Monday, June 16, 2008

Simple Ways to Update Your Kitchen: Part 1

Sad. Neglected. Pathetic. If these words describe your kitchen, but you don’t have the budget to change them, don’t give up hope—there are many simple, low-cost ways to improve your kitchen and make it feel loved again. Even if your kitchen hasn't had an update this decade or last, you can still give it a make-over that will "wow" even the toughest critics.

A dramatic way to show your kitchen some love is to give some attention to its cabinets. Painting is a cost-effective alternative to cabinet replacement and takes only a little time and effort. Preparation is key for this project, and, consequentially, the most time consuming.

Begin by removing all drawers, unscrewing the cabinet doors from their hinges, and taking off all the hardware. Paint can be messy, so make sure you protect all your work areas including taping the walls around the cabinet frames where you don’t want stray splatters. Remember, prevention is easier than cleaning up a sloppy mess.

Traditionally, rigorous sanding is the next step in this process, but because modern day advances have produced the miracle of liquid sander, this step is remarkably painless. The directions on the label are simple and easy, and the results are just as effective as those achieved by the old fashioned sander. This step is crucial for spectacular results, because roughing up the wood ensures a strong bond with the primer and, ultimately, the paint.

The next step is priming the cabinet surfaces. A good primer will guarantee an enduring finish on your paint by providing the perfect foundation for a coat of paint. It adheres more strongly than paint to surfaces and covers flaws and imperfections that would show through otherwise.

Once you have your cabinet doors, drawers, and cabinet frames prepped, the last step is painting. When choosing your paint color, keep in mind the countertops, floors and other surfaces in your kitchen and coordinate accordingly. Two coats of semi-gloss or eggshell paint (for a washable surface) should be more than adequate for properly prepared cabinets.

Make sure you allow enough drying time before replacing doors and drawers. It can take up to one week for the paint to cure to a point where it won’t stick and mess up all your hard work.

Once the paint is dry, and your cabinets are back in place, consider replacing the hardware for some extra dazzle. If this is beyond your monetary means, a great alternative is spray painting the existing hardware in a metallic sheen. Before painting, take a wire brush and clean vigorously to remove caked on dirt and provide a better surface for the paint to adhere to. Don’t forget to replace or paint exposed hinges, too.

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