How to Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets, Part Deux

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In our last episode, our slightly-manic, reluctant, do-it-yourselfer, finally started the process of painting kitchen cabinets. That worried painter was me, and I began the process of painting my cabinets 27 days ago. I’m embarrassed to say that they still aren’t done. Here are my excuses:


  • During one of the past four weeks, my family (including my husband, three teenagers, and mother-in-law) went on our family vacation to Atlanta, Hilton Head, Charleston, and Savannah. We saw amazing homes along the Battery in  Charleston, and I’m pretty sure those amazing homes didn’t have kitchens in such disarray as ours is right now.


  • Painting cabinets is a time-consuming process that involves much skill and a steady hand. Remember, it took Michelangelo four years to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. And Rome wasn’t built in a day.


  • Also, my husband and I started watching Stranger Things. We aren’t big TV watchers, but for some reason, that show sucked us in. Having white kitchen cabinets doesn’t seem to be as much of a priority when kids are stuck in “the upside down,” right?





But today, I am newly inspired to complete this project for two reasons.

Painting kitchen cabinets

  1. None of my kitchen cabinets have doors on them right now, and my mother-in-law’s dog just crawled into my stockpot to have a little rest. (Ew)
  2. I’m determined to finish this house project for the same reason anyone does anything to her house. Company is coming. I’m pretty sure that’s why Michelangelo finished up the Sistine Chanel in four years instead of five. His aunt from Chicago probably scheduled a visit to Italy, so Michelangelo had to turn off Stranger Things and just power through until the project was finished.


In our last conversation, I wrote about how the grouchy old guy at Benjamin Moore walked me through the painting steps. First, wash the cabinets with TSP. After they are dry, lightly sand the surfaces with a 100 grit sanding block. Finally, wipe the surfaces with a tack cloth.



Mapping Out Cabinet Doors


What I failed to mention is that the first step in the process is really to remove all the doors and drawers from the cabinets. Before you grab your drill and start removing hardware, make sure you follow this critical step: Label your doors.


Draw a map of your kitchen and number each cabinet door. Before you remove each door, stick a piece of painters tape with the door’s number somewhere on the surface. I don’t have any doors on my cabinets right now, but helpful YouTubers have said that putting the wrong door on a cabinet hole will make the doors not fit as well and everything will feel out of whack.






After the doors and drawers were removed, I took everything out of my kitchen cabinets. Everything. I’m not sure if this step was essential, but I didn’t want specks of paint to cover my Fiestaware, so I figured it’s better to be safe than sorry.



Cleaning and Sanding


Then I started the cleaning, sanding, and wiping process on the face of the cabinet structure. This process went rather quickly, with only one snafu.


painting cabinetsI was standing on my kitchen counter, cleaning the top of the kitchen cabinets. I wasn’t planning to paint the tops of my cabinets, but I thought I would clean them anyway since I do it faithfully every nine years. I was holding my vacuum in one hand and the hose in another, trying to knock the nine years of dust from the surface when I accidentally dropped the vacuum hose. Of course, the hose landed in my giant bowl of water that diluted the TSP cleaner.


The vacuum, which was not a wet/dry vac at the time, immediately started sucking up the dirty water. The vacuum started leaking, and dirty water splashed everywhere. It’s been 27 days, and amazingly, the vacuum still works. My teenager told me this morning that she thinks it still smells like fish. I’m not sure where the fish smell came from, but whatever.



Ready to Paint


Once the surfaces were finally cleaned, I started applying the paint. It was an exciting moment, and actually, pretty easy. Grouchy Old Guy told me to use a small roller with foam heads. The cabinet paint is runny, and you have to be vigilant to catch all the drips. One would think that runny, drippy cabinet paint would be a recipe for disaster, but it dries really well. After six hours, I put on the second coat.


I am now in the process of painting the cabinet doors. As God is my witness, before my aunt arrives from Chicago, they will be rehung back on the cabinets.


Thanks for being patient with my saga. The next part of my kitchen renovation involves picking out new countertops. I’m already starting to hyperventilate a bit thinking about that since the last time I picked countertops, I accidentally chose a mustard-yellow pattern. But that’s a story for a different time.





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Belinda McLeod

Belinda McLeod is a stay-at-home mom who works full time. Besides managing a busy household, she works with children, assists her aging father, is a free-lance writer on topics ranging from "how to become a tattoo artist in Ireland" to "symptoms of anterior blepharitis." McLeod lives and works with her husband and three children in the Midwest.

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