Monday, October 29, 2012

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part Three: Finishing Touches + Before & Afters!

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part Three:  Finishing Touches

You guys!! You made it!  You followed Part One, Part Two, and now we're on to the finishing touches and the fun part - the Before & Afters!

Ok, all that being said, these "easy finishing touches" were a complete bear for me.

I bought new gorgeous handles for all the doors and the screws that came with them were just a hair too long, so the handles rattled around.  So after three (yes, I'm totally serious) trips to the hardware store, I ended up just buying some washers to put under the screws.  It doesn't look perfect, but other than cutting down each screw (24 in all) individually, that was our only option.

Then, it turns out the old hinges we had on the doors were about 1/8th of an inch smaller than standard cabinet door hinges sold in home improvement stores.  So I had to go back, fill in all the hinge holes, sand, prime and paint them and then we had to drill new holes!

Did you know you can't drill cabinet door hinge holes with a regular drill bit?  Oh no, you need a special fancy-shmancy self-centering drill bit.  Did you know these fancy-shmancy drill bits are not sold in regular home improvement stores?  No, you have to go to a fancy-shmancy wood working store or order them online!  *headdesk*

Needless to say, this easy part, that pretty much every single tutorial I read breezed right over, was a giant pain in the ass!  Like I said in the beginning of this tutorial, I thought this would be a two-weekend - MAX - project.  It turned into a month-long disaster!

Alright so, back to the tutorial.  You've primed, you've painted, you've sanded, you've done all of this until you feel like maybe buying all new cabinets wouldn't be that bad...  But you did it, your kitchen looks awesome, you just need to put everything back together!

Hopefully, if your kitchen was built in the last 10 years, you will not have the problems I did.  Your hardware will be normal and not just a tiny bit bigger or smaller than you need and you will be able to do all this in an hour.

Alright, so, hardware time.  Grab your new handles, pulls, knobs, whatever you decided on.  If you're using your old hardware - great job and good thinking!!

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Part Three:  cabinet hardware
 If you are like me and the screws are an inch long and you really need them to be 0.9 inches long, buy some locking washers and put those right underneath the screw head and screw on your handles.
Do not drive to the hardware store, buy 3/4" screws, go home, test them out, realize they are too short, drive back to the hardware store, spend 30 minutes trying to find someone to help you out (seriously, why is no one ever around when you need them!?), then decide on the locking washers, drive home, realize they are too darn small, then drive back, buy the 3/8" washers and tell your new cashier friend that you swear this is the last time you'll see him today.

Now, when it comes to drawers, remember how I said at the beginning that it was important to note which end of the doors were up?  Now is when that will come in to play.  My drawers were set up so that you could take the screws out and face came off.  Easy to paint, but if you put it on upside down, this is what your drawer ends up looking like.

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Wonky drawer
A little wonky...
Alright, so your drawers are in; and now you're ready to start on the doors.  As soon as you finish putting the new handle on one door, grab your new hinge and test it out.  Please, please please do this.  Or, better yet, do a trial run with all your new hardware the moment you buy it, don't wait until the end.  Or else your kitchen will look like this for two weeks -

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - drawers in, doors are naked
I'll admit, this does make putting dishes away much easier!
If your kitchen looks like this for two weeks, you may Google "How to buy dynamite" and contemplate blowing your kitchen to smithereens.  And I'm pretty sure Googling anything with the word dynamite in it puts you on some CIA watch list.

Ok, we're going to skip the parts where I had to fill the hinge holes, sand, prime and paint them.  And skip the part where Dude realizes we need a special drill bit to drill new holes for hinges.  And let's also skip the part where when we were finally ready to put the hinges on, I realize I only bought 12 hinges and I need 24!!  Needless to say, I'm on a first-name basis with all the cashiers at Lowes now.  Two of the hardware guys are also very familiar with my kitchen and my painting project.
Aaaand we're back.  Put your dang hinges on and hang your doors and step back to admire your handywork.  You are AWESOME!  You did it!  Look at how much brighter and open your kitchen looks!!

One last thing - those little felt pads that came with the hinges?  Put them on the corners of your doors and your drawers.  This will keep everything from sticking to the frame and possibly scratching the paint.

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Felt Pads
You won't have enough to do all your doors and drawers, but it's not a huge deal, you can find these pads pretty much everywhere.  I know I've seen them at Lowes, Home Depot, Amazon and Bed, Bath and Beyond.

And once you've done that, unless you're me and decided at the last minute to put a sponge drawer underneath your sink, you're done! Enjoy the praise and compliments your significant other will most likely heap on you.  Or that might have been in my head.  Dude may have really said something to the effect of "Well, I don't hate it as much as I thought I would."

Now get ready for some pretty amazing Before & Afters!  (Please ignore the giant gaping hole underneath the sink.  Remember what I said before about the sponge drawer thing?)

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Before & After

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Before & After
How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Before & After

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Before & After

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - Before & After

And lest you think that I am immaculate and perfect in every way and my counters are always clean and clear like that, here's a picture of the other side of my kitchen.

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets - messy fridge, shelves
Bonus points for spotting the level in this picture
Here's a rundown of all the hardware and accessories you see in the After pictures:

Hinges:  Lowes
Door handles:  Lowes
Drawer pulls:  Amazon
Rug:  Urban Outfitters  (cut down, the other half is in front of our side door)
Paint:  Olympic Premium in their basic white
Primer:  Valspar Bonding Primer in their basic white

If you decide to attempt this, let me know how it goes!  I'd love to see your before and afters! 

And in case you missed it, here's the whole series:

Linking Up Here:



  1. Your kitchen looks amazing!! It's amazing how much difference painting the cabinets can make- we did the same when we moved into our house and couldn't afford to replace the kitchen (much as I wanted to). I'll admit, I don't think we were quite as good at doing it properly- we keep having to touch it up. Oops. Good Job!

    P.s. Love the cup handles on the drawers

    1. Woops! Posted from the wrong account! Anyways, thanks so much for your sweet compliment!! Painting the cabinets was definitely a labor love, but so worth it! Like you said, the difference it makes is amazing, it feels brighter and more open. We're hosting Thanksgiving this year, so that will be the true test to how the paint holds up.

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  3. What did you use to fill the holes?

    1. I just used regular old wood filler. Mine was a paintable and stainable variety; but I don't think it matters. You could probably use spackle as well; but I had some wood filler on hand and didn't feel like meeting up with my Lowes boyfriend one more time, so I ended up using it.

  4. thank you so much for posting this!! we are going from plain white, to a pretty plum for our cabinets (i love color). this is really going to help me so very much. Your results are absolutely wonderful!! :D

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to read it all! I'm excited for your cabinets and I'd love to see how they turn out! Good luck!

    2. Great job!! Your hard work paid off. Thank you for the tutorial!!

  5. It's been a year now - I'm really curious to know how the paint job is holding up. Any problems? Anything you would do differently? Thanks!

    1. The paint is still holding up great! The only thing I didn't realize is that white cabinets show stains waaaay better than my dark laminate ones! If I had to do it all over again, I would probably go for a darker color. But overall, I am still so, so, happy with it! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Thank you for this post! This is a big help

  7. Thank you so much for all your detailed information! Seeing what you have accomplished makes me feel more confident that I can do the same... My cabinets look almost identical to what you started with. Very, very lovely work!

  8. Congrats on the kitchen makeover! It turned out fantastic! I was just wondering what kind of paint you used to paint your cabinets once they were primered? I've read several tutorials and no one seems to be specific. Some insist on using a 'cabinet' specific paint and others have said any paint will do. Also, what kind of finish did you use, saitn? Gloss? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much!!

    1. Hi Jenn! I used Olympic Premium Interior Latex paint in a satin finish. Good luck with your project!

  9. i have same cabinets as yours(the before ones) and Ive been living with them for a whole year.. and they really
    photograph ugly! anyways thanks for your tutorial, and i am starting my project next week.. did tons of reading
    and this is the only i could use because of the same type (laminate) of cabinets we have.. wish me luck!

  10. SO jealous that your doors are flat... about to start this project with the same doors that this chick has:
    UGH so 80's/ 90's.
    I love the deep detail that you went into - it finally convinced my engineer husband to get on board. So thank you for that!
    One thing though- I see what you did with the sanding of the doors- how did you sand the actual cabinets? Did you use the orbital? Did dust still get everywhere? Starting this weekend (and thankfully with new knobs but the same hinges...)

    1. Thanks so much for your sweet comments! On the actual cabinets, I just used regular old coarse grit sand paper blocks. To be honest, I just did a once-over and hoped the primer would do the hard work. Happy to say almost 2 years later, the paint is still holding up really well everywhere.

      There were a couple of spots that I just touched up over the weekend. Edges mostly, like where our dishwasher is off balance and kind of rubs the cabinet edge. Definitely not noticeable to the naked eye but it bugged me!

      So, long answer short - just coarse grit sandpaper should do the trick! Good luck this weekend!


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