Kitchen Cabinet Makeover

Painting timber, or not painting timer. That is the universal question. People are usually VERY pro or VERY con on both ends of the spectrum of this topic. We had inherited a Tasmanian Oak kitchen (technically its actually Eucalyptus) that was lorded over in the 1980’s as a premium and expensive cupboard option. But lets face it, we all want what we don’t have. We had a dark timber kitchen when all I craved was a bright, white and clean looking space. Well sorry, not sorry, these cupboards had 30 odd years but it was time for a change.



When we decided to take the plunge I did some research online to find out what products other people had used. I found that all of the tutorials were helpful but they were from the US and therefore used products not available here in Australia. SO this is what we did/used. Hopefully you find it helpful.

Doors- First, you need to take off all of the doors. Trying to do this process in situ will drive you crazy and make a huge mess. Take all of the doors off their hinges and keep the screws in a safe place. May sure you also remove the bracket from any corner cupboards. These look so much better for your finished product when the hinges aren’t covered in paint. You also need to number the doors so you know where the hell you have to return them to! We used masking tape which we placed in the hinge recess that you don’t paint, that way you aren’t painting over your number. We used a different colour pen to mark top and bottom cupboards.


Handles- You need to think about what handles you are going to want to use after the door are painted. If you are using the same ones then simply take off the handles and keep them aside. If you are going to use new ones then you are probably going to have to fill holes. You need to use a wood putty to plug up any handle holes that you wont be using again.

Sanding- Yep sanding sucks big time. I did try not to sand but when I did a trial the paint kept scratching off. Not something you want in a kitchen as scrapes and bangs are commonplace. Once your putty is dry you can go ahead and start roughing up your doors. I used an orbital sander for the flat areas on the doors but needed to do the curved detailing by hand. Taking off the gloss of the finish will mean your primer will adhere much better.


Priming- The key to getting a good finish is applying the primer and paint evenly. You will need a brush and a small roller. First you brush the sections that the roller cant reach, then immediately roll on the rest to have an even finish on the top. You don’t want brush stokes drying on because you will see it on the finished product. The trick is to not apply too much so it pools and drips, but enough to get good coverage. 1-2 coats on both sides.


Paint- The are lots of options when it comes to paint. Water based versus oil based is the first choice. Oil based has a better finish as it fills and covers well as you apply it, however it yellows over time particularly in places that don’t get much sunlight. Water based does not yellow, however it can leave brush marks and doesnt look as professionally finished. I chose a new paint that is by Taubmans Ultimate Enamel Alkyd Base which acts as an oil based but has a faster drying time and low odour. It fills more than water based and is not as yellowing as an oil based (although does not guarantee to never yellow). 2-3 coats depending on coverage and paint used.

For our island bench we wanted to go with a coloured paint. Because yellowing was not an issue we decided to go with an oil based paint due to its superior coverage and hardness. 2-3 coats.


The Finished Product- The cupboards have been painted for around 6 months now. They are holding up very well apart from 2 small scratches on the fronts. I think that is pretty good considering the use and bumps it gets from two small kids racing , and they can easily be touched up with a bit of spare paint. Overall we are very happy with our decision to paint the cupboards. It has definitely brought a brighter and more modern feel to the kitchen. It was a cheap update to a kitchen that was structurally sound and functioned well, but just needed an update.

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