Refinish a cabinet with paint and stain, and get the “chalk paint” look for the price of regular latex paint.
There is a wonderful thrift store in John’s Creek called The Hope Store. I find all kinds of goodies there.
Like this cabinet, that I scored for $30.
We bought this pretty soon after we bought the house. Having tons of extra space, and all sorts of crap that needs stored, a cabinet seemed like a good idea.
At first, we were going to try to turn it into some kind of litter box house. Our town home is larger than all of our old apartments but the rooms are arranged weirdly. So the only two places we could reasonably put a litter box were the living room or my office (the sun room). For a while, it was in the living room. But I got so tired of our newly refinished wood floors being covered in litter (it would just be awful if the cats couldn’t fling litter all over the place, right? -_- It’s even a covered box, how are they still doing this?), so I moved it to my office. MUCH better.
Since the cabinet wasn’t being used to house litter, I decided it no longer needed alterations (I would have had to cut holes into it and whatnot). So I set to refinishing it. A coupe weeks later, I’ve gone from this:
Here’s how I did it!
Some of these photos were taken with my iPhone, because it was far easier than dragging my real camera outside. Plus, I forgot. 😛
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How to Refinish a Cabinet with Paint and Stain
- orbital sander
- sand paper (60 grit and 220 grit)
- chemical stripper (optional, but recommended)
- Zinsser 1-2-3 primer
- 1 quart of paint (Sherwin Williams “Softened Green” in satin)
- Americana Deco Art Creme Wax
- stain (Minwax Weathered Oak)
- polyurethane in satin
- staining brushes
- lint-free rags
- cabinet paint rollers
- paint trays
- fine grit steel wool
- cabinet knobs (optional)
Step 01: Before I even had a color picked out, I knew I wanted a stained top and a painted base. So I dragged the cabinet outside and set to sanding. I didn’t do this, but I would HIGHLY recommend using a chemical stripper (if you can stand to) to make the sanding easier. I hear great things about Citri-Strip…namely that it smells like oranges. 😛 But you should still use it in a well-ventilated area.
Step 02: Once it was all sanded, I experimented a little with wood stain. I chose “Weathered Oak” and put a very thin coat on just to see if I would like it. I did! So that’s what stayed. 😛 However, I didn’t completely stain the top at this point, because I wanted to paint the bottom. I didn’t want to have to sand and restain if I accidentally got paint on the top (which I did). So I finished staining last.
You may notice here that the crease on the top of the cabinet is gone. Yeah, I accidentally sanded the wrong spot and then went, “Huh. I bet that would be pretty and also make my life easier.” It was both. I sanded the whole thing away and
Step 03: Still hadn’t picked out a color, but I had Zinsser Bullseye 1-2-3 primer on hand, which sticks without sanding. I would recommend giving a light sand if you can stand it, BUT I didn’t. The reason I didn’t sand was because I’m fairly sure the only bit that was real wood was the top. And I think that’s only partially true, anyway.
I’m not going to go into too much detail on the priming because you can read the back of the can for instructions. But basically, I put a thin (VERY THIN) coat on with a paint roller, waited an hour, and put on another VERY THIN coat. I didn’t want to risk this not drying properly, so all of my coats were thin. It takes longer, but it’s completely worth it. I wound up putting on 8 coats of primer to completely cover that dark stain.
Step 04: The primer can says it takes about a week to completely harden. Which was perfect, because I STILL hadn’t picked out a color. I knew I wanted green, just not what shade. So I moved the cabinet back into my living room and let the primer cure for a week and sat with paint chips. It took me about a day to figure out I wanted “Softened Green” from Sherwin Williams.
Those knobs were hideous and did NOT stick around, btw. I just hadn’t found knobs I liked yet.
Step 05: Once the primer was done curing, I dragged the cabinet into my office (because it had been raining on and off) and started painting. It went WAY faster than the priming. I used three coats of paint. And then I used Americana Deco Art Creme Wax to protect the paint. Which is how I got the chalky finish without the expense of chalk paint, by the way. 😛 Wax is a little expensive, but it doesn’t take much to cover. I used two coats and still have a ton left over.
Step 06: Once I was finished painting, I put two (REAL) coats of Weathered Oak on the cabinet top. Minwax stains are pretty easy to use. Slap it on evenly with a brush, give it 15 minutes, and then wipe off the excess with a rag. I know some people will say you should ALWAYS use a rag…but there’s no reason for that to be true. When it comes to the types of stains you have to wipe off anyway (and yes, you DO have to.
You can NOT let the excess dry on top of the wood, it will be sticky forever, or worse, it will peel right off), it doesn’t give you that much more control over the color (want it to be lighter? Don’t let it sit and penetrate the wood for as long as the can says to). Also, it takes longer and is generally messier. So I use a brush. (However, if you’re using Polyshades, there is a trick to it.)
For more information on staining, check out my 10 Tips for Staining Wood.
Anyway, once I was happy with the shade and the stain was 100% finished drying, I used a sponge to seal it with polyurethane in a satin finish. Now, the back of the poly can says to mix the poly, but NOT to shake it. The reason for this is because bubbles will develop and you’ll have tons of them when you apply it to the stain (meaning, little white bubbles all over your pretty stain). The only other option is to stir, which doesn’t do the job as well.
…I shake the can.
I know I shouldn’t, but I’m sanding in between coats of poly anyway (using fine grit steel wool), so those bubbles are getting sanded right out. And the poly will settle before I do the next layer. So I shake for the first round, sand out the bubbles, and stir the poly before use after that.
Don’t use me as an example. For best results, follow the instructions on the can. 😛
Anyway! I slapped on four coats of poly, reattached the doors, then added some knobs I got from Lowe’s. It came out BEAUTIFULLY.
This is the first piece of furniture I’ve refinished where I had a general idea of how I wanted it to look. It didn’t come out exactly as planned, but it’s still WAY better than the original.
It’s amazing how much brighter than end of the room is with this paint color.
Also, I loved the weathered oak SO MUCH, I saved the rest of the can and I’m going to use it to redo my cedar chest. Again. Because the paint got scratched when we moved. And I’m sick of the color. 😛
Let me know what you think! And out of curiosity, have any of you mixed stains together? Did you like how it turned out? Let me know all about that, too. 😀