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Kitchen Transformation by Laurel Bahr

Updated: Jan 18, 2020

As promised in my previous blog, in this post I am going to explain the step by step process I used to transform my kitchen space.

This is a picture of our kitchen taken right after we moved in our 20year old home. It was nice, but I wanted a bigger island with more work space. The original cabinets were purchased from a local, privately owned company that was still in business. I was able to order additional cabinetry to install above the existing upper cabinetry. I also ordered some base cabinets to extend the island to include an eating bar.

The new cabinetry arrived and much to my dismay, the stain did not match. (see previous blog). The solution I chose was to paint all the cabinets. It was a daunting task, but it’s been two years and I am still very happy with the results.

Here is a list of the steps I followed.

1. Make a map of your kitchen cabinets, giving each drawer and cabinet a number.

2. Take all doors and drawer fronts off of bases. For each, take a plastic zip lock sandwich bag and put the hardware in it along with a tag that indicates which number it is according to your map. We put tape on the top hinge of each cabinet so that when putting them back together we knew which was the top hinge and which the bottom.

3. On each door, we numbered the door (or drawer) with a felt tip marker. We put the number where the hinge would go, and then covered the number up with a piece of tape. That way when painting, the tape got covered with paint, but when we were done, we could remove the tape and the felt tip marker number underneath would still be readable.

4. We then covered all of our flooring with pink rosin paper (Lowes or Home Depot)

We also lined the ceiling with paper before spraying.

When tackling the built in’s in the dining room adjacent to the kitchen, I paid the extra money and bought the painters tape with plastic sheeting already attached. I lined the walls and anything that we didn’t want sprayed. (windows, fireplace, ceiling, etc) This held up so much better, was easier than the rosin paper and tape. Well worth the extra money if you ask me.

5. The hardest part of prepping for spraying the bases was figuring out how to cover the inside opening of each cabinet. (I didn’t not want to paint the insides.) I used frog tape along the bottom where I wanted to paint line to be. Then I used paper, masking tape, and did my best to line the openings with the paper so that when I sprayed the paint didn’t go inside the cabinet. (I did get a little inside but to be honest, It came off easily with a wet cloth and when needed a scratch pad. It wasn’t a big deal.

6. I then took the gloss off of all the cabinets including the doors and drawers. I used a product called “Deglosser”. It has a strong odor, but does the job. In the kitchen, I washed the cabinets with TSP before using the Deglosser. The cabinets were dirty and that worked great. The second time, on the built in bookcases, the cabinetry was not as dirty and hadn’t been around grease, and food so I just used the Deglosser. I used a scratch pad/sponge to apply the Deglosser.

7. After the deglosser was dry, the cabinetry looks a bit chalky, or dusty. Most of the sheen had come off. But, I went ahead and did a light sanding with 220 grit paper. This was what the paint I bought recommended (Sherwin Williams Classic Pro Semi Gloss). Note: I used the color “Swiss Coffee” by Valspar. Sherwin Williams was able to tint the paint in the Valspar color. It is not a bright white, but it is not a “cream” either. I am pleased with it. If you are going to do a white tile backsplash, this color may not work….I had chosen a marble backsplash and it looked great with this color.

8. After the sanding, I wiped the cabinets, bases, and drawers down. First with a slightly damp microfiber cloth, then a tack cloth.

9. Next, I primed the bases, drawers and cabinets with an oil based primer (Sherwin Williams brand). I chose oil based because I had dark stained cabinets. Also, the cabinets had spent 20 years in a kitchen and I wanted to make sure any lingering grease or etc got covered well and didn’t come through the paint over time. I rolled and hand painted the bases and sprayed the cabinets and drawers.

10. I then calked anything that had a shadow. On our raised panel cabinets, this meant each cabinet door. We used a certain calk recommended by “The Idaho Painter” on YouTube. I found the calk at at Sherwin Wililiams and it took 4 hours to dry.

11. I lightly sanded anything that needed it, and went over it again with a tack cloth. I used so many tack cloths!! Every time I went to paint, I went over everything with at tack cloth.

12. Now it was time to spray on the paint!! We bought a Graco Airless Sprayer after I read a few blogs online. The best price I found at the time was from Amazon. ($270 or so before tax)

We did spray the bases with paint which required a lot of plastic sheeting to close off the room to the rest of the house…I stretched plastic over doorways when spraying to keep as much paint dust out of the rest of the house as possible. We watched the video that came with the sprayer many times, and just tried to follow the directions as best we could. Lighter coats worked best-just like the video said. I did get some runs on the bases, and after the paint dried a bit, I just took a little sand paper, sanded down the drip, and then shot it again with the gun and you couldn’t’ tell where the drip had been.

Of all the research I did, the other paint brand mentioned quite a lot was Benjamin Moore’s Advance. There were numerous people that used this product on kitchen cabinets and had good results. Like Sherwin Williams Pro Classic, it is a water based paint that dries very hard and has a self leveling property.

13. The doors and drawers we positioned flat on long 2x4’s all over our garage with really thick plastic sheeting underneath The second time I did this (for the built ins in the dining room), I used push pins to elevate the drawers and drawers instead of just laying them on the wood 2x4’s. This was very very helpful. Some of the articles said to use nails….but the push pins worked so well I wouldn’t bother with nails. I put drawer/cabinet felt dots on top of the push pins. They are very cheap and provided a little extra cushion and worth the extra effort.

14. The reason elevating the doors/drawers is nice to do is that it’s easier to get the sides of the doors and drawers with the paint sprayer if they are elevated. It also allows you to do the other side sooner. I started with the back sides. Sprayed them and let them dry to the touch. (my paint can says 77degrees and 1-2 hours). Then I carefully flipped them, keeping them elevated on the push pins, and sprayed the other side. Because they are elevated, the first side continues to dry while you spray the fronts.

15. Every article and video I watched said to let the cabinets dry longer than is recommended on the can before you do the second coat. So that is what I did. I waited 24 hours (verses the 4hous indicated on the can). I waited another 24 hours on the bases as well before I applied the second coat.

16. I did very little sanding between coats. I looked for problem areas, and lightly sanded those, but that was it. I read and saw videos that recommended sanding between each coat and others that said you don’t have to. So….? The self-leveling paint is so smooth and glossy, I really didn’t want to mess with it. When using the sprayer, my cabinets looked like they had a factory finish paint job. So, I just didn’t sand much unless like I said it was an obvious “glob” of something or etc.

17. I ended up doing two coats of paint. They were well covered with my sprayer and the amount of paint I used. BTW, you will go through a lot of paint using a sprayer!!! I kept going back to buy “another gallon”!!! There is a lot of overspray and you waste a lot. But to me it was worth it because of the finish it gave me.

18. After the two coats of paint, I waited 4 days before doing anything with the cabinets. That was hard. I wanted to put them back together and see the finished product!! But the brand of paint I used takes 30 days to cure, and I wanted to make sure that they were dry enough and cured enough to handle before hanging them up. After four days, I didn’t have any damage when rehanging them. I did lay the cabinets and drawers on towels when working on the back sides to screw in the hinges, etc. I didn’t want them pressing too hard on another hard surface…just in case.

19. I read some articles that said you can put on the hardware after 4-5 days, but just leave them loose and don’t completely screw them in until 30 days…I chose to wait the 30 days before putting on hardware period.

20. Note: I did not put a clear coat on top of the painted cabinetry. I did on the island (which I used General Finishes Java Gel Stain and Urethane Top Coat). The reason I did not use a top coat on the painted cabinets: The Sherwin Williams Store Rep did not recommend it. He said it was not needed because the Pro Classic dries so hard and is designed to be used without one. Also, I have read many articles of those who did put a clear coat on and later found the white yellowed over time. I believe that is because they used the wrong top coat…an oil verses a water base perhaps. But still….yikes! Finally, I read of several people who did a clear coat and regretted it later because they could not touch up the cabinets when needed. Without clear coating, if they get nicked, you can touch up paint and fix them "jonnie on the spot". If you clear coat, you will not be able to do touch ups in the same way…That was a big deal to me. I know that they will get a little beat up, and I want to be able to “fix them” without taking off the cabinet, sanding off the top coat, and redoing the cabinet.

21. Next, I replaced all the counters with granite. The outer granite is called black pearl, and the island is a quartzite. I didn’t choose a marble because I read they stain easily.

22. After the cabinets were painted, and hardware installed, and granite was installed, I hired someone to install the marble backsplash. I also replaced the window in the kitchen. The new one is curved, and taller than the original and the tile extends all the way around it making it a focal point.

Then entire project was a lot of work and money, but I would do it all over again! I love the kitchen and dining room. It’s bright and cheerful!!

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