My brother and his wife and their four kids are slowly working to update their 1960’s home, and I had the privilege of helping them update their kitchen cabinets with chalk paint about a year ago.
Rather than post about it right away, though, I wanted to give it time to see how the makeover held up… So now, almost a year later, here are my thoughts on the process (warning: this became a long post!).
First, though, a before picture. Well, sort of. My brother had already taken off the doors when I arrived.
- Good strong cleaning agent
- Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Paris Gray
- Homeright Finish Max Pro Paint Sprayer
- Annie Sloan Lacquer
- Sponge roller and brushes
- Dark cabinet glaze (from Lowe’s, I think)
- new hardware
- milk glass handles
step 1: Clean all surfaces you will paint VERY well (we scrubbed with 409 or some such cleaner and a scrubby sponge).
step 2: Spray doors using paint sprayer. Two coats.
In retrospect, we probably could have rolled the doors just as well, using a fine sponge roller. I’ve heard lots of debate about chalk paint in a sprayer, and while the first coat and a half went GREAT, I managed to get some clots down deep in the sprayer’s workings, and I couldn’t find them. So I tried watering down the paint, which just meant it ran… It was not successful. In the end, if you can keep the tubes clear of clots, then the sprayer would be wonderful, but it’s a bit tricky. And since we didn’t spray the frames or any of the lacquer, I imagine rolling the paint wouldn’t have been a problem with our overall finish.
step 3: Roll the frames of your cabinets. Two coats.
step 4: Roll one coat of lacquer on everything. You can see how it hydrates the chalk paint here. The final look is quite matte, but it does deepen the color of the chalk paint.
step 5: Once lacquer is dry, mix glaze according to instructions and paint on desired portions of doors (especially places with creases for the glaze to “settle in”) with a sponge brush. Rub quickly with a rag until it gives it the desired look.
step 6: Use your towel covered with glaze to give the cabinet frames a slight rub down (otherwise, your doors will look brown by comparison).
step 7: Roll another coat of lacquer on everything.
step 8: Reattach doors. Add new hardware.
And here is the result.
Definitely an improvement from the orange oak. I don’t want to stop here with these fancy photos, though, and fail to discuss the realities of painting a kitchen with chalk paint. Would I (and they – since they’re living with it) do it again? Yes. Would I do it exactly the same? Probably not. So here is a little Q&A for you in case you decide to try this.
Isn’t “chalk paint” no prep?
NO. Especially not on kitchen cabinets. Even with the extensive cleaning we gave them, there were a few places where oil spots came through the paint. We had to touch those with some stain blocking primer and then come back with paint again. Be sure you really clean your cabinets well.
Does chalk paint work in a sprayer?
See above on step 2. It’s ok. I wouldn’t say it was ideal. I think if I knew what was going on, I could have poured the paint back into the can, cleaned out the clot, and continued and have given them a smoother finish in less time than I could with a roller… But I couldn’t find the clot, and thus it may have actually taken longer and ended up with some runs. Live and learn.
What about the lacquer?
It is made for “surfaces that will see a lot of wear” such as floors. That sounded good to me! But, alas, as a water based product, my brother is finding lots of trouble with grease stains. To be fair, he is a little messy when he cooks (don’t tell him I said that 😉 ), and they have a cabinet right next to their stove without a backsplash (not ideal design), and the gray is a very light color… But still, I think they are going to have to prime, paint, and re-lacquer a few places soon. They are planning to try 4 coats and hope that does the trick… So be aware that it’s sensitive to oil and grease.
Why glaze the cabinets?
These cabinets were a mess: three different types of wood, several diy additions, and a LOT of years of wear. If we had wanted to sand, repair, fill holes, etc., then we might have been able to create a nice, sleek, modern look. As it was, the cabinets had too much going on for that. So we decided a little glaze would help them have a softer look. Glaze can also be lovely on more elaborately trimmed cabinets… But if you have shaker cabinets, or something flat and modern, I would probably recommend against the glaze.
Why lacquer, glaze, lacquer?
This is important: Do not glaze right over your paint. Since chalk paint is porous, any drop of glaze that touches the paint will stain rather completely. Make sure you put a layer of lacquer down first so you can spread and soften the look before you seal it with another layer of lacquer.
How long did it take?
About two days. He pulled the doors off the night before we started, but I only stayed a few hours the second day… So I think two people could probably do this in two days from start to finish. All these products are very quick drying, so by the time you finish one coat, you can go back and start the second.
How much did it cost?
Annie Sloan products are not cheap, but we did not have to sand and strip the doors. We also did not have to wait days while various layers dried and cured. And we didn’t make anyone sick from smell (they had a baby at the time, and no VOCs was important)… In all, two days of labor and about $200 (I already owned the sprayer) was what it cost to enact this transformation.
Disclosure: A special thanks to D Lawless Hardware for the beautiful milk glass antique handles. My brother and his wife wanted something unique that stood out against the gray but gave an antique look overall to contrast with the modern blue walls. These are just perfect!
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