Might Be In Over My Head…Maybe?

DIY PAinting Cabinets Don't Panic Sign

Don’t Panic…you too can do DIY Cabinet Refinishing and Paint your Cabinets

So after my DIY Painting Kitchen Cabinets, I definitely have some things I learned, things I would do again and things I would stay far away from. I know the task can be daunting but above all else…Don’t Panic. It is doable. Here are my Dos and Don’ts for Painting Cabinets.



Dos of DIY Painting Cabinets:

  1. Do plan your project. – Seems like a no brainer but truthfully for every 10 minutes of planning you do you save yourself at least an hour of doing. Plus, you can save yourself valuable dollars too. Planning can avoid costly mistakes.
  2. Do sand. – Whether you use a liquid sanding product or you go old school and workout some frustration with some repetitive back and forth strokes, you must prep your surface and that means sanding. Even using a liquid sanding product requires some traditional sanding.
  3. Do make sure you prime. – I know it’s  tempting to not and some people will say you can get away with it but even the experts at Ace Hardware said you really should prime.
  4. Do be realistic about the project. – Know that if you want it done right AND you want it to last, make sure you give yourself the proper amount of time to do the project right. Nothing would be worse than having spent all that time making my cabinets pretty to have hastily put appliances and kitchenware inside to have nicks and marks on them. I can so honestly say I would have been furious.
  5. Do mark your doors so you know which goes where. – As I mentioned in my last post, my brilliant idea for knowing which door went where and what hardware with what door went awry when my husband, who wanted to help, inadvertently messed up my system. Even if it’s a small piece of painters tape in an unnoticeable area of the inside with the number written beneath DO IT! You can always lightly patch but it will save you hours of frustration down the road.
  6. Do buy your paint anywhere but California. – Can we say road trip? Okay, seriously it was explained to me that other than professional licensed contractors, no one can get commercial quality paint that will withstand the test of time in California due to the omissions and air quality laws. Great for breathing – which we need here with all the smog and allergies – but bad for DIY. All you will get here is a form of latex…plain latex, enamel based latex, etc. but is all latex. To get good enamel which requires no sealing, look for the VOC.
  7. Do make sure you use protection. – No, no, no…not that kind. Make sure you are wearing a mask and glasses and protect your area from spills and overspray, especially if you are choosing to spray your cabinets.
  8. Do back to front. – Starting with the back allows any mistakes or smudges to happen on the side no one will see, especially when you have the door laying on its back so you can paint the front. Nicks and smudges and imprints are less noticeable when the door back looks at dishes most of the time, not you or your guests.

Don’ts of DIY Painting Cabinets:

  1. Don’t listen to your husband when he tells you, “Look they are dry. Do the other side.” – I know it seems tempting especially when you want to get things done fast BUT you will have repair the damage later which means EXTRA work. I did it my husband’s way and my doors took 10 additional days to dry. Plus, what seemed dry on the surface wasn’t really dry. Think about when you do your nails. The top feels dry and can take a gentle touch but press down on them before they have fully dried and you get a nice little imprint. In my case, my doors stuck to the sawhorse.
  2. Don’t be afraid to try something new. – I feel in love with TSP when I did my bar top and would have loved to have been braver in trying it on my kitchen cabinets. It would have saved some sanding. A small caveat…it would have cost more for the amount of TSP I would have had to use.  (TSP is a liquid stripper that comes in multiple strengths and forms. I highly recommend a gel versus a liquid as there is less mess and chance of spilling.) One small note. I did try this on my kitchen table, unsuccessfully, so it doesn’t always work. But that’s another blog.
  3. Don’t spray paint in 85 plus degree heat. – Well…we bought our house in March, took possession in May and mid-May and June I was spray painting…yes in 85 plus degree heat. What can I say…I live in beautiful and HOT southern California. My sprayer kept clogging and I had to constantly stop to unclog it. Now, on the inside of my home, when I sprayed the interior bases, my sprayer worked beautifully and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
  4. Don’t buy Polyurethane with a “warm Glow”. – Even if it says it’s clear, turn it over and make sure it does not say anywhere on it, over time a warm glow will develop…translation, traditional yellow finish.
  5. Don’t brush, sponge. – If you are going to put a finish step on the project, instead of applying it with a traditional brush, use a sponge brush instead. It applies evenly and doesn’t leave streaks.
  6. Don’t forget to have fun. – You will be having a small affair with your kitchen for a while…it might even become a moderately long term one at that. So I suggest, find the funny in each day and make the time fun. It’s part of the reason I almost always have my cohort with me. Mom and my comedy routine while DIY-ing always makes the time go faster.


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