About three months ago the renovation company we have had do some work on our house finished their part of the kitchen. They installed counter tops, a new sink, range top, hood, can lighting, tile back splash, added a wine fridge and a few other things. We wanted to keep our cabinets though, as they were custom-built, in the house, are real, solid wood, have all kinds of built-ins and they are in great shape, but needed to be updated. The cost for having the cabinets refinished was $7000 because of the intense labor involved. We did not have the extra $7000 in our budget so we redid them ourselves for under $1000. In addition to the large price tag for painting, the timeline to have the reno group do it was three weeks. We did it in 5 days. (I do not recommend this!) After our renewed motivation, we bit the bullet and finally got them done.
Here is what we did, what was successful and what wasn’t. First of all, we bought an industrial paint sprayer which cost us about $300 after quickly figuring out that using brushes or rollers was not going to cut it. Robert wanted a smooth, clean finish so that you wouldn’t be able to tell they were old when we were done. We originally spent good money on brushes and some foam rollers but just couldn’t get the finish we were looking for, they looked painted. We also bought an orbital sander for about $80. This orbital sander is my new favorite tool! It was well worth every penny. We then spent two full days prepping. Removing all hardware, drawer tracks, sanding, (and sanding, and sanding,) taping and covering everything. The one cheat we did do is to leave the cabinet doors hanging on the hinges. We knew we were replacing those and this way we could paint both sides of the doors at once cutting down on the wait time of having to let them dry and paint a second side. It seemed like we sanded forever, but do not cut this process short. As much as we did, we should have done more. It makes life much easier later on, I promise. We did not sand the detail work as much as we should have which caused some problems when we were painting. If we did get a drip or anything that needed fixed in those areas when we tried to wipe or sand it, all the paint around it would peel off leaving big spots that just kept getting bigger if you tried to smooth it up
We also knew that we could not skimp on the paint. Whatever we used had to be something good. The first paint we tried was Behr Marquee. It boasts a one coat guarantee, but it was too thick and didn’t lay well and was over $60 a gallon. Robert spent some time talking with the paint person at our local ACE Hardware and got the recommendation for some Benjamin Moore paint and primer. (They were out of 5 gallon buckets at the time so they poured 5 gallons into one for us, which means I don’t have a picture nor the name of the exact paint we used. I’ll add a picture of that when we paint the rest of the house.) Thankfully this individual was very knowledgeable about the old homes in our area and knew what would work and what would not. Our first mistake was buying a paint with primer in it. We found out that the paint currently on our cabinets was probably oil based because that is what was traditionally used when they were originally installed. For this reason we needed a separate primer. Primer is meant to stick to surfaces and in turn create a surface that paint will then stick to. The combo stuff just wouldn’t cut it. The paint we chose also had a hardening agent in it that makes for an awesome finish!
Robert built a “paint booth” in our garage. Like, you know a paint sprayer is going to make a mess but it’s bad. Prep, prep, prep. And buy paint suits. You know the ones that have a hood and cover you whole body? They’re worth it! This stuff felt extra sticky to me and was not fun to scrub off. The paint sprayer took some learing to figure out how to do it well but Robert figured it out pretty quickly. The key was definitely to go super light and do more coats. Dont worry too much if you aren’t hitting every single spot. You will get it with the additional coats. This assured less runs. If we did get runs, which there were plenty of, we waited until it dried and hit it with the sander. It took us another two days of painting. It probably would have taken us longer on all of these processes but we had company coming for an early Thanksgiving so we HAD to get done. Nothing like a little motivation.
We spent the fifth day putting all the tracks, drawers and doors back, adding new hardware, and cleaning up the huge mess we had created. Unfortunately, our hinges are a tiny bit different than the old ones so we are on the hunt for something that will work better, so the old ones, that are now painted white, are still on. We also realized that removing the tracks was not the best decision. Yes, it kept them from getting covered in paint so they would roll well, but in hindsight we should have just taped the rollers and inside the tracks, because that is what had been done previously and now we have some dingy, almond colored tracks that will need to be touched up by hand.
Overall though, SUCCESS! The cabinets turned out beautifully. Everyone thinks they are new. We are thrilled with how they look! I cannot wait to post pictures of the kitchen when it is completed.