When we moved in to our house, the kitchen had THREE different styles of cabinets within the 8 x 10 space. There were what looked like original wood cabinets, new wood kit cabinets and similar painted (red/orange) cabinets. The mismatch was a little much for us, but what to do?
- Option A: Tear the cabinets out and replace them with new matching cabinets.
- Option B: Strip the paint and refinish the cabinets with a matching wood stain.
- Option C: Paint the 3 cabinets the same color.
While we would have loved to get new cabinets, there wasn't room in our budget upon moving in. There are also some space and layout problems in the kitchen that we would love to fix down the road, so we figured there's no point in renovating only half a kitchen that may get an overhaul in a decade anyway.
Option B was what we considered because we hate the idea of painting over original woodwork. The craftsmanship on the house is what we fell in love with but these cabinets were in poor shape. Upon closer investigation, we realized that the wall of original cupboards had initially been one large flush unit. Somewhere along the line, an owner had cut a hole in the middle of the unit to fit the fridge! They didn't do the greatest job either, because the rough cut edges are easily visible. Additionally, the insides of this set of cupboards were in poor shape with shelves painted so many times they were no longer adjustable and a few shelves were even sagging since the fridge hole removed at least one important support beam. Once we felt less guilty about 'ruining' the original wood cabinets, we thought more about the amount of work it would take to strip off all the orange paint and about how quickly we wanted a working kitchen.
Option C, please! We decided to paint all the cabinets white for a cleaner look. Little did we know how many white options there were! The backsplash tile on the wall is a cream, and the sink is white, but when we got our favorite 'white' choice home from the store, it was glowing. Since it made the tile and sink look dirty, we returned to the store to settle on a creamy white.
Once we decided on a color, it came together in a snap. Ha! That's what we thought at first, but it turns out that it takes a really long time to paint both sides of 14 doors. It only took a weekend to paint the cupboard surrounds, but we've had the doors sitting in the basement for over a month. We hope to hang them soon so be sure to check back for progress on that project soon. In the meantime, if you're thinking about a drastic change for your kitchen for a less drastic dip in your wallet, here are our cabinet painting tips:
- Take all the doors off the cabinets and remove the hardware
- Clean everything with household cleaner. You'd be surprised how much grease and dirt get on cabinets and paint won't stick to that.
- Lightly sand every surface with a fine sand paper - anything over 100 should be fine, this will rough up the surface and take paint better
- Prime every surface. Oil based primer is best for covering wood. Check out our post about primer and what kind to use on what surface.
- Paint, Paint, Paint. Depending on the wood's original finish and the color paint you use, you'll have to do between 1 and 3 coats of paint. The lighter the paint or the more finicky the finish the more coats you'll need. If the paint isn't sticking well it can help to lightly sand (150 grit) the surfaces between coats. If the primer was a water-based primer, you'll have to paint more coats than if you use an oil-based primer.
- Patiently wait at least 4 days to hang the doors. If you do it sooner the doors can stick to the frame and take off paint. Also, the paint isn't fully cured at first and it's not good to touch, move, rub, or push on any of the surfaces.
- Hang the doors and enjoy your fresh, cohesive kitchen!
Here's our cabinets after primer and one coat of paint. After another coat or two and waiting to dry it will be time to rehang them!
Our kitchen went from this:
Check out the whole kitchen reveal for more tips and our $650 budget breakdown
Cabinet painting Total Cost:
1 gal Kilz - $15
1 gal Behr cream paint -$20