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Do you want to know how to paint dated oak cabinets in your home? Or really any dated cabinets, they don’t have to be oak. We recently painted our dated oak cabinets in our bathroom and I am thrilled with the results. It really updates the look of your cabinets without the cost of replacing them. Paint and hardware can go a really long way for giving you a new look on a budget.
I will start out by saying that there seem to be a 101 tutorials out there for painting oak cabinets and everyone seems to have a slightly different take on them. The difference with oak cabinets over another type of wood is that oak has very deep grain. This poses a bit of a challenge if you want to hide the grain completely. Just painting without using a filling technique will leave some of the grain showing.
I researched ways to fill in the grain for a embarrassingly long amount of time and found these articles that were super helpful in finding a grain filling technique. If you want to go this route I will point you in the direction of Google because we did not fill in the grain (cue the horror)
Mike didn’t want to try and fill in the grain so we tried a different approach to painting. This was not our first cabinet painting rodeo. We painted the kitchen cabinets in our last house and they looked fantastic but we also learned a lot along the way. If you want to see my horrible blog pictures from 2011 check out the post here.
Our last cabinet painting effort was using latex paint, with a foam roller over an existing painted finish. They held up for about 5 years but then started to chip around the cabinet handles we used the most.
This time around we went a different route. We have a ton of experience painting furniture and have been trying out new types of paint and techniques that leave an amazing finish. Mike wanted to put the least amount of paint possible on the cabinets to leave the finish smooth so he treated the cabinets like he would treat a piece of furniture. The cabinets came out great with this technique and I can barely see the grain.
Supplies we used:
Click through for sources
Let’s start out with some before pictures
Now on to how to paint your dated oak cabinets
First mark the cabinet doors with a piece of painters tape and number them so you remember where they came from. Then remove the cabinets doors and hardware. If you are using any of the existing hardware mark which door it went to as well.
Next use your painters tape and tape off where you don’t want to paint. For us this was the inside of the cabinet and also the back of the doors. We decided to leave the back of the doors unpainted since they were in good shape and less painting means less chance of chipping and sticking. Plus two tone wood and paint is totally our jam. Totally optional to go this route.
Next wipe a deglosser on all the cabinets. Deglosser acts like a liquid sandpaper to get some of the existing finish off. Our cabinets were in good shape so they did not require sanding but if you have an existing painted finish or rough spots you should sand.
If you want to change out the cabinet hardware and need to drill new holes, now is the time to fill in the existing holes with wood putty. Fill, let dry and sand until smooth. Repeat if needed. To avoid this step, buy hardware with the same hole spacing so you do not need to drill new holes.
Make sure you have a good place to lay out your cabinet doors and drawers. We used a drop cloth on the floor in our spare room and also a ladder for extra drying space. Paint the cabinets with a natural bristle brush. Let dry and paint up to 3 coats depending on how you like the coverage. The Benjamin Moore Advanced paint is very thick and did a great job covering. Two coats covered nicely but we put on a third coat to help fill in a little more of the oak grain. In between coats use the 3M stripping pad to sand out any bumps. This stripping pad is like a really fine grain sandpaper. It helps to keep the finish extra smooth by giving it a light sanding. Run your hand along the cabinet and feel for bumps to know where to sand. Stop sanding once you have a smooth finish.
While you are painting the cabinet doors you also will paint the cabinet frame. Repeat the same painting process as the cabinets.
The next step is optional but will give your cabinets extra durability. We decided to add a topcoat for two reasons. One, we bought semi gloss paint and it was a tad bit shiny for our liking. Two, we wanted an extra layer of durability on the cabinets to help them last. Benjamin Moore Advanced does not require a topcoat but with our furniture painting experience we find that it helps to prevent chipping. Apply two coats of the topcoat with the natural bristle brush. In between coats sand with your 3M stripping pad with the same process as you used for the paint.
Now that your cabinets are painted it’s time to reattach them. We used the existing hinges but opted for new handles. I bought the handles from Amazon because the prices are amazing but ended up with two different colored handles so we spray painted them with Rustoleum oil rubbed bronze to match and also match the hardware color in the rest of the bathroom.
Once your cabinets are reattached and your hardware is on, remove any existing tape and you are done. Enjoy your beautiful new cabinets and pat yourself on the back for learning how to paint dated oak cabinets.
I’ve got a post coming with more pictures of the rest of the room plus a cost breakdown of how much we spent on this bathroom makeover.
Check out my other posts related to this bathroom makeover:
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