in which i paint my cabinets and say “good enough”

in which i paint my cabinets and say “good enough”

when a famous* DIYer comes to visit you, you need to do some DIY, amirite?

i initially asked liz to come visit me to help with something on my roof and go for a run int he woods. then she she stuck the bug in my head to paint my cabinets, even sending me a link to an easy, no-sanding recipe for success. at first i was hesitant – so much work. but the allure of having a helper (nate is no help. he’s more hindrance in home projects) was too much.

so i read the info about how to do this, then made a commitment by taking off my cabinet doors. first, a couple before pics.

my kitchen was classic mid-90s maple. when i moved in, the hardware was gold, if that gives you an idea of how awesomely stuck in the 90s my house was. the hardware change out helped, but the maple is so overwhelming. so, like i said, i took off the doors and committed to a change.

tips for door removal:

  • use some painters tape to number the doors and cabinets. i numbered my lower doors, lettered the upper doors, and roman numeraled the drawers.
  • put the hardware for each section in a baggie and place it in the cabinet/drawer.
  • don’t make a big deal out of not getting the doors exactly even when putting them back on – i’m not a professional cabinet hanger, and neither are you. i doubt anyone will notice.

(not the little red apple thing next to the sink – canning season means fruitfly overload, and they were super annoying.)

then i stopped menards to pick the items needed for my painting project:

  • fancy cabinet paint (i bought $50/gallon dutchboy semi-gloss cabinet paint)
  • primer
  • deglosser
  • paint sprayer
  • a $13 edging paintbrush

i thought i needed two gallons of paint and ended up spending $300. oy. expensive project. good thing menards had their rebate going on.

so, liz showed up and we got to work on saturday. the prep work is the WORST. anyone who’s painted anything knows it’s the worst.

  1. cleaning. before liz showed up, i started spraying all my cabinet doors with 409 to degrease them, then wiped them off. liz cleaned off all the indoor surfaces with dishsoap and a non-abrasive scrubby.
  2. deglossing. the source i used as a basis for this project said this should take the place of sanding. except, the directions were pretty sparse, and the couple videos i watched about deglossing just wiped down the surface. i’m not sure if it actually worked or not, but we deglossed all the surfaces.
  3. sanding. as a precaution, we lightly sanded all the doors. we figured these were going to be the high-touch pieces and needed a little more help with the paint sticking. we just stuck with deglossing the indoor surfaces.
  4. between each step, all the doors needed to be wiped off.
  5. threw some dropcloth down on the garage floor and elevated all the doors on dixie cups (this was a good tip).

at this point, i was already exhausted and over painting my cabinets and wanted to give up. but you can’t just put sanded doors back on the cabinets and call it good. so it was time to paint.

it’s at this point i realized a grave mistake i had made. when perusing the paint sprayers, i picked the one that said it was good for small projects.

(a wagner control spray)

this is not a small project.

it took me 2 hours to spray primer on one side of all the doors. UGH.

that was enough of that. liz was still priming the indoors, but i told her to quit because it was break time. meaning, time for a 4-mile run in the woods. not much of a break, but at least it wasn’t painting related. we got back from the run, then headed into st. cloud where we went to menards and got the big-girl sprayer.

this wagner boasted 8X faster than a paintbrush. that sad first one didn’t even say it was faster than a paintbrush. i actually think it was slower than a paintbrush.

after scarfing down some 5 guys, i headed out to try out my new 8X SPRAYER and ho boy did it ever deliver. i did the first coat of cabinet paint in TWENTY MINUTES.

so, notes on paint sprayers:

  • don’t skimp
  • wear a mask when spraying
  • wear your earmuffs you wear for mowing the lawn or snowblowing. your ears will be grateful

after my coat was done, i went in to help liz finish up the first coat of paint on the inside surfaces. i have to admit, i am a horrible painter, and liz can attest to that. i get paint where it shouldn’t be, i am no good at edging, and i splatter everywhere. but we got through it. man, cabinet contents are messy. at least mine are.

then, mercifully, we called it quits at about 11. i had a beer and passed out.

the next morning, we did the second coat indoors, because i knew the backs of the doors would be a piece of cake with my awesome sprayer. we finished up in about 2 hours. after liz left, i primed and painted the backs.

tonight, i hung all the doors back on the cabinets, which took me about 2 hours to do. like i said, i’m not a professional cabinet installer, so the doors are slightly uneven and at this point i don’t even care, because


i polyurethaned the sides of the cabinets next to the stove and above the sink where my liquor cabinet lives. use water-based! i made the mistake of using oil-based for my side buffet and it turned yellow.

so, what else needs to be done?

  • a couple touchups on the doors where i banged them while trying to get them back on. life needs a control-Z
  • i need to spraypaint my stove hood. at least it’s not 80s almond color and sort of blends in, but i’ll need to change it sometime. while i’m at it, i’m going to look into wiring my under-cabinet lights with it. (for some reason, electrical projects are much easier for me to handle than big paint projects.)
  • i’m going to paint my walls a less vibrant color. i’m thinking a grey-blue or grey-green. i’m hoping to get that done in the next month.
  • and MAN my FLOOR is AWFUL. (that spot is a burn mark from the previous owner.) i might leave that to a professional and do my entire kitchen and weird dining/office area.

i also ended up using just one gallon of primer and paint and was able to return them, along with a couple other things, and saved myself $100 on paint, which is what i had spent on my fancy sprayer, but oh well. at least i saved a crapton of time. i’m going to try to sell the weeny sprayer to some unsuspecting craigslist killer.

let’s take another look, just because.


*she COULD be famous if she’d blog abut her DIY escapades.

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