How We Painted Our Kitchen Cabinets (Two Approaches for Two Kitchens)

Although I have done a LOT of painting in my life and have a LOT of painting ahead of me in this hosue I really have no idea what I am doing and am not that great of a painter. I just appreciate the power of paint to transform a room or piece of furniture and know how much money it saves by doing it myself. Because I am not that great of a painter I don't feel like I can possibly give any kind of painting tutorial seeing how I take short cuts and mess up half of my projects. We get a lot of questions though, about how we painted out cabinets so I figured I would at least share with you the approach we took to painting two different kitchens this summer so this is more of a "How We Painted our Kitchen" vs. an actual tutorial.

In case you missed our kitchen post with all the photos earlier this week you can see lots more photos and all the source details here.

(Update: here is what our kitchen looks like right now:)

And here is what it looked like when we moved in earlier this summer.

And here is what it looks in Jason's kitchen right now (it's not quite finished but can see more photos and get more details here).

And this is what it looked like when he moved in:

I took two different approaches to painting these cabinets. For Jason's I did what would probably be considered the "proper" way. I removed them and first primed them with a coat of Zinsser primer (I can't remember what type it was but I know it wasn't the 1-2-3 one that I used in our kitchen).

After that I put 3 coats of Benjamin Moore's Advance Paint in Simply White with a semi-gloss finish on (I am not sure how long it was between coats - when I am up in NH there really isn't a pattern to how I work...well, there really isn't when I am home either, haha, but there is even less of one when I am up there).  Then my dad and I put the cabinet doors back on.

After that Jason offered up his contribution of putting the new knobs on and when I made another trip to New Hampshire I added a fourth coat of paint to the cabinets and Jamie and I painted the trim with the same paint. And this is how we left it for a while (not finished but a nice improvement):

Once it was finished I have to say I was really pleased with the results from using the Advance paint. The cabinets have such a professional finish to them (minus my painting job of course, I just mean the actual durability) and I was surprised at how hard the paint dries - I can't imagine having any issues with chipping. Overall I was VERY impressed with how the advance paint looks once you are done. However, I am not going to lie - having to do five coats (one of primer and four of the paint) was NOT fun. Fortunately it was a pretty small kitchen. Because of that I used a different type of paint to do my kitchen here at home.

So, here is the approach I took when painting our kitchen. First my mom cleaned all the cabinets. Remember in my kitchen post earlier this week how I said they were gross. Well,  this is what the dust build up looked like:

Then my mother-in-law and I primed all the trim and doors with Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer.

And then we primed the cabinets:

And yes, you are seeing that right! I did NOT remove the doors - I know that will horrify some people reading this. Haha! (And if you are wondering about the crazy mess this photo was taken on the 4th of July right after we finished our dinner - having a small cookout in the middle of painting your kitchen is not really a very good idea.)

Let me explain my reasoning for not removing the doors. It all boiled down to the hinges. This is the third kitchen I have painted. For the first two (the kitchen in our last house and Jason's kitchen) I would never have considered leaving the cabinet doors on. The other two kitchens though had cabinets with those hidden hinges. These cabinets had very dated and very noticable hinges on the outside of the cabinets. Initially my plan was to remove them and fill in the marks left from them and then put new hinges on that had that hidden style. Well, when I went to get the hinges I was surprised at the price and how much it was going to cost to replace all the hinges (I didn't mind the thought of replacing all the knobs and pulls but wasn't as excited about spending the money on the hinges). I still probably would have gone ahead and done it because I knew it would definitely be the best option but after starting to remove one hinge I realized how much work it was going to be to repair the cabinets in the hinge area to get them nice and smooth I decided I just didn't have it in me. When you are painting an entire house from top to bottom it gets easy to concede something like this. If I were just doing the kitchen then I think I would probably have gone ahead and done the extra work and replaced the hinges and sanded the doors down nicely and removed them to paint but with all the other projects I have on my list to do here (and all the ones at Jason's) it just seemed too overwhelming. So, seeing how I was going to leave the hinges I still wanted to make them less noticable so that meant painting them and at that point it just made the most sense (and certainly saved a TON of time) to just leave the doors on. It meant being more careful and going slower and using my paint brush more than my roller but all it all it was WAY quicker than the other way. =)

After the priming was done we added two coats of London Fog in Benjamin Moore's Aura line (instead of their Advance line we used for Jason's). I chose the semi-gloss finish. I have always been a big fan of the Aura paint. It has a built in primer and is a much thicker paint, in my opinion, than the Advance. I just about always choose the Aura line for pretty much any and every type of painting. I definitely preferred only having to do two coats to the four I had to do at Jason's. However, I would have to say it does not have that same extremely hard, durable finish that the Advance has. Don't get me wrong, it still is pretty hard but definitely not the same so I could see somewhere down line possibly having some minor chipping/peeling issues.

Once the painting was done I drilled new holes for the new hardware that I purchased at Lowe's.

I had to go to two different Lowe's to get enough of the pulls but I am glad I did because they are one of my favorite details.

 I left the doors open for about 24 hours to help prevent any sticking.
So which paint and approach do I think is better? The approach part is easy to answer. Unless you have a similar hinge situation to what we had in our kitchen I would say removing the cabinets is the way to go! I think it's easier to get a more professional and smoother looking finish that way.

If you are wondering which paint I would recommend that's a little harder. I am big fans of both and If I were to tackle another kitchen I would probably say the Aura because I like the consistency of it better and prefer the coverage it provides. That being said, I think the Advance is a slightly better option for cabinets and when it comes to the overall finished look the Advance slightly edges out the Aura. I think it's basically personal preference. For me I think I would choose the aura because I am I'd rather save my time a little and was still happy with how they turned out. If you are a perfectionist and have patience I would say you would probably prefer the Advance.

And that's pretty much all I can think to share about painting kitchen cabinets. 

You can click here for more of our phase 1 kitchen photos:

And here for more details on phase 2:

I hope you all have a lovely weekend! I'll be back next week with photos of my parents kitchen and some fall items including our first chalkboard canvas.

P.S. I thought I would add in these two things based on the e-mails we have gotten that mostly are about these two things. No, we did not do any sanding and as far as what we used to paint the cabinets we used both brushes and those small foam rollers.

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