Friday, October 26, 2012

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part One: Prep

How To Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part One

Holy sweet Jesus, it's been almost a whole month since I teased you guys with pictures of my big project!  Sorry it took so long!  Anyhow last weekend a month ago while Dude was away, my parents came up and we started a project I've been waiting two years to do - painting the hideous laminate cabinets in my kitchen!! 

As much as I would have liked to do a total gut of our kitchen and remove the broken tile, fix the water damage around our window and most importantly, get beautiful white wood cabinets, it's just not in the budget.  But I figured for $150 and some effort, I could probably at least make it less repellant.  And no matter how hard I failed at this project, it couldn't be worse than that terrible wood laminate, right?

Check it out -

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Before

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Before


Let me tell you now, this was a huge process and I did a crapton of research before I started.  I knew it was going to be a big project, which is why I enlisted the help of my parents.  Even with their help and working all day Saturday and all day Sunday together, I still needed some weekday evenings to finish painting.  And then we ran into at least 5934280928 road blocks, so what I imagined to be a two week project - tops - ended up being a month-long project with one disaster after another.

I'll do a post later about what I learned and mistakes you should avoid if you decide to take this project on yourself.

But for now, I'm going to walk you through step-by-step the process of painting my laminate cabinets.  One more before shot for reference -

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Before

But wait, first I want to show you what you're working for.  I want to show you a before and after picture of my kitchen (you'll see more in Part Three) that will show you the ginormous difference painting your cabinets will make.  No matter what color you choose, you will love your kitchen a million times more when this is all said and done.  I promise!

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Before & After

I can tell, now you're ready to get started!! So let's go!

These are the supplies you'll need for Part 1

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Supplies:  TSP, rags, Sharpie, screwdrivers

  • Heavy-duty cleaning solution (I used TSP, but any kitchen de-greaser should be fine)
  • Plastic gloves (not pictured, sorry!)
  • Rags and/or paper towels
  • Screwdriver or screw gun
First, remove the doors and hinges from the cabinet frame.  To make your life easier, remove any handles or knobs from the doors themselves at this point too.  Even if you've got new hardware, keep everything together until your kitchen is put back together.

While you are removing the doors, make yourself a little diagram or label the cabinets and doors so that you can easily put things back together.  Make sure to note which side of the door is up!

I was able to label each door in the spot where the hinge would eventually go.  For the drawers, we were able to separate the facing from the actual drawer and just put our number on the back side where it wouldn't show when it got reattached.
Painting Laminate Cabinets - Numbering on Hinges
If you're using new hardware and it doesn't match the holes that are already in your cabinets, you'll have to figure out a different way.  Leave me a note in the comments if you have a different way and I'll post it up here!

Laminate cabinets with doors removed, stuff still inside
Once the doors  and hardware are removed, clean and scrub your heart out.  Every single surface you're painting needs to be clean to help the paint and primer adhere.  If you're worried about the stuff inside the cabinets, remove it or cover it.  I ended up only removing stuff from the drawers and covering the rest with garbage bags.  I'm pretty sure they sell plastic sheeting for this type of thing, but I was lazy and cheap and the Wal-Mart trash bags ended up working out just fine. 

Since these are kitchen cabinets, prepare yourself to scrape off some nasty junk from the edges of anything near your stove.  I wish I would have taken a picture to show you the quarter-inch of filth I scraped from the bottom edge of one cabinet door that was right above the stove. 

When you've cleaned the front, back, and sides of the doors as well as the frame - don't forget the undersides! - it's time to sand.  Follow me to Part Two!

Or if you'd rather do it this way, here's the whole series:

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