This weekend, I started the cabinet painting project. There was actually no paint involved.
I learned that the good part about having done a bathroom vanity as a trial round was that I knew how everything would go. The bad thing was that I thought I knew how it would go when multiplied by many more cabinets! I wasn’t prepared to spend two full days working and still not open the paint can.
First, I pulled all the hardware off the cabinet doors, the doors off their hinges, and the hinges off the cabinets. I left the hardware in each cabinet, so I’d be able to put everything back on the same door at the end of the project. When I replaced the cabinet hardware a few months ago, I learned that while all of my drawer fronts, etc. may have been created equal, some were more equal than others. No sense setting myself up for a wrestling match with a bowl full of hardware in a few weeks.
Next, the scalloped valence over the sink came down. It was a dead giveaway for the 80’s completion date of the original kitchen. My resident demolition expert was happy to oblige.
It remains to be see whether it will be replaced – we visited Lowe’s, and found that anything new would need to be special ordered. We decided to wait and see how we liked it without anything there at all. If anything, a shaker style piece of an arch might look nice.
After each door came down, it was labeled by cabinet location
These masking tape labels will follow each of the 21 doors through the painting process to keep them all straight.
Wiping down and sanding came next. And if I never sand another piece of wood, that would be fine by me! It took about 8 hours of continuous work to sand the 21 doors, 6 drawer fronts, and all of the cabinet frames. I didn’t take them all the way down to bare wood unless there was a flaw that needed to be sanded out, mostly I just sanded away the polyurethane and some of the orangey stain. The laminate end panels just got scratched up a little and cleaned.
I skipped the sanding when I did the bathroom vanity, but these cabinets clearly needed it, especially the ones next to and above the stove. They were covered in sticky grime that had probably built up over 25 years of sautéing on the stove. UGH.
Sunday morning started with the cabinets themselves; I wiped them down one more time, and primed.
Unlike with the bathroom vanity, this time I bought a small roller to help with the bigger expanses, and to avoid brush marks. Two thumbs up.
Originally I’d planned to do the cabinets in phases, only taking on half or so at a time. But then I saw what a mess the sanding made, and realized that I didn’t want coats of paint going on in one part of the kitchen when sanding was going on somewhere else. Plus, cleaning up after sanding only once was appealing. So I just went for it.
…which reminds me. If I EVER mention open shelving in a kitchen, please direct me back to these photos. Just looking at them, and everything in them, stresses me out. Even the “pretty” ones with bowls, mugs, and stemware. Solid doors, yes please.
At any rate, with the cabinets done, I set up painting camp in the basement with the doors and drawer fronts. I wish I could tell you I had some elegant solution for working on 27 pieces, and then drying them, but it mostly involves a few shoe boxes, a table, a chest freezer, two drop clothes, and some patience.
The boxes make it easier to paint the outer edges without drips, smudges, or sticking to the drop cloth, and make for a convenient place to stick the blue masking tape location labels. I can also pick them up by the boxes to move them down to the floor when they’re dry (or not quite) to the touch to paint a next group on the table:
Boxes from place settings of china were perfect. Solid, sturdy, and wide. LLBean boxes are great too.
Progress ended up stopping for the weekend when I kicked the can of primer. Based on how much I used on the vanity, I had expected to finish the job with a quart, but no such luck. My leftovers from that project are tinted a shade or two of gray deeper. I’m not sure if I can use it, or if it will change the final color. When I bought my supplies, they told me it was a little too dark to go under the paint I’d chosen. Unfortunately I think I need to go buy more. I’m glad I bought a full gallon of paint; hopefully it will be enough. (I think it will be if I can do it in 2 coats; 3 will be tight.)
So now that my basement is littered with cabinet doors that are primed on one side, we’re starting to get an inkling of what the kitchen will look like with gray cabinets (albeit a different shade):
I am so looking forward to seeing what the actual paint looks like!
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