Thursday, December 29, 2016

How I refinished my cabinets

I have seen a lot of information out there on how to do this. Before I started my project, I spent hours researching it. I've had a lot of people ask me how I did it, so I decided to condense my knowledge into one post.

We bought this house as a foreclosure. I loved the tall cabinets, but the cabinets were in rough shape. They were filthy, and the finish was wearing off in the areas that were touched often.

any guesses on how this happened? I'm at a loss.

 The very first thing I did was clean everything. I have a steam cleaner, but I felt that it was making the wood mushy and wasn't really doing a great job, especially on the areas where the finish was worn off, so I stopped using that. After that, I used an orange based cleaner that said it was good at degreasing. I felt like that really helped clean off the years of built up grime.

Next, I removed all of the doors and the hinges. I left the hinge in it's corresponding cupboard so that I would know where it went. Some people talked about how their hinges were specific to that cabinet and not interchangeable, so I was cautious. As it turned out, my hinges didn't care. In the groove where the hinge was, I labeled each door with where it belonged. The upper cabinets got letters and the lower ones got numbers. I started at the far left and worked my way around. It made putting the doors back up much, much easier. I wrote those notes in sharpie, then used a little bit of painter's tape to cover it. This served two purposes- it kept paint out of the groove (which would make the area smaller) and it protected my notes.

Once the doors were removed, I inspected each one carefully for damage. One door had the picture frame coming away, so I reglued with wood glue, and clamped overnight to dry. The holes and divots were filled in with a wood safe spackle.

Because I didn't know if the previous finish was water or oil based, I needed to prep the surfaces before painting. I ultimately decided to use an oil based primer that was compatible with water based paint. My pick was Zinsser Cover Stain. I ended up buying two gallons, but not only did I paint my kitchen cabinets, but I painted a 60" bathroom vanity and 4 more cabinets that were in the laundry room. I still have about 3/4 of the second gallon left over. Because I was painting my cabinets white, I did not tint the primer. However, when I painted yet another vanity black, I did tint that as dark as I could.

 I taped around the edges of the boxes so that I wouldn't have to deal with weird edges. We were planning to paint the walls, but I just felt it was better not to have overlap. The boxes here are prepped and ready to go.

I applied two coats of Zinsser Primer to the boxes and the cabinets, letting each one dry at least 18 hours before applying the next coat. I used a small roller for the most part, with a brush for the insets on the doors. The doors took longer because I had to let each side dry before I could turn them over.

My research led me to the decision that Benjamin Moore's "Advance" paint line was my best bet for my cabinets. It's a thin paint, which means it's self leveling. That means that you're not going to notice individual brush strokes, as it will settle itself. I chose the semi-gloss finish because I felt it was scrub clean easier, without being weirdly shiny. Did you know that Benjamin Moore has over 50 shades in the "white" category? I eventually settled on "Cotton Balls." Ultimately, I did 4 coats on the front and 3 coats on the back. I used a foam roller for everything other than the indented part, which I used a regular brush for. I noticed a lot of bubbles that I had to go back and pop. In talking with an expert, a foam roller is much more likely to create those. If I were to do it again, I'd use a very low nap traditional roller instead of a foam roller. After painting, I waited 24 hours before flipping over or doing another coat.

Once I was done painting, and had let the paint cure for a day or so, I put drawer pulls on the handles. I felt like paint would not hold up to the oils in the human hand as well as a stain, and that metal drawer pulls would decrease contact with the cabinets. I found these lovely birdcage pulls at Amazon and bought enough for the house. I also bought "pop out" drawers for the false drawers at the sink so that I could store sponges there. This photo shows the after. Once the new granite counters were installed, I reinstalled our cupboard drawers. I also installed the back splash, which was quite easy (definitely easier than it looks, but another blog post). The other improvements we made to this room were that we painted the walls and ceiling, and we took out that awful flourescent light and installed LED can lights and the three pendent lights. We also ripped out the improperly installed tile and put in "wood tiles", which look like hardwood, but have the durability of tile.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Back to School

Today the younger two went back to school. I can't believe how quickly the summer flew by. I swear they only had a week or two off. We did get to do a lot of fun things. S spent a week at Girl Scout horse camp. We spent a week at Zion National Park. We spent several days at Yellowstone National Park. We camped at a lot of local places. We swam. We hiked. We star gazed. We watched a lot of movies.

Their school requires uniforms. In theory, I don't like uniforms because I like to see my kids express themselves creatively through clothes (like the time when Z was in kindergarten and wore gray pants and a gray shirt and told me he had tricked me with the "No Costumes at School" rule because he'd dressed up as a rock). In practice though, when I'm walking around their school, seeing all of the kids in the uniform is almost too adorable to bear.

I see the first day of school as a milestone. I haven't gotten too weepy over my own children going back to school in a while, but seeing all of these darling children in uniforms, the impossibly tiny kindergartners and their parents trying to hold the tears in will almost make me lose it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Minecraft Lunch Box

My kids have gotten into Minecraft in a big way. It seems like all of the kids nowadays love it. We're getting ready to go back to school, and S announced she wanted a Minecraft lunchbox. All right, given the popularity, you'd think that'd be easy. Nope. Evidently she is the first kid in the United States who had this idea. Not one to be discouraged, I decided to create one for her, and I'm pleased with how it turned out.

I didn't want to deal with sewing something like this (I HATE sewing zippers), I went to the local Wal-Mart. In the sporting goods department, I found a soft side soda cooler. It says it has a four can capacity. $4.97. I bought a couple containers of acrylic paint- two shades of green (I have white and a black at home, so I could create slightly lighter or darker shades).

 Once home, I used a seam ripper to remove the rubber penguin logo off the front. Then I used a ruler and pencil to make lines on the box. I used painter's tape to block off the eyes and mouth of the Creeper.

Painting the Creeper- I mixed some white or black paint with the greens I bought to give more color variation, but still have overall tone family match.  Then, I painted each square a different shade of green. The nice thing about the pixelated Creeper is that there's no particular pattern or order. As long as I didn't have two squares exactly the same color next to each other, it looked about right.

Once everything dried, I coated everything with a couple layers of mod podge to give the paint a bit of protection. Kids can be rough on their lunchboxes and I didn't want the paint flaking off after a month or two.

I'm pleased with how it turned out, and my total cost was well under $10.