To all of those embarking on redressing your kitchen doors and drawers, here is a guide on how to get the job done right.
Now, if your partner tells you that all you need do is slap a couple of coats of emulsion paint and your set to go, let me tell you that this is complete and utter rubbish! Sure, you can do this and watch the paint fall off, blister, peel, and everything else you can imagine within a few weeks, if not sooner!
Getting the job done correctly
Firstly, be prepared to spend time, a LOT of time on this project. An average size kitchen is going to probably take you two weeks to complete. Longer if its a larger kitchen. If you haven't got the time don't even start..OKAY!
If you're like the average family you'll need to use your kitchen during the makeover process so there is little point in boxing up every packet of pasta, every jar of sauce, the toaster, the microwave, etc. Instead, remove the items you're pretty certain you're not going to use, etc. and tidy up the rest of items in your cupboards and drawers so that they're not hanging over the edge of empty drawers and kitchen carcasses (more on this shortly). IMPORTANT: If you have very young children around then I'll leave it up to your common sense to remove ANYTHING that can be a potential hazard if they were to get there little hands on something. Sounds obvious doesn't it, but it has to be pointed out to some people!
On to the work. Remove all the drawer fronts and cupboard doors and put them in the area you are going to use to work on them. The garage is an obviously good area. I'll again leave this to your common sense on how to remove the drawers and doors, but most likely you'll take the drawers out from their slides and unscrew a couple of screws attaching the drawer front to the drawer carcass. Don't forget to store all the little bits and pieces, screws,etc. somewhere. DON'T use your pocket to put them in for too long or you'll end up with tiny scratches all over your legs which can be VERY painful (don't ask me how I know!)
Once you've removed all the cupboard doors and drawer fronts, remove all the hardware. YES, ALL the hardware, knobs, knockers, hinges, brackets, etc, etc. If you think you'll not remember where everything goes, take a photo with your digital camera. But, to be honest when reassembling its pretty obvious.
Once you have all your drawers and doors in the work area go to B&Q or your local hardware store and go and get some sandpaper. You're going to need a LOT of sandpaper believe me, even if you have an orbital sander. An average size door will take approx. one full A4 sheet of medium grade sandpaper! Buy the appropriate amount of medium and fine grade sandpaper that you think you'll need. Don't buy the cheapest one you can find, cheap is generally rubbish in my opinion.
If your doors and drawers are stained and varnished wood, then you'll want to sand this down to create a 'key'. A 'key' is simply a roughened surface that your primer can adhere to. Don't use too rough a sandpaper (60-120 grit is fine) as too deep a key will cause problems on the final finish. Also, ensure you wear a face mask. I know this sounds a little geeky but believe me if you don't you'll be picking dust out of your nose and coughing it up for days if you don't! If you have melamine drawers and doors do the same thing. Make sure you sand BOTH sides of the doors and drawers and of course all the edges as well!
Sand along the grain of the wood where possible, paying special attention to all the intricate areas such as mouldings, etc. Remember, if its still shiny or too smooth nothing is going to stick. Run your hands over the surface to ensure you haven't missed any areas, and that any grease has been removed.
Whilst you're at B&Q buy some tack clothes, these are very inexpenisve and are simply a piece of material with a sticky substance on them, they last for ages and get rid of all the dust from the surface of the wood.
Once you've thoroughly keyed all the doors and drawers and tacked them off its time to head back to the kitchen again. Mask (using low tack, (YES LOW TACK)) masking tape around the inside edges of the carcasses, the floor, the walls, the ceiling, etc. in fact everywhere where you do NOT want any primer / paint to go. If you're painting the tiles then you don't have to worry too much. Be attentive to the masking, primer and paint although quite thick do have a tendency to 'wick'. I'm of course assuming you'll not be painting all the inside of the cupboards but if you are then obviously there isn't much need in masking these particular areas.
So, you have all your wood keyed up and dusted off. Your kitchen has been masked off, what's next? Well, a deserved glass of wine, cup of tea, whatever takes your fancy. Sit down, relax, you've done well. Wait until tomorrow before carrying on. Its been a hard day and you need to rest!
Okay, its a new day and your eager to get cracking. Go to B&Q and get yourself some aluminium based wood primer. If your local branch of B&Q doesn't stock it go to a speciality paint dealer. Your bound to have one near you. Start off with a 2.5 litre tin and ensure you mix it really well, all the way down to the bottom, stir it for 10 minutes.....yes, 10 minutes! Using a small roller (you can buy them at B&Q, they're about 1" in diameter and have a small handle, paint tray and spare roller, all for under £2.00) prime the doors and drawers with their edges with a single thin coat. THIN, ok! Let one side dry for a good few hours before turning them over and doing the same thing on the other side. When you've done that to all the drawers and doors (check for runs in the grooves, etc.) do it again...yes, two coats is needed. If your drawers and doors are not stained then you can use standard white wood primer or if they're melamine you'll need to buy a melamine primer, available at B&Q.
Take some fine grade sandpaper and lightly sand all the surfaces to remove any spots, dust, flies, etc. that may have settled on the surface whilst it was drying. Run your hands over and ensure its nice and smooth and flat.
When done take another rest!
Now, go prime the rest of the kitchen with two coats and finish as above. When the kitchen primer has dried, remove the masking tape...why you may ask? Most masking tape after a couple of days sticks almost too well to the surface making it really hard to remove!
By now you should have a fully primed and smooth kitchen including all the doors and drawers. Now for the fun part. Go and choose your colours. If you're not entirely certain go and buy yourself a couple of quarter litre tester pots. Paint two coats (you can't tell the finished colour unless two coats are applied) to one of the larger doors and drawers you have and perhaps if you're painting the cornice and pelmets a different colour do this as well and admire your handywork. If your happy with the colour then continue painting using a good quality brush and of course the small roller. Finish the strokes with the roller off gently as this removes any ridges that may form. Don't over saturate either the brush (only the tips do the work on the brush) or the roller with paint and of course don't allow the roller or brush to drag out (meaning you haven't been bothered to go and dip them in more paint!)
For that extra special finish you may want to lightly sand down with fine sandpaper the first coat of top coat before applying the final coat. This is up to you.
When everything is dry (some paints can take a day or so or even longer depending on the finish) reassemble everything and put back your doors and drawers.
I hope this guide has been of some use to you and has perhaps saved you from a lot of heartache.