Monday, March 21, 2011

The Happy DIYers try their hand at refinishing kitchen cabinets!

I really am not a fan of the orangey-oak color many older homes come with, so when considering what we should tackle first in our soon-to-be home, refinishing the kitchen cabinets was numero uno on the list.  We knew we were in for a huge project, so since Jake had this past Friday-Sunday off from work, we decided this would be the perfect weekend to do it!  Here is the before:

I decided I wanted to keep it clean and classic, so I chose white cabinets with brushed nickel hardware.  I love the look of cup pulls, so we bought cup pulls for the drawers, and simple knobs for the doors, as well as hinges in brushed nickel.  I didn't realize it when we bought the hinges, but they were actually the same exact ones we had taken off, except the old ones were brass.  That made it very easy to reinstall the doors, but I digress.

Jake began work on the cabinets almost as soon as we got to the house.  First he took the knobs off of everything, then removed the drawers and doors, as well as the hinges from the doors.  He filled in the previous knob holes with wood filler (for some reason the door knobs were right smack in the middle of the doors which made no sense to us!) and after the wood filler dried he sanded all of the glossy varnish from the doors.  If your cabinets area matte finish, you can luckily skip the sanding part!  We used medium grit sand paper and it worked swimmingly.  He then sanded the entire frame of the cabinets.  Boy, what a dusty mess!  Here's the sanded frames:

After wiping the dust off of the cabinet frames, doors, and drawers, we put down plastic on the bedroom floor and laid out all of the cabinet doors.  We decided to only paint the front of cabinet doors since we had no intention to paint the insides of the cabinets, and got to work priming the doors and drawer fronts.  Then, we moved on to the frames and primed them as well.  We used Kilz oil-based primer; oil based is best because if you don't get off all of the gloss when you sand, the oil-based primer still sticks to the wood.  If you plan to use latex paint (we did) make sure when choosing your primer, it says that it will work with latex paint.  Cabinet frames after primer:

We allowed the primer to dry overnight, then painted the first coat of our white semi-gloss latex paint (we chose semi-gloss because it cleans up much easier than other finishes, and with white kitchen cabinets, ease of cleaning is a big deal) which we allowed to dry a few hours.  We then painted the second coat and, again, allowed it to dry for a couple of hours.  Doors and frames after two coats of white paint:

Although it is suggested to let the paint dry for 5-7 days before adding hardware and reinstalling everything, we are impatient people and only allowed the second coat three or four hours to dry before installing them.  We bought a template at Lowe's which had guide holes that allows for even placed knob holes on all doors.  Unfortunately, the template didn't have holes the correct distance apart to help with the drawer pulls, so Jake used a paint stir stick as a guide to figure out where to put the holes for the drawer pulls.  He measured the distance between the screw holes on the hardware, then marked a line on the stick where each screw hole would have to go, as well as where the middle of the two holes were.  He then used the old hardware hole on the back of the drawer fronts as a guide, lined the hole up with the mark in the middle of the hole marks on the stick to make sure it was centered, then marked on the drawer where the screw holes should go.  (Boy, I hope I didn't make that seem more complicated than it actually is!)  After drilling through the drawers from the back of the drawer face, he installed the screws and drawer pulls.  We have drawer pulls:

Next came installing the hinges and knobs.  Jake took care of the knobs, using the template.  He set the template on one door and chose the hole he thought was positioned the best, flipped over each door, and using a permanent marker, marked the spot where the knob hole would be drilled.  I cannot stress how wonderful the templates are, they made this part so easy!  While he did that, I installed the hinges.  This was incredibly easy, because like I said before, we bought the exact same hinges, so I already had everything pre-drilled. Unfortunately when I bought the hinges I didn't consider that twenty-one doors would, in fact, require forty-two hinges, so we actually only installed the lower cabinets this past weekend.  Rookie mistake, but one I'll never make again!  After the hinges and knobs were installed, it took us no time to hang the doors since we could still see the outline of the old hinges on the cabinet frames.  Here's the final product, at least as far as the lower cabinets:

Aaaand here's a reminder of what it looked like before:

Finished product before and after:

Budget breakdown:

Hardware: Drawer pulls:       5@ $4.27- 21.35
                 Knobs: 2-10 packs @ 21.54-43.08
                                   1-single @   2.92- 2.92
                Hinges:  4-10 packs @ 11.97-47.88
                                    1-single @  2.93- 2.93

                                             Total:   $118.16

Paint:  Kilz Oil-based Primer: 1 Gallon @ $15.98 (Barely used 1/4 of it)
Colorplace Semi-Gloss in White 1 Gall @  13.98 (Used about 1/2)

                                             Total:    $29.96

Sand Paper: Medium grit: 4 packs @ $ 2.97- $11.88
Power Sander:  Borrowed from my dad, so FREE!
Drill/ drill bits: Already owned
                                              Total:   $11.88

                                           Grand Total:   $160--Not bad for a complete face-lift!

What do you think?  Worth the effort?  Anyone else do any home improvement projects this past weekend?


  1. What a great job you did! I am in the middle of painting my kitchen cabinets and found your blog, it was fun seeing your completed cabinets. Can't wait until mine are done! My sister and I have a blog called At The Picket Fence. I saw that you are a new blogger. We would love you to come by and visit us. We host a large party every weekend called Inspiration Friday where other bloggers can link up their posts to share with each other. This week's party is currently going on. Hope you get a chance to stop by!


  2. Thank you for the compliment and I hope your cabinets turn out well! It's amazing how beautiful something can look with a little elbow grease, isn't it? I'll be swinging by later to check out your blog, thanks!