How to spruce "update" your kitchen without major renovation

Posted by Anthony Giangrossi on Apr 13, 2016 3:00:00 PM

The homeowner for this project wanted to spruce up the kitchen without doing any major renovation or replacing the cabinets. So we came up with a plan to remove the wall paper, repair the walls and paint all surfaces including: walls, ceiling, trim and even the kitchen cabinets.



First in the process was to remove the wall paper and prep the walls for painting by the following process:

1. There were two layers of wallpaper that were removed but there remained a layer of wallpaper glue that needed to be removed. We added two cups of DIF wallpaper remover to one gallon of warm water and applied to the glue with a wet sponge. After the first application had soaked into the glue was dry we applied another coat of wallpaper remover and while the glue was wet we used scrapers to remove the glue. Keeping the wall / glue wet makes the removal process much easier. Drag the scraper down the wall and avoid pushing up or across as that will cause damage to the walls.


2. After the glue was completely removed the walls were primed with one coat of Insl-x Stix bonging primer. Priming the walls prior to patching will bond any loose areas and make all of the imperfections more visible. Once the primer dried (one hour) the skim coating process of the walls can begin. Skim coating is different from patching in that the entire wall surface will be covered (skim coated) with patch rather than applying patch to imperfect areas here or there on the wall. The base skim coat is applied with USG Sheetrock DuraBond 20 using a 12” plaster trowl. The 20 stands for the working time (15 minutes) of the patch before it starts to dry (harden) and can’t be applied to the walls. The DuraBond is applied from top to bottom and left to right across the walls as to provide a level base coat. The base coat provides a very smooth level finish that little to no sanding is necessary that allows for the first of two tops coats to be applied. The drying time of the base coat is approximately 4-6 hours depending on temperature. After the base coat is completely dry the middle (second) skim coat is applied directly over the base coat with USG Sheetrock Lightweight Setting-Type Joint Compound Easy Sand 20. Using the same application process described above for the base coat. The second skim coat drying time is also approximately 4-6 hours and once dry the final top coat can be applied using the same products and application.

3. Depending on how smooth the skim coat has been applied will determine if wet or dry sanding is necessary before priming. If there are medium to thick edges of patch, dry sanding is necessary with 100cc sand paper to smooth out the edges and then sand all surfaces with 150cc-180cc sand paper to provide a nice smooth finish. After the sanding is complete wash the walls with lukewarm water to remove the dust prior to priming. If the walls are not washed the dust that remains on the walls will create a rough surface after priming is complete. If the patch edges are small to none then wet sanding with a sponge will smooth out the patch to ready for priming.

4. The final step in the wall restoration process is apply two coats of the wall color chosen for the room. After the first coat of paint is applied (roll with 3/4” 50/50 Wooster nylon/polyester lambswool nap) and dried (1-2 hours) it’s time to take another look at the walls for any imperfections that need minor patching. After the minor areas are patched, sanded and cleaned make sure to spot paint those areas with one coat of the wall color. This will provide a uniform finish when the second (top) coat of paint is applied. The wall paint color that was chosen is Benjamin Moore Pale Moon (289).

During the wall paper removal process and painting of the walls the ceiling and trim surfaces were prepped and painted. You want to complete all work in the room prior to painting the cabinets as to keep the dust to a very minimum. Now that all of that work was completed the next step in the process was to prep and paint the kitchen cabinets.....


The kitchen cabinets were an off white that had started to yellow over the years. The homeowner wanted to paint the walls a soft shade of yellow and keep the cabinets the same color. I recommended to change the cabinet color to a standard white that will work nice with the soft yellow wall color and provide an updated modern look. The final decision was made to paint the cabinets white and what follows was the process:

We removed all of the doors and drawers from the base of the cabinets to prep for priming and painting. All existing hardware was removed and put back when the painting was complete. All of the cabinet surfaces were sanded with 120cc sand paper to roughen up and smooth out any blemishes on the surface . After that all surfaces were cleaned with wet rags (no cleaner) to prepare for preparation. All imperfections were filled with wood filler or caulk. After both dried all surfaces were sanded and cleaned again. Now that preparation was complete all surfaces had two coats of Fine Paints of Europe Hollandlac White Brilliant finish applied with foam rollers to provide a factory sprayed finished look. Dry time between coats is 14-16 hours as the product is an oil-based enamel. After the paint dry the cabinets were reassembled and hardware put back on. Attention to detail is very important when using the Hollandlac product since it's on oil-based enamel and does not apply, set or dry like other oil-based products.

Overall the homeowner was ecstatic with the finished look and could not believe how "updated" the kitchen looked without doing a major renovation.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog and hopefully you found the information helpful on how to spruce up your kitchen without doing a major renovation.

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