Might Be In Over My Head…Maybe?

Cabinets…well…I think this is where I got my acronym for DIY, otherwise known as Doing the Insane Yourself. So I had this brilliant idea that I could refinish my cabinets myself and that it would: a) be easy and b) be done in a week…the best laid plans…

Post Cleaning...(The Before)

Post Cleaning…(The Before)

So here is how my cabinet adventure started…I did recon. I’m kind of famous at my Lowe’s. Many of the staff know me and my harebrained projects. They also know when they see me with my list, that they will see me several more times. Many of them, the guys, can’t believe a non-contractor girl would take on the projects I take one but they love hearing and seeing the results!

So as I said, I started with recon (first trip to Lowe’s). First, I went for paint swatches and information. I also took my cohort in crime (who probably like Laurel and Hardy often says “This is another fine mess you got me into.”)…my mom! PS…moms are great! They support you without ever telling you, “Sweetie, I think you are in over your head.” Anyways, I digress. I spoke with my friend Dwayne, my paint expert and manager and explained my ideas. I knew from reading blogs that the basics consisted on priming, two coats of color, and poly. I knew I did not want to brush it on because I did not want paint strokes to show. I also knew I was so not a fan of gloss so I really wanted to know if I could use a satin finish in a kitchen. Based on his information and with swatches in hand I went home after a quick 7-11 run for a pina colda icee.

He shared sanding was a must or any paint I put on it, even if it had a primer would eventually chip. Okay, so I would be sanding. Ugh do I HATE sanding. He showed me samples of a brush, a roller and sprayed on paint so I knew based on the look I wanted, I would be spraying. Lastly, he advised that even though the paint I was looking at was technically a primer and paint in one, that really it was just a thicker painted designed to only need one coat and he advised I prime. Okay so we just confirmed, primer, which added another two days to painting. Based on the research I had done that would mean a total of 12 days for painting allowing 24 hours to dry between coats and each side of the doors – 2 days for priming each side of the door, 4 days for the light gray doors, 4 days for the dark gray doors and 2 days for the poly. There went my fast plan…but I was still committed.

Once home, I decided on my colors, made my list of supplies that I didn’t have and would need to get and headed to Lowe’s for the second trip that day. Spent about a ½ hour with mom debating on which sprayer to get, then mixed my paints, bought supplies, made another icee run and headed home. This trip I refer to as purchase.

I diligently removed all the doors and hardware and being what I thought was smart, I laid out the hardware for each door in order of the door being taken down so that I would know which went with which. The idea was that then the hardware and doors would line up. (This was the plan until my loving yet unknowing husband took his arm and pushed them out of the way to get to a door I couldn’t reach…oh well.)

Doors Off...Prep

Doors Off…Prep

Since I couldn’t number the doors as recommended, I had this brilliant plan that I would create four stacks of doors – upper right, upper left, bottom main and bottom bar. I did the same with the drawers and as long as they stayed in that order, then I would be fine…again best laid plans (my kind husband brought in the doors so they wouldn’t get wet but got them out of order). I began sanding.

From experience, I recommend four things if you are going to sand. First, make sure you have an electric sander. Second, I recommend two – one smaller like a Rockwell/Dremmel multi tool with a small sanding attachment and a larger circular or small square electric sander. The small Rockwell gets in to crevices and the larger works well on flat surfaces. Third, I would recommend 100-80 grit paper. Anything larger doesn’t really cut through finishes to get to the wood and larger grit can leave groves in the wood that may or may not come out with a finer grit sand paper. Lastly, protective gear – masks and glasses. Dust gets EVERYWHERE!!!!! Even with a mask and glasses, I still found that some particles got through. I can only imagine what would have gotten in to my airways and eyes without it! When I ran out of sand paper, made trip three to Lowe’s (this would be need more trip)…and of course another icee run. Big kitchen + other commitments = 1 ½ weeks of sanding…why my husband insists on taking photos of me when I look awful is beyond me, but this picture does show the process of sanding (I promise on a regular bases I look much cuter and definitely more put together).

Sanding...why does my husband takes these photos?

Sanding…why does my husband takes these photos?

Trip four (forgot it trip) to Lowe’s included buying plastic sheets to mask off the area since I forgot that on trip 2. It also included a McDonald’s run right next door since I discovered this around 12noon. Girls gotta eat, right?

Taping off is extremely important when spraying or you will have spray paint everywhere. That’s said, even though it took a long, long while to lay the parchment on the floor, tape the edges, tape of wall height sheets of plastic, it was so worth it for the ease of spraying my cabinet bases. Little tip, make sure you make yourself an exit or you might be sleeping in your project for a while.

So next was priming. My husband lovingly purchased supplies and made me a set of saw horses so I could paint my doors. So I set out the doors. I obediently washed them down and used tack paper to make sure there was no debris on them, which I did and recommend doing before you paint every time. I prepped my painter and began spraying. After smudging several, I learned it is better to start at the back, furthest away from your cord so you don’t smudge. I moved inside, where I painted not only the fronts of the cabinets but also the interior…remember I was sealing these nasty babies. That sooo included the inside! Mask and glasses so necessary. And I hope you don’t mind paint on you because at the end of each day I was either a whiter shade of ghost than I already was naturally, pale gray or deep gray but I was definitely painted. With my husband’s impatience urging me on, I went ahead and did front and backs of doors and drawers in one day (be sure to see the next post on tips for painting cabinets). I did learn that despite directions included with the painter that I did need to adjust the angle I held the sprayer at to make sure I got all the nooks and crannies. However, unless you want a puddle of paint on your project, always start just off your project and move completely to the other end and finish spraying once you have moved completely off your project…i.e. when painting the door, start first at one end slightly to the left of the edge and finish slightly to the right of the other end…hence how I ended up painting myself.







The next day, I repeated this process with the light paint and the dark paint the following day. However, because I didn’t let each side fully dry or each coat, I had doors sitting in my dining room drying for several days…about 10…so I really didn’t save anytime doing it my husband’s way.

That brings me to finishing it…or Polyurethane. Okay so everywhere I read said you needed to finish your doors with Polyurethane. However, when I sprayed it on, it was too thick and ran down the walls, ate through my paint on one cabinet. Add insult to injury, despite trying to wipe it off fast, some areas on the interior started to dry and I could see it starting to yellow…so much for my pretty gray cabinets. So back to Lowe’s. (This would actually be like trip seven or eight by now and several more than that icee runs and is referred to as my OOPS trip in my process.)

So I talked to one of the men at the paint area and I was informed that no Polyurethane would not leave a “warm glow” or ugly yellow color. Ugh!!! So I went back to researching and I found two potential solutions. One was a Polyacrylic and the other was a really cool paint feature on the blog Angie in the Thick of It and was a new advanced paint from Benjamin Moore. Coincidentally, my cohort in crime had also found the same possibilities so now we were headed to Ace Hardware (I felt like I was cheating on Lowe’s).

After a long conversation regarding the downside to California’s air control measures and lack of VOC, it was decided that I would do nothing. They could not guarantee that the Benjamin Moore Advance would work the way I wanted it to and at $60 a gallon, I wasn’t willing to try. The Polyacrylic looked promising but without the VOC, it was highly recommended to not use it. What was recommended was to let the paint cure for 30 days before I put anything in the cabinets. I was told I could wait 10 to 15 days before I could put the doors on and hardware but that be aware that until it fully cured they would leave imprints. They gave me more tips but I will share those in my next post.

So 30 days later, I finally had my cabinets done, in place and kitchenware inside. In the end, it wasn’t fast. All in all between my research, “the doing” and the curing time, it probably took a good 45 plus days. It was a simple process – meaning repeatable and not complex – but it wasn’t easy. BUT…it was so worth it. I love my temporary dream cabinets. I walk into my kitchen and I feel relaxed and I KNOW it’s clean. Would I do it again? Knowing what I know now, heck yeah!!! If for nothing else than all the mandatory icee runs…

Not Bad, Huh?

Not Bad, Huh?

Finished Cabinet

Finished Cabinet

Finished Doors and Drawers

Finished Doors and Drawers

See you next post.

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