An enormous undertaking

Last weekend I came to Little Rock to my parent’s house to help my mom refinish her kitchen cabinets. They’ve been in the process of planning how to update their kitchen, and in order to move forward with the new countertops and backsplash, the cabinets needed to be redone first. They started with a quote for redoing the cabinets, but it was nearly $4,000! That sounded insane, so we thought why not tackle it ourselves?

Long story short, we now understand why they charge so much!! But more on that in a second…

In May we repainted her kitchen to get rid of the way-too-busy floral wallpaper. It started off as this…

And became this.

She’s not in love with the color necessarily, but loved that it was way less busy and decided to hold off on repainting until other changes were made in the kitchen. Once the cabinets, countertops, backsplash, and new lighting are complete they can more easily evaluate colors. We’re going with a light grey color for the upper cabinets and a dark grey for the lowers.

So here’s how it went down. My sister-in-law (and adorable niece Avelea) gave me a ride down to Little Rock and stayed to visit “Mimi” until Saturday night. We didn’t really want to work on cabinets while they were here cause we wanted to have fun. Sanding isn’t fun. On Sunday we finally got started, and a slow start it was. Simply taking the cabinets down and taking all the hinges off was a huge task! I’ve already been here for 9 days and we’ve decided to extend my visit…Take a look at these stats and maybe it’ll be clear why.

  • 55 pieces plus base cabinets to handle every time we do anything (cleaning, sanding, painting, etc.) That means if we only spend 1 minute on each piece each time that’s still about an hour!
  • 390 screws to remove to take cabinets down and get hinges off
  • 376 grooves to sand by hand
  • 156 corners on cabinet doors to caulk (plus a couple hours of caulking on base cabinets)
  • At least15 different steps (removing cabinets and bringing them outside, removing hinges, cleaning/scrubbing, sanding, a second sanding with extra fine grit sandpaper, spraying with air to remove dust, another cleaning, caulking, spackling, priming backs, priming fronts, sanding primer coat with extra fine sandpaper, painting fronts and painting backs 2 times each, reinstalling hinges, reinstalling doors…)
I think the average amount of time spent on each cabinet (39 of those) for each step is probably around 8 minutes (much longer for sanding and priming, but less to remove hinges, spray with air, etc). So 8 minutes spent on 39 cabinets 15 times is 78 hours!!! That doesn’t even begin to cover it all, though, because we also had 16 drawers and the cabinet bases that needed the same treatment. AND we had to take several breaks to buy supplies, to eat, and to rest our tired backs!

These pictures don’t make it look like much, but it’s a big kitchen with a ton of pieces!

To help keep everything straight we used masking tape to label all the cabinet fronts and the spots in the base cabinets. This way they’ll be easy to pair up when we’re finished. There are about 6 different sizes of cabinet fronts and probably 5 different sizes of drawers, so we really need to keep them organized!

Once all the cabinet fronts were off we started feeling a little overwhelmed! It looked so crazy and cluttered!

No wonder cabinet doors were invented.

Currently, we have sanded and primed everything, completed the caulking and spackling, finished the first coat of light grey paint on the upper cabinet bases, and painted the backs and edges of the upper cabinet fronts, which means there’s still tons to do and it feels like this project is just barely getting started! But we’ve already found the painting part to be easier and more enjoyable than the sanding (Is there anyone in the world that enjoys sanding??). Still, $4,000 isn’t sounding so bad right about now…

For the detailed step-by-step process, check out these posts:

Kitchen Cabinets: Prepping and Priming

Kitchen Cabinets: Painting

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