Kitchen cabinets (second to your kitchen table) are the hardest working pieces you have in your home, so you want to make sure and prep them the right way so your hard work of painting will have lasting durability and good results.
I’ve been working with my friend Caroline over the past few weeks on updating her kitchen some. I’ve already painted her kitchen table in Fusion Coal Black, and now I am starting to work on making over her kitchen island.
This island is huge and builder-grade boring. Caroline wants to beef it up some with custom moulding and add some contrast to her cabinetry by painting the island black.
So let’s walk through the steps I took to prep her island for its first coat of Fusion Coal Black paint.
Gather your Supplies
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Here is my trusty plastic cleaning bucket filled with all my prep supplies:
Heavy duty cleaner (I’m using TSP)
Scrubbing sponge (These are my favorites to use!)
Sanding blocks (or sandpaper) in a medium grit
Fusion Ultra Grip
Clean Cabinet Surface
Even though you may wipe down your cabinets regularly, don’t be fooled into thinking they are clean! Grease, dust, and food remnants sneakily build up on your cabinetry over time and a quick wipe-down isn’t enough to get them squeaky clean.
Removing all traces of grease, dust, and food is a really important step in your prep process. For starters, any lumps of dried food will show up as lumps under your painted surface. And second, grease acts as a resist and will keep your paint from adhering properly to the cabinet surface–plus, it’s just gross!
To clean the cabinets, mix up your cleaner according to the package directions, and scrub vigorously with a scrubbing sponge (I’m using a Dobi sponge, you can buy at any grocery store or Wal-Mart).
After scrubbing, I also scrape the whole surface with my paint scraper to remove extra grease and build-up the sponge doesn’t get. I promise, you will be amazed and how nasty your cabinets really are when you see that dark water dripping down after you scrape them!
Once your satisfied that they are all the way clean, wipe them down with a damp rag.
When I’m using Fusion to paint cabinets, I do not sand them near as much as when I am prepping to paint with a latex or oil based paint. Why? Simply because the Fusion adheres better.
A quick sanding is still important though to open up the surface of the cabinet and also remove any leftover grease buildup you may have missed while cleaning.
I use a medium grit sanding block (150) and sand quickly over the whole surface. If the cabinets are real wood, be sure to sand in direction of the wood grain. If they are laminate wood (like this kitchen island was), it really doesn’t matter what direction you sand–just be sure to get the whole surface.
Once sanded, wipe down the surface with a tack cloth to remove all sanding dust. I also find vacuuming off the surface with my brush vacuum attachment helpful in removing sanding dust that built up in the corners.
Apply Ultra Grip
Fusion Ultra Grip is 100% pure acrylic resin that you can apply to particularly tricky surfaces to help them grip paint better. It’s a product that I tend to save for my hardest to paint pieces (think IKEA furniture), but I almost always use it on kitchen cabinets.
Your cabinets may have enough grip on their own to hold the Fusion paint well, but I look at it this way: Applying Ultra Grip is like a topcoat that works from below–one extra step of durability and protection that helps protect your paint from underneath, like a topcoat protects it from above. And if I am going to go to the work of painting my kitchen cabinets, I want the finish to last!
The Ultra Grip paints on a milky white and dries clear.
Paint it on just like you do your paint, and let it dry overnight. Fusion has done time studies showing that the longer you let the Ultra Grip cure before painting on your paint makes a big difference in how much it helps with the paint’s durability.
And you’re finished with your prep!
For Caroline’s island, the prep took me about 30 minutes total. Of course, I’m only painting the back and the sides, so I don’t have doors to deal with (which considerably ups the amount of surface you have to prep). Half an hour on the front end though is going to result in a much better-finished product for Caroline, so it was time well spent!
I am waiting on some newel posts to be delivered from Home Depot in order to start working on adding the molding and trim to her cabinet. Hopefully, by the end of the week, they will be here and I can walk you through that process as well. Until then, Happy Painting 🙂