I have debated back and forth as to whether or not I would do this post. The reason is because I cannot seem to find pictures that I took of this process. However, the number 1 question that I get in my inbox and comment section has to do with how I painted my kitchen cabinets. Because of that, I can’t delay any longer. Below are some tips on how to paint kitchen cabinets without sanding or removing the doors. It has been 7 months since I painted our cabinets and they holding up well. I hope that this helps you find the courage to give it a go with your cabinets!
I had been wanting to paint my kitchen cabinets for at least a year before husbs agreed to let me paint them. The kitchen just did not match the rest of the house, as you can see in the picture below. Husbs agreed to let me paint them on a Monday and by Friday morning, I got to work. When I woke up that Friday morning, I hadn’t planned on painting my cabinets but my work for the day was canceled because it was raining. This left me with a clear schedule for the day. I left the house and made a trip to Benjamin Moore to scope out what they had. I watched a few Youtube videos and got the basic idea of what I need to do. I also talked with my friend who had just painted her cabinets and given me her left over paint. That was all I needed to get going.
Here is what the kitchen looked like before!
Here is the after:
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Here are the products that I used for this project.
Deglosser (if you choose)
Benjamin Moore furniture paint (I used the color FOG MIST)
1. Clear and tape off the counter.
This one is pretty self explanatory but I had to move all of my little goodies off of the counters and tape off the counters because I did not want to get little droplets of paint all over the counters. You can do the same with your floors especially if they are wood. Mine are tile and paint usually comes off of them pretty easily and so i wasn’t worried.
2. Wash all of your cabinets multiple time with 1 part vinegar and 1 part water.
This step took forever! Well, let’s be honest, all of the steps take forever but this one feels like it takes longer than the other because you don’t really see results as you do it. You will be tempted to skip this step but please don’t. You need to get all of the grime and grease from cooking off of your cabinets. Paint or primer will not stick to a greasy surface and so you really need to get this squeaky clean. For some of the areas right above the stove that were extra greasy, I used a Clorox wipe to get it clean. I put this mixture in a rag and used a scrub brush to scrub the cabinets and then I wiped them with the rag. I did this 2 different times. It took about 3 hours because of the amount of cabinets that we have.
A quick note: If you have time to sand your cabinets down, I highly recommend that you do this. The very best way to ensure that the paint is sticking to the cabinets properly is by sanding it down to the wood finish. I did not do this because my cabinets do not have a smooth finish and so the slight roughness of the cabinets allowed for my paint to stick without sanding. I also have used this method enough times to know that it would work for me.
3. Use caulk to fill in holes and cracks.
Ok, I completely forgot about this step until after I had done my last coat. I am inserting it here because it should be the next step that you take. It will save you some work. I had to go back and do one more coat on those areas after I was done with my 3rd coat because of that little mishap. Don’t do what I did! Caulk before you start painting!
4. I used a primer that sticks to glossy surfaces
I don’t know if there is a primer out there that does not stick to glossy surfaces. I always assumed that they all did but to be sure, I made sure that it did say that it would stick to a glossy surface. I used INSL-X Aqua Lock plus. The other option I had was to replace the first step with a deglosser instead of the water and vinegar. I have this thing against using chemicals if I can help it and so for me, skipping the deglosser was one thing that was important to me but if you don’t mind, just use the deglosser and it will ensure that the primer adhere to the cabinets better. This step is exciting because here, you start to see the transformation.
5. I did not remove my cabinets or drawers.
Here, I bet you are wondering if I removed my cabinets or drawers and the answer is ” no, I did not.” I kept all of the items in the drawers and I left everything in the cabinets. If you look at the picture below you will notice that there is a gap between my cabinet doors and the cabinet fronts when the doors are open. I took advantage of that and kept the cabinets on and just opened the doors to that sweet spot where it stays open by itself.
This allowed me to be able to paint both sides of the cabinets at the same time that I painted the front of the cabinets. I did not have to wait hours for the one side to dry so that I could flip it to do the other side and I did not have to spend time removing and replacing the doors. It took me about 3 hours to paint all of the cabinets.
You can see that there is a space between the door and the cabinet. If you have the kind of door hinges that are hidden, I think that this should be true for you. The disadvantage of course is that I had to paint over the hinges but it was a small price to pay since the hinges on my cabinets are on the inside!
6. Wait the recommended wait time on your primer’s instructions before you do a coat of paint. I used the Benjamin Moore Cabinet paint.
By the time I got to my primer, it was about 3 in the afternoon. At that time, all I could do was prime and then go to sleep. When I woke up at 6 the next working, it had been about 12 hours of drying time. At that time, I did a coat of paint on all of the cabinets which took about 3 hours. I was done with that coat at about 8 in the morning. I waited until 8 pm that night and did my other coat of paint and then I went to sleep. The next morning, before church, I did the exact same thing and then, I let every thing dry until the next day. From the time I started my first coat of primer at 3 on Friday afternoon until Monday night, the cabinet door and drawers remained open. I never shut them. I needed for everything to stay still so that things could dry.
7. After at least 24 hours, do a coat of polyurethane
So, I did not do this step that week. However, I would recommend that you go ahead and to this 24 hrs after your last coat dries. I painted all of these cabinets by myself that by the time that Monday came and the last coat was dry, I closed all of the cabinets and enjoyed my creation for about 2 weeks. After those 2 weeks, I did a top coat and we drilled the holes and added the hardware that I found off of Craigslist for $10. I used Minwax Polycrylic. The picture below is of the satin finish but I used the glossy finish.
This is what the cabinets look like today. We have had them painted for 7 months now and they are doing really well. I have had to touch up a few spots where the cabinets rub each other but otherwise, the paint has held up well for us.
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If you have any questions at all. please let me know. Make sure you use the link below to see how we completely gutted the kitchen when we bought this house and the process we took to get it to where it is now.
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