Since completing the Kitchen & Family Room Redesign a year ago I regularly receive emails requesting details about the steps taken to paint the cabinetry. So I thought it was a good idea to revisit this project and talk about the questions I get asked about most frequently.
First, I often get asked about the issue of painting cabinets, is it okay to paint wooden cabinets? When I first mentioned the idea of painting my cabinetry people who were within earshot responded with disbelief. What?! Paint perfectly good cabinetry?!
I think there is a perception that stained wood cabinetry is preferable and more valuable than painted cabinetry. I think it's a personal preference. I myself love painted cabinetry and in this specific case there were issues with the stain on the cabinets. This was the motivation that put the whole project in motion.
The cabinetry boxes, doors & drawers and crown molding had three distinctly different stain tones on them, almost different enough to look intentional. Look at the crown molding, it was much darker than the rest of the cabinetry. In the adjacent family room the built-ins had yet another stain color, this one with a burgundy undertone. After a couple meetings with the builder and the cabinetry company I received this explanation for the stain differences: all the various components of the cabinetry, while stained with the same stain, came from different factories. A complete lack of uniformity here! Fortunately I was able to negotiate a settlement, which paid for the cabinets to be painted. I was persistent in this process because I knew if I didn't address this cabinetry issue at the time, it could well become an expensive problem down the line when it came time to sell. (And no, there are no plans for this at the moment!)
The next step in this project, after I had negotiated a solution, was to obtain quotes. Yes, I did have the job done professionally, if I had attempted to it myself I'd still be trying to finish. The estimates ran about $45.00 a linear foot. I selected the painter that I was familiar with and who came with a great recommendation. LIC Painting, Inc. of Gervais, Oregon.
I then had this company paint two sample doors for me, so I could see what the finished product would look like. Luckily, the cabinetry company provided me with two cabinet doors identical to my original doors for the painters to use in making the painted samples. The cabinets are made of knotty alder, and I needed to see how the cabinets would look after the holes were filled, sanded and then painted, as well as a sample with the knots left unfilled and simply painted. I think in this case it was essential to see the entire process done on a door identical to my kitchen cabinetry before committing to the project. I needed to see the end result prior to making a decision. Do I have the holes filled or no, is this the right color, did the final result look high end? I knew if this project didn't turn out well I'd be stuck with it for years!
The samples were essential in helping me make the decision on which direction to take. I opted to have the holes filled for a timeless look and saw the color was perfect for this space. The sample also set a standard for the workmanship, which the actual job would need to meet. And you know when the painters came to start the job I had the sample door ready to show them, reminding them about my expectations.
The work began by covering all the surfaces that were not to be painted. Then the knots were filled and all the surfaces were sanded. Afterwards the filled spots were checked, filled again if necessary followed by another sanding. This team was absolutely thorough.
The day I stopped by to check on the work (a must with any job) and saw these red spots on everything, I was thrown for a second. What have I done?!
Finally, after all the effort to fill knots and sand, a layer of oil based primer was sprayed on all the surfaces. I thought it looked beautiful, mess and all.
Originally I had thought all the appliances would have to be removed and had contacted an electrician for an estimate. But the painters assured me this wasn't necessary. I trusted them and saved a bundle, crossing that line item off the to-do list.
And they were right. The team did a perfect job covering the appliances with exacting lines so that no paint got on these items while leaving every inch of the cabinetry boxes exposed to get completely painted.
The insides of each box were also lined with paper, so that this portion of the cabinetry would not be painted.
It was one smelly mess. The day I ran in to quickly to snap these photos I about fainted from trying to hold my breath! We obviously did not live in the house while this work was being done. My kids were thrilled to have a mini winter vacation at a nearby hotel, enjoying lots of time in the pool and eating out! "What project is next, Mom?"
The front edge of the shelves had originally been covered with a wood toned veneer strip. I had looked into having the edges stripped and recovered with a cream veneer, but again the painters assured me they could just paint them. I wasn't sure, but a year later these painted edges on the shelves are in perfect condition. Another item I was able to mark off the to-do list!
After the primer dried the surfaces were sanded to ensure the final paint layer had a smooth finish.
Finally everything was ready for a coat of oil based paint, using Softer Tan 6141. Many people have written me that when they see this paint chip they are surprised at what a dark shade it is. I am too. I look at my fan deck and my cabinets don't look that dark! I think the color works in this space because all the trim and doors in the home are painted the same color, the rooms get good light and against the dark floors the color just naturally looks lighter in contrast.
I thought the built-ins looked so pretty painted. What an improvement, but again...the smell. I ran our whole house ventilation system 24 hours a day to help circulate air in and out of the home.
Finally at the end of the week I got a call from the painters, scheduling a time to remove the paper and plastic coverings. I got there just before they arrived and I seriously was like a kid on Christmas morning! I could not wait to rip back a section of the paper to see how the new subway tiles looked with the newly painted cabinetry. I was beyond thrilled with what I saw! The Metro subway tiles in alabaster are a shade lighter than the cabinetry, while the grout is the same color as the cabinets. This was done to help the two colors work well together, the grout is the "bridge". It worked and I sighed one big happy sigh of relief.
Since I get asked what a job like this should cost, I'll share that information as well. The quote came in at $4200 for all the work and at the end of the job I did get a 10% discount, making the final bill $3780. While not inexpensive, it did prove to be the least expensive option for fixing my cabinets and a fraction of the cost of new cabinetry. The job took a little over a week and yes, was an inconvenience as well as a lot of work on my part. But I am thrilled with the result. As long as I'm not looking at the "during" pictures I say I'd do it all over again in an instant.
Have a missed any of your questions? Let me know...