Painting Kitchen Cabinets – Day 1

I’m going to try something different with this project posting. I’m going to do a day by day recap instead of compiling everything at the end and doing a recap. I’ll try to get it posted by the next day at the latest.

Our kitchen cabinets are really old, 30 years, have some kind of oak stain on them and don’t even have solid door. Never seen raised doors that were two pieces of door skin with some edging holding them together. Anyway I decided to tackle painting the kitchen cabinets.

Being President’s Day weekend I was lucky enough to get Monday off. This gives me one more day to mess something up and fix it by the time I have to start work again on Tuesday.

Original Old Kitchen
Original Kitchen

I had tried a couple of methods in the past to paint the cabinets without success.

  • Just paint the cabinet with a brush and some kitchen and bath enamel paint
  • Use enamel spray paint with a spray primer to paint a drawer front

Just painting with a brush left some really pronounced brush strokes and there was something in the wood that bled through no matter how many coats was put on.

Failed Painting Hanging Cabinet Test
Failed Painting Hanging Cabinet Test

Closeup Of Failed Painting Test
Closeup Of Failed Painting Test

When I did the spray paint method, I really wanted a smooth finish. I tried to fill in the pores of the wood, but just doing that one drawer front took hours. The results were less than optimal. There are little pocks on the front where I didn’t get all the wood pores filled. If I were to do this again I would just cut a new front from MDF.

Failed Spray Painting Front Drawer
Failed Spray Painting Front Drawer

The steps I am going to take for painting all the cabinets.

  1. Mask off around the cabinet. I’m not that good of a painter so if I don’t want to accidentally paint it I have to use painters masking tape.
  2. Remove the door / drawer front
  3. Sand the existing finish. I used
    • sandpaper between 100 – 150 grit.
    • a smaller sanding block made from a scrap piece of wood
    • a large sanding block normally used for sanding drywall
  4. Apply at least 2 coats of primer. Primer is cheaper than regular paint. I used Kilz2 latex because the VOCs are way less than the oil based one.
  5. Apply 2 coats of enamel based kitchen and bath paint

I started with the failed upper cabinet that I painted earlier. It was already masked off and all I had to do was take the doors off, sand it and put the first coat of primer. Everything went smooth.

Doors From Failed Test Cabinet Off
Doors From Failed Test Cabinet Off

After that I started on the lower cabinet below that one.

Masking Off Area
Masking Off Area

Removing Drawer Front
Removing Drawer Front

The drawer fronts were attached by screws and staples. I’m just going to use the screws when reattaching the fronts.

Drawer Fronts Removed.  Watch Out For Staples
Drawer Fronts Removed
Watch Out For Staples

To keep track of the two different door screws and hinges, I put the screws in bowls according to size and kept all the hinges in one area.

Keeping Track Of Door Screws And Hardware
Keeping Track Of Door Screws And Hardware

When I started to take the drawer fronts off more drawers I numbered the drawers and corresponding fronts, on the inside of the drawer fronts. I started with 0 because I’m a geek.

Numbering Drawers
Numbering To Keep Track Of Fronts And Drawers

I start sanding and within not even a minute I slice my thumb on one of the staples sticking out of the drawers.

After bandaging my thumb, I pounded those staples down. Needless to say I didn’t make that mistake with the other ones.

Told Me To Watch Out For Staples
Told Me To Watch Out For Staples

My Revenge On The Staples
My Revenge On The Staples

Sanded Cabinet
Sanded Cabinet

Before putting on the primer, I wiped the cabinet clean with a damp cloth. Later I used a shop vac to clean the cabinet before wiping it down. Doing this:

  • allowed me to use the cloth for more than one piece
  • kept the dust down

To apply the primer I was using a brush for the detailed work and a smooth roller for larger areas.

Small Brush and 6 Inch Roller
Small Brush and 6 Inch Roller

I started with the brush to get the cracks and area the roller would have a hard time getting.

Using Small Paint Brush First
Using Small Paint Brush First

First Coat Of Primer On Cabinet
First Coat Of Primer On Cabinet

When doing the doors I would do the side facing inside the cabinet first. Again using the brush first on the edges and areas the roller can’t reach.

Using Small Brush On Doors First
Using Small Brush On Doors First

A little while back my wife bought me something called Painters Pyramids. These allow you to paint the other side of a flat object without having to wait for the first side to dry. These were also the reason I did the side facing the cabinet first just in case there were little marks left by the pyramids.

Setting Up The Painters Pyramids
Setting Up The Painters Pyramids

Painting Other Side Of Door With Painters Pyramids
Painting Other Side Of Door With Painters Pyramids

So far I’ve worked on this project for 5 hours and maybe have finished about 20% of the project.

Day 1 Lower Cabinet Progress
Day 1 Lower Cabinet Progress

Day 1 Upper Cabinet Progress
Day 1 Upper Cabinet Progress

Day 1 Door And Drawer Front Progress
Day 1 Door And Drawer Front Progress

Things I learned from today

  • Prepping the cabinets for the first coat of primer is taking longer than I expected.
  • I need a smaller roller. Painting the cabinet faces and smaller areas is a pain with the 6″ roller.
  • Painters Pyramids are making it easy to paint both sides of the cabinet doors and fronts.

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