Friday, May 13, 2011

How To: Refinishing Cabinets

Do you have some ugly, worn out cabinets like these?

Would you like new cabinets but don't have thousands of dollars to spend? What if I told you that you could completely transform your kitchen for under $200? It's true. I know because I did it. It's takes a bit of patience and elbow grease, but the results are well worth it. Here's what you do:

1. Disassemble and clean cabinets

Prep work is a huge factor in how your cabinets will turn out. You'll need to use a degreaser of some sort to get rid of oils and grease that may be on the cabinets. I used Simple Green because it works well and doesn't have a harsh chemical odor. Disassembling the cabinets (removing all hardware, hinges, etc.) will make it easier to paint all the nooks and crannies. And if you plan to reuse the hinges, they won't get covered in paint. Trust me, it's impossible to adequately tape over these things.

2. Pre-drill holes for knobs and drawer pulls

If you plan on adding knobs and/or drawer pulls, you will want to drill the holes for them now. Otherwise you stand a big chance of having the paint job damaged later on. I used a template purchased from a home improvement store (found in the kitchen hardware isle) to mark the cabinets. Make sure you check which direction each door is mounted and note whether you want the knob at the top or bottom of the door. You don't want to drill the hole in the wrong place. Also, be careful with any marks you make on the door. I used pen which bled through several coats of paint and ultimately had to be covered with a separate primer.

Knob/Drawer Pull Templates

3. Sand & Prime

This is another huge step. You want your final paint to stick to your cabinets. This will not happen if you don't sand and prime them. Use a fine grit sand paper (I like to use the sanding sponges as they are easier to hold) and quickly scuff up all the surfaces that will be painted, especially those that have been previously finished or are smooth. Wipe off all sanding residue.

Next apply a coat of primer. You may need to use a couple different types. A bottle of food coloring had been spilled in one of my cabinets. Regular primer wouldn't cover this. Same with pen or any other oils or pigments. If you have stains like these that need to be covered, spot treat them using a spray primer such as Sherwin Williams ProBlock Oil Based Spray Primer. This will be followed up with an adhesion primer such as Sherwin Williams Adhesion Primer which will make your paint will stick to smooth surfaces. You'll want to paint all surfaces of your cabinets with this.

 4. Paint

Now you get to paint the cabinets. I suggest using a small high-density foam roller as it covers better and will make the work go much faster than a brush alone. You will still need a brush to cut-in corners and to get any detail work. If you plan on antiquing the cabinets keep in mind it will darken the color quite a bit, so plan accordingly. I used a bright white as my base. You will most likely need at least two coats of your base color, possibly three. If you like the look of your cabinets after painting alone, you get to stop here!

5. Glaze

If you like the look antiquing gives or you want to cover up some impurities or damage on your cabinets, glaze is a great option. It's a good way to enhance details and wood grain and make dirt less noticeable later on. First you'll want to get some supplies together. You will need some latex gloves. This stuff is messy and will stain your hands. You will also need something to wipe the glaze off the cabinets. Torn up t-shirts work well, but you'll need a lot of them. For this reason I used some rags in a box (like paper towels on steroids). You can find them in the paint section of any home improvement store. You will also need some glaze. I told the guys down at the local Sherwin Williams store what I wanted to do and they mixed me up a quart of dark brown glaze which worked great.

Before you go to town on your cabinets, do a test run first. I used a spare door that I wasn't going to re-hang. This will give you a feel for how much time you have to work with the glaze and how much you can apply at one time. I found that I could do one side of a cabinet door at a time. The longer the glaze stays on the surface the darker it will be so you want to make sure the timing is approximately the same for all your doors. I suggest doing one application, then doing a second if you want it darker.

Start by painting the entire surface with glaze. This will look scary at first because it will be very dark. Don't panic.

When the entire surface is painted, immediately being wiping the glaze off with towels. Make sure to wipe off the glaze in the direction of the wood. The thinner the glaze gets, the faster you need to work as it will dry faster.

Despite all of the precautions here, this is actually very simple to do. Don't worry about ruining your cabinets. If you work in reasonable sized sections you won't have any trouble creating the look you want. And the glaze process is very forgiving. It's supposed to have a rustic look so perfection isn't necessary.

6. Allow to dry thoroughly and reassemble

Yeah! You're done painting! This is the fun part. Now you get to put on all of the new knobs and pulls and rehang the cabinet doors. You will be amazed at how much this process changes the look of your kitchen. It's a lot of hard work to get to this point but it's definitely worth it!

Ta Da! Doesn't it look great? And you get to see a little peek of the finished wall color! More to come!

Update: See the completely finished kitchen HERE!


Chatterbox said...

Great job! I just did something similar. My cabinets were laminate!! i cleaned them well, in some cases I pulled the laminate off of the doors and painted with a primer/paint. I did about 3 sometimes 4 total coats. I then covered it with something like polyurethane, but it is water based instead of oil. I made a teplate or the new handles. They make all the difference. After finally finishing.... the cabinets were nicked and the paint came right off in that spot! GRRRRR.. so..... I am going to cover the spots and hopefully be done.

uang gratis said...

great refinishing cabinet tips, i think we should maintenance our cabinet especially cabinet hinges

Budsly said...

That's a lot of work, but they look great. I'm excited to see the completed kitchen.

Collette Smith said...

Fantastic results! Also a great tutorial. Looks like you are having a good time!

heidi said...

Cool cool COOL!

The antiquing-effect looks marvelous. SO pretty.


(And, as you know, the nice thing about doing a decent job of painting--and you've done not just a decent, but a, kicktouche job--then you don't have to retouch those mothers forEVER.)

heidi said...

I shoulda put "means" instead of "then." But you knew that.

It's Me said...

Looks so good! I am stoked to see your house when we come up this summer!

victoria eden said...

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