Monday, October 29, 2012

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part Three: Finishing Touches + Before & Afters!

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part Three:  Finishing Touches

You guys!! You made it!  You followed Part One, Part Two, and now we're on to the finishing touches and the fun part - the Before & Afters!

Ok, all that being said, these "easy finishing touches" were a complete bear for me.

I bought new gorgeous handles for all the doors and the screws that came with them were just a hair too long, so the handles rattled around.  So after three (yes, I'm totally serious) trips to the hardware store, I ended up just buying some washers to put under the screws.  It doesn't look perfect, but other than cutting down each screw (24 in all) individually, that was our only option.

Then, it turns out the old hinges we had on the doors were about 1/8th of an inch smaller than standard cabinet door hinges sold in home improvement stores.  So I had to go back, fill in all the hinge holes, sand, prime and paint them and then we had to drill new holes!

Did you know you can't drill cabinet door hinge holes with a regular drill bit?  Oh no, you need a special fancy-shmancy self-centering drill bit.  Did you know these fancy-shmancy drill bits are not sold in regular home improvement stores?  No, you have to go to a fancy-shmancy wood working store or order them online!  *headdesk*

Needless to say, this easy part, that pretty much every single tutorial I read breezed right over, was a giant pain in the ass!  Like I said in the beginning of this tutorial, I thought this would be a two-weekend - MAX - project.  It turned into a month-long disaster!

Alright so, back to the tutorial.  You've primed, you've painted, you've sanded, you've done all of this until you feel like maybe buying all new cabinets wouldn't be that bad...  But you did it, your kitchen looks awesome, you just need to put everything back together!

Hopefully, if your kitchen was built in the last 10 years, you will not have the problems I did.  Your hardware will be normal and not just a tiny bit bigger or smaller than you need and you will be able to do all this in an hour.

Alright, so, hardware time.  Grab your new handles, pulls, knobs, whatever you decided on.  If you're using your old hardware - great job and good thinking!!

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part Three:  cabinet hardware
 If you are like me and the screws are an inch long and you really need them to be 0.9 inches long, buy some locking washers and put those right underneath the screw head and screw on your handles.
Do not drive to the hardware store, buy 3/4" screws, go home, test them out, realize they are too short, drive back to the hardware store, spend 30 minutes trying to find someone to help you out (seriously, why is no one ever around when you need them!?), then decide on the locking washers, drive home, realize they are too darn small, then drive back, buy the 3/8" washers and tell your new cashier friend that you swear this is the last time you'll see him today.

Now, when it comes to drawers, remember how I said at the beginning that it was important to note which end of the doors were up?  Now is when that will come in to play.  My drawers were set up so that you could take the screws out and face came off.  Easy to paint, but if you put it on upside down, this is what your drawer ends up looking like.

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Wonky drawer
A little wonky...
Alright, so your drawers are in; and now you're ready to start on the doors.  As soon as you finish putting the new handle on one door, grab your new hinge and test it out.  Please, please please do this.  Or, better yet, do a trial run with all your new hardware the moment you buy it, don't wait until the end.  Or else your kitchen will look like this for two weeks -

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - drawers in, doors are naked
I'll admit, this does make putting dishes away much easier!
If your kitchen looks like this for two weeks, you may Google "How to buy dynamite" and contemplate blowing your kitchen to smithereens.  And I'm pretty sure Googling anything with the word dynamite in it puts you on some CIA watch list.

Ok, we're going to skip the parts where I had to fill the hinge holes, sand, prime and paint them.  And skip the part where Dude realizes we need a special drill bit to drill new holes for hinges.  And let's also skip the part where when we were finally ready to put the hinges on, I realize I only bought 12 hinges and I need 24!!  Needless to say, I'm on a first-name basis with all the cashiers at Lowes now.  Two of the hardware guys are also very familiar with my kitchen and my painting project.
Aaaand we're back.  Put your dang hinges on and hang your doors and step back to admire your handywork.  You are AWESOME!  You did it!  Look at how much brighter and open your kitchen looks!!

One last thing - those little felt pads that came with the hinges?  Put them on the corners of your doors and your drawers.  This will keep everything from sticking to the frame and possibly scratching the paint.

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Felt Pads
You won't have enough to do all your doors and drawers, but it's not a huge deal, you can find these pads pretty much everywhere.  I know I've seen them at Lowes, Home Depot, Amazon and Bed, Bath and Beyond.

And once you've done that, unless you're me and decided at the last minute to put a sponge drawer underneath your sink, you're done! Enjoy the praise and compliments your significant other will most likely heap on you.  Or that might have been in my head.  Dude may have really said something to the effect of "Well, I don't hate it as much as I thought I would."

Now get ready for some pretty amazing Before & Afters!  (Please ignore the giant gaping hole underneath the sink.  Remember what I said before about the sponge drawer thing?)

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Before & After

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Before & After
How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Before & After

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Before & After

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Before & After

And lest you think that I am immaculate and perfect in every way and my counters are always clean and clear like that, here's a picture of the other side of my kitchen.

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - messy fridge, shelves
Bonus points for spotting the level in this picture
Here's a rundown of all the hardware and accessories you see in the After pictures:

Hinges:  Lowes
Door handles:  Lowes
Drawer pulls:  Amazon
Rug:  Urban Outfitters  (cut down, the other half is in front of our side door)
Paint:  Olympic Premium in their basic white
Primer:  Valspar Bonding Primer in their basic white

If you decide to attempt this, let me know how it goes!  I'd love to see your before and afters! 

And in case you missed it, here's the whole series:

Linking Up Here:


Saturday, October 27, 2012

How To Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part Two: Sanding, Priming and Painting

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part Two

Thanks for coming back to check out Part Two of this tutorial!  If you're just tuning in, go back and check out Part One to get up to speed!  Today, I'll take you through the steps of prepping your laminate cabinets for primer and then actually priming them.

Just a quick reminder of why you started this whole project in the first place.  Look at the huge difference it'll make!  You can do this!

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Before & After

For the sanding, you will need:

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Supplies:  vacuum, sander, lacquer thinner, sand paper

  • Sand paper or an orbital sander (HIGHLY recommend an orbital if your doors are completely flat like mine)
  • Sanding discs for your sander (80, 100, and 120 grit)
  • A shop vac to collect the dust from your sanding or some kind of mask
  • Tack cloth
  • Lacquer thinner (optional)
All of the tutorials I read on painting laminate suggested using a fine grain sandpaper.  I did; and to be honest, it sucked.  It felt like the sand paper was doing nothing!  About halfway through the doors, we switched to an 80 grit paper I happened to have on hand and that did the trick.  It felt like we were really digging into the laminate and cutting it up enough that the primer would actually stick.

Looking back, the fine grain sandpaper was fine because we used a bonding primer; but the 80 grit didn't hinder us in any way.  I couldn't tell the difference either way once the primer was on.

Dad sanding laminate cabinet doors for primer
Anyhow, all you have to do here is sand like crazy.  Get every surface you are going to paint and make sure not to sand over your door labeling!  Don't forget to sand the cabinet frames and the undersides of the frames if you're painting them.   

Notice how the orbital sander is hooked up to a shop vac.  I cannot recommend this enough.  I don't know a lot about toxic chemicals, but I can only imagine inhaling little bits of plastic and grease and other garbage is not good for you.  Hooking the sander up to the vacuum eliminated that issue completely.  If you are sanding by hand or don't have a shop vac, please use a mask or make one out of an old t-shirt like this guy.

Here is where having helpers comes in handy.  While my Dad was sanding, my Mom and I started wiping down the already sanded doors.

sanded laminate cabinets being wiped down with tack cloth

We used a combination of a tack cloth and lacquer thinner.  I bought brand new tack cloths for this project and they left a weird kind of waxy film on the cabinets (Can you see it in the picture above?).  I didn't think it would be an issue, but to be safe we used the lacquer thinner as well.

If you use the thinner, do it outside, in a well-ventilated area.  This stuff STINKS!  Not safe for kids or pets, for sure.

Alright, so cabinets are sanded and wiped down, that means it's time to prime and then paint!

For the priming and painting, you will need:

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part Two - Supplies: bonding primer, paint, rollers, tray

  • Painting tape, I used frog tape, but any kind will do
  • Bonding primer (this is essential for laminate cabinets)
  • Foam paint rollers in 6", 4" and 2" sizes
  • Paint brushes
  • Paint pain
  • Aluminum foil
  • Sandpaper (optional)
  • Painters pyramids/thumbtacks/etc (optional)

First things first, tape off your cabinet frame - next to the walls, around appliances and around your hood vent if you have one like mine.  I made the mistake of not doing this when I first started and I spent some time scraping paint off my stove and dishwasher.

Now, to save yourself the hassle later, cover your entire paint tray with aluminum foil.  This way, when you're done, you won't have to clean out the stinking thing.  I'm all about cleaning short cuts here, people.

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - paint tray covered with aluminum foil

Mix up your primer, pour it into the pan and get painting!  This stuff dries to the touch really quickly, so make sure to cover the paint can when you're done pouring it out.

I went through and primed one side of each door first; and my Mom stood by with a paint brush to clean up any dips along the sides of each door.  Make sure you don't paint over your door labels!  Once I finished one side, I (carefully!) picked up the door like a serving tray and painted each side, watching the top for drips or globby bits.  Take it from me, the last thing you want on your fresh new cabinet doors is globby bits.

laminate cabinets being rolled with white bonding primer

I doubt this is kosher and the primer people would probably cry if they read this, but once I did a single coat on one side of each door, I went back and did another coat.  The primer was dry to the touch, but easily scratch-able, so instead of taking the chance and flipping them, I decided to go back and do another coat, in the hopes of saving a little time down the road.

laminate cabinet doors and drawers with one coat of white bonding primer

This ended up working out perfectly, but if you're using painters pyramids or thumbtacks to paint both sides at once you may want to just flip them and paint the other side.

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part Two - End of Day One
Here's my kitchen at the end of day one, with one coat of primer.
How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part Two - End of Day One
Up close view of the cabinet frame with one coat of primer

Helpful hint - instead of rinsing out your paint tray, brushes, and rollers, cover everything with plastic wrap or a plastic grocery bag.  Everything will stay fresh for a couple of days and you won't wash everything out 100 times before the project is over!

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part Two - End of Day One: covered roller
How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part Two - End of Day One, covered paint tray and roller

Per the instructions on the primer can, let the first coat of primer dry for 4 hours before flipping your doors over to paint the other side or to paint your next coat.  This will vary depending on the heat and humidity while you're painting.

When you're ready, unwrap all your painting stuff and put a second coat on everything you can.  I kept the same side of the doors facing up at this point and put a second coat on just one side.  After I was done with the doors, I went inside and primed the frame and undersides of the cabinets.

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part Two - doors with second Coat of Primer

 Wait 4 hours, flip your doors and do it all again, twice. 

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part Two - primer on opposite side of doors

Alright, at this point, you should have two coats of primer on everything - doors, frame, your clothes, your dog...  And you know what that means, time to PAINT!  FINALLY!

Rinse everything out, put new foil in your paint tray and new rollers on your brushes and get painting!  Put one solid coat on everything you can.  Let it dry for 4 hours before moving on to your second coat.  If you get any globby bits, sand them off before repainting.  If you have dogs, keep them away from where you're painting or you will be sanding dog hairs out of your cabinets as well.  Not that I would know! :)

Like I said before, I did 3 coats of paint, but that will vary depending on how dark your original cabinets are.  And to be fair, my third coat was really just touch ups.

Once you're done painting, all that's left is to reattach the doors and put your hardware back on or put on your new hardware!  Check out Part Three for the final steps in this tutorial. 

Or if you'd rather, here's the whole series:

Friday, October 26, 2012

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part One: Prep

How To Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part One

Holy sweet Jesus, it's been almost a whole month since I teased you guys with pictures of my big project!  Sorry it took so long!  Anyhow last weekend a month ago while Dude was away, my parents came up and we started a project I've been waiting two years to do - painting the hideous laminate cabinets in my kitchen!! 

As much as I would have liked to do a total gut of our kitchen and remove the broken tile, fix the water damage around our window and most importantly, get beautiful white wood cabinets, it's just not in the budget.  But I figured for $150 and some effort, I could probably at least make it less repellant.  And no matter how hard I failed at this project, it couldn't be worse than that terrible wood laminate, right?

Check it out -

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Before

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Before


Let me tell you now, this was a huge process and I did a crapton of research before I started.  I knew it was going to be a big project, which is why I enlisted the help of my parents.  Even with their help and working all day Saturday and all day Sunday together, I still needed some weekday evenings to finish painting.  And then we ran into at least 5934280928 road blocks, so what I imagined to be a two week project - tops - ended up being a month-long project with one disaster after another.

I'll do a post later about what I learned and mistakes you should avoid if you decide to take this project on yourself.

But for now, I'm going to walk you through step-by-step the process of painting my laminate cabinets.  One more before shot for reference -

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Before

But wait, first I want to show you what you're working for.  I want to show you a before and after picture of my kitchen (you'll see more in Part Three) that will show you the ginormous difference painting your cabinets will make.  No matter what color you choose, you will love your kitchen a million times more when this is all said and done.  I promise!

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Before & After

I can tell, now you're ready to get started!! So let's go!

These are the supplies you'll need for Part 1

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Supplies:  TSP, rags, Sharpie, screwdrivers

  • Heavy-duty cleaning solution (I used TSP, but any kitchen de-greaser should be fine)
  • Plastic gloves (not pictured, sorry!)
  • Rags and/or paper towels
  • Screwdriver or screw gun
First, remove the doors and hinges from the cabinet frame.  To make your life easier, remove any handles or knobs from the doors themselves at this point too.  Even if you've got new hardware, keep everything together until your kitchen is put back together.

While you are removing the doors, make yourself a little diagram or label the cabinets and doors so that you can easily put things back together.  Make sure to note which side of the door is up!

I was able to label each door in the spot where the hinge would eventually go.  For the drawers, we were able to separate the facing from the actual drawer and just put our number on the back side where it wouldn't show when it got reattached.
Painting Laminate Cabinets - Numbering on Hinges
If you're using new hardware and it doesn't match the holes that are already in your cabinets, you'll have to figure out a different way.  Leave me a note in the comments if you have a different way and I'll post it up here!

Laminate cabinets with doors removed, stuff still inside
Once the doors  and hardware are removed, clean and scrub your heart out.  Every single surface you're painting needs to be clean to help the paint and primer adhere.  If you're worried about the stuff inside the cabinets, remove it or cover it.  I ended up only removing stuff from the drawers and covering the rest with garbage bags.  I'm pretty sure they sell plastic sheeting for this type of thing, but I was lazy and cheap and the Wal-Mart trash bags ended up working out just fine. 

Since these are kitchen cabinets, prepare yourself to scrape off some nasty junk from the edges of anything near your stove.  I wish I would have taken a picture to show you the quarter-inch of filth I scraped from the bottom edge of one cabinet door that was right above the stove. 

When you've cleaned the front, back, and sides of the doors as well as the frame - don't forget the undersides! - it's time to sand.  Follow me to Part Two!

Or if you'd rather do it this way, here's the whole series:

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Best Things About Dude Being Gone For the Weekend

  • Peeing with the door open
  • Snuggling with both dogs in bed
  • Catching up on Dr. Who
  • Eating cereal for dinner
  • Listening to the Disney Pandora station with no shame
  • Having the covers all to myself
  • Starting major projects he hasn't officially given me the thumbs up on...

Laminate cabinet frames without doors, primed white