Monday, July 6, 2009

Kitchen Cabinets - Prep work, step 1 of 2

As you may have gathered, we've embarked on a great summer project--a kitchen renovation. Actually, since we're doing it almost entirely by ourselves, this project could stretch on for years! At first, I thought we'd just change one or two things, but I didn't understand the domino effect of kitchen renovations. Once you change one element, you often can't stop there. Change the floor, then it doesn't go with the counter. Change that, and next thing you know, you're ripping out the backsplash, and on and on, it goes.

We began this process with new appliances back in April. Not necessarily the best sequencing, but the time to get them on sale was back then, so we went for it. It's really nice to have well-lit, perfectly functioning appliances. They looked really out of place, though, with the rest of the 70's era kitchen. Check out this photo I found of our kitchen floor pattern! The only difference is that ours is gold and blue. Nice, huh?

We'll get to the floor replacement...and the counter, and the recessed lighting, but first... we begin with the cabinets.

We considered--for about 10 minutes--the possibility of replacing our cabinets. But, I just couldn't bring myself to it. There is nothing structurally or functionally wrong with our cabinets; they're just too dark, too oak-y, too dated. So, we're saving several thousand dollars and we're painting them. We're going from ground coffee brown (current stain color) to off-white, Benjamin Moore Acadia White to be precise.

In case you're interested, or considering the job of redoing your cabinets, you might just want to read through this post first. Painting is not for the lazy or faint of heart. This is a tedious and time-consuming project, but one that we hope will be well worth the effort.

Step #1: remove doors and label them

We saved the hardware, although we won't be using it again. Maybe it can find a new home via freecycle.

Labeling the doors was critical! For some strange reason, no pair of doors is exactly the same dimension as any other in our kitchen. Guessing their locations when we put them back would have been a nightmare.

Step #2: Clean the wood

We found a recommendation that the wood be cleaned prior to the painting. Using a 2:1 mix of denatured alcohol and water, we wiped down the doors and cabinets, then dried them off with a towel.

Step #3: Sand

Used an orbital sander on the larger flat surfaces; hand-sanded the cracks and crevices. The objective wasn't to eliminate any and all traces of grain, rather just to open up the wood so that it would take up the primer well.

Joe sanding the cabinets. My favorite part was learning that you could hook up the shop-vac hose to the sander. Ingenious!

Step #4: Remove dust

Wipe the cabinets and doors well. We used a clean cloth first, followed by tack cloth. For those of you who have no idea what that is (I surely didn't before this weekend), "tack cloth" looks like cheese cloth that has been coated with some yellow tacky, adhesive-like material. Dust clings to it immediately.

Step #5 Get rid of weird crap.

Remove any other elements that you no longer want, especially if they interfere with the painting process. Now's the time to get 'em out of there.

For us, this meant removing the 70's "apron" on the bottom of the soffit. I think this was Joe's favorite step because he got to break out the reciprocating saw.

That's all I have time for tonight. Tune in next time for the the painting.


Bradford said...


It was a good post on kitchen renovation.

A nice style can be obtained by adding some new handles or re-staining your kitchen cabinets. The key is timing on this. You might be able to find incredible deals on close out at major home improvement stores or smaller hardware stores near the end of the year.There is a vast array of choices available anything from porcelain knobs to pewter handles, wood grips to glass pulls. These, too, can help revamp the look of your cabinetry and make for an excellent update.

Jessica said...

Wouldn’t it be great to have a professional designer remodel your kitchen with high quality, solid wood cabinets without paying tens of thousands of dollars?