Monday, September 13, 2010

How to paint cabinets

First of all, I must thank you for your sweet comments on my kitchen island redo. :) We love it so very much! I promised a how-to on the painting of the cabinets, so here we go…

As I mentioned, it took me almost two and half years to attack this project. Now I know why.  :)

Nahhh…it wasn’t that bad.

No really, it was.

You folks who have painted ALL of your kitchen cabinets have a special place in DIY heaven reserved just for you. Seriously.

I started with this:

before

Once I got the new butcher block counter on, I was all hyped up to get the whole island DONE already. So I plopped down on the floor, took off the doors and pulled out the drawers and started sanding away with my little power sander.

BIG mistake. Oh for all that is good, it created a massive mess. HUGE. And after two sanding sheets and 15 minutes, I had only gotten close to bare wood in a few spots:

sanding

After you sand, it’s all misleading because the film it creates makes it look like the finish is actually coming off. Well, it’s not. It’s just spitting dust everywhere:

sander

Sheesh.

Anyway, I gave up on the sander. I wiped the layers of dust away and started priming. I used the B.I.N. primer from Zinsser:020I’ve used it before and always hear great things about it. It’s shellac-based -- I have no idea what that means, but all that matters is each coat dries in 45 minutesprimer

They had me at 45 minutes. Really, I have zero patience for waiting for primer to cure. NONE. (By the way, I had to run EVERY pan through the dishwasher and clean the insides of the cabinets to get all the dust from the sander off. Fun times!)

I did two coats of primer, then four coats of black, (I always use Black Suede from Behr) sanding between each with my 3M sanding pad:

3M sanding pad

I usually use the sanding blocks, but I’m kind of loving this foamy pad thing.

I think one of most important parts of painting furniture is letting each coat of paint cure, and sanding well between each coat:

photo

You can use a tack cloth to wipe it down, but they give me the HEEBS. So sticky and just gross. Uck. So I use the tried and true wet paper towels and wet rags:

rag

And my very fancy paint trays for painting:

paint tray

:) Nothin’ but the best!

Because I didn’t have the primer tinted (I plan to use it for other projects as well), I had to do four coats of black.

It was after I painted the trim that I realized I had the same primer, tinted black, in the basement.

AWESOME.

For the doors, I used the process I should have started with from the beginning. I cleaned each one with a TSP spray:

TSP spray

Then just primed with my tinted primer.

NO SANDING MAKES ME HAPPY.

Well, at least one less sanding – I did light sandings between each coat, like I mentioned. Two coats primer, three coats black, sanding between each.

I did the grooves with my Purdy brush first, then a foam roller to do the rest of the cabs:

Because I wasn’t as diligent with my sanding as I should have been, you can see spots in the corners where I used a brush first:

But really…do I care? NO I do not. Like I’ve said before, no one would ever notice it. And if they did, I’d give them a cookie. Then I’d kick ‘em out for noticing.

I kid, I kid!!

I finished the whole thing off with a water-based polycrylic:

I usually use a polyurethane, which is oil-based, but I wanted the water-based for other projects. Regular poly can yellow, which is fine for black and over a dark stain, but not good for lighter painted projects. I quite liked this stuff – it seems to protect just as well, but time will tell.

You need to do a light sanding before your first coats of poly, and then sand lightly between each one. I use foam brushes to apply it.

I chose the satin version and it was WAY glossier than I thought it would be. Be careful with the sheen – you don’t want it to be TOO glossy. Remember glossy shows any imperfections. Flat sheens help to hide them. :)

Oh yeah, and NO, I did not paint inside the doors:

It would really make them look more custom, I know. But that extra hour of work was better spent on another project. Or eating. Sleeping. Anything other than painting. ;)

Was it hard? Not at all. Time consuming? Yes.

When I do projects, I like to be able to stop, clean up everything, and put it all back together when I’m done for the day.

It drove me batty to have the doors and drawers all over the place for two days. But that’s just my thing – if you go into it knowing your kitchen is going to be a hot mess for a few days, you’ll be golden.

Was it worth it? HECK yeah!

Before:

before

After:  

painted kitchen island 

(Sorry for the crappy evening picture!)

Notice the fall stuff is coming out? You know what that means – the basement decrapification is DONE!! Actually, the whole house is pretty much free of STUFF.

And it feels ahhhmazing!

I hope this helps those of you who are thinking about painting your bathroom or kitchen cabinets! It can be done – with a little bit of patience and a whole lot of primer. :)

 

P.S. Oh yeah…GUESS WHAT?

I am so stinking excited -- next week I’m going to see the new Nate Berkus show, courtesy of my friend Rhoda!! Whoohoo!!! I am so thrilled to take a trip to NYC with some of my favorite bloggy girls – some I’ve already met, some I haven’t.

Email me if you live near NYC and you can meet us out there! :) If you’re going, holla at me!

78 comments:

  1. I watched Nate's first show today - seriously, could he be any cuter? I think I could watch him string macaroni necklaces, and I'd be hooked. Have a great time! Can't wait for the report.

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  2. Great tips! I just got through painting my laundry room cabinets and am trying to work up my nerve to tackle my kitchen. I will have to try that polyurethane you used. I need to use some on my cabinets and since they're off white, I would cry if they turned yellow and maybe swear a alot too :)

    Love your island! have a great night Sarah!

    xoxo
    Jen

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  3. Oh man, you hate sanding? I just got an electric palm sander this summer! I keep eyeballing the desk I'm sitting at, because I hate it so much, but I guess priming it is the way to go...now I better start decorating for the fall..gee whiz. Love the pumpkin in the cloche...:)

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  4. I HATE sanding as well!! I would rather paint 5 coats then sand!! Your kitchen island looks fab :)

    Hannah @ http://youngancrafty.blogspot.com/

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  5. Thanks for all the juicy how to details. I'm planning to do the same on our island. I've got all the goods - beadboard wallpaper, primer & paint... I just NEED to do it!

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  6. Hmmm...I really want to paint all of my cabinets, but I am NOT (I repeat, NOT) a hardcore DIY-er. I think it might be trouble.........

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  7. I totally feel your pain - I painted my kitchen cupboards and man, was I glad when I was finished! doors everywhere, priming, sanding, painting, whew! I didn't do the insides either which I should eventually but I just hate painting! I just keep envisioning the final product to get me through the process! :)

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  8. I've been trying to work up the courage to do our kitchen cabinets for.....8 YEARS! No kidding!

    I hate painting. Plus we have a few cats running around. Not sure how I'd keep them from rubbing on the wet paint...!

    Your island looks great, and is great inspiration. I do, however, appreciate your truthfulness about the project.

    Blessings--
    Dana

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  9. Great timing on this tutorial. Tomorrow I am shopping for supplies to paint our kitchen island. Yours turned out wonderful.
    Hugs, Sherry

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  10. You did an amazing job, looks fabulous! AND...can't wait to meet you next week! :) Janell

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  11. OMG, if you use TSP you don't have to sand first?! That's amazing!

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  12. Which of these steps could you skip if the cabinets are raw, unfinished wood? We just hung some new ones and I am getting ready to have to do them.

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  13. Awesome job and I love the step by step. You have more patience than I do. Actually glad I'm renting right now, lol. Finished cabinet is a amazing.

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  14. Your cabinets look great!

    If you ever decide to do it again, let me make a suggestion. I painted my kitchen cabinets white, nine years ago. I didn't sand them, prime them or top coat them and they've never needed touching up. I used marine enamel paint with a special nap roller (sorry can't remember what it was but the store had recommended it to me).

    I cleaned the cabinets with TSP, painted two - maybe three coats (no sanding in between) and voila - no more champagne maple. No one believes me that I painted them until they see the insides - I didn't paint there either :).

    If you want to see a photo you can check out this post http://www.tangledzen.com/2010/09/outside-box.html.

    Again, the island looks absolutely beautiful - the butcher block seals the deal.

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  15. wow! great job as usual, I don't have kitchen cabinets but I do have a bathroom cabinet that now looks like it has not much time left as it stands

    great inspo!

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  16. You did great job.Well would like to give advise that Be sure to clean brushes/rollers extremely well after using primer and before using those tools for paint.

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  17. I'm sooo tempted to paint my kitchen cabinets, but perhaps I'll do a smaller project first (like the bathroom).

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  18. Great job! I use Glidden's Gripper primer (tinted to match whatever I am painting at the time). It is THE best at adhering to many surfaces. No sanding required. I used a really good quality Porter Paint in Eggshell Semi Gloss...no poly required either. They have held up beautifully over the years. Some are white, some are a deep chocolate black.

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  19. WOW! You did such a great job and the island looks totally fantastic. As I read through your process I was amazed at your patience. I could not even START a project like that for fear of.....well, everything really.

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  20. Thanks for this... I have had my kitchen cabinets sanded since February, with the intention of painting, but procrastinated all summer... The hubby said I can have new counter tops if I get it finished... I'll be pulling the doors off this weekend! Lx

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  21. I love the black cabinets!

    I'm hoping to be at Nate's show too - just waiting for confirmation today. :: crossing fingers:: Would love to meet both you and Rhoda in person!

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  22. I painted all my cabinets last year, I did not sand at all. They look great still. I also did not use any poly. I used a satin finish paint and it wipes off and is easy to keep clean.
    I started out painting the insides doors on the lower cabinets, but got tired and so the upper cabinets I did not.
    Your island looks great, I would love to add beadboard and other details to mine

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  23. I have to tell you again how impressed I am that you took this on. We had a bunch of cabinets in our house I wanted painted and I was too scared to do it myself so we hired someone!

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  24. I KNEW I missed something!!! I had plans to record Nate's show and my DVR wouldn't let me do it that far in advance. :s Oh, I will be recording today. SO envious that you get to go see the show.

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  25. Lucky you for getting to see Nate. He's sooo cute! I would love to have him help make changes to my house. :-)

    Thanks for the painting info. I'm still working up the nerve to tackle the painting effort myself.

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  26. 1) Nate Berkus is so stinking adorable. And talented. And adorable. Jealous! :)

    2) You did a fantastic job with your cabinets. I would love love love to paint mine but I think I'd lose my ever-loving mind. (attention span of a gnat, and all :) )

    So Kudos to You!

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  27. 1) Nate Berkus is so stinking adorable. And talented. And adorable. Jealous! :)

    2) You did a fantastic job with your cabinets. I would love love love to paint mine but I think I'd lose my ever-loving mind. (attention span of a gnat, and all :) )

    So Kudos to You!

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  28. you have described a fantastic job that has been made so easy, i just loved the way you have managed things, i am a renovator myself and i would say hats off to your efforts, the way you have renovated cabinets is too good!!

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  29. I love how the dishwasher practically disappears now that the cabinets on either side are the same color. Makes me want to go paint my cabs white so my appliances will disappear, too! :)

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  30. Well you are definitely better than me. We painted all of our kitchen cabinets this past weekend, but considering the age of the cabinets, they will have to be replaced when the next owner takes over our humble abode. Not to mention I am super lazy. We just sanded once before we started, then used primer-paint in one to apply three coats. I know, it's an awful lazy process, but it works for us! I admire you for taking the time to primer then sand and paint three times in a row!

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  31. That really made a huge difference. It looks so good. About how long did you wait between paint coats to sand and repaint??

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  32. Oh my-the island is to die for. It may have been two years in the making but the final product is so lovely. I've decided if I ever win the lottery or have some anonymous benefactor shower me with money I am SO hiring you to redo my house. Congrats too on the Nate Berkus tics. He is talented AND adorable. Can't wait to read about it when you get back!

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  33. Great job, the after is beautiful! My question is how do you keep your floors so clean and free from scraches and scuffs! I'm regretting our wood in our kitchen which has quite a number of dents from my clumsy hands and my daughter's destruction. :-) Jenn of www.thismommyloves.com

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  34. wow, I love it! great job!

    Thank-you for this post. I am getting ready to paint my kitchen cabinets and wanted a smooth finish and I wanted a clear coat. Just wasn't sure how to achieve that look. This post has help me tremendously!

    mwah :)

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  35. That looks fantastic! I probably wouldn't have painted the inside of the doors, either. :-)

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  36. Awesome tutorial!

    A) I agree about the tack cloth - I can't stand the way it feels in my hand!!!

    B) I'm so glad you posted all the items you use. I wrote everything down and now I know exactly what to buy when I tackle my next furniture project!

    Thank you!

    ~Allison @ House of Hepworths

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  37. Soooo jealous ya'll are going to see Nate! How fun....!

    Loved the tutorial...! I think I can do it now!

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  38. I look at this project and totally admire your patience! I'm not sure I'd make it through the project. It looks sooooooo good though!!

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  39. Thanks for the how-to!!! I love how your island turned out. One day, I would like to paint my bedroom furniture. Do I need to sand in between all the layers too? Thanks :)

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  40. Do you have a patent for the word "decrapification" because I think it's genius :) I need to do some of that around my house. Love the way your island turned out; thinking of painting mine dark, also, so this is nice to see.

    Can't wait til next week!

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  41. Ah, we TOTALLy painted ALL of our cabinets in our kitchen. It took a 12 hour day with four coats of paint to do it, but we love the look!

    Come check it out at One Fine Wire!
    www.finewire.blogspot.com

    We are excited to continue the kitchen renovation with butchers block countertops and stainless steel appliances!

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  42. I have laminate builder install cabinets, and would love to dress them up. Do you have any recommendations for how to do that? I am in love with your cabinets and kitchen, and would like to do something to spruce it up a bit.

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  43. I am so jelous of the island. I want to paint my boring cupboards so bad but the hubby says no. Our house is only a year old, the old ones are fine. I tell you, men just don't get it! Anyway, have fun at the Nate Berkus show!

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  44. This post was great. I really want to paint my cabinets black, so now I have no excuse for not knowing how!!
    Unfortunately I still have plenty of excuses for not starting...
    :)

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  45. I did the same thing Shell did... painted dark wood cabinets with white oil-based enamel. Didn't sand, didn't prime. Two coats (inside and out) and we were done. We did take all the doors off to paint, filled all the holes, put on new hinges... not something I'd want to do again, but seven years later they still look great!
    Yours look awesome, by the way.

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  46. I think the island came out beautifully!

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  47. That looks fantastic! We thought about painting our old, 80's kitchen, but are instead going to just bite the bullet and buy new cabinets. Kudos to anyone who paints their cabinets!

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  48. Sarah, what a great transformation! I LOVE it! It makes me wish my kitchen were big enough to have an island, it's only 10x10 but it works perfectly (for now haha!)

    I also linked to you in my recent post. I made a beautiful cloche display! Thanks for the inspiration!

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  49. I think your tips will actually help me with the painting of my front door! The TSP sounds like something I should do and the tinted primer to bring the door from white to black {probably a must to use tinted primer}. Then I just need to get a good exterior grade paint, even though I have a full view storm door. We get a lot of sun hitting the front of the house and I don't want the black fading too quickly. Thank you! : )

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  50. Great tutorial! I'm toying with the idea of redoing my kitchen cabinets right now, and I'll be filing this away in my links in case I decide to take the plunge.

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  51. Those cabinets turned out AMAZING! Good for you!!! I love how you do your own work in the house- I think it makes us love it all the more. :) Would you mind telling me if you have ever painted a steel, preprimed from the factory, unpainted front door? I'm about to venture in and am facing the dilemma- sand first or not? Sanding a steel door seems frightening- Thanks! Kel lmessimer@aol.com

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  52. THANKS for showing us how you did this AWESOME re-do! Looks great. My husband keeps saying silly things...like "you can't paint THAT"...Umkay???? So you KNOW I AM going to paint THAT! ha! Especially now that you've shown me how!

    Oh and I So laughed out loud when I read this~
    "It was after I painted the trim that I realized I had the same primer, tinted black, in the basement. AWESOME."
    :)

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  53. Great tips! Thank you! We ARE insane and going to tackle painting our kitchen cabinets. I've heard the horror stories but when it comes to living with orang-y oak, I'll take the horror of hard work. I wish someone would convince me otherwise though. Not looking forward to it! lol

    Have a great trip! I'd love to join and meet you all but I'll be heading west to OH to the Country Living Magazine Fair instead. Hope to meet some bloggy friends there too!

    Have a great week.

    Roeshel

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  54. I think this looks great, I just wonder why you wanted to get rid of the marble top?

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  55. It looks great! And you are so talented that reading your posts makes me think I want to paint! Then I remember I hate painting!! ;D

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  56. It looks fabulous!! I love how it turned out! I went back and forth for years about painting my ugly 80's cabints black, and I finally worked up the nerve to do it last month! I'm sooooo stinkin' glad I did b/c it looks great! People can't believe it's the same room! :)

    You've inspired me so much that I decided to start a blog myself!

    http://myhumbleabode-bridgett.blogspot.com/2010/09/80s-cabinets-get-makeover.html

    Thanks for all you do!

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  57. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for this post! I'm really leaning toward painting my oak (standard builder grade)kitchen cabinets to a white or barely off white!! It'll be a big job, but you certainly clarified the steps for me. When I get to it, I will just have to take pictures! Your island BTW is just stunning!

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  58. Love it!

    I have to ask though... how does the cupboard on the right of the dishwasher not drive you batty by opening that way? Perhaps you have a reason for it, but I had one that did that in my old house I had to swap the way it opened so it didn't drive crazy.

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  59. I {heart} this post! And your reveal of it! You go!

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  60. Great painting!! It looks terrific!! Love the black,...looks classy. Good post and lots of tips!!

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  61. That looks beautiful. I have been thinking about painting cabinets in my office. Your post really helped. Thanks.
    Brooke

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  62. I love this re-do. I know you're done with painting your cabinets but at least I can help out all your readers by saying: YOU DON'T NEED TO SAND. But what you DO need to do is use a de-glosser -2 coats before priming. Coming from a perfectionist DIYer who has painted numerous cabinets! :)

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  63. Oh, dang! We didn't sand between coats when we painted our cabinets. Ooops! Well, it's been over a year and it still looks great, so hopefully it will not affect how long it will wear. We had 14 cabinets to paint (front and back) and 7 drawer fronts so I think sanding in-between coats would have just put me over the edge. Thanks for the tips...I'll remember it for next time I have a crazy thought about painting cabinets or furniture!

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  64. Thanks for all the info! I am planning on painting mine soon and this will really help. They look great!

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  65. I didn't poly mine because I like to repaint them every year or two to keep them really fresh and sometimes to change the color. We used a great semi-gloss and they look fabulous.

    I'm doing my bathroom cabinets right now - I've been trying out Martha Stewart's Low-VOC paint and LOVE it! I've blogged about painting a bedroom and will be following up with the bathroom and hallway all using the low-VOC paint. Hope you'll stop by and check it out.

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  66. It looks phenomenal! And have fun with Nate. . . he's a doll!

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  67. I finally got the nerve to paint my kitchen island which is still a work in progress and I'm loving the way it's turning out. I swear there's 1000 different ways you can paint your cabinets. I drove myslef crazy reading all the different tutuorials out there!

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  68. My husband painted our whole kitchen on his vacation, took him all week. We used an oil-based primer though and he sanded down to bare wood on both sides of the doors. Mega mess! He says he'll never do it again. Its new cabs or nothing.

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  69. Why do you have to sand so much? Can't you just do one coat of primer and one of paint and be done? (I've never done this before, so this is a serious, not sarcastic, question)

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  70. Have SO much fun in NY! Give Nate a big fat smooch from me :) You and Rhoda will have a blast. I'll have to record it so I can see you on TV!

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  71. Your island looks great! You are one patient woman. I'm way too LAZY I guess. I've painted my kitchen (and bathroom) cabinets several times without ever sanding or priming.

    I'm such a slacker that I stained my cabinets without sanding and it lasted for YEARS before I painted over THAT without sanding LOL. That was three years ago and still no chips or scratches.

    Painting the nsides of the doors? HAHAHA!!

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  72. Very nice project.
    Your step by step process can help many people to do the finishing.

    Good job

    Thanks

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  73. love the black painted cabinets!!!on the black painting, you brushed the grooves 1 coat, foam rolled, dried, then sanded right? of did you sand after the brush dried and then rolled? i recently did white with a gray glaze, but am thinking i should go ahead and do black :) thanks for any help!

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  74. This looks amazing, well done for plucking up the courage to do the doors!!! I know what you mean about the moment when you wipe away the sanding dust only to realise its just a trick and you haven't even touched the surface. I have just done a hall table ( http://theflourfairy.blogspot.com/2011/04/total-sidenote.html ) and it took me forever. BUT it is so satisfying when its done, I cant wait to put it in my new house and get people's comments. Thanks for sharing all your projects, you have a great style and I love that you are so honest about the reality of life :). xx

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  75. I've been one to tackle things on my own for many many years. Thinking there had to be an easier way to paint my cabinets I set out in search of a better way. I stumbled across the Rustoleum products & thought OOOO. M. G. This is got to be the BEST thing EEEEVER. WRONG! My place is being renovated by a less than desirable but I'm not paying him. I have the time to tear all my cabinets apart & such & do the waiting game between coats & such. BUT, :|.... the less desirable person doesn't like to COVER ANYTHING when he's sanding drywall. Which he covered my belongings in 2 lovely thick dusty coats of(couch,fabric chairs, all my belongings). To put it nicely, Mike Holmes from Holmes on Holmes probably would be in jail over this guy. Cause I know I've come close to having to find bail money. O.O

    I thought they stopped selling TSP, this stuff is WONDERFUL. My Mom & I used to use it to clean the cabinets many years ago. This product alone will shave me some serious time :D. Time is more projects. LOVE the cabinet you painted. I'm planning a frenchy provincial cream color for mine.

    Thanks for the hard to not giggle at facts of being a crafty do-it-yourself-er. If you've found the flaws...YOU ARE WAY TO CLOSE YOU PICKY BASTARD. If it's bothering them that bad, feel free to redo it :D

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