Refinishing Kitchen Cabinets – Kitchen Remodel Part One

Remodeling our kitchen was on the to do list for quite a while, unfortunately, it is also one of the more costly projects we’ve ever had. I wanted to save as much money as we could since we don’t plan on staying in this house for all that long but we also couldn’t stand the old kitchen for much longer. To get the biggest bang for our buck we decided to paint the kitchen cabinets, get new counters, install a mosaic back splash and get stainless steel appliances. (All for around $5K)

This is the picture of our horrible kitchen before I got my hands on it. I took this while my dad was visiting in February of 2013 to help with some other remodeling projects. If you look through all of the junk on the counter you will be able to tell that I was in the painting phase one of said projects.


Before I ever got started I realized that I wouldn’t have enough surface area in my garage or paint booth to dry all of the cabinet doors at once so I put this drying rack together with a few 2x4s I had laying around. I put 4 screws on each arm to rest the doors on and then put little felt buttons on top of them to soften it so the screw head wouldn’t dig into the still soft paint.
After my first painting I found that the felt was a bad idea since it left little hairs on everything so I covered the felt with blue painters tape. Next time I will use the little rubber buttons that they sell in large packs for the back of cabinet doors.
After my drying rack was done I removed all of the cabinet doors and cleaned everything thoroughly. I don’t like using the harsh chemicals to remove finishes so I picked up one of the square vibrating sanders to get into the corners and still love it to this day. I went over everything with 120 grit sandpaper and then moved up to 220 grit.


I don’t intend for this to be a painting tutorial so I will just briefly go over my steps in painting. I used a Wagner HVLP spray gun with a separate turbine and my temporary plastic booth with two fans and filters to paint everything. I put on two coats of primer (Kills) and then 2 coats of Sherwin Williams cabinet grade paint. I lightly sanded with 220 grit sandpaper between each coat and then moved on to the cabinet faces.


I wanted to completely finish the doors before moving onto the cabinets. This way, they would have longer to dry and harden before the hardware was installed and little dirty fingers got all over them. Other than using the HVLP sprayer I basically did the same thing on the cabinet faces. Two coats of primer, two coats of paint and sanding with 220 grit between each. I used a small 4″ roller with the highest quality roller they had.
The white cabinets with new hardware already make this kitchen look much better than before. Plus if you look close you’ll notice the grey paint on the wall and the new over range microwave which gave us back a lot of counter space. At this point the kitchen was so white it almost burnt my eyes. Luckily I already had a stack of the backsplash tile ready to go just sitting in the garage waiting for the the quartz counters to be installed.

See the finished kitchen in: Kitchen Remodel Part 2

Lessons Learned

  • Even though I used a shop vac and custom made sanding table to sand the doors on I should have probably still worn a good respirator. The finishes I was sanding are full of bad things and I want to be doing this kind of stuff for a long time to come.
  • When spraying primer or paint, you should always use one of those little paper cone paint filters or cheese cloth. I didn’t and there ended up being a little bit of dry stuff in the bottom of my paint can which caused a few headaches that I needed to fix.
  • When installing new hardware in paint that’s only a few days old it will sink in and dent the paint. To prevent this maybe you should install the cabinet doors but wait a few weeks to actually install the hardware or maybe put them on kind of loose and tighten them up after a few weeks. It takes up to a month or more for the paint to fully harden.
  • Don’t use felt buttons to prop up your painted objects, they will get little felt hairs all over.. if you want something soft to put the painted objects on I think the little rubber door backers would work much better.


7 Comments on Refinishing Kitchen Cabinets – Kitchen Remodel Part One

    • Thanks! That drying tree/rack was a life saver! I couldn’t think of any other way to spray & dry that many doors in a timely manner. This way I was able to get all of the doors done in a few days with sanding in between each coat. I really hope that when times comes to build my shop out back that I will be able to fit in a dedicated finishing room.

    • Sure do. I usually mix in a shot glass (1.5oz) of water with 48oz of paint. If the paint is extra thick or it’s a little colder making it a little thicker, sometimes I’ll add a little more water or even a shot of floetrol. If I had a more powerfull HVLP I might add a little less but so far that’s what works for me.

  1. I’m interested in seeing more pictures of the temporary spray booth you made, along with the fan and filter you rigged up. It looks like a really well made booth, wondering if it’s portable or easy to tear down and reassemble it for future uses?

    • Those were the only pictures I had. It worked really well and taking it down was pretty easy. Putting it back up the second time took a while and I labeled all of the small connectors and drew a diagram before taking it back down. I haven’t used it in a few years so last time I took it down I got rid of the long PVC pipes and the plastic and kept all of the small connectors which filled a grocery bag. Next time I need it I’ll need to spend $10 in pipe and plastic.

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