Saturday, March 26, 2016

Kitchen Remodel: Part One

Our Recent “Cabinet Transformation"

By, O.J. Harman


For a while now, my wife and I have been planning on updating our kitchen.  Our house was built in 2005 and while it’s not quite “dated,” the existing vinyl floors and contractor grade oak cabinets are showing their age.  Over the years, cooking, spills, and even boiling water (long story…) have taken their toll on the cabinet finish.  We wanted to stick to a strict budget and pay things in cash as we went along.  I know my limits of DIY and even some light carpentry so with that in mind; we started the “Transformation.”

While buying a couple cabinets for my laundry room remodel, the Home Depot guy mentioned a customer raving about a Rustoleum product called “CabinetTransformations.”  After some online research into what was involved, we decided to give it a shot.  It’s far cheaper to refinish than to totally replace cabinets that may be a bit worn, but are structurally sound.  I will only summarize the steps here and discuss my methods for doing this work.  There are numerous videos, web sites, and reviews out there so you can get more information than what I can convey on this short post.

The kit comes in both large and small sizes and in a light and dark kit.  One thing to bear in mind is that you need to choose your color and have it tinted at the paint department before you leave the store, just like any custom paint.  The down side is that there are very small pictures on the box that show the different shades so it’s kind of hard to get an idea of how it will look in real life.  For our application, we used one large dark kit.

Initially, you want to remove all your doors and drawer fronts.  I made a map of what door went where and numbered each door and put the hardware into ziplocks that were numbered to match the doors.  This made reassembly much easier.  I also highly recommend marking the edges of your hinges on the cabinet frames.  I used an awl but a nail would work too.  If you make the mark well enough, it makes it easier to line up your doors during reassembly and it eliminates the need to adjust doors when installing them.


1     Deglossing- This step takes the place of sanding by using a green scrubby pad and the deglossing solution from the kit.  This still scuffs and cleans the surface all in one step.  This was the most annoying and time consuming step in my opinion.  Given this is the first step of a long process, you realize early on the hell you are now in…

Bond Coat- This is essentially putting the color coat down on the doors, drawers, and frames.  You have to do this twice to provide the coverage you need.  Some people online said they had to do more than two coats but I didn’t.  The color will look very flat and you may doubt your decision but you have a couple more steps to go before you decide to abort this foolhardy mission and just spend the $10-$20 grand on new cabinets….  One thing to note here as well:  A common thread through all the research I found was to use good brushes.  You will have brush marks but it’s what helps the subsequent coats stick better.  Also pay attention and follow the grain pattern.

      Glaze Coat- This is listed as optional, but I highly recommend doing it.  This really makes the grain pop and some cabinets with the particle board ends will look better with the glaze.  After you bond coat the ends of the cabinets, they will show no grain at all (since they don’t have any…) so when you glaze you can actually put the grain-like streaks into the finish so it’ll look like wood when you’re done.


          Top Coat- The kit comes with a can of clear polyurethane that many online did not like since it dries way to fast to work with.  I didn’t even try what was in the kit and purchased the Minwax water based clear satin poly.  I used 3 coats and lightly sanded between coats with 400 grit sandpaper.  The can says 220 grit…don’t do it…it’s too aggressive.  All I did with the 400 was swipe over the areas in one direction with the grain and it was enough the smooth it out and prep for the next coat.  You can use a foam brush on this step too, but be aware it can introduce bubbles into the finish so keep that in mind.
I won’t lie and say that this was an enjoyable project start to finish.  Some people online said they did it in a weekend, but this took me over a week and a half (counting time if I worked on it all day every day).  There is a lot of time waiting for stuff to dry and you should take your time so it turns out nice and without any runs and drips.  I had a few areas that I wasn’t overall happy with, but most would be hard pressed to find them.  

In the end, I think they turned out great though.  I’m not one to sit back and say how awesome a project turned out because I tend to be pretty critical of my work, but given the amount of work I had to put in to doing this job, I’m going to declare victory this time.  It really changed the look of our kitchen and one of my first comments was “Gee, this made our crappy black appliances look good.” Once I was done, I had about ¼ of the color coat left, about ¼ of the glaze left, and half a bottle of deglosser left.

I will say that I’m glad that chore is over.  Now it’s on to floor tile, countertops, and backsplash.  These tasks are left to the professionals.  Like I said earlier, I know my DIY limits.  Overall, my best advice should you choose this impossible mission:

 Expect it to take a while to do this…don’t rush it.
·         Use good brushes
·         Use the Minwax clear polyurethane
·         Number your doors, drawers, and hardware
·         Watch the videos online on how to do this
·         When finished, stand back and declare victory for all your hard work 


      Ginger Note: I am really proud of my husband's hard work. Not just in the home but with his career. He really is a great provider and handyman. Oh and Part II.... Kitchen Flooring! 
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