Yes indeedy — I spray-painted the ever loving crap out of my kitchen cupboards in just one weekend, and you can too. I promise!
I know I’m not alone when I say I hate painting. I do. I hate it. I hate the prep, the painting itself, the waiting between coats, and the cleanup. But the impact of paint at an economical price point? That I love.
When I decided to change up the builder grade honey oak cupboards in our kitchen I knew two things: that I didn’t want to spend a ton of time and effort, and I also didn’t want to spend a ton of money.
This kitchen will (hopefully, eventually) be completely gutted someday so this was a kind of “in between” face-lift to make it a little more cohesive with our style and the rest of the house until we are in a position to build our dream cuisine (a little rhyme for ya there). I chose spray paint for three reasons: wear and tear (spray paint — once cured — is tough as hell), effort (this was done in a weekend) and cost ($80).
I went with a semi-gloss finish, and while matte would have been my preference, I thought the semi-gloss would be a bit more practical when it came to resisting dirt and being able to really give the cupboards a scrubbing as needed. Our kitchen doesn’t get a ton of light even on the best of days, so they really aren’t that shiny. I settled on black after contemplating a nice saturated jewel tone (think emerald green) but because I was working with spray paint my choices were limited. I also considered white, but the lack of natural light (and the fact that we have three dogs and knew at the time a baby was on the way) was a big deterrent. Overall, I’m happy with the black and it suits the rest of the downstairs nicely.
Ok, this was the LAZIEST way ever to paint a kitchen, full stop. I know this. So please don’t come at me in the comments. The wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am quality of this “makeover” was entirely the point: I wanted my cupboards painted and I’d wanted them painted yesterday. The only step I didn’t cut corners on was cleaning the cupboards.
- TSP cleaner and sponge
- Spray paint in finish/color of your choice (I used Rust-Oleum semi-gloss black — I used about 8 cans but you may need more or less depending on the size of your kitchen)
- Latex gloves
- Plastic sheeting
- Drop cloths
- Painter’s tape
- Wood filler (optional)
- Spray nozzle (optional)
- New hardware (optional)
Step one: remove all hardware. I also removed the fussy molding from the top of the cupboards to try and eliminate the very “country” feel. I filled in the nail holes and holes on the drawers (since I was replacing the knobs) and sanded it down once it was dry.
Step two: clean those cupboards like your life depends on it. This is the one step I didn’t half-ass; I scrubbed the cupboards down with TSP TWICE and then wiped them down again with plain water. You want to make sure those cupboards are sparkling clean so there is no grease or residue that will interfere with the adherence of the paint.
Step three: seal off the kitchen area. Please understand that spray paint leaves a fine dust EVERYWHERE so this will get messy. (I did not realize how messy until I was finished, so in retrospect I would have done a much better job sealing the area.) I covered up everything I didn’t want to get paint on (stove, fridge, dishwasher) but as you can see I was not very careful about the countertops or backsplash because I knew I would be replacing them. Tape up the inside of the cupboards with plastic (unless you plan on painting the insides as well). I didn’t take the doors off their hinges because I couldn’t be bothered, but this is your preference.
Step four: put on your mask and start spraying. I had a nozzle from Amazon that I used so I wouldn’t get finger fatigue and it worked great. I started on the top and worked my way around, and then did the same with the bottom. I used 8 cans of paint in total and tried to use even strokes with many layers to avoid any drips.
Obviously this is a project best done when you can really allow your house to air out afterwards: not in the winter. I did this in November because I am an idiot. I opened up all the windows and had the wood stove roaring. It took about 2 days for the smell to completely dissipate, but probably would have been less if I’d been patient and waited to do this in a warmer season when I could leave the windows open 24/7.
I let the paint cure for about a week, and then I sanded down any drips I found and touched them up with a brush and can of black Rust-Oleum semi-gloss black paint. Same brand and color as the spray can, but much easier for touching up. For any spots that looked uneven, I simply did a quick roll over them to even it out. I replaced the hardware with these brass pulls from Amazon and I am thrilled with how modern it looks compared to the “before”.
I am sure I’ll get a lot of questions about how this is holding up. Well, it’s been over a year since I finished the mini kitchen face-lift and I have had zero problems with paint chipping or peeling off, and I give them a good scrubbing once a month. They are crazy durable and I am confident they will last us well into the future, until we can afford new cupboards altogether.
After I painted the cupboards, we also painted the walls, put in new countertops, painted the backsplash, replaced the sink and faucet, and changed out the light fixture (all for under $1000). It is a completely different space, in my humble opinion. You can check out the full kitchen mini-makeover here (with some better shots of the cupboard transformation!)