How To Paint Kitchen Cabinets With A Rust-Oleum Kit

by Darwin Hall

expresso painted kitchen cabinets

An easy way to upgrade a kitchen without breaking the bank is to paint your cabinets and add new hardware.

As I was shopping for paint at the local home store, I came across a brand-new product specifically for cabinets — to give them a fresh update.

Instead of replacing the base and wall units, I figured simply spending a few dollars on a new finish would cure an outdated look — the old kitchen was oak.

The guy across the counter had a set of base cabinets that were newly-painted on display for the customers.  I asked him if the cabinets would show nicks and scratches when they were done, as I have a busy family with kids and he replied emphatically, “no”.

See also:  Hinges, Pulls, And Knobs For Cabinets

After reading the box, I was sold on this idea of painting my old cabinets.  There are about twenty-plus colors to choose from; the kit requires you to get the bond coat tinted at the paint counter.  I chose an espresso finish and had the guy tint my paint.

The actual kit contains a deglosser, scrub pad, bond coat, a decorative glaze, stir sticks, and instructions.  You’ll have to buy a few additional items, though.  These include a few synthetic brushes, disposable paint containers, painter’s tape, drop cloths, disposable gloves, and lint-free rags.

I love the idea of painting kitchen cabinets.  It gives you the opportunity to upgrade things and change out the door hinges and pulls if you like.

kitchen-cabinet-paint-colors-rustoleum-cabinet-transformationsI am also installing new subway-style backsplash tile and a plywood-and-marble countertop to complete the look.

Our family will live through this renovation, so I’ll need to make this kitchen functional during off-times as I work.  The counters will receive new plywood underneath, with a cut-out for the sink.

The sink will also have to be usable during the reno — so I’ll be removing it during work hours, then installing it in the evening, then removing it again, for the course of this project.

Step 1

I covered the floors with red rosin paper and taped the seams as I needed to.  You may want to use plastic or fabric drop cloths — just make sure to cover all the areas you want to protect from paint drips.

The first step is to add items to the kitchen that you plan on painting.  This may include any additional cabinets, base cabinets, trim molding, or an island.  In this case, I added crown molding and a corner “lazy Suzan”, which is simply a corner base cabinet at the end of a run of other base cabinets.

The “lazy Suzan” has cool wire shelves set on a central pole that swings around, allowing you to access the shelf’s contents.

After the corner base cabinet is installed, I added a few more base cabinets to the end of it, creating an “L-shaped kitchen” with additional storage.
crown to cabinets 2

crown to kitchen cabinets 3

L - shaped base cabinet

As for the crown molding, I used a pre-primed pine variety, cut with my trusty chop-saw.  I secured the pieces in place with wood glue, 2-inch finish nails, and painter’s tape.

For the back of the L-shaped base cabinets, I built up the area with standard 2 x 4s to give myself a flat surface to work with.  Then I nailed pre-fabricated bead board paneling on the 2 x 4s, cut to size.

Finally, I nailed, glued, and taped corner trim and baseboard to the surface to finish the look.  Of course, I sanded any burrs and irregularities down flat.

Step 2

Remove all doors and hardware. This includes all drawers and their pulls.  Label each door with a number on a small piece of tape.  As you remove each cabinet door, label the inside of the cabinet frame that corresponds to the door with another piece of tape.

Use a power drill to speed up the task.  It would also be a good idea to have a helper to hold the cabinet doors in place, so they won’t crash to the floor as you’re working.

Use 1.88 inch-wide painter’s tape to protect the inside rim of the cabinets.  Also, put a piece of tape on each end of each shelf that are inside of the cabinets — to protect against brush strokes.

Removing the shelves completely is the best-case scenario.  Don’t paint the inside of the cabinets at all.  They won’t look professional when you finish.  Continue taping any areas you don’t want painted.

Step 3

Start on the cabinet frames first — to remove grease, oil, and dirt — by using the green scrubbing pad.  Simply go with the direction of grain in the wood.

After removing dirt and grease, apply the deglosser.  It deglosses and prepares the surface with no stripping, sanding, and no priming.  While wearing gloves, squeeze the deglosser onto a clean scrub pad.  With firm pressure, scrub the deglosser onto the cabinet doors (front and back) and the frames.

wall cabinets doors removed

base cabinets doors removed

To ensure proper adhesion, scrub thoroughly and extensively in hard to reach corners and grooves.  Once done, wipe off the deglosser with a damp, lint-free rag.  If there are visible residue marks, continue to clean with a damp lint-free rag.

Follow up by wiping right after that with a dry rag.  Let the surface dry 1 full hour before going to the next stage.

Step 4

Apply the bond coat.  Using a 2-inch synthetic brush, first apply an even coat of Bond coat to the cabinet frames, rails and cabinet door backs.  Let it to dry for 2-3 hours, then repeat with a second coat.  Allow the second coat to dry for 2-3 hours, too.

After the cabinet backs are fully dry, flip them over and apply an even coat of Bond coat to the cabinet door fronts.  Let them dry 2-3 hours, then apply a second coat and let it dry an additional 2-3 hours.  It is critical to let each coat dry to the touch.

Drying times may be longer or shorter, depending on the temperature and humidity levels.

cabinet doors painted

painted cabinet doors ready install

Step 5

After everything is completely dry you may wish to add the decorative glaze coat, which enhances the wood grain and adds dimension, says the manufacturer.  This step is purely optional.  The decorative glaze must be applied in two coats, letting it dry 2-3 hours between coats.

Step 6

Apply the protective top coat.  It will provide stain and scratch resistance — with tack-free durability.  It’s clear, non-yellowing, and has a satin finish.

painting cabinet doors

The top coat allows you to clean your cabinets later, without removing any of the cabinet finish.  Before applying the top coat, let the bond coat and the decorative glaze coat (optional) collectively dry overnight, or a minimum of 12 hours.

Thoroughly stir the top coat with a stir stick.  To prevent bubbles in the finish, DO NOT SHAKE.  It is critical to avoid over brushing.

Using a 2″ synthetic brush, apply an even, light coat to cabinet frames, rails, and cabinet door backs.  Allow it to dry a minimum of 2 hours.

After the cabinet door backs are completely dry, flip over cabinet doors and apply an even, light coat to the cabinet door fronts.

Allow the cabinet door fronts to dry a minimum of 2 full hours.

Step 7

Install the doors.  Cabinet doors may be installed as soon as 6 hours after all doors, frames and rails are dry.  Keep drawers and doors open until they are completely dry.  For full use of your kitchen, let everything dry for 24 hours.

After the allotted drying time has passed, you can re-install new door and drawer pulls and knobs.

painted cabinets 3

painted cabinets 4

kitchen cabinet painting

Tools You’ll Need:



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