InDIY & Home Improvement, Home Projects

Retro Kitchen Revamp Progress: How to Easily Paint Cabinets

There is a magnitude of tutorials on how to paint your kitchen cabinets. Pinterest is flooded with them as every second Home & DIY blogger have painted their kitchen cabinets. This is due to the fact that it is so easy to completely transform your kitchen on a minimal budget with paint! But I could not find any advice on how to paint my 1970’s baked enamel kitchen cabinets.

Our 1970’s kitchen has baked enamel cabinets (This is similar to powder-coated steel). We needed a very specific primer, so I contacted the Red Paint Shop. They exclusively sell Plascon products here in Pretoria, and they gave me the best advice for baked enamel / powder-coated kitchen cabinets. I always go to them for advice on paintwork, and they never let me down. If you’re in Pretoria and need painting advice, go check them out.

If you missed the first post of our Retro Kitchen Revamp, be sure to check out the full before tour here.

Retro Kitchen Revamp - Yellow cabinets |

Note – This is not a sponsored post, and the links provided are not affiliate links. I’m simply providing the links to Plascon and The Red Paint Shop for convenience. All opinions are my own.

How to Paint Powder-Coated / Baked Enamel Cabinets

  • Polycell Sugar Soap for cleaning all surfaces before painting
  • Newspaper and Painters tape
  • Spraypaint in the colour of your choice – we used Rust-Oleum Oil Rubbed Bronze
  • Sanding Paper
  • Good Quality Paintbrushes and Foam Rollers
  • Epiwash Strontium Chromate Primer (AW 255) – an epoxy primer recommended for use on various steel and aluminium applications
  • Plascon Velvaglo in the colour of your choice – we used Fynbos Leaf & Nomadic Dream
  • Turpentine (for brush cleaning)

We divided our kitchen into two parts, to have more manageable chunks to work with. As we both work full time, we had to do the work in the evenings but were able to complete one part of the kitchen per workweek. We did not use painters tape during the priming or painting stages. Marinus has a steady hand with a paintbrush, so he went around with the brush for cutting work and edges, and I did all the roller work. I’m so thankful for having someone to do DIY projects with, and we make a great team.

Day 1: Spray Painting Cabinet Handles

The handles in the cabinet doors are recessed, plastic and brittle. The 40-year old plastic would have broken into pieces if we tried to remove it, and we can’t exactly replace them. We considered a couple of options but settled on spraypainting them for an updated look.

We removed the doors from the cabinet frames to make the work easier. I first cleaned the handles properly with Sugar Soap, to remove grease and grime. Then I taped off the handles with newspaper and painters tape before spray painting the handle with two light coats of Rust-Oleum Oil Rubbed Bronze.

Painting handles |

Updating the handles made such a big difference to the cabinets already! The old beige blended with the cabinets, and this high-contrast look made the handles pop!

Handles painted |

Day 2 & 3: Surface Preparation and Priming

On day two, we also cleaned the cabinet doors and frames with Sugar Soap to remove grease and grime. We then sanded the surface lightly with sanding paper, focusing on the rusty spots and made sure to remove all loose particles. After wiping it down again, we started with the primer on day three.

The Epiwash Strontium Chromate Primer is a 2-part primer, which has to be mixed together. It has strong fumes, and should not come into contact with skin, so we wore the necessary safety equipment as specified and made sure our workspace was well ventilated. It also cannot be cleaned with normal turpentine, so it is easier to use less expensive brushes and rollers for this step and discard them afterwards.

Primer |
We did not think it was possible, but this yellow primer made it look even worse in our kitchen

Day 4 & 5: Painting Your Kitchen Cabinets

On days four and five, we painted the doors and frames with two coats of Plascon Velvaglo, oil-based enamel paint for interior use. It is chip and scratch-resistant and ideal for use in kitchens. We used the colour Fynbos Leaf for the cabinet frames and sides and Nomadic Dream for the doors. I chose greys, not because it was a fashionable colour but because I’ve always loved grey. I wanted to keep the retro look with the two-tone cabinets, and love how it turned out!

Doors lined up for painting |

As with the primer, Marinus painted all the edges and cutting work with a paintbrush, and I painted the larger surfaces with a foam roller. The foam roller worked great, it eliminates paint bubbles, and we were able to get a smooth finish. We did not paint the insides of the cabinets, it was a huge task we were not willing to take on, so they will remain the cream colour.

Framework painted |

When the paint was completely dry, we put the doors back on. We painted one section in the first week and could then move onto the next in the second week. We are so happy with the colours and pleased with the result. The guys at The Red Paint Shop ensured me that we do not need to use a topcoat, as there is nothing you can use over the Plascon Velvaglo paint to improve its adhesion. So no topcoat necessary!

We painted these cabinets at the end of 2017 and still no scratches or chips in the paint. This kitchen is our main traffic route from inside to outside and has seen many bikes, bats, toys and little feet, and the paint has held up beautifully!

Cabinets done |

My Notes on Painting Your Kitchen Cabinets and the Next Steps

Before and After look |
A good before and after comparison

Painting your cabinets is a relatively easy and budget-friendly way to update your kitchen. But do your research on the correct method and products to use, it is worth the effort. Do not rely on the internet only, but also contact local suppliers for advice.

  • We cleaned the handles and cabinets properly to remove all grime and grease
  • And we also sanded the surfaces to promote better adhesion of the primer
  • We primed using a suggested primer suited for our application
  • And lastly painted two coats with a paint suited to the application
Retro Kitchen Revamp - Design Plan |

I love this Retro Kitchen Revamp mood board! We wave completed numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5 (and 6 is just our existing oven)! The next step will be to paint the wall tiles. Check back soon for that post.

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Before and After, How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets
Junette |

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