Painting Oak Kitchen Cabinetry with Chalk Paint (drawers)

September 12, 2012 Comments Off

Before reading this post, remember that I’ve done a test door and I’ve already done many of the cabinet doors. This blog post goes over making the new drawers blend with old drawers by using stain and chalk paint.

Matching Old with New

If you’ve read the other entries on the kitchen, you know we’ve made some new drawer additions to the cabinetry. I always knew we would be painting cabinetry and with paint I would be able to blend the new blend with the old. This would be almost impossible to achieve if I had planned on staining the cabinetry. Blending old with new is done easier with paint, then stain.

When choosing wood to paint, try not to pick pieces that have strong grain patterns. It takes more paint to cover this up and may even require a primer for heavily grained woods like oak. I ended up using two coats of primer before using one coat of chalk paint. That got rid of the strong oak graining on the kitchen cabinet doors and drawers.

However, when doing an addition to old, try to pick wood that is all the same type (i.e. all Aspen, all Oak, all Pine etc…) instead of mixing. This will also help with the end appearance as one type of wood acts the same during painting vs. different types may require more layers of primer.

The steps on painting the drawers are basically the same as the cabinet doors but with a few extra steps…

1.) Clean and/or prep the wood (pick one or more of the following):

~ TSP (Trisodium Phosphate): removes grime and grease. It’s found at many paint stores and is a very strong cleanser so use with care and follow instructions;

~ Krud Kutters Gloss Off:  I found at Sherwin Williams. If using Gloss Off do wear gloves as it is a skin irritant;

~ and/or sand the surface smooth using a rough grit (i.e. 80) and electric palm sander.

Black and Decker Mouse Sander

If you try to paint over the wood without any prep work your end appearance and durability of the finish will suffer dramatically. Please don’t skip this step!

Using Gloss Off, soak clean rag and wipe in a circular motion. Let dry for 10 minutes before proceeding. Be sure all grooves are completely clean of grime or build up. If you need too, use an old toothbrush to scrub the edges. I also like the fact Gloss Off doesn’t stink!

IMO the Gloss Off is a product that shines when you start to sand. Sanding with my Mouse (electric palm sander) took less then a minute per drawer and I believe the Gloss Off helped the shiny layer come off more easily as I’ve sanded without it and it took a lot more effort. I don’t need it down to bare wood but I need the drawer to accept a good priming coat.

2.) Help new wood blend with old: With the new wood drawers, I started somewhere different. I needed them to match when I distressed, so I bought some Maple Stain (on the test chip it looked the closest to the red-orange of the current stain). Using a cloth and wearing latex gloves, the stain was rubbed into the drawer fronts (two coats, drying between coats).

3.) Apply two coats of primer. I used Glidden’s Gripper in white (it also comes in gray). I use a primer because the Chalk Paint would have taken three coats to get complete coverage. 1 gallon of primer was $38; 1 quart of Chalk Paint was $38. You can see the financial logic behind using a primer!

The first coat was applied using a brush. With the first coat be sure to work the primer into any grooves yet maintain the edges as crisp and well defined, not blotchy with paint globs. This primer is thick and goes on thick.

I paint my drawers by paying attention to the edges first – this is also the most likely area for drips so always continue to check for them as you rotate the drawer:

The first coat of primer will show a lot of brush marks:

The second coat of primer was applied with a 4″ foam cabinet roller.

4.) Sand with 120 grit. The drawers were much rougher after priming then the cabinet doors were. This is probably because of the deeper grain pattern and the hard use they’ve gotten over the last15 years. Because of this,  I decided to use the electric sander before applying the chalk paint.

Do very little – just skim, with a light touch, the sides of the drawers where drips are likely to have happened and make sure the front panel of the drawer is smooth. If it distresses some don’t worry – the chalk paint or your next distressing will fix it.

5.) Apply Chalk Paint with a 4″ cabinet foam roller.

The small, old drawers only needed one coat of Chalk Paint; on the new drawers,which started as bare wood, I applied two.

Troubleshooting tips!

Drips are most likely to occur on the edges and sides of the drawers. Always do a smoothing pass over these areas before quitting the paint job.

Be on the lookout for any hickeys, blemishes, dried paint flakes that fell onto fresh paint, foam roller bits flaking off (the roller is old! trash it and get a new one), hair etc… Remove immediately and roll back over the area to smooth.

If you paint at night or dusk your light can attract bugs which will get into your paint finish.

Make sure your chalk paint is THOROUGHLY mixed! If not, you might get some gray or greenish bits of clay that didn’t get blended.

Because I was painting cream over white, sometimes it was hard to see if the cream thoroughly covered the white. Always look at your project from different angles and strong light to make sure that the last paint coat covered your base coats completely.

Chalk paint dries very fast so within the hour I could have started my final sanding. However, it was late at night so I decided to save it for the morning! Always distress when you are well rested and NOT impatient! It takes a steady hand and an eye to get it done right. If you are in a hurry, most likely you will take off too much.

BTW I did not apply Chalk Paint on the inside of the new drawers but only used one coat of primer. I’m not going to waste chalk paint on areas like the interior of drawers but I also don’t want to leave them bare wood.

When working with drawers, always use weights to keep them standing.

6.) Sand smooth and distress with 220 grit. Since I had done a smooth sanding at the end of priming, I started with a quick, light touch across the flat facing of the drawer to smooth the chalk paint and then immediately moved into distressing the edges.

Tip ~ Chalk paint makes a lot of dust! Do it in a ventilated area and you may want to wear a nose/mouth paper mask.

I only distressed the edges and corners of the drawers. Some folks also like to distress where the handle will go, simulating natural wear. For me this would have been too much distressing for a kitchen, though I think it would look fantastic on furniture.

Tip~  if your undercoats are tearing or chipping in away you don’t like, wax first, then sand.

7.) Compare your cabinet doors, drawers and facing.

Important! I learned this from my other cabinet project… If you plan on doing any distressing, you need to constantly compare the different components of your project so they match when you bring them all together (click photos to see close ups):

8.) Wax the drawer fronts (3-4times) for protection. The drawers get the most punishment in my kitchen as we open them when cooking and our hands are floured, wet, etc… and drips from the counter usually go down onto them. The cabinet doors (located on the wall, over the counter) will get only two coats of wax as most of their punishment is right around the knob.

I used the wax that is sold by the chalk paint manufacturer because I like how it glides on smoothly and is easily applied.

Waxing tips ~

Until you wax, your drawers are vulnerable to fingerprint dirt smudges and other damage. Keep them in a safe place until you can start waxing.

Wax picks up lint, dust and even eyelashes! Keep your application cloth or brush completely clean and don’t wax in the area where you are sanding.

Don’t skimp on wax. Especially be generous with the first coat.

Make sure you don’t get wax clumps in the crevices of your door or drawer profile. Wipe out these clumps with a lint-free, clean cloth.

Clean your kitchen doors and drawers with a non-abrasive cleaner.

Plan on updating with fresh wax in heavily used areas in about 2-4 years. This depends on how you clean and the wear an tear you put on your kitchen.

Remember! If doing white or cream colored cabinets do NOT use polyurethane or varnish! This will yellow.

*~*~*~*~*

The drawers have been waxed, but the cabinet unit has not. In this photo you can see the difference in the colors (drawers were installed to measure for hardware placement):

I’ve still got plenty of more painting to do!

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