Before we moved out of our rental, my husband and I kept our promise to redo the cabinets. This, thankfully, was a fairly easy task to do and did not cost us much.
While we lived there we did repainting, laid tiles, and did the cabinets. Having this knowledge will be very helpful in the near future when we begin building our own home.
I hope this fun and easy experience for us is useful for you as well. Especially on those days when you know your kitchen just needs a little pick me up but you don’t want to spend excess cash. Here is what to do:
How to redo your cabinets
1. Take the Doors Off the Cabinets
While this seems like a pretty obvious step, it is still one that needs to be mentioned.
The reason you want to take the doors off the cabinets is to make sure you get both the inside and the outside of the cabinets. It gives the end result a cleaner look as well.
Another reason to take the doors off the cabinets is to prevents the doors from being shut while they are tacky. This could happen unintentionally but shutting the doors while they are tacky would result in the doors being unable to open. When they finally do get forced open, part of the paint on either the door or the cabinets themselves would be damaged.
2. Tape Off Areas You Don’t Want Sprayed
Some of our cabinets came out and others were permanently attached. For the ones that could come out: we chose to take them outside, cover the counter, and paint them on a tarp in our driveway.
It is important to note that with this tarp, you want it to be large enough that it covers most of the area you are spraying. Afterall, you are trying to redo your cabinets, not your driveway!
The other cabinets need to be taped off. Instead of using tape the entire time, you can use paper to cover larger surface areas, such as the floor and the counters in the house.
This is one area where I recommend being very precise. For example, you might want to use a ruler to help you set the line for your tape. Also, be sure to use enough paper that none of it is going to rip while you are working.
I will say it again because this is important: the goal here is doing a quality job. Making sure that the areas you don’t want covered in paint is taped off ensures you will get a clean look where you want it.
3. Clean Your Cabinets
Use soap and water on a wash cloth to start out with. This gets rid of surface issues, such as spills and other spots you might have never noticed.
If they are really dirty, use a scrubby. A scrubby to me is one of those green slightly abrasive pads that you can pick up at a grocery store.
Afterwards, use something with some abrasive on it (the green scrubby works well here too) and rub it down in order to give the wood some grip for the paint to stick to. Wait until the water dries in order to go to the next step.
4. Spray Your Cabinets
Here you see my husband doing final touch ups in the room. This was a place we had missed.
You can use either a spray can from the store or paint and a paint gun. I recommend paint and a paint gun for most of it.
Be very careful when you are spraying not to let any bugs or leaves or dust get into the paint as it is settling. This could cause the paint to have weird stick looking pieces in it or it might even have the part that got stuck in it permanently.
This will be the longest part of the process as you will want to do multiple layers.
Wait a minimum of thirty minutes in between each coat. If it is cooler or if you are spraying the cabinets inside your house, I suggest going out of the house for a bit – working outside or going to town while the first layer rests.
Then come back and do another layer. Two should be enough to fully cover the cabinets with your new color of choice.
While layer two (or your final layer) is resting, move on to the next step.
5. Begin Working On Your Doors
This is what our cabinet doors looked like to begin with. You can see why we needed to scrub them down and give them some new life. I feel like the decision to brighten them up really helped the house look open and airy as well.
Many of the steps for the doors are similar to the steps for the cabinets themselves. My husband and I worked side by side for most of this process so while he was working on the cabinets, I was working on the doors.
I did the cleaning and scrubbing of the cabinets (step 3) and then worked on the doors while he did the painting. The doors seemed to need a little more TLC before it could be painted.
That being said, we are going to look at step five a little more in depth – showing you different methods I used to get the grime off the cabinets so the paint would lay correctly.
Step 5.1: Wash with Soap and Water
I washed them off with soap and water just like I did the cabinets but noticed all of the harder to get off areas. Some of these were simply dust but other reasons include the cabinet doors over the stove area that had accumulated a nice pile of grease around the edges of them.
One thing for a fact is that I am going to research how to keep these areas clean when we move into the next house!
Here are the different techniques I used to get them as clean as possible:
5.2: Use a Straight Razor
First, I took a straight razor to the edge. You can see how dark the corners are compared to the inner area of the cabinets. It took three times for that layer to look better.
Be careful not to get into the wood too deep. The goal here is to scrap off the old residue, not to gouge into the wood. Despite my desire for perfection, I would rather have a cabinet with a little bit of gunk than a cabinet with gouges in it.
Patience is definitely a virtue here!
5.3: Use a Wire Brush for the Tough Corners
A wire brush was used for the yucky edges my scrubby wouldn’t touch and the razor would not get under without cutting too far into the wood (which I don’t like- see step 5.2).
I dipped the wire brush into the water I used to wash it down with in the beginning step about every other time. And at this time it is okay to use a back and forth motion.
The wire brush did a great job here.
6. Paint the Cabinet Doors
Similar to moving the cabinets outside when possible, we opted to paint the doors outside on two large tarps. We gave my husband room to walk down the isles and paint each piece. We also made sure to leave a minimum of two inches on each side of the tarp, letting those inches be held down by unused tile.
Our original idea was to use white for most of the cabinets and then use chalkboard paint for a small portion of the inside of the doors. Naturally, then we could write what was in the cabinets or what we needed to purchase… whichever we chose.
You could also be creative and put lace or something over it to give the kitchen a unique look.
If we were to have done this it would have been a two-step process. The first step, I just mentioned above.
Then we would have had to wait for each section to fully dry. To be honest, I would have wanted to wait for at least twenty-four hours, and then tape off the cabinet doors where we wanted to chalkboard paint to be.
He would have painted them in that area and we would have had to wait several hours before finally being able to move onto the final step.
7. Put the Doors Back on the Cabinets
We did not get to this step, instead we allowed our landlord to do as he saw fit; however, it is still an important step that I must not forget! Put your “new” cabinets back together and enjoy the fruit of your reward.
I wish I could have seen what our house looked like with the doors done but that’s okay, I learned a great lesson and hope that in sharing my experience with you, it will encourage you to try new things and make your house look great in ways that may be small to others, but might make a big difference to you.
My husband and I plan to take the knowledge we are accumulating and put it to good use for our new home and I hope you do the same for your home.