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DIY: Repainting Bathroom Cabinets- Quick and EASY!

It's August. More than half of this year is over! That means we have less than half a year to accomplish everything on The List.

What is The List?

At the beginning of this year I shared my New Year's Resolutions for our house. I thought it would be interesting to put down on paper all the things I wanted to accomplish in our house this year. It was fun now to go back and read it, and see how much I've already checked off, which was quite a bit! Woo hoo!!

I knew I probably wouldn't manage to get to everything on the List, especially my **dream goals** like a total kitchen makeover, but it's been a great motivation to keep me pushing forward, staying on track, and feeling good about all I've done so far!

One big **Dream Goal** (which could just as well be called a, "Haha, Like You'll Ever Get To That!" goal) was refinishing all our bathroom cabinets. They've always bugged me, especially the one in our upstairs bath. It's our "kids" bathroom, and where I give Andrew his baths.
 This kid loves his baths! :)

The cabinet in here has got to be the worst of the bunch- flaking varnish, water damage, and smears of paint from poorly executed past paint jobs (not done by me, it happened before we moved in I swear!).

 Exhibit A: why Painter's Tape is our friend! : /
Basically a hot mess.

Well, I just decided this was the week! I did my research, threw on my painting pants, and gave that cabinet a fresh coat of bright white paint that they would never forget.

Here's a quick overview of the basic steps to any cabinet repaint:

Steps to This Project:
  • Remove Hardware 
  • Clean
  • Sand
  • Use Denatured Alcohol
  • Prime & Seal
  • Paint
  • Replace Hardware and Rehang

And here's what you'll need to get the job done-

  • Degreaser Spray + sponge
  • Denatured Alcohol
  • 220 Grit Sand Paper
  • Primer & Sealer Paint
  • Semi Gloss Paint
  • Disposable Foam Brush
  • Small Foam Roller
Step 1. Remove Hardware
I unscrewed all the hardware. My cabinet didn't have any handles, so it was quick work unscrewing just the door hinges.
 Then I removed the hinges from the backs of the doors.

Side note: I have decided that adhesive shelf liner is a big rip off. Mine always curl up like this! It doesn't seem to matter if I stick them down or just lay them flat inside the cabinets. Do you have this problem too?? I might need to try a heavier liner. Maybe in this case my cabinet is just so ugly even the shelf liners don't want to get anywhere near it.

 Step 2. Cleaning the Cabinets
I used a general purpose kitchen degreaser spray and a scrubby sponge to remove gross dirt, grime, and unidentifiable ickyness that had accumulated on the wood. Our house was built in 1983, that's 29 years of buildup that needed to come off.

Whatever you do, don't skip the cleaning part! If your cabinets have been in use for any length of time, there's bound to be a nice layer of crud all over that sucker, no matter how well you clean your house. The paint won't go on smoothly or stay on unless the wood is completely free of dirt.
 I paid special attention to areas that were frequently touched, like the corner of this cabinet door.

Step 3. Sanding (optional)
Once the cabinets and doors were cleaned, I could have skipped ahead to priming. The primer & sealer does not need sanding prior to painting.  I took a closer look at the doors, though, and could feel they were rough and rippling from the flaking varnish and some water damage. 

I used a 220 grit sand paper on just the rough parts until the wood felt smooth to the touch. 
And when I was done, wiped everything down with a wet rag.

Step 4. Wipe with Denatured Alcohol
Denatured alcohol works to remove any leftover dust or grease from the wood. I read that it had some pretty powerful fumes, and to only use it in a well ventilated area to avoid killing off brain cells. I had a fan going, but there is no window in this bathroom and I was preparing to have my nose hairs fried from the fumes. Thankfully it didn't seem any worse than nail polish remover. And there was enough airflow to protect and maintain my current level of brain cells.

I poured some on a paper towel and rubbed the doors.

Any residual gunk and dust came right off and onto my paper towel. Check out that paper towel!

Step 5. Prime
I prepped the area around my cabinet by taping off the edges with painter's tape and laying down a plastic drop cloth to protect the floor. I primed the cabinet with Behr Primer & Sealer using a disposable foam brush. The foam brush gives nice thin coat without any brush strokes. I applied 2 coats.
I'd buy at least 2 of these foam brushes. Mine didn't last for more than half the project before ripping. Perhaps I prime a little too vigorously.
I laid out the doors on my counter, elevated with cereal bowls :). I used the foam brush to prime them as well.

Step 6. Painting
To save money, I used some white semi gloss paint, leftover from other projects around the house. The color is Polar Bear by Behr.

On my first door I used the foam brush to spread the paint. It worked well, but it was a very light coat and didn't look like it was giving me the coverage I needed.

Then I tried a high quality 2" brush I'd bought. I'd heard they worked well for painting cabinets so I tried a coat using that instead. But after the paint dried, I could see I was getting some pretty gnarly brush strokes!
I headed back to the home improvement store and picked up this small foam roller for about $5. It did a great job, and gave me a super smooth finish. I used the disposable foam brush to work the paint into the grooves, then went over the whole door with the roller.

And now for your viewing pleasure, a video! Basically it's me trying to narrate while holding the camera and trying to see where I'm painting, haha.

Haha, maybe someday you'll get to see more of me on film than just my hands :). If you aren't able to watch the video, I was demonstrating my priming and painting procedure using the foam roller and disposable brush like I described above.

Step 7. Rehang the Doors
After everything had properly dried (24 hrs), I opened up my package of new hinges to begin rehanging the doors.
As I screwed the hinges into the doors, I dared to think, 
hey, this is easy! Famous last words. 

When I positioned the doors with the new hinges onto the cabinet housing, they just wouldn't line up properly. *scratches head.

And now, we get to play a fun game!! 

It's called, What's Different Between The Hinges? It's the game I played as I tried to figure out what the heck was the problem. I'd made triple sure I bought the EXACT same hinges to replace the old ones!  I fished out an old hinge from the trash,  and set them both down side by side.
What happened?? I was sooo careful to match the hardware! *head smack. Obviously not the exact same ones. So it was back to the hardware store we go.

With the proper hinges now (really this time I swear!) I tried again.
I learned a few things about the contents of a hinge packet during this project. I have no idea what the official term is for the plastic bag with the parts, so hinge packet it is! Besides the brackets, here's what else is in the pouch.

  • 6 Flat head screws- for attaching the brackets to the door backs
  • 4 Rounded head screws- for attaching the doors to the cabinet housing
  • 2 Foam Pads- for sticking to the corners of the doors

Screwy Screws
These screws are quite tricky. There was some trial and error before I even realized they were different! Turns out there's two kinds of screws in the bag.

The ones that go into the doors are slightly shorter than the others and have a flat head. The ones that go into the cabinet housing are longer and have more of a rounded head.
Flat head screws into the back of the doors.
Round head screws into the cabinet housing.
And foam pads on the corners of the doors, to provide some cushion when the doors close.

Closing The Doors On This DIY
I assembled everything back together. It's hard to take pictures when you're holding a screw driver in one hand and a door in the other. Since my hinges were exactly the same size as the old ones, all the holes matched up quite nicely. Tighten, tighten, tweak, tweak...

Done! Well, almost. There seems to be a problem with the doors closing. I think the alignment is slightly off. I'll have to have J look into that... lol.

How Much Did It Cost?
Here's my cost breakdown for this project.
$27= Gallon of Behr Primer & Sealer
$1= Foam Brush
$4.97= Foam Roller
$8.37= Three Packs of Hinges @ $2.79 ea.
$7.41= Denatured Alcohol
FREE= Behr Semi Gloss Paint (leftovers)
FREE= Sand paper (already had)
Total: $48.75

All said and done, that was one of the easiest diy's ever! Now that I know what 's involved, I'm totally up for repainting another one of my sorry looking cabinets!

How are things coming for your diy plans this year? Any cabinet redo's on the list? What else are you tackling?

Thanks for reading :), have a great weekend!
 <3 Alyssa

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