Cathy and Garrett Poshusta live in a farmhouse in Ellensburg, Washington, and, since 2014, have been chronicling their renovations on their own home and rental properties in their blog, The Grit and The Polish. While juggling parenting three young kids, Cathy and Garrett do things like paint their pantry cabinets in a weekend. Their can-do comes from hands-on experience: “the farmhouse is the ninth kitchen with cabinets that we’ve painted,” says Cathy, “and with each, we’ve learned a lot.” They kindly agreed to share some of their tips with us. And for more details, go to their own tutorial.

Photography courtesy of The Grit and The Polish.

Materials

  • primer: Cathy and Garrett used Zinsser Bulls Eye 123 Water-Base Primer because it’s what they had on hand; they recommend getting advice at the paint store on how best to cover the surface in question.
  • paint: The Poshusta’s used Benjamin Moore Advance in Simply White.
  • small detail brush
  • smooth-grit sandpaper (150 or above)
  • smooth nap roller and roller tray or wide brush (it’s a matter of preference: the roller leaves a slight texture; the brush leaves brush marks)
Fixing up historic houses—and sharing their finds—has become a way of life for Cathy and Garrett.
Above: Fixing up historic houses—and sharing their finds—has become a way of life for Cathy and Garrett.

Step 1: Prep

Remove the cabinet doors and drawer fronts—and free them of any hardware. If painting already painted or wood-finish cabinets, clean them well and then sand them: “we usually take the door and drawer fronts outside, put on a mask, and lightly sand them with a palm sander [a hand-sized cordless sander],” explains Cathy. “We lightly sand the cabinet boxes in place. The goal is to scuff the existing surface, NOT remove it. This will allow the primer to adhere better.”

After removing every speck of dust, apply primer: Cathy primarily used a roller but kept a brush and rag on hand. &#8
Above: After removing every speck of dust, apply primer: Cathy primarily used a roller but kept a brush and rag on hand. “I prefer the look of hand brushed but it’s a lot slower so pick your poison.” If painting cabinets a dark color, she recommends tinting the primer—”in case of scratches down the line, you won’t see that coat below it

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