Posted by on Dec 14, 2012 in Renovation | 3 comments

We all know that a fresh paint of coat on the walls of a house can completely change the feel of a home.  It is the number one thing you can do to change the appeal of your home for the money you have to spend.  Most people never think about transforming their old oak cabinets in their kitchen or bathroom because they believe it would be too expensive or too much work.  There is an easy and inexpensive way to change the look and feel of your kitchen or bathroom.  I recently took some oak furniture, a dresser, mirror, desk and headboard and gave them a new dark espresso finish.  This same process can be used on all of your dated looking oak cabinets.

Things you will need:

Old socks

Disposable Latex Gloves

Gel Stain – Java

Top Coat -Polyacrylic

Painter’s tape

Painter’s pyramid (optional)

Screw Driver

Tack cloth

TSP or Degreaser

Step 1:

Remove all the existing hardware and remove your door panels and drawers from your cabinets.  If you are transforming your cabinets make sure you use painters tape to mask off walls that you don’t want to paint.  Also use a painter’s drop cloth or plastic sheet to protect carpet and flooring.  Since I was changing the finish on my furniture pieces, I did all of my work in the garage.

Mirror Before

Headboard Before

Step 2:

Degrease your cabinets/furniture with a degreaser. TSP is an example of a degreaser. Spray it on a cloth and clean all the surfaces of your cabinet.

Don’t spend a whole lot of time on this step, you are just trying to break apart dirt and grease.

Step 3:

A light sanding on each face of the wood is needed to take the shiny top coat off of the surface and will help the new gel/paint to adhere properly. Don’t be intimidated by this step.  I used a palm sander with 180grit sand paper to lightly sand each surface.  I only spent about 20 seconds per drawer face.  If you don’t have a palm sander you can use a sanding block.  Again we are not trying to sand down to the wood but just remove part of the finish. (You can see my palm sander in the image above.)

Step 4:

You will have created some dust from the sanding process. You will not have created a lot of dust but you will need to clean the surface with a tack cloth or dust cloth.

Step 5:

This is the fun step in my opinion. Get a disposable latex glove and a men’s old sock. The glove will protect your hand from getting colored.  Put the glove on and the sock over the glove and dip your fingers in a small amount of the gel.  This gel goes along away and only a small amount is needed.  Please remember for this first coat you are not trying to completely cover the surface. The first coat will look streaky but please refrain from trying to use too much gel as your first coat is laying a base for your second and third coats to adhere to the wood.  Some people might prefer to use a brush but I find that a sock allows me to quickly cover the surface, not show brush strokes and get in to most crevices and joints. If you need to get to the hard to reach spots use a disposable foam brush.  A helpful tool is the painter’s pyramid that will allow you to cover both sides of a cabinet door instead of painting the back side letting it dry and then painting the front 12 hours later.

As you can see in the pictures the first coat will appear streaky but it will look better after the next two coats.

Step 6:

Wait at least 12 hours to put the second coat on.

Step 7:

Wait at least 12 hours to put the third coat on.

Step 8:

Wait 3-5 days to allow the gel to completely dry. Now you are going to cover your cabinets with a clear top coat.  This coat will protect your new finish and give a gloss to your cabinets.  Again you can use the latex glove and sock method if you are trying to avoid streaks. Obviously you are not using the same glove and sock, please use a new glove and a different old sock.  The most important part of this step is to make sure the whitish liquid top coat does not drip or pool up in any spot. If the clear coat does pool up it will not finish clear but will have a milky white tint to it.  You may or may not have to apply a second clear coat, if you do please wait 12 hours for the first coat to cure.

Step 9:

Reinstall your cabinet doors and install some new door handles and enjoy your new space in your home.

I don’t have pictures of this dresser before but I think the after picture show what can be achieved.

I have yet to decide if I want to add some hardware to these drawers but I know that a simple metal pull will make these old oak furniture even more contemporary.

Here is some cabinets that I transformed with a similar process.

Cabinets Before

 Cabinets After

Hope all of you DIY people out there will have fun with this project.

(Please know that I used links to Amazon in this post for convenience only and I am not receiving any referral fees)