DIY Painting Your Kitchen Cabinets a List of Everything You Need

paint products

Over the years I’ve read/watched a lot of tutorials on this – the first time I painted kitchen cabinets was about 9 years ago. I’ve painted cabinets using a variety of brushes, rollers and sprayers and I’m pretty sure I’ve fine tuned my process down to a very comfortable, predictable, easy, straightforward and quality process that produces a near factory finish. Now, I’m not saying it’s perfect – because I am a firm believer that everything can be tweaked or improved, but I am saying it’s pretty darn close. Here is a list of everything that I use to get the job done (if it links to something on Amazon it’s an affiliate link). If you want just a checklist for you to take to the store you can get it here.

The products I use:
Liquid Deglosser: Klean Strip Liquid Sander – I’ve used all three different bottle labels (red, orange-ish brown, blue) they all work the same. One bottle goes a long way and  should cover an average kitchen.

Goo Gone: I use this for any sticky residue that needs to come off before I paint. An example on the kitchen cabinets were the silicone pads on the corners of the doors that I replaced. When I removed them they left a very sticky residue. The sticky residue would have repelled the paint. This stuff should be in every home. It works great to get those pesky stickers off of photo frames – I never understand why they don’t put the price sticker on the back of the frame. You can often find it in the dollar bin at Target. A very small bottle will last you years.

Dawn Dish soap: I used to use TSP to clean before painting. But it’s hard to find with the new environmental laws and dawn dish soap works really well.

A good sponge for cleaning. The blue one with an abrasive side. These are great because they don’t come a part.

Tack cloths: I like the yellow and blue ones you get from the big box store that come in packs of 10. I don’t even wash these – I just toss them after I use them. But you can wash and re-use them if you like – Mike does.

Sandpaper: When painting I don’t use my orbital sander – it takes off too much product. I know it seems like a lot of work but honestly it’s best to use plain old sandpaper sheets. I will often buy a 220 grit sanding block and wrap the sheets around it – but I rarely use the block. I buy 150 grit and 220 grit paper. I’ve heard some people will use synthetic steel wool at the very end – the #0000 grade. I might start trying this too.

N-95 or other respirator. Even if the paint says low VOC’s or no VOC’s just wear it. You will be atomizing paint particles. You don’t want to breath those in – you shouldn’t get paint in your lungs even if there aren’t VOC’s.

Small hand mixer or a mixing attachment for your drill.

HVLP sprayer: Mine is a HomeRight Finish Max hvlp (high volume low pressure) sprayer I really like it. It was $70 on Amazon. We have an air compressor and air hose – I’m thinking of trying out one that attaches to that so I can just dunk the whole thing in a bucket of water between coats. Mine right now has the motor attached to the sprayer so I can’t. But that may be the next thing I tweak in my set up. We have a large sprayer that we used to paint the walls in the house and all of the trim in mass quantities…this is not that type of sprayer – this is strictly for small projects that are just a little to big to use spray cans for.

Brushes: I use a high quality trim brush – 1″ for small details and 2″ for everything else. I like the brushes with angled tips. My favorite brand is Purdy but I also use Wooster. The important part is using the one for trim – it’s very soft – so you can use a light hand and just tip the paint to barely leave brush strokes with your final stroke.

Primer: Zinsser BIN Alkyd White Stain Blocker Primer. I used this primer when I am going to put it in my sprayer – it cleans up with water but it’s base is a synthetic oil so it dries and acts like an oil. It’s also made by Rustoleum. If I’m doing a small project I use KILZ Original interior oil primer in a spray can. This one is my favorite – it dries hard and sands so smooth – but I don’t always brush or roll it on because I like to toss the brushes/rollers after.

Paint: Ben Moore. I’m a Ben Moore and a Rustoleum brand snob. Chances are if it’s made by either of these I’m going to endorse it – and I do this without any sort of benefits – except for the “feel goods” from the results they give. For cabinets I used Ben Moore Advanced. Like the primer it is an alkyd – so it works like an oil based paint but cleans up like a latex paint.

Floetrol: paint thinner/conditioner. Very necessary in the hot, dry climate I live in.

Styrofoam cups: or any cup for you environmentally conscious people – I use mine over and over – so I’m not adding to the landfill. I bought mine at the dollar store along with tons of $1 shower curtains for drop cloths and furniture covers.

Shower curtains: I hang these from my easy up to create walls and make my “spray booth”. You need the thicker heavy duty vinyl ones.

Duct tape: To hold my shower curtains together and attach to my easy up. I like guerrilla tape because it doesn’t leave the residue that duct tape does.

Painters tape

Turn table or lazy susan: We have a milk crate that is attached to an old chair base with screws and plywood. I use this to lay my doors/drawers on and spin it so that I only spray towards one wall of my spray booth but evenly coat all surfaces of my product.

Old towel: to lay on your turn table to protect the backsides of your product

Wax paper: I cut small squares of this out and place them on my cups – to keep them from sticking to the painted surface while they cure.

Easy up: mine is a 10×10 pop up. It’s some off brand but works the same and was cheaper. You may also want a box fan with a filter for ventilation. I keep mine open on one side and open the garage door to just passively vent my area.

Folding tables: I used two rectangle ones to put everything on while it dries. Mine fit in my easy up, but you can really dry your stuff anywhere as long as it will be clean, undisturbed and horizontal.

Rubber gloves – like the kind you clean the toilet with

Bucket – mine is 2.5 gallons to give you an idea of size. I use this for my cleaning solution and then as a buck to just throw my sprayer parts in so I can re-use them without cleaning them between coats.

Minwax wood filler. I buy mine by tub. It works great to fill the old hardware holes and as a grain filler if needed. If you aren’t covering old holes then don’t worry about this one.

Gladware – large sizes to mix your paint and store it. You want to keep your thinned paint separate – so you have it dialed in for your next spray coat or project. I like this stuff because it’s disposable.

Last – but not least – a stretchy headband and a hair tie to hold back my hair and some painting clothes.

Phew! What a list.

Next I’ll post the how to part in actually painting your kitchen cabinets.

Kitchen Face-lift: Painting the Cabinets, New Countertop and Backsplash

Kitchen before and after

I know. I have issues. I create new projects in order to avoid working on current projects. I don’t think that there is a cure for it – but I am lucky that my husband doesn’t view it as a problem. I think. Because when I told him I wanted to, “just look at some countertops I found on Craig’s List that I might like,” he just smiled and said, “okay, but you’re buying.” I’m good with that. We drove about an hour and a half – one way to “just look” at these countertops – in our truck because I rarely “just look” and we drove home – an hour and a half with our new quartz countertops. This guy on CL fabricates for track and apartment/condo new construction. So he works on a massive scale. He would probably not have wasted his time bidding a kitchen renovation like ours. However, because he does 100’s of countertops at a time he buys 100’s of slabs at a time and he said he always over buys because he is always in a crunch for time and cannot wait for another shipment of marble/quartz/granite whatever to get the job done. So by buying extra – if there is an error made he has a quick substitute. He says he gets perks for finishing quickly so it benefits him to overbuy for the job. Unfortunately for him his workspace is filled, FILLED with half slabs of unfinished and some finished product. Fortunately for me – he needed room to work. I got an entire slab of Ceasarstone in Misty Carrera for 2/3’s of his wholesale price. Wholesale price.

Originally Mike and I were going to fabricate it ourselves but when we looked into the cost of all the materials we changed our mind and paid Juan, our countertop guy for our bedroom kitchenette to do the job. And I say “we” liberally here. Mike paid him because I told Mike it was his job to fabricate the countertops and if he didn’t want to do it he could foot the bill. Funny huh? I buy the countertops and then make Mike deal with the headache? Yes, we have separate checking accounts.

So, rewind to about a month ago when Mike mentioned that he hated our kitchen faucet and wanted a new one. It leaked, the valve was broken and it was hard to get a consistent temp. It’s been like this for almost 2 years. Very unlike us. The problem wasn’t just the faucet though – neither of us really liked the kitchen countertops or the cabinets. They were nice – just not our style. They were the previous owner’s style. The cabinets were maple doors with lots of detail and glazing. The countertops were red/pinkish/black dotted granite with a waterfall edge. The backsplash was a travertine tile with some handmade glass copper accent tiles. When we remodeled our house, changing the kitchen just wasn’t part of the plan. There was nothing wrong with it. It functioned just fine and at the time we were really just focusing on function. During construction the kitchen faucet broke and now that we are done with our major remodel the kitchen felt like a massive pimple ready to explode. I can’t just leave stuff like that alone. I try – but it’s just not me. Look at this faucet and granite – just dark and brown and busy.

old faucet
Ok, so, back to the faucet. Mike and I started looking at faucet styles we both liked and it turned out we like a lot of the same things. The faucet we both chose was a one hole faucet. Our old faucet was a three hole faucet. Our new faucet was stainless steel our old faucet was rubbed bronze. Stainless steel would clash with our countertops and current cabinet hardware (yes our appliances are stainless steel – also from the previous owners and so is our kitchen sink – they competed with the countertops and made the room feel so busy). We have already started drawing up plans to enlarge the kitchen – so we were planning on changing all this stuff then – but somehow decided that a 2 – 3 phase kitchen update wouldn’t be such a bad thing. This was phase 1: paint kitchen cabinets, change knobs/pulls, change kitchen counters and backsplash, install a new faucet and somehow we talked ourselves into also installing a pot filler over the stove. Phase 1 took about 3 weeks – and I took my time painting the kitchen cabinets because I have 4 kids and Mike doesn’t do cabinets. He helped by taking all the doors down and removing the hardware then going to work while I figured out the rest 🙂 I’ve added a new blog category titled Kitchen Renovation because I plan on a lot more posts on this kitchen. Over the next few days/weeks I’ll be posting quite a few different blogs about the paint we used, the sprayer I use, a tutorial on painting cabinets, and a tutorial on installing a kitchen backsplash. So stay tuned. For now I’ll just show you the pics of how awesome our kitchen looks today!

simply white kitchen renovation
With Natural lighting – most true to life colors.

kitchen faucet new
With artificial and natural light – makes the white look creamier/warmer.

kitchen simply white cabinets 1
Another just natural lighting.