A few weeks ago I revealed our new white kitchen, and since then I’ve been posting about the different elements that went into our kitchen renovation (you’ll find a list of these posts at the bottom of the page). Today’s topic is our kitchen cabinet upgrade – what we did to fill the empty space above the kitchen cabinets.
Kitchen Cabinet Upgrade
I don’t know about you, but I have never really liked having that empty space above our kitchen cabinets. It’s a great place for dust and kitchen grease to collect, but not an easy place to clean. (So it doesn’t get cleaned very often, at least at our house!)
I’ve tried displaying things in the space above the cabinets. Which looks nice for a while, but then just creates more work cleaning the dusty and greasy items on display!
I knew that replacing all of the old cabinets for ones that were taller would be very expensive. Besides, the old cabinets were still in very good shape, so it seemed like a waste to replace them. I was not a fan of the oak, but knew that I could paint the cabinets white to solve that issue. So, I tried to think of another way to fill that area.
A couple of years ago, I read a post written by one of my favorite bloggers – Melissa from The Inspired Room. The title of the post was Filling In That Awkward Space Above The Kitchen Cabinets. Ahhh! The perfect solution for our dilemma.
I thought about trying to do this project myself, but I knew it was beyond my carpenter skills. We have two corner cabinets that I knew would be tricky.
So, I hired a carpenter to make the new “soffit” for us. The first thing he did was take down the crown molding that was at the top of the cabinets. We were going to try to re-use the crown molding, but it was damaged from taking it down.
The next step was to build a frame to hold the front boards. I say boards, but we used MDF for the face of the soffit. Our guy built a frame on the ceiling, and on the back edge of the top of the cabinets. He used 1 x 3’s for the framing. This way he would have something to attach the front boards to.
Here we have some of the front MDF installed.
Here’s how he handled the end cabinets.
The boards in place waiting for trim and paint. Our carpenter also suggested that we add a very thin layer of plywood to the end of the cabinets. That built them out even with the front edge, and also made it easier for me to paint, since the ends of the cabinets were laminate.
While I waited for him to come back and put the trim up, I decided to go ahead and get the boxes painted. (See below for how to paint cabinets tutorial). Here you can see where the quarter round trim will go to cover up the cracks and where the crown molding will go at the ceiling.
Next he applied a quarter round trim where the bottom of the new boards meet the top of the cabinets. He also installed the new crown molding at the ceiling.
After the trim went up, I finished painting the boxes and the new trim.
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HOW TO PAINT CABINETS
- Pittsburgh Paints Breakthrough paint (in the color of your choice)- This is the paint that we used to paint all of our cabinets, trim and most of the furniture we painted. Very durable and adheres extremely well. Our color is actually Benjamin Moore’s White that I had our local Pittsburgh Paint retailer mix for me. On the lid of the can it says the color mixture is L4.
- Oil-based primer that has stain blocking in the title.
- TSP Liquid Substitute cleaner
- Dust mask and/or respirator
- 100 grit sanding block
- 220 grit sandpaper
- Tack cloths
- Painters’ tape
- Painters’ tripods – you could also use paint cans or boxes
- Nylon/polyester paintbrush
- Paintable caulk
- Small paint trays
- Wooster Shortcut paint brush
- Whizz 4″ microfiber roller with 3/8″ nap
- Whizz roller handle
- Small felt pads
I’ve created a step-by-step video to show how to paint cabinets, and I’ve also included written instructions under the video:
The Prep – There are a lot of preparation steps before you can start priming and painting. Don’t get discouraged! Doing them will help you have a great painted finish on your cabinets.
- Empty cabinets and drawers, and number each cabinet. Put the same number on the corresponding door or drawer
- Remove the doors and drawer fronts. Put the tape with door number in the hinge hole after taking off hinges, so that it doesn’t get painted.
- Remove the knobs or handles.
- Tape off the inside of the cabinets and any wall areas next to cabinets with painters’ tape.
- Use dropcloths to protect floors and counter tops.
- Scrape any pads off the backs of drawers and doors.
- Clean the cabinet boxes, doors and drawers with TSP Liquid Substitute cleaner. Following the directions on the bottle. I like to rinse with clean water, and dry with a dry cloth.
- Sand the cabinet boxes, doors and drawers with 100 grit sanding block or sandpaper to get the shiny finish off. If you have laminate on the sides of the cabinet boxes, sand carefully so that you don’t go clear through the laminate finish to the particle board underneath. I recommend wearing a dust mask or respirator.
- Wipe the sanding dust off with a tack cloth.
The Priming – Priming your cabinets with a good stain blocking oil-primer will help to keep any staining from the wood cabinets from showing through to the painted finish. If you have laminate sides on the ends of your boxes and you’re using the Pittsburgh Paints Breakthrough paint, then you can skip this priming step on the laminate surfaces.
- Lay the doors and drawers flat. Use painters’ tripods or something else like paint cans to lift the doors and drawers off of the painting surface.
- Paint the cabinet boxes, drawers and doors with the oil-based primer using a nylon/polyester brush. I like to do the backs of the doors and drawers first. Let them dry, and then turn them over and prime the fronts. Be sure to paint in the direction of the grain of the wood.
- After the primer is dry (usually around an hour, but read the directions on your primer), lightly sand all of the cabinet boxes, doors and drawers with a 220 grit sandpaper.
- Caulk any gaps in the cabinet doors or boxes with a paintable caulk. Let the caulk dry for 20 minutes.
The Painting – Finally, we’re ready to paint! Again, I highly recommend using Pittsburgh Paints Breakthrough paint. They aren’t paying me a penny to say this, I really love this paint! It’s held up for us extremely well – very durable.
Again, I like to paint the backs of the doors and drawers first, let them dry, and then turn them over and paint the fronts.
- Put some of the paint in a small roller tray. Using the Wooster Shortcut paint brush, paint any areas of the cabinet boxes, doors and drawers that will be hard to paint with the roller.
- Using the roller, paint all of the rest of the surfaces. To prep the Whizz roller, use a piece of tape to get the extra lint off. Also, get the roller slightly damp.
- Let the paint dry for 2 hours.
- Apply a second coat of paint to all of the cabinet boxes, doors and drawers. Following steps 1 – 3.
- Apply a third coat of paint to all of the cabinet boxes, doors and drawers. Following steps 1 – 3.
- Let the cabinet boxes, doors and drawers dry for at least 24 hours, and then re-hang the doors and drawer fronts. To protect the cabinets, apply felt pads to the backs of the doors and drawers.
- Put the knobs or handles back on the doors and drawers.
I absolutely love how the cabinet upgrade turned out! No more dusting and cleaning that hard to reach spot, and the white painted cabinets make the kitchen seem so much brighter and bigger!
Here’s what we changed in the kitchen (and the posts with further details):
I’m joining these parties!