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Painting Cabinets with Chalk Paint

Can you paint your kitchen on your own? Sure you can! But read my other blog on painting cabinets before you start so you know what is involved and how to prep. As far as what kind of chalk paint I paint with, I have been using AS paint the most. You have lots of options these days though.

It is not like regular paint at all so you need to be aware of how to apply it. And realize the mess that will come with this paint:)

Here is an article on how to use Annie Sloan chalk paint.

1. Clean the cabinets really well. I like using Krud Kutter. I also do a cleaning with denatured alcohol/water mix. Rinse. If more scrubbing is needed then I use baking soda in greasy spots. Then make sure you rinse off all the cleaners with warm water. If you don't like using chemicals then you could use vinegar. You just have to make sure you get off all grease/food/oils etc. And yes, rinse off all the cleaners with warm water before moving on.

2. Light sanding. Just a quick light sanding, not sanding down to the raw wood. Make sure you brush off all the dust. You can use an old big paint brush to brush off all the dust. Then use a tack cloth right before painting to make sure you got all the dust.

3.Priming. Often cabinets need priming. Use a good stain block kind of primer like BIN. If your cabinets are NEW then maybe you don't need primer. Otherwise, always prime. Let's put it this way - it is NEVER wrong to prime. Priming always helps paint. Something to remember is if you want to distress then you should not use a white primer. Another option is shellac by Zinsser. Use the clear shellac. I very often use shellac as it is a fantastic product to prevent bleed through. Priming helps with bonding/bleed through/odors. Your paint needs to adhere.

You want to make sure your cabinets have all been properly prepped for the paint. I know people say you don't have to do any prep with chalk paint, but with kitchen cabinets you have to do all the proper prepping. It is very important! Kitchens get all sorts of splash, splatter, grease, food, etc on them and you need to make sure all that grease, grime and splatter is cleaned off. Otherwise all those markings will show through your paint. Especially grease. You are going to be putting a LOT of work in to your cabinets so you don't want to have all that paint and time go to waste when the paint won't adhere or start chipping off because you did not want to prep them first. SO make sure you prep them! Read my blog on working with chalk paint

Something you need to know about chalk paint is that it is very different from regular paint. It dries very fast. As you are laying it down, it is drying. Which means you cannot go over and over your strokes. Lay the paint down, then move on. If you keep going over and over it you will see it dragging. That is because it is a very matte paint (yes, chalky) and it is drying that fast.

I use mostly natural bristle paint brushes and small low nap rollers (mohair or velour) or the sponge rollers. It all depends on the humidity and the color of the paint. Have a low nap roller and a sponge roller on hand and see which you like to use. The issue with the sponge rollers is that they soak up so much chalk paint, but they leave less markings. I roll where I can and do the rest with the smaller brushes. You will see lines with chalk paint and that is why I sand this paint. It smoothes out the nap marks and the brush marks a bit, but not totally. Some people dip their brushes in a tiny bit of water, then in the paint. You can also spray your surface with some water to help with smoothing the paint. It does help the paint go on smoother when you use water. You can also add a little bit of water right in to your paint which helps smooth out the paint as well. Although I find spritzing the surface or dipping my brush in a tiny bit of water works better. As far as the brushes go I use natural bristle brushes. The AS stockist sell Annie Sloan brushes you could use. Or get them from an online retailer. Just test out which ones you like. I find I don't like the regular kind of paint brushes (for latex paint) with chalk paint as it slides right off - it does not lay down properly I find. So any kind of natural bristle or the brushes that are a mix of natural and synthetic. You can find brushes on Amazon or at a stockist.

**Practice first. Get some doors from the Habitat Restore and practice**

You will need at least 2 coats of paint (3 to 4 coats for white). I place my doors on those little yellow pyramids for the painting. Click here on this link for the pyramids that I use. Once you have done all the prep,(prep needed) start painting. Let your first coat dry. It will look terrible. That's okay. It always does. I always start on the back side. Paint it then turn it over and paint the front. I always let the first coat of chalk paint sit 24 hrs. before putting on the 2nd coat. Once it dries, take the doors outside and start sanding them down. You want to do just a light sanding. This is to smooth out all the lines and nap marks. You can use sanding sponges or 400 grit paper or 220. If you don't want any distressing then stick with the 400. Once the sanding is done on all of them, brush off all the dust really well. I have a big old brush I use for removing all the paint dust. It works great! Bring them all back in and put them on the pyramids. Use a tack cloth to wipe any other dust, right before you paint again.

Now lay down your 2nd coat. You will be using the roller and a small brush. Once you have done the back and front of the doors, take them out again to be sanded. You don't want to skip this part. If it looks like 2 coats is enough, be careful with the sanding that you don't take off too much paint if you don't want any distressing done. Distressing will naturally happen when you are sanding. But the only way to smooth out lines is to sand. Just repeat everything now. If you need a third coat, do that. The lighter colors like the whites often need at least 3 coats of paint, sometimes 4. See the photo below of how I get covered in paint dust. This happens at least two times during the process! Make sure you wear clothes that can get dirty. If you don't want to sand then just remember that you will see the brush marks.

TIP FOR SMOOTHER SURFACES- if you want more of the modern look, smooth with no distressing, I recommend using an oil primer first. Match the oil primer to your color. I know Benjamin Moore can color match their primer to your paint. The primer I like to use from BM is Fresh Start oil based primer. Apply your primer, let dry, then dip your brush in a tiny bit of water to paint. The easiest way to make sure you don't use too much water is to spray some water on a paper plate. Then dip your brush in that puddle of water, then your paint. This will help with the paint going on smoother for your coats of paint.

Once everything is sanded and cleaned you want to seal it all. You have some options here: AS wax, General Finishes High Performance top coats (they have different sheens-I prefer flat) or Artisan Enhancement sealers (they have 2 options) or the Modern Masters sealers. If you are painting with pure white then the only sealer I can recommend for not yellowing for sure is the clear wax. Otherwise, use a waterborne alkyd paint that does not require any sealers if you want pure white. I have painted many kitchens and sealed with wax and have not gotten complaints. It is work, but hardens really well. If you like to spray your cabinets with cleaners though, then don't wax. Read my blog on chalk paint and wax so you know how to work with it. If you are going to wax, you want 2 coats of wax. I always wax one coat and let that sit 12-24 hrs. before doing the 2nd coat. Now if you are using dark wax though to age, go ahead and do that about 12 hrs after your clear coat has cured or wait the 24 hrs. You will need white rags, cheesecloth like rags, waxing brushes, the wax, and mineral spirits to mix in with the wax (just a tiny bit, if you are using dark wax) and to clean your wax brushes. I go between small wax brushes and a large one. Like the other blog says, you want to work in sections. Rub the wax in, take it off. Working in small sections is key. You are applying the wax with your wax brush, then rubbing it off with your old t-shirt rag. Keep doing this in sections. It is like you are buffing along the way. You shouldn't feel any tackyness. The white t-shirt rags that you are using to rub the wax in, you want to throw them away once they feel hard. (You can buy white t-shirts from Goodwill and just cut them up). I actually go through a lot of these rags with one kitchen. After 24 hrs you can go back and buff with your cheesecloth like rag (or another clean t-shirt rag). Buffing is like rubbing all that wax in one more time. The more you buff, the shinier the wood gets. So if you don't want too much of a satin look, buff less. The buffing rags last much longer because you are just buffing, there should not be any wax left at the buffing point. If you don't want to wax then just seal with one of the acrylic sealers mentioned before. With the other sealants, I recommend at least 4 coats for a kitchen. With AS wax you only need 2 good coats.

Once you are done your 2nd coat of wax (or your coats of sealant), the door is finished. I always like the doors to sit and least one week before I install them on the cabinets (unless you are working with the BM paint). Wax actually takes 30 days to totally cure. That doesn't mean you can't touch the doors. It just means you have to be careful for the 30 days and let that wax harden. You need to be careful around hot appliances with the wax for the first 30 days - don't turn your dishwasher on too much around your freshly waxed doors, etc. Water based sealers also need to cure, but not quite as long as wax.

I have lots of how to videos on my YouTube channel.

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