Monday, February 6, 2012

Cabinet Makeover


Finally, I am getting around to posting a tutorial on redoing cabinets. I know there are numerous ways to go about with such a project but I will show one way that I used recently that seems to work well and is relatively easy for anyone. I have since learned to use my sprayer for every step and found it to take a lot less time and give a more even finish. When using the right rollers and paint formulas, basically the same effect can be reached without a sprayer. Following are a few snapshots of a new piece of furniture that I painted for someone using the same method as the kitchen cabinets on this post.






The first thing to do when starting a paint project is of course to decide what color to go with. I usually carry samples with me to show people some of the more popular cabinet colors. The samples consist mostly of about five different colors of tan ranging from almost white to a deeper tan and a black one with red showing through. All my neutral samples are distressed with dark brown showing through at the edges.

Following are some “before” pictures of the kitchen…





The “after”…






The first thing to do when starting a kitchen is to take all the doors, drawers and hardware off. I’ve always only painted the outside of the cabinets which saves you from the hassle of removing everything that is on the shelves. The drawer contents would of course need to be taken out.

Step 1: Since I despise sanding, I opt to use a deglosser instead.



ORMEs hardware in Berlin is where I get most of my paint and supplies. They carry Krud Kutter, which I rub onto the wood to get rid of some of the gloss and also any dirt that is on the cabinets.


If the cabinets are dull already, I omit this step. Next, I apply a primer. Zinsser 123 primer can be tinted, which I like to have as dark as possible.



These little rollers are great!



After the primer, I applied a dark brown (expresso bean), satin paint…



The next step is a little more complicated because to get the best results I have a few additives I use.


 Floetrol is a paint conditioner that works great in getting a nice smooth finish. It eliminates roller and brush marks and it takes longer to dry thus giving you more time to work with distressing the finish. I add 1/2 cup floetrol and 1/2 cup water to a quart of paint. (also satin paint)

This is the step where a paint sprayer is a huge benefit because it eliminates a few steps…


I ended up applying a coat of polycrylic over the dark brown so that when I rubbed off the tan, the dark brown didn’t come off too. Then I was ready for the first coat of tan paint.



After applying the paint I took a wet rag and carefully rubbed off the edges. This works best to go section by section so the paint doesn’t get a chance to dry. Here is where you might want to consider investing in a sprayer. With the sprayer, I don’t need to apply the polycrylic in between the paints and the major time saver is I can get the cabinets covered with one coat of tan verses two with a roller. It takes a lot of time to rub the paint off the edges – especially when doing it twice!

Tips for rubbing off edges:

*Rinse the rag frequently

*Don’t rub too hard or the ugly orange(or whatever) will be exposed! 

*The rag that works best for me is an old sock



The final step is applying two coats of polycrylic, which is a water based varnish. I set up a little “finish” room in the laundry room in our basement using sheets. I did use the sprayer to apply the varnish. It can be done with a brush but using the sprayer gave the doors a nice, even finish. ( again, it is also a lot quicker)


I got this idea to spray inside toward the end of this project or I would certainly have used the sprayer for all the coats of paint! ( before, I had always thought it had to be done outside ) I set up a fan to blow any flying varnish out the window, donned my mask & sprayed away!


I used a lazy susan with a bucket on it to lay the doors on so I could spin them to spray all the different angles. ( my hubbys idea )


I have since sprayed furniture and kitchens in this little corner and surprisingly I don’t find too much paint everywhere. My dad gave me this sprayer for Christmas a few years ago and I love it! It’s a Kohler brand which I think you can get for around a hundred dollars. It runs on air. Most water based paints need to be thinned down with water to work. Of course, then you run into the paint losing some of it’s color. I usually end up buying some paint colorant formula from the hardware to add to the thinned paint. ( another story )

Here is a quick list of all the steps for this kitchen:

  • Use a deglosser ( Krud Kutter )
  • Apply a primer
  • Apply satin paint (whatever color you want the edges to be)
  • A coat of polycrylic (you can run a test to see if the paint comes off when rubbing. If it doesn’t, you can skip this step. When using a sprayer, it’s not as liable to come off with a thinner, more even coat)
  • Apply a coat of satin paint (with floetrol & water added)
  • Rub off edges
  • Apply a second coat of satin paint, again with the additives. (This step can be avoided when using a sprayer)
  • Rub off edges
  • Apply two coats if Minwax water based polycrylic. (allowing drying time in between)

Go from this…


to this…


I hope this post has been helpful to anyone who is ready for a fresh new look for their kitchen or a piece of furniture. Feel free to ask any questions… good luck!



  1. Wow!!!! just open this, It's great. I look forward to other projects. Thanks

  2. Impressive! Looking at your pictures make me want to paint my cabinet too cause I just bought a new paint sprayer and still don't have any change to use it.

  3. I love your blog, and I know this is an old post but I am wondering about the paint sprayer you use. You said its Kohler brand, however I have searched online and can't seem to find a small sprayer like this. I'd love to know where and how to get one like it! Thanks!

    1. Sorry I didn't see this comment until now.. thanks for the interest in my blog! I appreciate all my visitors! I have gone through a few paint sprayers and the one I presently have is a Lovely one.. I love it! I'm pretty sure Lowes has them for around a hundred or less..hope this helps!


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