Last week, I wrote about how we were painting our kitchen cabinets white. Well, it took a full week but we’re finally finished! And let me say that my wife and I are pretty happy with the end result.
The idea was to write a daily post during the project and keep everyone up-to-date on things, but we spent so much time on our cabinets that I simply didn’t have time to do a daily post about it last week. I wrote a couple, but couldn’t keep up with it So, what we have instead is one mega-post detailing the entire project.
Our cabinets weren’t horrible, but they were pretty old and looked rather dated. My wife has wanted to paint our kitchen cabinets white ever since we bought the house in 2008. Our cabinets were kind of hodgepodge. They had been re-faced at some point, so the doors and drawers are newer than the cabinet frames. In addition, not all the doors were the same wood, there were slight color variations, and the amount of varnish was different for almost every door. I was skeptical about actually doing this project, but my wife found a number of blogs detailing how others had done the exact kind of project she had in mind. So, I finally agreed to do it. Here is our kitchen at the start of the project:
Our List of Supplies
We knew we would need white paint, but there is so much more to it than that…
Paint: We decided on a semi-gloss enamel paint. The semi-gloss will give the cabinets a nice shine to them, and the enamel will dry very hard and make the cabinets easily washable. With a 16-month old boy running around, we’re in store for some rather messy moments in the kitchen, so having easily washable cabinets is important. We bought 2 gallons of paint and 1 gallon of primer.
Hardware: Along with painting the cabinets, we also wanted to replace the hinges, knobs, and pulls. Our hardware was originally brass, and we wanted to replace them with brushed nickel. This would look better with the rest of the kitchen. We got to looking, and I was amazed at how expensive cabinet hardware can be. New hinges, knobs, and pulls cost around $5 a piece. Now, in our kitchen we have 31 hinges, 19 knobs, and 4 pulls. Replacing all of those with new parts would cost quite a bit of money, so we came up with a workaround. Instead of buying new hinges, my wife would clean and spray-paint our old hinges. This workaround saved us around $150 by itself. In addition, we found some really nice looking knobs on clearance for $0.99 a piece.
Sanding: Before we could do any painting, we knew that all the doors, drawers, and cabinet frames would need sanded down to the wood. Luckily, my father-in-law had a handheld power sander that we could borrow for the project. All we’d have to do was buy the sandpaper pads to use with it.
Other Supplies: We also needed some rollers (the really smooth foam ones), a few brushes, paint trays, wood putty, and a few other miscellaneous items. While we were at it, we also bought some of those under-the-cabinet puck lights and a new curtain for the window.
Here We Go: The Play-by-Play
The first step was to empty all the kitchen cabinets and remove all the doors and drawers. This is by far the easiest step, but it’s pretty time-consuming. This probably took the better part of a day to complete. Here are some pictures of our naked kitchen after doing this…
The next step was to sand everything down. This seemed like it took forever, but it’s really important to remove all the varnish from the wood and to get a smooth surface so the primer and paint will go on smoothly. As luck would have it, the motor quit on our borrowed sander a few hours into the project. I bought a new sander of the same kind, and it broke a few hours after using it as well. I took it back and exchanged it for a new one, and it finally lasted through the rest of the sanding.
Now, before I went and sanded everything we wanted to do a test piece to make sure it would look good. So, I sanded the smallest door, and my wife painted it . . . and it didn’t look too good. The paint didn’t go on very smoothly, and it just didn’t look quite the way we had in mind. We went to the store and asked the paint guys what they thought, and they recommended that we put on a coat of primer before doing the actual painting. The paint we had bought was paint and primer in one, but apparently for this kind of project it didn’t have enough of the primer element. So, we bought a gallon of primer, and things went much more smoothly. Our dog didn’t know what wet paint was, so he took a walk on a couple cabinet doors. Luckily my wife caught him before he could track it though the house. Painting everything takes a loooong time, though. After the primer we had to wait 4 hours to dry. Then after each coat of paint we had to wait another 4 hours to dry. And we ended up doing 1 coat of primer and 4 coats of paint. Add it all up, and that’s 20 hours waiting on primer and paint to dry.
Also, I have to make mention that my wife is a much better painter than I am, especially when it comes to the kind of detailed painting involved with cabinets. I helped paint the walls of our house when we moved in, but cabinets are an entirely different animal. I tried to help paint the cabinet frames for a while, but the section I painted looked really bad while my wife’s looked really good. I don’t know if I’m just too impatient for that kind of painting or what, but we decided that we would leave the painting to my wife and I would be on child-care duty.
My wife also cleaned and spray-painted all the hinges, and they turned out really good. She used three or four coats of spray-paint. If I didn’t know any better, I would think that we actually did go out and buy all new ones.
We finally got everything painted after what seemed like an eternity. The final step was putting everything back together. This ended up taking a lot longer than I thought it would. I mentioned before that our kitchen cabinets were kind of hodgepodge. I thought that basically the same size doors and drawers were interchangeable, and that it wouldn’t matter where I put them once we were done (as long as they were going the right direction). But the screw holes in the cabinet frames and the way the hinges go on the doors made it so that each door and drawer had to go back to the exact place it was before. Of course, I didn’t label which door went where, so there was a little bit of trial and error in putting it all back together. But at last we had our completed project.
Now, a completely new set of kitchen cabinets would easily have cost us several thousand dollars, which was totally out of the question. How much do you think we spent on this project? If you said $500, think again… $400? Keep going… The final tally for our kitchen cabinets came to $266.90, and that’s even including the new sander that I had to buy. If the one we borrowed wouldn’t have died, our total would have been closer to $225.
This just goes to show that going the do-it-yourself route can save a ton of money. Now, this was a lot of work and took a lot of time, but we are really happy with the new look of our kitchen.
And for anyone out there thinking about doing a project like this, go for it. I was very skeptical myself. I’m not a super handy guy, but this project really isn’t that bad. It’s time consuming, but it’s not terribly difficult.