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Easy & Affordable Ways to Add Character to a Builder Grade Home- Part 3: Kitchen Cabinets

Updated on October 27, 2015
Painted White Kitchen Cabinets
Painted White Kitchen Cabinets | Source

Painting Kitchen Cabinets

The subject of painting kitchen cabinets is a debate that constantly wages in the world of home décor.

The idea of such a huge change is daunting and scary, but the end result can have the potential to change the look of your entire kitchen.

If a DIY project is just too much, research the idea of having them professionally sprayed.



However, if getting them painted professionally is just not in the budget, know that the DIY version is possible. It is just a matter of tackling the process in the correct manner.

The main thing to keep in mind when painting cabinets is to set yourself up to succeed by following some general, but essential guidelines.

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  • Set realistic expectations: Realize that no project is going to be perfect and run completely smooth.
  • Give yourself enough time: Prepping, painting and putting your kitchen back together will require at least 7-10 days. Allow for this time and prepare accordingly. Be sure to let the paint dry before putting your cabinets back together. Literally watching paint dry is tough, but putting it back together before its ready can cause major headaches.
  • Clean the cabinets properly: If grease remover is not used, the paint will not adhere correctly. Skipping this step is just absolutely not worth it. Take the time to wipe everything down. Degreasers can be found at any hardware store. Krud Kutter comes highly recommended
  • Remove all the doors, drawers and hardware completely: Don't take this opportunity to get lazy. Painting over hinges and other hardware is a short term fix that you will regret in the long run.
  • Be sure to label all doors, drawers and hardware: Since everything has to be returned exactly the way it was, labeling is very important- to your project and your sanity. A numbered piece of tape stuck to the back of each piece works well. Put all hardware from each piece in a baggie with the correlating number attached.


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  • Sanding then dusting is essential: In addition to degreaser a bit of sanding is an important step to get the paint to stick. After sanding, be sure to get rid of all debris. Use a vacuum attachment then wipe the cabinet pieces with a damp cloth.
  • Use Primer: Even if the paint manages to cover the wood in a few coats, after a few days, maybe even weeks, the wood grain could start to seep through. Not only will it give you better coverage from the beginning, using primer will save you from having to repaint your entire kitchen. Remember a little primer goes a long way.
  • Choose the right color: Take a few days, maybe even a few weeks to really mull over your color choice. A color on a swatch can look totally different on cabinets with a different setting. Appliances, backsplash, wall paint, and lighting can all have an affect on your cabinet color. Paint a large piece of poster board or piece of drywall and place it in your kitchen, moving it around every few days to ensure you will really love the color.
  • Use correct tools: Don't skimp on paint and brushes. Use good brushes, good rollers and good paint for this project. The last thing you want to do paint all your cabinets and notice brush marks because you went the cheap route. A can of high end paint may cost a bit more initially, but the smooth finish and coverage will save you in the long run. Look into getting some Painters Pyramids, painters cloth, and possibly a paint sprayer.

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Open Shelving

Open shelving is great design idea that not only keep items within easy reach, but they also make decorative statements out of cookbooks and appliances.


Unfortunately, dishes must stay pretty and organized if they are going to be on display.


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If this may lead to trouble, keep the more obstinate dishes in the bottom half of the cabinets.

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Adding Glass Doors

If you are not a fan open cabinetry and it keeping your dishes organized is just too overwhelming, consider adding some glass to some of your existing doors.

Using a frosted or textured glass will hide ugly dishes (think: SpongeBob Sippy cups), but give the kitchen more character and an open feel.


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Removing Upper Cabinets

A huge kitchen trend that seems to be here to stay is removing the upper portion of cabinets.

Keep in mind it will eliminate space, but it sure makes an impact when creating a space to remember.


Removing Upper Cabinets

Would you ever consider removing your upper cabinets

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Adding Details

If you are not considering removing your upper cabinets, adding height and molding creates a very distinct look with a lot of drama.

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