Kitchen Cabinet Redo Part 3: The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Hopefully, it’s not a train! Forgive me for being a little-snake bitten, but this cabinet  project just seems to keep presenting new and unforeseen challenges. But, I’ve certainly learned a lot of things… like how European hinges work and how they are specifically adjusted to a certain cabinet and how if you mix them up you’ll never get your cabinets doors rehung properly without looking wonky. Ever. You know, things like that.

But I digress. We definitely turned a corner in the process once I got the trial and error situational research out of the way with the paint + primer mishap, followed by the sanding and stripping required to get that stuff off so I could start all over. Thanks for sticking around long enough for me to start digging out of the mess and finally making progress. And for those of you who are more interested in the solution than the problem, this one’s for you!

So once I realized I was dealing with a wax-coated finish on the cabinets (really, previous homeowners?!), I had no clue how to paint over it, short of stripping the whole kitchen back to bare wood. Luckily, the folks at the hardware store turned us on to Zinsser Cover Stain oil-based primer. Amazing stuff! It honestly seems like it would stick to anything. Maybe even a greased pig. All I know is that it stuck to my crazy wax-covered cabinets, and that’s all I really care to know for now.

I used the magical Zinsser primer to prep all of the cabinet doors and the outside faces of the cabinets themselves. Basically, anywhere “PHOs” had applied the wax finish. For the raw wood shelves and walls inside the cabinets, I went ahead and used the dreaded Valspar paint + primer that had caused me days of extra sweat and frustration. Two reasons: A) I had already paid for it, and B) I figured any paint should, at the very minimum, stick to unfinished, clean, sanded wood. (Valspar can thank me later for this undeserved shot at redemption.)

In order to paint my cabinet doors more quickly, I rigged up a system on my back porch using some decking wood, a couple of chairs, and some screw hooks.


I used decking wood that the husband had already unscrewed from the porch so he could inspect the drainage underneath. Don’t mind if I do! 

I attached the hooks to the top or bottom edge of each door (whichever would not be seen once they were hung). Top edge for top cabinets, bottom edge for bottom cabinets. You get the idea.


Sweet… now we can paint both sides in one sitting!

And thusly, I was able to knock out both sides of about 4 doors at a time. When I hung them back up (after fiddling with the bloody Eurohinges for what seemed like forever), I filled the little holes with a little bit of paint. As our good friend Homestarrunner once said, “None will be the wiser!”  😀

After all this progress, I’m off to enjoy a celebratory spritzer, southern style. (Try putting Sprite in your vino and tell me it’s not delicious!)  🙂

Is it me or does everything taste better out of a mason jar? Anyone?

Is it me or does everything taste better out of a mason jar? Cheers!

Kitchen Cabinet Redo Part 1: A Lesson in Product Selection and Surface Prep

So if you’re just joining us here at the LEO homestead, all you need to know is that the kitchen cabinets in our new old house are brown, inside and out, and we’re working hard to change that. Because life is easier when you aren’t worried about creepy crawlies camouflaging themselves against the insides of your cabinets. And, well,because I am slightly obsessed with white-painted anything.

If you know me, you know I tend to jump in feet first and figure things out along the way. (Working on improving my contingency planning skills, but for now it’s a lot of “live and learn”!)

So, given that my cabinets had some weird, dark, patchy faux finish, I sought out what seemed to be a super-product: Valspar ULTRA Paint + Primer. Extra coverage sounded like just the ticket for my brown on brown situation. Well friends, let me tell you… I was so very, VERY wrong!


A mere two days after closing on the house, I got all the cabinet doors pulled off and started slapping paint on carefully applying the first coat of paint + primer. We’re talking inside the cabinets, outside the cabinets, on the doors… pretty much everywhere possible. As I sat on the back porch admiring my freshly first-coat-painted cabinet doors, I looked closely and noticed that the finish was drying with a sort of orange peel texture. NO. BUENO.


Looks OK from a distance, right?       Just wait til you look a little closer…

orange rough-y-to-the-touch
Lumpy and bumpy… definitely not what we’re looking for in our shiny new white cabinets!

So, from past painting epic fails experience, I had a pretty good idea what was happening. The paint + primer was, understandably, very thick and dried fairly quickly (especially on the doors, which I was painting outside). That made for a bad combination. (For all you people way smarter than me non-painters out there, as paint dries, its surface smooths out and brush and roller strokes fade away before the final finish sets up. The thicker the paint, the less it’s able to smooth out. Also, the quicker it dries, the less time it has to smooth out.) All told, knew I needed a thinner paint and a longer drying time.

But wait, it gets worse! Not only was the finish funky, but the paint itself was NOT sticking. Not. Even. Close. A little scratch with my finger nail and it came right off, bringing the surrounding areas with it. Pull the dangling paint and you get a never ending stretchy string of latex, along with a heaping helping of frustration and disappointment. Here’s the kicker: at this point, I realized I was painting on top of… wait for it… WAX. Yes, the faux finish included a wax treatment for that nice “old world” look. No wonder nothing was sticking to the mystery surface that I thought was simply paint.


Trying to resist the urge to keep scraping and scratching at this peeling mess!

Alas, I had no choice but to accept  this temporary setback and go back to the drawing board while I look for a solution. These cabinets want so badly to be shiny white… and white they shall be!