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  • Writer's pictureJoey Kemp

Our Kitchen Remodel Part 1

Updated: May 13

When my wife and I bought our house a few years ago, we knew there would be lots of updating to come. One of the main projects we wanted to accomplish was to do something about our kitchen. Our home was built in 2000 and although the previous owners did many things right, I feel that they didn't have very good taste with finishes such as flooring material, cabinets, etc. But again, it was 20 years ago. So, we decided to tackle the kitchen. Well actually, I decided to tackle it while I was on paternity leave for a month and my wife was learning how to care for a new baby all over again. What else was I going to do, sit around all day?

Here are some before pictures to show the outdated cabinets.

Obviously, everything in the kitchen is outdated, but how deep did we want to go with this? Everything was in really good shape for its age, and we didn't necessarily have an unlimited budget to throw away perfectly good cabinets and countertops for new ones. We knew that we didn't love the orange-brown wood color or the black/green countertops, and the tile was too close in color to the cabinets, so there was no contrast at all. We also weren't a fan of the old appliances either, but the microwave was made in 2004 and its still working 20 years later! We would change the appliances out later. We got a few quotes for quartz countertops, and they ranged from $6,000 to $12,000 so that was out of the question for now. Honestly, all I planned to do right now was paint the cabinets. We would see how the countertops and floor looked with the new cabinet color.

So, after much thought and time on Pinterest, we decided on Sherwin Williams 7012 Creamy in Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel Satin. The first step was for me to remove all of the doors and appliances and tape off the entire kitchen, clean with degreaser, and scuff sand. I told my wife I'd be done with the cabinet boxes in 4 days...

I also removed all of the shoe molding because most of it was rotten or damaged over the years. Plus, this made taping off the base cabinets much easier. I would eventually go back with the PVC shoe molding to be more water resistant with kids and mopping.

The pros make it look really easy on YouTube, but this amount of preparation took about 3 days! I've done my share of painting projects, but never attempted something this complex before. So, I took this very seriously because I know that preparation is 90% of a quality job and I only bought the best materials since I was already saving thousands of dollars by doing this job myself.

I marked every door and its orientation as well as every hinge and its mounting hole. Popped off every drawer face and marked those as well. More on the doors and drawers later. I used a TSP degreaser mixture to clean 20 years' worth of grime off of every cabinet. For the prep work, I used 220, 400, and then 600 grit sandpaper, tack cloths, and denatured alcohol. Here is a list of all the tape, paper, and preparation materials I used with links:

  • sandpaper

  • TSP

  • tack cloths

  • floor covering

  • clear barrier

  • Zipwall system

  • Frog Tape

  • rollers

My biggest piece of advice for the cabinet boxes is to clean, sand, and tack before taping or else you'll knock a lot of tape off in the process. And trust me on this, use the best tape you can find! I spent well over $100 on Frog tape, and it stuck significantly better than other brands. I tried using some cheap tape first on the inside of the cabinets and they fell off which would've created a lot of paint blow-through into the cabinets. You can get away with using cheaper tape on the floors and walls. And make some type of ventilation system especially when priming! I used a floor dryer I had, some flexible AC duct and a lot of duct tape and ran it to the laundry room window.

As you can see, I removed the cabinet above the stove as well as the 4" granite backsplash along the countertops, and the slab behind the stove. While trying to degrease the old vent hood, I got disgusted and decided to rip it out and go with something more modern and visually appealing. In order to fit a nice pretty hood, I had to remove the 36" cabinet above the stove and modify the cabinet crown molding, which luckily, I was able to salvage and reuse. The ceiling crown molding would also have to be modified as well as some minor sheetrock work and paining. Also, luckily, I had extra paint from the previous owners.

While carefully removing the 4" slabs of granite that were glued to the sides of the oven and fridge cabinets, I decided to pull it all off and go with a nicer, tile backsplash. Removal was easy with just a razor knife to cut the silicone beads and a putty knife to slice and pry gently from behind. You see how this project is growing already! Anyway, time to spray...

Oh yeah, I needed a spray gun. I've only had cheap ones in the past but, I knew some friends that used the Graco airless sprayers, and I read a lot of good things about them, so I decided to grab the Graco X7 airless sprayer with some fine finish low pressure tips. In a separate post, I tried this sprayer out on my laundry room cabinets first and that's where I really learned how to prep and how to set the sprayer for primer and topcoat as well as which tips to use. For primer, I decided to not skimp out and used Sherwin Williams Extreme Bond Primer. I used the Graco FFLP 210 green tip which gave me a nice 4" wide fan. I did have to thin the primer a little with water. Make sure you do several test pieces and adjust the pressure setting accordingly before moving on to the cabinets.

I was amazed at how quick I sprayed the primer! I think it took longer to clean the sprayer and the gun. I watched a few pros spray cabinets on YouTube so that's why I didn't create any videos. I believe there are much better videos out there where actual professionals show you the proper techniques on how to spray so I would recommend doing the same before anyone attempts this. Overall, it was fairly easy. The narrow 4" low-pressure green tip made it so there wasn't a lot of overspray and kept it easy to control. Plenty of beer also helped!

I did one even coat and let it dry overnight and then began sanding and touching up the next afternoon. This is also the time where I caulked all of the cabinet trim and filled any holes with wood filler. I only had a couple of small sags that I was able to sand out and touch up with primer, as well as a few missed spots and holidays. I used Zinsser white primer in a spray can rather than make a mess with the spray gun for little spots. I went over everything with 220, 400, and then 600 grit sandpaper. Maybe a little overkill, but the end results were incredible! Again, go over everything with a good vacuum, tack cloth and denatured alcohol rubdown like you're prepping a hospital room for surgery. Then we were on the way to the topcoat!

Two coats later and I was done! It only took about 20 minutes to spray each coat once I had everything set up and ready to go. I waited about 4 hours between the first and second coats and did not sand between topcoats. I used the Graco FFLP 210 green tip as well for the topcoats and did not have to thin at all but did have to dial back the pressure a little. Again, it took longer to clean the equipment than it did to spray.

The hardest part for me was the lower peninsula section with the mounted door panels. These doors weren't removable and had a lot of detailed grooves on them, so spraying enough to get into the grooves without having runs was a challenge but it came out great! This just foreshadowed how much fun painting all the cabinet doors was going to be. Time to call it a night and let everything dry. I waited about 24 hours to make sure everything dried well enough before removing tape so as to not peel any paint off while removing tape.

Only four days later and my wife was able to have her kitchen back lol, so I held up my side of the bargain. In reality though, this was the easy part. The doors will prove to be way more tedious and time consuming. But I was extremely impressed with the professional finish I was able to get with the Graco X7 and the FFLP green tips. I had one or two spots I had to wet sand with 800 grit and then use a fine nap roller, but you could never tell where they were.

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