anyway.  I used 1-2 coats of primer on everything.


Priming and painting took over my garage, dining room, and kitchen.  But I knew it was just a temporary mess, so I plugged away.  

Tips for painting the doors: 
  • Lay doors on 2x4's to allow space to paint the sides (not pictured in the above pictured, but you'll notice it in the garage picture)
  • Prime both sides first 
  • Lightly Sand with a 220 grit sandpaper or higher in between primer and the actual painting step.  
  • Wipe down after sanding with a tack cloth that will grab hold of that dust really well.
  • When you get to the actual paint step, paint 2-4 coats of paint on the BACK side of the doors first.  That way if there is minor scuffing after you flip the doors over to paint the other side, it won't show on the pretty front side that you look at everyday.

This is the brush I bought at the specialty paint store where I bought my paint.  Spraying your cabinets is a great way to go and it looks fantastic.  Even though we own a paint sprayer, I chose to paint by hand and I don't regret it.  This foam roller did an amazing smooth job.  The trick was to paint the crevices of the door first, then the flat parts. In the crevices, I used the end of this roller to slide the paint on.  I rolled it on the flat parts.  The trick to getting the paint to dry smooth has to do with the kind of paint you use and your rolling technique.  The technique I used was to roll it on with a little bit of pressure.  After all the paint was on, I used my roller and ROLLED over the paint very gently.  It was more like a glide and I didn't apply any pressure.  This got out any paint bubbles that were present.


This is the paint I used.  Benjamin Moore Advanced paint is AMAZING!!!  I can't say enough good things about this paint.  It is great at minor self leveling and it is the best cabinet paint out there.  It works like an oil based paint, but is actually latex and cleans up with water.  The color I chose is called Simply White.

For me, the worst part about painting large projects that take many days (this project took me two weeks), is the clean up.  I hate cleaning up paint trays and paint rollers and brushes.  So I didn't.  When I was done with my roller for the day, or had to take a break to pick up kiddos from school, I stuck my roller in a zip lock bag.  I also lined my paint tray with foil.  I only poured the amount of paint I knew I would use for sure.  When I was done, I rolled up the messy foil and threw it in the garbage!


The other step I should have mentioned earlier is that before you start any paint or primer, tape the perimeter around anything you don't want paint on.  This will give you clean lines.


Any sort of kitchen remodel is messy, as you can see here.  I've got paint going on the cabinet frames and I was lightly sanding the labeled doors on the kitchen floor.  Lots going on.  Luckily my family was pretty patient with the whole process.  It helped that my husband was away hunting during the first week. ;)  And really, he was just happy that he wasn't the one having to do it, haha!


This last step you totally don't have to do.  However if you're like me and you have sheet rock above your cabinets, you may want to.  I painted the sheet rock the same color as my cabinets and then caulked the seam where the two met. Eventually we'll add molding up there to make the cabinets and sheet rock seem like seamless taller upper cabinets.  It should look really pretty ...eventually. ;)



All of these cabinets took about 3-4 coats of paint.  You can't tell in this picture, but there are some light spots still visible in the crevices where the cabinets indent.  I'll need to go over those again sometime with a light coat of paint.  But for now, I'm tired.  Two weeks of painting and having my home in disarray was a lot of work.  It was totally worth it though and I would do it again.



The next thing I want to do in here is possibly paint over that back splash tile.  It's just not my favorite style.  I've read that it's possible to paint over tile with a really good primer and an oil based paint.   Not sure what color I would paint it.  Maybe white?  I would love to just tear it out and replace it with white subway tile.  But my husband said we he would rather wait to do that at the same time we replace the counters.  (That will be a couple of years from now I'm guessing.)

I chose to leave the doors off of this cabinet above our microwave.  It opened up this little space a little more and became a pretty little display shelf for my kitchen cleaners that sit in that little basket there.  Over time, I may decide to remove some of the other doors on the upper cabinets.  But for now I'll keep everything the way it is.

Oh, and before I forget... I added new hardware to these cabinets too.  It's black and I bought all of it on Amazon for about $40.  That included all the knobs and pulls.  I'm so glad I checked out Amazon before I headed to a big box store.  The pulls I bought worked out to be about two dollars a piece and I would have paid at least five dollars a pull anywhere else.

Overall, I'm really happy with how this project turned out.  If you've been wanting to paint your kitchen cabinets I say do it!  You'll be pleased with your hard work!

If you have any questions I'll try to answer them in the comments below.
Have a great week friends!


Danielle Hatfield said...

Thank you for this! The kitchen looks completely transformed and beautiful. I will follow your directions exactly one of these days. (Probably after Christmas:))

Mom said...

You did a fantastic job. I have done this a several times and it IS A BIG JOB, but worth it. Keep up the good work. Loved the blog by the way and your photos were great!

Stef said...

I love watching your remodeling in action! As you know we're in the middle of painting our cabinets and I'm so glad you posted about this process. I'm going to have my husband read your post so he can get some more tips :)

We have the SAME little shelves next to our window as you! Crazy. Must be a Washington thing haha!

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