Chalk Paint®Tutorials

Tips to Cabinet painting with Chalk Paint®

By August 18, 2016 No Comments

website-header-top-10-kitchenTop 10 Tips when painting your kitchen cabinets with Chalk Paint®.

Painting your kitchen cabinets will absolutely transform your entire kitchen.  Your friends will think you got all new cabinets. It really is amazing the difference paint makes.  Even after years in this business, I still get giddy when I watch the transformation unfold.  I flip back and forth between the Before and After photos in awe and amazement.  It is so much Fun!

What’s not fun, is running into snags while painting your kitchen cabinets, and I’m not talking about the times you will accidentally dip your paint brush in your coffee cup (yes, you too will do this), I’m talking about the stain bleeds and brush marks that will drive you crazy if you don’t know the simple tricks to prevent or fix them.

Let me help.  Here are my TOP TEN TIPS when painting with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint®.

Tip #1 Pick the Right Product for the Job

When painting furniture or cabinets I use and recommend one brand of paint, Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan. It will adhere without sanding or priming, has no VOCs (bad chemicals), is odorless and dries really fast.  The finished look when sealed with the Annie Sloan soft wax is an elegant matte finish.  I’ve found no other paint that works this well and gives this elegant of a look.  That doesn’t mean there aren’t other options on the market.  Though, I wouldn’t suggest using just regular latex wall paint.  You will find that it does not adhere well.  If you are going to paint furniture or cabinets find a product with excellent adhesion properties for the specific job of painting wood, or whatever your surface is made of.

Tip #2 : Label All Cabinet Doors & Hinges During Removal

Remove all doors, hinges and handles when painting, but before you disassemble your kitchen label and map your doors.  Sometimes during installation cabinet doors or hinges are modified to fit their particular space.  Be sure to have a system to identify what goes where before you take it all apart.  We label the cabinet doors inside the hinge hole if you have the inset type, since this area won’t be painted or write the number in the hinge space and cover with scotch tape so it is visible once you complete painting. Then we set the hinge directly inside the cabinet they came off of, on the shelf closest to their home. That way when it is time to install the hinges, they are right where you need them.

Tip #3 : Clean Cabinets Well, Paying Special Attention To High Traffic Areas

Kitchen cabinets are dirty, grimy and sometimes greasy.  Yours are no exception. (Don’t worry, your neighbors’ cabinets are dirty too.)  This is the nature of kitchen cabinets. First, give extra attention to the high traffic areas around the door pulls, this area tends to get all gummed up. Using a razor blade, scrape these areas clean and give a light sanding with a 36 grit sanding block. If you have other areas that are caked with grime or have flaking varnish or paint, you will need to sand this clean before painting.  It is not necessary to sand the cabinet to make the paint adhere, but sanding can be a way to remove grime and crud.  Once you’ve sanded away the crud, wash with hot water and some dish soap.  Note of Caution: If you move to an industrial cleaner like a TSP, be sure to rinse the cabinets very thoroughly before proceeding. You must remove all the TSP chemical before painting.

Tip #4 :  Seal Potential Bleeds and Chemical Stains with Shellac

If you are painting your cabinets a white or other light color and you have previously wood stained cabinets, you need to be aware that the past stain may mix with your new wet white paint and cause a yellow or pinkish tint called a bleed. In order to block this stain from bleeding through, you need to apply shellac to create a solid barrier.  I recommend Zinsser Shellac.  Another bleed you may encounter is the dreaded tomato sauce bleed (tomato sauce is ruthless). Splattered tomato sauce is caught in the wood grain of your cabinets and after painting you see dots of pink.  Do the same and seal them in with shellac so they can no longer bleed through your paint.  You may also encounter a surface that has been cleaned with Pledge repeatedly or has had some other type of chemical spilled on the surface. These items too can interact with you paint and require that you shellac your surface in order to block the reaction.

Tip #5:  Apply Enough Coats of Paints

The current trend in kitchen cabinets is white and the typical cabinets being painted are a golden or dark oak.  So, be aware that going from dark to light will take 3-5 coats of paint.  It is just the nature of working with white paints, regardless of the brand.  There is no pigment to block the below color so it takes more layers to hide the original color.  Know that when working with Chalk Paint® you want to be extra certain your surface is completely covered because applying the wax can sometimes make the paint more translucent and you can see where you don’t have enough paint.  So take the extra time to put on that final coat.  We find the magic number typical lies around four coats.

Tip #6: Use water to soften brush marks

Water is your friend.  You’ve been painting for a few hours and your brush is drying out and your can has been open a long time and some of the water has evaporated, and now your paint is pulling and leaving brush marks you don’t want.  Water to the rescue!  Don’t let the paint dry and hope to sand away the brush marks, this will leave you tired (and dusty).  Simply add some water to your paint can to thin the paint, or dip your paintbrush in some water and smooth over the problem area. As mentioned, Chalk Paint® is water based and thus, the paint will lay right down.  “Good Paint. Such a Gooood Paint, Yes you Are.”

Top #7 Paint Indoors and Keep Drafts Away

I know it is August in North Dakota and you want to enjoy the last days of summer, but the warm temperatures and nice calming breeze will wreak havoc on your paint.  Get it out of the sun and the wind, or it will dry faster than you can apply it.  There is no odor to the paint.  Go inside, stay cool and enjoy.  The same goes for winter time when you are painting in the garage and the heater is blowing directly at you.  You may experience cracking in your paint because the warm draft is making your paint dry too fast.  Ideally you want to work inside, in a well lit area away from any drafts.

Tip #8:  Wax Like You Are Applying Lotion To Your Skin

You are not the Karate Kid and this is not a car.  Do NOT think you are going to apply a layer over the surface and come back later to remove the excess.  You won’t remove the excess because it has gotten too hard and you will feel like karate chopping your cabinets.  Instead, think of it this way.  You are rubbing the wax down into the pores of the paint, smoothing it in the direction of your brush strokes and they wiping away, or off, any wax remaining on the surface. Kind of like if you were rubbing lotion into you skin.

You can use either a wax brush or a lint free cloth to apply wax.  I prefer a lint free white cloth.  I feel like I have more control that way. A cloth like that old ACDC t-shirt of your husbands (from the 80’s). That one. Cut it up, do him a favor and wax on.  You will need to switch sides and change out rags as you go along.  You may even wear holes in the rag.  If you do, you are waxing like you should!  You are pushing the wax down into the pores of the paint instead of laying it on top.

Tip #8b :  Wax Evenly 

You can visibly see where the wax has been applied. Be absolutely certain that you have gotten wax down into all the pores.  Sometimes starting in a circular motion first (going with the grain second) helps to work it down in.  If you notice spots that are less shiny or look like a different color you have not applied wax everywhere.  Go back and apply more wax to those spots.  Working with natural light or in a real well lit area helps.

Tip #9 : Wax Again

Once you have waxed all your cabinet doors and drawers come back the next day and run your hand over them.  How do they feel?  Are they really dry?  This means you may need to add a second coat of wax.  Your wood has soaked it all up and you want to make sure the surface is sealed to protect from dirt and spills.  Paying special attention to the most used doors and drawers.  Those certainly need an extra coat if they feel dry and can absorb a second coat of wax.  The way upper cabinets you seldom use, should be just fine with one coat of wax.

Tip #10 :  Wax is your Friend for Fighting Scuffs 

You can use wax down the road to remove scuffs, scrapes or dirt from your cabinets.  You will find that sanding with a medium grit sanding block will remove dirt but also you can take additional clear wax to the surface, that will also help to remove stuck on grime.

For more tips and tricks check out our most recent Facebook Live Video and remember you can always contact us with your questions.  Better yet, bring in a cabinet door to one of our stores so we can give you tips on painting your cabinets. Lastly, if you want to roll up your sleeves with us, sign-up for the Kitchen Cabinet Workshop we have coming up.

Have fun painting and remember to take a before photo so you (and us) can see what you’ve accomplished.




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