Friday, March 6, 2009

Cabinets: To Paint, or Not To Paint?? Is it a question?

Painting your cabinets can be a big decision.  There is definately a lot to consider.  Painting over wood is pretty much permanent, unless you are up to stripping your cabinets, so that takes some serious consideration.  Also it is a time consuming process.  The best reason to paint your cabinets is plain and simple, cost!  It is the cheapest way to redo your kitchen.  When I first painted my kitchen it cost me $50.00 (including hardware).  For a growing family on a budget, that was doable.  In this post I will walk you through the basics of painting your cabinets.  

Here is my kitchen I lovingly refer to as my micro kitchen before I painted the cabinets.  I loved the red on the walls but the honey oak cabinets were just not doing it for me.  I was ready for my cottage kitchen.  
While looking through the paper one Sunday my inspiration hit me!  This is it!  This was what I wanted for my kitchen.  I loved these cabinets with the red walls and I LOVED the texture finish.  
So here is my finished product.  
(This picture was taken just before we did our addition so I had already taken down all of the decorations, but you get the idea, right?)

This sure was a upgrade for me from the cheap looking honey oak cabinets.  
Now that brings me to another point.  Cabinetry is very expensive to replace.  But if you live in a tract home and could not afford the upgrade you have very CHEAP cabinets.  If this is the case, then what have you go to lose?  Actually I think the cheap ones paint easier.

Here is a detail of the cabinet door.  I only did this finish on the upper cabinets.  It was very time consuming and I didn't feel like the bottom cabinets would be noticed enough to warrant my time with the faux finish.  I textured these with plain old joint compound using a stencil and sloppping it on real thick.  
So lets you get you started on getting your cabinets.
(note: this is an example of a recessed cabinet door)


clean- get your cabinets good and clean.  Any dust or grime can make your paint not stick as well.  

remove cabinet doors and hardware-  now is the time to start to take everything apart.  Remove all hardware/hinges so you will not get paint on any of them.  If you are changing hardware you can putty holes now if you need to.  You may need to let it dry and then apply more to make sure there is no shrinkage of the putty.  You will want it to look smooth.

sand- your cabinet will have some type of finishing topcoat.  By using a fine grit sandpaper (150-180 grit)you will start to roughen up the cabinet.  Doing this will add some roughness for your paint to grip on your wood.  The sheen and thickness of your cabinet topcoat will determine how much sanding you will need to do.  You really don't need to do much sanding, you just need to roughen it up.  I recommend using a mouse sander for this.  The pointed design will help you get into corners.

remove dust- use a damp towel to remove the dust.  Make sure all of the dust is gone so the paint can adhere better to the surface.

Add some moulding???-  if you would like to add some crown or some squares to flat cabinets now is the time to do it.  I just recommend using wood moulding.  3" -4" crown would look great.  If your cabinets have no crown and are similar to my micro kitchen cabinets you can take off that little piece of stop moulding at the top and put crown up there.  It really is a nice finishing touch.  And if you have older flat cabinets you can put on squares with some small profile moulding similar to wainscoting squares.

Here is an example of a kitchen with flat cabinet doors.  We glazed over them with a walnut stain to give them some character from the flat white look. 

prime (optional)- the reason I say that priming is optional is because if you sanded you probably do not need to prime.  Here are the circumstances that I may recommend priming.  First if your cabinets have a thick topcoat of urethane.  Urethane is an oil based product and using water based paints your paint will repel the topcoat.  This is usually the case if you have older cabinets that have been refinished and the homeowner applied their own topcoat.  You will need to use a primer in this situation.  Now if you have darker cabinets and you will be painting them white it may save you a couple coats of paint if you prime first.  Primer does cost a little bit more than paint, but if you will need less paint if may be worth the difference.   Both times I have painted my cabinets I did not prime first.  Sanding proved to be effective enough.  These cabinets have actually held up better than my cabinets that the manufacture painted.  Also with my green island I wanted the black underneath to show through when distressing.  I didn't want a white primer to show through as well, and they have held up fine.  My old cabinet bases are in my garage for my work bench and they are still holding up quite well.  

So if you do decide to do some texturing to your cabinets this would be the time to do so.
(I will add a post on how to do this later if you are interested and need some instructions.)

painting- okay, here we go!  Now is the time to get dirty!  When picking out a paint take some time.  Do not choose lightly.  Even if you are doing white there are so many shades of white.  My appliances are bisque.  I was able to match a color to those and that was my micro kitchen cabinet color.  It was a great slightly off white color. (American Tradition, Moonlight @ Lowes) So take into consideration your appliances and any other close furniture or flooring.  As far a sheen goes I reccomend using a Semi-Gloss.  Here is Bob Villa's explaination of semi-gloss paint "Semigloss paints have a slightly glossy appearance and are less reflective than gloss paints. They offer good stain resistance, are easy to clean, and may be a good choice if you have young children. Must experts agree that the highest quality semigloss paints are 100% acrylic latex paints, which also come in enamel grades."   You can find more info on his website by Clicking Here  So I prefer semi gloss because they make your cabinets cleanable!  Very crucial in a kitchen or bathroom.  You will need to apply at least 2 coats.  I have always brushed on my paint with a good paint brush.  I personally have not tried spraying it on and how well it would stick.  I do have a friend who is wanting to spray on her paint so I will update when I know more.  If you do want to try spraying I would recommend using a good sprayer, preferably airless.  Be sure to let your paint completely dry in between coats.  

Finishing up: 
Be sure to check out the Grunge it Up! post for details on adding  some "grunge" to your cabinets.
(note:below is an example of a raised panel door)
dents & dings-  in thicker/harder areas of your cabinets (I would not recommend doing on your recessed doors that have a thin wood panel in the door, just on the thicker frame of your door) you can beat your cabinets to add some fun distressing.

glazing- this method is most used on kitchen cabinets.  The heavy bodied glaze works well with vertical surfaces.  Also if you added some dents and dings to your cabinets the glaze will help those stand out a little bit more.

sanding/distressing- sanding is fun to add some character to your cabinets.  Sand the edges and any other detail you want to stand out.  If you have another color underneath this will be a good way to let this show.

top coat/sealing- if you are doing any type of distressing listed above you really need to apply a top coat.  This will seal in all of your hard work, so when you have to wipe down your cabinets you won't take off some of your glaze. I use a ploy-acrylic spray.

putting back together- at this point you will probably feel burnt out and ready to be done.  But just think, you're almost there!  If you have a previous screw hole that is stripped and your screw won't grip on the wood, take some wood toothpicks and put them in the hole with some wood glue, break them off to be even with the surface.  Let dry and you should have a good grip for you screws!

adding hardware- This is the fun finishing off point!  It is like putting on your jewelry, you do look good without it but you feel more finished off when you have some on.  Cabinetry looks so much more finished off when you have on some great hardware.  When you start to add your hardware make a template for the spot to drill,  then you won't need to measure it every time!  Drawers can be a little bit tricky since they vary so much in size, you will have to do more measuring.  If you have hardwood cabinets be sure to drill a pilot hole for your screws if needed.

Knobs and pulls can really define your cabinets as well.  Doing this will really set the them for your kitchen.  Do a lot of shopping around for knobs, they can get quite pricy so spend some time deciding what you REALLY want.  I found my knobs and cup pulls at Pottery Barn, sounds expensive right?  These were actually the best price for what I was wanting.  So check out those unexpected places too.  You may be surprised.  

Here is our kitchen after our remodel.  (I still need to glaze and put hardware on the upper cabinets, can you tell the difference?)  Originally the island was black.  I ended up not liking the black so I painted it and my desk this great green color and glazing it.  I had all of the supplies so it ended up costing me $3, the cost of the oops paint I used to paint them.  I really love the green in my house and I am so happy I did it!
(sob story alert!  I would share with you a before picture but while backing up my photos one day my hard drive crashed and I lost 18 months of pics, including those from my remodel.  If anyone know a good place for hard drive retrieval please let me know!)

I will give you some fun tips to jazz up an island.  For the panels I bought some tongue and groove pine bead board at Home Depot.  The cabinet doors already were beaded, so the bead board panels really finished it off.  While planning my kitchen I looked into getting the panels from the manufacture and the price was outrageous.  Another example is the legs on the island.  I needed 3, the manufacture would have been $350 each.  I did some research and found these great hardwood legs at Outwater for $70 each.  What a great savings!  Outwater also sells hardwood knobs and all those neat wooden door racks to install on your cabinets too.  If you are doing a remodel I highly recommend using them.

This pic is of my desk.  Despite how the color looks bluer on the previous pictures this picture of my desk is a better representation of the color.  I also got the bun feet at Mesa Sales and painted them.  I kept the toe kicks black to help the feet stand out a little better.  Here is another kitchen savings tip,  If you cannot afford the granite countertops there are some great laminate counter tops that look a lot like granite.  I just recommend using a full round nose on the edges to make it a little more believable.  Also I asked to have backsplash removed and did a tile backslash.  (see first pic of my mega kitchen)   That laminate backslash is a dead give away that your countertops are laminate.  Now here is my reasoning.  countertops are easier to replace than cabinets.  So if granite does not fit into your budget with the cabinets you want settle for the laminate for now and you can upgrade down the road, hopefully!

I caught my friend Danielle just before she moved to snag these pics of her kitchen.  She first painted the cabinets red and then decide to paint them black.  That worked out great when distressing them.  The red shows through perfectly.  And her red bead board looks great with the black cabinets.

Here is a good pic to show the distressing.

This is a real fun idea.  I did this to my kitchen too, but I put in plexi glass.  The chicken wire is very cute!  If you have a recessed panel door and it is pretty thin chinky wood you can cut out the panel and add something else.  This makes for a fun decorative door.  

Here is another fun detail of the black.  I really do love how Danielle's kitchen looks, but I will tell you why I painted my island from the black to green.  Believe it or not, black is hard to keep clean.  It is not forgiving of dust and water spots like lighter colors are.  I felt like it was always dirty and frankly I am not the kind of person who wipes down my cabinets daily.  So if you are considering painting your cabinets black keep that in mind.

This is a little bit easier way to give your cabinets some pizazz!  Kim did her cabinets by painting chalkboard paint on the recessed part of her cabinet.  It looks really fun and can be versatile.
So good luck on this and hopefully this inexpensive fix can give you the kitchen you want.  And if you every want to send me some before and after pics of your kitchen I would love to share them on this post.  Happy Painting!