Transforming used cabinets

tomatofreakJune 5, 2014

One decision down, many more to go as we cope with this albatross of a gutted house.

We bought a set of used cabinets!!! Good quality, but obviously well used. They will require some repair and some inventive carpentry and definitely painting.

The seller had tried to talk his wife into this Rustoleum product:

Somewhere - perhaps on this forum - I had come across this one, Insul-X:

Has anyone used either? If so, how would you rate them in terms of ease of use and time spent doing a kitchen?

Obviously, I have to clean them first. Thankfully, they've been well-kept. Then, on to painting. The DH thinks painting in place is the best idea; I think I don't want to be down on the floor and prefer to paint then before installation. Granted, they might need a touch-up, but hey,... my back won't be broken. What would you do?

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OMG!!! Me! Me! Me!!!! OMG!! Pick ME!!!!!

Not only what would I do, it's what I've done and am doing. BTW. BM now owns Inslx, so don't pay Amazon for shipping.

I swear by, on my just passed mom, Inslx and Cabinet Coat. OMG. Talk about incredible paint and if prepped properly, goes on like butter. BUTTAH, I swear!!!! The thing is, you must have or learn some patience with any finish if you want it to look really good, vs. someone drunk in the middle of the night who decides to paint their cabinets with leftover car paint.

No, don't paint them in place if you can avoid it, in my experience. Which is V.A.S.T. Lie those babies on their backs to eliminate drips. Just put some newspaper on the bottoms/backs and paint. Try painting a toe kick lying on the floor. If you have pets, it's virtually impossible and a mess.

1) Do sand well.
2) Do wipe with a tack cloth, then a damp tack cloth.
3) Prime. Either Inslx STIX or really, equally as wonderful and probably more practical, is a BIN, oil-based primer.
4) Sand lightly and repeat #2.
5) Paint with your Cabinet Coat. LEAVE IT ALONE. Overnight, while you're at work, whatever, but LET IT DRY.
6) lightly sand again, and wipe.
7) One more coat and you should be in great shape.

If you're then going to hang them, I'd let them dry for at least 24 hours, because you're going to be man-handling them.

Cabinet Coat dries HARD as a ROCK, which it should, since it's made for trim and cabinetry. It's just a smooth, beautiful finish.

There are a 1000 methods, 1000 instructions, 1000 products, and everything you need to know online. This is my experience and I SWEAR by it.

I really want to see pictures, since you're right up my alley.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 5:53PM
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Let's see if I can do this....

Well, I had hoped the image would post, but this is the link to the cabinets pre-removal. I decided to bite the bullet and get 'em based on the fact that they have 3 items I really wanted - a big pantry, a lazy susan and an upper corner cabinet. They look pinkish which, I guess, is the look of "whitewashed" oak.

CEFreeman, I'd invite you out, put you up and feed you, but you wouldn't want a vacation here now; it's 110 degrees today and isn't going to let up, likely, till October. Did I mention that I. HATE. Summer. Here?!!

P.S. I'm looking for the easiest way out. Rustoleum brags that there's no prep - other than cleaning - needed. Kinda like chalk paint (that I've also never used) that is sort of prep-free.

Yep, I'll look for online videos of the products. Thank the gods, the air conditioning in that house works great. :)

    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 6:12PM
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I made this:

into this:

By following the guide linked below.

I used SW ProClassic paint and was/am very happy with it. DO NOT SKIP the cleaning part. Do you really want to just cover up the gunk and imperfections? Cleaning doesn't really take all that long if you do it with the whole batch.

And yes, paint everything before you hang.

Here is a link that might be useful: Squidoo's guide to painting cabinets

    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 6:45PM
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Wow, weedyacres, you would never know it was the same cabinet! Thanks for the link; however, I am tired already just reading about how much work this is gonna be. Still, I'll console myself with the money saved buying this rather than mid-priced HD or Lowe's cabinets. Like a few thousand dollars. :) Sigh... Those savings will soon go to floors....

    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 7:10PM
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I know chalk paint, too, which is really fabulous. Again, don't skip the cleaning part. And don't think you're going to successfully wax a kitchen cabinet then clean it without removing "that wax build-up." Polyacrylic is the kitchen and bathroom answer.

I don't know your family situation, but I just don't plan to do things in a weekend or a day. I take a step and do it. If I'm feeling frisky, I take the next step. As far as letting paint dry/cure, I just do the next step either the next morning or evening, depending upon my work schedule. When I get 'em done, I get 'em done. There is no prize for being impatient and (kinda) finishing them fast.

Floors. Now that's another story....

    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 8:08PM
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It won't necessarily be the horror work you anticipate. A good sander, the right lighting and work space and you will make fast progress. I just sanded and paonted my cabinet doors and face frames, and had I been devoted it would have taken my DH and I a weekend. We did not, however, have as many cabs as you are likely to have. :0)

I used a palm sander and 120 grit sand paper, primed with Glidden Gripper primer, and painted with Clark Kensington enamel. I am ever-so-happy with the results! HOWEVER I did not mind grain showing through my BG a matter of fact I celebrated it! Therefore I did not take any steps to fill that grain.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 8:28PM
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Oh, I can tell you, this is not going to be a weekend job. And, yes, I'm going to take the time to thoroughly clean. About that sanding: I don't have a close-up, but this pic shows the frame around the doors.

I know I've done it in the past, but that was way, way past. How do you 'sand' all those grooves in the frame? I've been using Citristrip to clean nasty buildup on door frames; can I use that on the doors or do I have to stick with a recommended cleaner?

    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 10:19PM
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I actually used Citristrip (which I absolutely love love love) to take decades of grease off my H4H cherry cabinets. But then, I was also stripping the gross, yellowed clear coat off of them.

Your cabs would be a cinch to clean, actually. Windex or even just an ammonia and water solution. I'm not a TSP believer, it having only softened paint, rather than removing what I could see was ground in dirt. Out came my Windex.

Are you going to try to fill the grain? These flat-panel oak can be rather pretty. With their white wash, you could also try a light sanding and stain with something medium, like Minwax' Provençal to dramatically change their look and color. If you enjoy the aged, rustic look.
You can experiment, and if it didn't work, you're painting anyway!

Here is a link that might be useful: TomatoFreak's Kitchen

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 7:40AM
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tomatofreak- those cabs are a steal! good luck with your project:)
the only 2cents i have is i painted a golden oak bath cab in place but took the doors off. it was long before i knew about this site so i will tell you to get a power sander (hand sanding is inaccurate and long) and i had to prime 3 coats and paint 3 coats to hide the weird orangey knot bleed through but i used kilz primer and behr paint. i know now that there are better choices!
it will be awesome in the end but plan for a nice massage appt for your aching back!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 12:39PM
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Those look just like mine!! Except mine were still the original golden oak. I used my palm sander gently on the door details and followed up with a sanding sponge.

I agree, you got a steal on those cabs! I paid about four hundred for fou
r new, unfinished ones to plug into my existing ones.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 4:37PM
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Thanks for all the encouragement; I'm gonna need it! We got them set down in the house this morning so I can see more - and closer. Ummmm..... They wiped down the outer surfaces fairly often, it looks like; but let all the grease build up on the tops and upper frames.

The interiors are yucky. Every drawer and several shelves have dirty contact paper - and you would not believe that glue! I used every muscle to pull a few pieces off and would you believe it took the 'laminate' finish off in the drawer bottoms?! I planned to paint inside the drawers, too, but without that finish, it's rough. I think I'll try a steam iron on the rest.

I am super sensitive to chemicals, so ammonia and TSP are out. I **love** the Citristrip and I even have to take a break from that after a while.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 5:31PM
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Use a blow dryer on the Contact paper (dryer in one hand aimed at paper, other hand pulling the paper up) you'll be shocked how quickly that goes. I just did 30 feet of pantry shelves, thought it'd take me a week to get that really old paper off but I was done in less than an hour.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 6:36PM
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Great tip! (Why didn't I think of that?)

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 8:57PM
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On one of the remodeling shows I saw them using a blow dryer to get adhesive-backed vinyl tiles off a floor and it dawned on me that it might work on the shelving paper the original owners had in the pantry. It was so easy I couldn't believe it, just hold it about 8 or 10 inches above the paper so it doesn't soften it up too much as you're pulling, but it's very easy and, at least on mine, didn't leave any adhesive behind.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 6:20PM
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When our old cabs came down, they had sticky grease on top which wouldn't come off with cleansers. I used a putty knife and a paint scraper and just scraped it off.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 10:11PM
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I used an amazing product called swedish brushing putty. It's a primer that fills in little imperfections and sands hard and smooth. It's not cheap, but so worth it in time saved and great result. My cabinets were dark brown raised grain 70's uglee.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 9:35AM
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I saw something about the Swedish brushing putty on TOH; it looked so difficult, I shut down the site. Was it really all that time-consuming?

And - true to form - the gadget man is pushing a paint sprayer from Harbor Freight. Seriously. He thinks it "will be quicker"; I think it will be a huge mess, plus I've never been that good with a sprayer. (Neither is he, but he won't admit it!) If I want to use the Insul-X or the Rustoleum, would it even work in a sprayer?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 3:59PM
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OK, I used the Rustoleum cabinet transformation (in black) on a bathroom vanity. I followed the instructions to a T, and it was a scary experience. The stuff just slid right off despite letting it dry for several days in between the different steps.
Sure wouldn't want to use it in a kitchen.

For the next vanity I switched to General Finishes gel stain in espresso, which was way easier and required only minimal surface preparation, i.e. cleaning and slight scuffing. So, that might be another option. They also have lighter stains, e.g. Walnut or Mahogany. See the recently revived thread on espresso cabinets, half way down.

Definitely sounds like I need to check out Cabinet Coat for my next project. Does it come it an kinds of BM paint colors, CFreeman?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 5:47PM
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Last time I bought Cabinet Coat, they'd (and STIX had) just been sold to BM.

At that point, since CC is meant for trim and cabinetry, their colors were very, very light to whites. I did have some tinted to a gray/green/sage color, but it wasn't as dark as I would have taken it. Too much tint makes the paint soft.

Now, that might have changed, given the magic BM does with paint.
I have built-in book cases planned for a Glidden 'Natural Wicker.' I'll be taking that sample up to BM, since I know it was in their color range.

I gotta tell you. Two coats of pretty much any primer, a light sand in between, then painting? Oh, the stuff goes on sooooo smoothly. (Ain't 'nuff oooooosss in smoooooth.) It really made painting and the end result almost a pleasure and definitely well worth it!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 11:46AM
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Oh, big hiccup here... I had everything measured, the kitchen absent of all previous cupboards; I had drawn up a layout to include a 36" fridge, 30" free-standing range, 24" DW and 36" sink cabinet. And I counted and measured the cabinets I bought. Guess what? I cannot fit A into B!

Right now, I'm considering trying to use them in a self-contained apartment that's part of my house and has solid wood cabs from the '50's.

However, in the interest of using them in the reno house, I could use your creative ideas. I'm thinking of looking for fillers at ReStore or Stardust - or anywhere - but it will likely be impossible to find the same doors.

Would you try to be creative with different doors, take the doors off and leave the uppers open, try to find replacement doors or shop for a whole new set of doors. (The ReStore closest to the house is running over with cabinet doors.)

Money (lack of it) is a big issue, so I have to see this project through. All ideas welcome. (And you can wag your finger if you want to; I obviously made a mistake.)

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 1:22PM
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Oh, that totally sucks.
Really, though, you wouldn't believe how many times I've measured wrong and have to become very creative. Or, I've wasted hard-earned money.

Really, tomatofreak, before anyone can suggest remedies for you, can you post pictures, your actual cabinet measurements and what you actually bought? It's virtually impossible to make plausible suggestions blindly.

In the meanwhile, I'm in the DC area if you decide to get rid of them. Sight unseen. I swear they'll go to good use! :)

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 2:19PM
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You can always look into cutting down one of the boxes and possibly even one of the doors. Young house love did it for their fridge surround cabinet and it actually came out great. They were solid doors though.

I built a cabinet to fill in part of my kitchen and had doors and drawers made to match. I ordered through Anderson Plywood and the company they use is Drees (sp?). For paint grade I thought it was really reasonable - maybe less than $13/sf for doors.

Also, if you're handy check out Ana White's site for building a cabinet if that would help.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 9:57AM
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Actually, I did the same thing in my laundry. I built a wall of cabinets out of reuse cabs, but needed a 21x18" h cabinet to fill a space. I just took a normal 21 x 30 and cut it down. I inserted a 1x2" (which comes out to be a 3/4" piece) to replace the face frame and hung this baby. It's shocking how it just looks like a normal cabinet. :)

I have yet to make the doors, but I will!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 10:18AM
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Good idea about cutting a couple down. I have no idea how I missed the fact that the over-the-fridge cab is 39" and the fridge is 36". Really, I can measure. :O)

There's also a blind corner that I don't need because I'm using the lazy susan, so that will get cut to a 24". I still have a missing base space and a vacant upper space. I've decided I'm going to get - or make - a wine rack for that upper spot. Still working on the base problems.

Lessons learned here. (Why is everything in life a lesson?!)
1) Measure the cabinets that came *out*. 2) Draw a layout to reflect that plan. 3) Make sure the changes you make fit the same space and line up - in case of the sink - with the window.

I'm sure there are more lessons to come.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 3:41PM
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For the fridge cabinet - are you converting it to a fridge surround? If you added plywood on either side and put 1x2 on the front it'd fill up that 3 inches extra. Be sure to check for your clearances though.

For the lowers could you maybe make pull outs on either side of the range? That should be easy to fill. OR I've seen some super cute open cabinets that have basket style pull outs (I think Boos makes them) for onions/potatoes.

Ikea makes some cute box style cabinets for wine. Open shelving is always nice too, especially in small doses.

I just went through all of this and I'm happy to help in any way :)

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 11:36AM
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