How to Caulk Your Bathtub

I’m going to be honest. This post is not going rank real high in the excitement category. There’s no clever re-purposing, admirable up-cycling or stunning transformations. But this post is a must if you’re a homeowner. Caulking is today’s topic. Or more specifically, re-caulking, which is even higher on the yuck scale than caulking.

My son, Ross, mentioned that he needed his bathtub re-caulked. And I’m always looking for projects to post about, so here we go. There’s a right way and a wrong way to re-caulk…this I’ve learned from experience. And I can pass my nightmare experiences on to you so you can avoid making the same mistakes.

Here’s our before picture. The caulk in this bathtub had cracked over time and had mildewed, turning this once almond-colored caulk into a lovely shade of apricot. If you don’t replace caulk that has cracked, water can seep into the cracks, and you can have rotting behind your tub. This can also turn your bathroom into a penicillin factory. And no matter how clean your tile and tub are, it’s hard to feel clean after showering with mildew growing at your knee caps.

How to Caulk Your Bathtub / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Those of you who aren’t really into home improvement projects may be wondering if you can just caulk over the nastiness. Yes, if you like to caulk. Because you’ll be caulking over it again and again within a short time because it won’t adhere for very long to the old caulk. Then when you come to your senses and decide you’d better remove all the caulk and start again, you’ve got three times the caulk to remove. Not to mention it looks ridiculous when you pile layers of caulk on top of each other. If you’re going to do something, do it right the first time (per my HGTV idol, Mike Holmes).

So we begin by using a couple different tools. We use a utility knife to cut through the old caulk, being careful to hold the knife flat against the tub so as not to scratch it. I’m not going to lie. This really isn’t all that fun. Caulk can be pretty stubborn as your knife rolls right over the top of it, slashes it, sinks into it and chops it like a freaking Ninja, only to discover that it looks untouched after all that slicing and dicing. It just sits there. I would compare the frustration level to that of trying to open one of those produce bags at the supermarket. You just gotta keep plugging away.

 How to Caulk Your Bathtub / HomeStagingBloomingtonILg

Then we use this super-nifty razor holder to do a little more detailed cutting and cleaning. It works like a charm to clean off the tile and the top surface of the tub.

 How to Caulk Your Bathtub / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Caulk Your Bathtub / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Once we remove all of the old caulk, we give everything a good brushing with an old toothbrush to get all the crumbs out of the cracks and off of all our surfaces. Getting all the old pieces of caulk cleaned up is important because particles that end up in the fresh caulk will be pretty ugly. Once crumbs get in the fresh caulk, there’s no way to remove them unless you wipe off the caulk and start again.

Here’s the area after the caulk has been removed, and the surfaces have been cleaned and dried. Caulk will not stick to dirty or wet surfaces (old caulk classifies as ‘dirty’ the way I see it).

 How to Caulk Your Bathtub / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s the caulk Ross bought. We actually took a string of the old caulk to the hardware store so we could get a color match, and the color “almond” is spot on!

How to Caulk Your Bathtub / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Important tip; be sure to get water-based caulk so you can wipe it with water to spread it, and so you can easily clean up any excess. And just as important; be sure to purchase caulk that is meant for bathrooms, so it will resist mold and mildew. Years ago I caulked my bathtub with some caulk that I had on hand. It wasn’t made for bathrooms, but my finished job looked beautiful with the bright, white caulk I used. It turned black within a month or two. Then guess what. I had to start all over again. (Mike Holmes would have made an extra trip to the store and bought the right stuff in the first place.)

A caulking job will be much less of a mess if you don’t cut the hole in your tube too big!! Start small. You can always cut the hole bigger. If you apply more caulk than you need, it makes a horrible mess. The smaller the crack, the smaller the hole you need.

How to Caulk Your Bathtub / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Also note that the cut needs to be at a 45 degree angle.

 How to Caulk Your Bathtub / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

A tip if you’re purchasing a caulk gun is to make sure you get a gun with a poker on it, so you can poke a tube that hasn’t been used in a little while to get your caulk flowing again. I’m also not a fan of the guns that you have to push a button to stop the flow of caulk. It’s much easier to just stop squeezing the trigger. This caulk gun is the best one I’ve ever owned.

How to Caulk Your Bathtub / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

When we caulk, we hold the gun at a 45 degree angle so our angled cut in the tube fits flat against our surface. If we don’t hold the gun at the correct angle we’re gonna know it. Our bead of caulk will come out in pieces and won’t adhere properly. It should be one beautiful, steady, intact bead, not a bunch of little worms.

How to Caulk Your Bathtub / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

We move the gun at a slow but steady pace, squeezing the trigger gently and consistently. Then we smooth the bead with a wet finger asap. We caulk only one side of the tub at at time, smoothing the entire length of each side of the tub without lifting our finger. If you lift your finger before smoothing the entire length of each wall, you’ll have a lap mark where you stopped and started.

Caulk sets up very quickly, so we don’t dilly dally with the smoothing! We keep a container of water to dip our fingers in for smoothing. If we don’t have water on our finger, the edges of our bead will be jagged instead of nice and smooth. The edges of the smoothed caulk should disappear into the surfaces being caulked.

We keep a couple of rags nearby to wipe our hands. We don’t want to get caulk on our clothes because if we do, it’s there to stay.

Caulk has to stay dry anywhere from 24 to 36 hours after application, depending on the brand. That being said, you may want to shower before your caulking job if you only have one bathroom–or you could just go the stinky route if you’re mad at your family. I know someone who was getting their only bathroom remodeled one summer, and they would go outside after dark and take a bath in a wading pool in their back yard. I’m not promoting naked back yard kiddie pool bathing, I’m just throwing out some options.

So that’s all there is to it! It probably took two of us about an hour or so from start to finish for this little project. It looks so much better. Here are our before and after pictures.

How to Caulk Your Bathtub / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Caulk Your Bathtub / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

If you’ve never caulked before, no worries! If you’re a homeowner, you really should learn because I promise caulking is in your future. This is one of those DIY projects that nobody should be afraid to try. Reason being, if it turns out not-so-great, with your bead all layered-looking like frosting on a cake (don’t laugh, I’ve seen this more than once), never fear. You remove it, and try again. There’s enough caulk in a tube to caulk a bathtub several times, and a tube of caulk costs roughly $5. There’s quite a range of prices on caulk guns, but be warned that you get what you pay for when you’re talking caulk!

I was mortified when I started as an apprentice painter, and found out that caulking was going to be a routine part of my job because I had tried it before. I remembered years prior watching our siding guy caulking our window trim thinking how easy it looked. Well…I was in caulk up to my elbows, literally, when I tried it for the first time. What I didn’t know was that it just takes a little practice. Cut a small hole in the nozzle, smooth with a wet finger and all will be well.

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom

This space above my toilet has been speaking to me for five years now. What’s it been saying, you may wonder? It’s been saying, “This is wasted space that could be a functional, show-stopping, toilet-paper-holding, chachki-displaying extravaganza.”

DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I must agree with my talking space. I’m not a carpenter by any stretch, and although I’m comfortable with power tools and know how to use them, let me assure you this is a very simple project that can be done with basic carpentry skills. And to top it off, I’m a girl! If I can do this, so can you.

Bathrooms never seem to have enough storage, and this is a great way to add some. I happen to have a linen closet in this bathroom, so I’m not really needing more storage, but pretty much anything would be more visually appealing than air.

I had some time off work when the weather here in Central Illinois was a record-breaking 25 degrees below zero with wind chill, so it was the perfect day for a project like this one. Needless to say, I brought my miter saw into the house, and totally made a mess so I didn’t freeze my patootie off in the garage. Seriously, I set up this saw on my kitchen table and let the sawdust fly. Who does that? (Thanking God for my laminate flooring.)

DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I already had some scraps of bead board in my garage, so I just had to purchase some 1 x 8’s for the shelves and outer box, and some casing for trim. I’m a painter by trade, so I already had paint, caulk, primer, brushes, etc… With that in mind, this project cost me $15.75. It’s true, ladies and gentlemen. You can make yourself some sweet, mind-blowing storage for mere pennies.

To start this project, I decided to cut a piece of bead board plywood about 1/4″ smaller than the recessed area over my toilet since I’ll be trimming the shelving unit out to cover any gaps. No need in my mind to make it fit so tight that I have to ram it like a linebacker to get it to fit in the space. Since walls are rarely straight, and to assure myself that I could avoid the linebacker situation, I placed the cut-to-size bead board where it was going to go before building the shelving unit to fit the bead board.

I did actually hold the plywood up to the ceiling where it’s actually going to be mounted, but couldn’t do that and take a picture at the same time. That’s why it’s hanging out on the toilet tank in the photo. (Imaginations, please.)

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I cut four pieces of 1 x 8 to fit the bead board, and made a box out of them using simple butt joints. This shelving unit is only going to need to be sturdy enough to hold things like toilet paper, towels and pretty stuff, so there’s no need to reinforce it with a frame-type construction. I used screws to construct my unit, pre-drilling the holes to make my life easier. It keeps the blood pressure under control.

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I decided to slide the box into the recessed area just like I did the bead board to be sure it was going to fit before I went any further.

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I then determined where I wanted to place each shelf by using items I plan to put on them. Of course I won’t be keeping the same items on here for forty years or anything, but it gives me a plan. If you’re needing shelving more for storage of not-so-lovely looking items, like, well, you know–those hygiene sort of items we all need–you can buy yourself some pretty baskets, and keep your personal items hidden. I would recommend buying your baskets first, then spacing your shelving appropriately.

 photo IMG_3092.jpg

Before screwing the shelves in place, I made sure they were level by using two speed squares placed in both directions. One speed square makes sure the shelf will be level side to side while the other makes sure the shelf will be level front to back.

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonILg

I screwed in each shelf using two screws on each side. And here’s my unit with all the shelves installed.

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonILg

Next I attached the bead board plywood to the back of the box by using upholstery tacks that I bought at a garage sale (note my 10 cent sticker reminding me of the fantastic bargain I snagged). Upholstery tacks are perfect for this application because they’ve got a large head, and won’t pull through the plywood. I attached the tacks on the edges of the back of the box as well as one in the middle of each shelf. If this were a freestanding bookcase, I would have run several tacks into each shelf, but since it’ll be against the wall, there’s no chance of the plywood pulling away from the back of the shelf.

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now we’re starting to look like something! And holy toilet paper, check out my bubble! Gotta love it when that happens.

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

To save a few dollars, I bought less-than-desirable wood that’s referred to as “standard” grade, and fixed any imperfections myself. I carefully checked to make sure the boards I bought weren’t warped, which was, and always is, a monumental task. If you’ve ever tried to pick out wood at a box store, you know where I’m coming from. For every ten boards you inspect, you may find one good one, but I consider it a fun challenge in some sick sort of way.

I covered all the imperfections with durabond, let it dry, sanded, and I was good to go! Or if you’re not a cheap skate like me, you can just spend a little more and buy decent wood. But you’ll still have to go through several pieces regardless, so I say go the frugal way, and buy a stick of gum or something with the money you saved yourself. Here’s a picture of my patched up shelving unit.

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After I primed the shelf, I caulked every place where two boards meet, and every place where boards meet the bead board. Caulking makes a huge difference on how your finished product will look so don’t skip this step! Here’s before caulking.

DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And here’s after caulk.

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then it was time for paint! Since this will be in a bathroom, and next to my shower, I used a semi-gloss paint–one coat now, and another coat after adding the pre-primed wood trim. I used Sherwin Williams Promar 200 in the color Pure White. It’s a nice, crisp white that I use on all my projects, including the trim and interior doors in my house.

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I installed the unit by driving screws into the corners. I bought pre-primed casing at Menard’s to trim out the cabinet, and here’s a photo of that. Trim gives it a more finished look and hides the gaps left after installation.

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s a picture with the two vertical side pieces of trim tacked into place.

DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

To install the trim, I used finish nails and then counter-sunk the nails with a punch. I spackled over the holes being sure to overfill them so I could sand the spackle down smooth. I was careful not to sand so much that the hole showed again. I then brushed some primer over my patches so they wouldn’t show through after I painted the second coat. Here’s a picture of all the trim complete.

DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then it was time for more caulking. I caulked around both sides where the shelf butted up against the side walls and also against the ceiling. Then it looked like a real built-in!

After the caulk set up, I applied a second coat of paint, being sure to paint over the installation screws so they’d disappear.

And here are the before and after pictures.

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Of course once I had this nice, new built-in shelving, I had to update the light fixture. And a new light fixture made the old paint look bad, so I had to repaint. Then I needed a new bath mat to match the new paint color. Then I needed new towels to tie in the bath mat, etc… So much for my $15.75 project.

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

Window Trim Ideas–How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing

I am always looking for ways to banish builder basic details in my cookie cutter home. My wood trim is one such detail—that tiny, non-descript, minimalistic stuff. My trim is, in a word, a “snoozefest”. I found a way to beef up my window casings, and here’s how I did it.

I went to my local Menards, and purchased the following boards.

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s some side views and the corresponding UPC codes from each board.

 Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This was stamped on the plain pine 1×8 board I bought for this project.

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s how I’ll be assembling the pieces after I paint and cut them to size.

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Being the frugal person I am, I didn’t want to pay a lot of money to get a top-of-the-line pine board for the main bottom piece for my project. Half of this board will be covered up anyway. I opted for a cheaper grade that has imperfections that I can fix on my own. This is how I fix them.

I used to buy small containers of joint compound to keep on hand for my projects. But most of the time, I would open the lid only to find the Sahara Desert. Now I buy Durabond, which is to me, what duck tape and WD-40 are to most home repair geeks. Here’s what the bag looks like. It’s joint compound in powder form that I mix myself, so I can mix only what I need. The number 20 on the front of the bag means it sets up in 20 minutes. You can purchase different numbers, for different drying times. So 20 minutes drying time is much quicker than regular joint compound, and is about right for most projects I do. It also dries harder than joint compound.

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I put a small amount in my mud pan. I was told by a drywall finisher that you’re supposed to put water in the pan first, and then add the powder to it, but I’m not sure exactly why. I like to put the powder in first so I don’t have to juggle an elongated pan with water in it. (It’s a coordination issue.)

 Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I mix it with cool water, and I’m good to go. I mix it to about peanut butter consistency. If I mix it thinner, it’ll be harder to work with, and will take longer to dry. If I mix it too thick it’ll be a brick in about 5 minutes.

 Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I spread the mud over all the imperfections in my board such as dings, raised-grain areas and knots. After it dries, with some help from my hair dryer (Who has twenty minutes to watch mud dry?), I sand it smooth with a sanding sponge or sandpaper wrapped around a block of wood, and then my inexpensive board looks just like one that costs twice as much!

You should apply the mud to your board before you prime it, which I didn’t do in this case. A do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do moment.

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

First, I prime my unprimed pieces of wood and trim as well as the areas that I fixed with joint compound. Then I apply one coat of paint. I think it’s easier to paint the pieces ahead of time, and then finish up with only one coat of paint after they’re installed, but you could paint both coats after installation if that’s what floats your boat.

Now I nail up my 1×8 onto the wall. My board is warped, and bows up on the ends, but never fear. The screen moulding (the tiny piece of trim with ridges) is the piece I bought in anticipation of this problem.

After I trimmed out this window, I also added the same trim to my patio door and over my front door, and I did those differently. Instead of installing the 1×8 separately, I assembled all the long pieces before installing them, and it was easier that way. So keep that in mind if you want to simplify the process.

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next, I assemble the two top trim boards before I install them onto the 1×8 because it’s easier to put them together on a table at tummy height, rather than try to hold them above my head to nail them on. I also have a curtain rod I don’t really want to take down if I don’t have to, which would clearly be in the way of my hammer. Plus, I’m kinda wild with a hammer. I cut the ends of the 1×8 at 90 degrees to the length of my current window casing, and the other three pieces, I cut at 45 degrees because they’re going to wrap around the 1×8.

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I attach the assembled piece that’s shown here on my kitchen table (aka workbench) onto the front of the 1×8.

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now I attach the end pieces. (You’ll notice I still have all my fingers after cutting these tiny pieces. Boo-yah!)

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Remember how I said the 1×8 was bowed? Now I attach the screen moulding where the 1×8 meets the original casing to cover the crack, and any gap left between the two.

 Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I countersink all of my nails with a punch, and then overfill the holes with more mud or spackle. I sand them smooth after they’re completely dry.

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

It still looks rough with all the cracks and gaps between the boards. What do we do now is caulk. This is where my project goes from “blah” to “ahhhh!”. Caulking makes everything look so much more professional. (If you need caulking pointers, please refer to my post “How to Caulk Your Bathtub“.)

I caulk everywhere one board meets another—including those tiny end pieces. Notice I caulk after I sand all my filled holes. I’ve tried it vice versa, and no matter how careful I think I can be, I always manage to hit my nice, smooth caulk line with the sandpaper. I’ve tried sanding after I’ve caulked before, thinking I could just caulk while the spackle from the nail holes dries, and then sand afterwards. Bad idea.

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After the caulk dries, I put on my final coat of paint, and now no more snoozefest!

Here are my before and afters of my kitchen window and my front door.

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s my patio door after installing the new trim. No before picture.

Window Trim Ideas--How to Add Bulk to Small Window Casing / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This really is a fairly easy project to do, although you’ll need a miter saw. The small pieces could be cut with a miter box, but the piece of baseboard used towards the top won’t fit in a miter box because it would have to be upright to make the cut you need (bevel), and it would extend over the top of the box. A compound miter saw would be the way to go because it cuts bevels as well as 45’s. So if you can beg, borrow or steal one for a couple of hours, you’re good to go! I bought my compound miter saw at a garage sale, of course.

I already had paint, caulk, durabond and finish nails on hand being the DIYer that I am, and the wood cost only about $20.00 per window. A lot of bang for my buck, I’d say. It also amazes me how much it brightens my space. I love darker paint colors, so to have bigger, better, brighter trim up towards the ceiling definitely adds some lightness. And if I may say so, it just looks expensive. Someday, I might expand my baseboard by adding an additional trim piece, and create the same feel near the floor. But for now, I’m just happy to have the windows done!

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula

Greetings, fellow DIYer’s. I’ve got a bad case of the winter blah’s here in Central Illinois where today the forecast is for up to seven inches of snow. The best way I know to un-blah myself is to do a home improvement project. I’ve been wanting to spruce up both my kitchen peninsula, and my fireplace for a while now, and today’s the day.

This project is short and sweet, and is pretty DIY-friendly. It requires simple tools, and not much in the way of skill. Perfect for me! I’ve seen many pictures on the internet where beadboard is added to kitchen islands and peninsulas, and I love, love, love how that looks, but I already added beadboard to my cabinet fronts, and want something different. I also love the beautiful, chunky, ornate corbels and fluted trim that dress up many of them, but grand “ornateness” doesn’t fit my house. So I ultimately decide on a simple wallframe to take both my fireplace and my peninsula out of builder grade status.

I installed wallframe wainscoting in an adjoining dining space and foyer (See previous post, “Wall Frame Wainscoting and the Importance of Architectural Details“, and I thought it would tie the two areas together nicely. I’ll only be posting about the peninsula re-do, but I will post before and after pics of the fireplace at the end of this post.

So as you can see from my before photos, my peninsula is currently my wall color.

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I painted my kitchen cabinets white last winter (previous post), and ever since, I’ve wished my peninsula was white to match.

So step one of this project is to patch any imperfections in the wall first so we’re starting with a nice, smooth surface.

Here’s a picture of the spackle I’m using…or not.

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

It’s shrink-free spackle from Sherwin Williams, and unfortunately, mine is frozen after spending too much time in the trunk of my car. So important tip number one, don’t let your spackle freeze. Looks like I’ll be using drywall mud instead. At any rate, the best way to patch the area is to shine a light sideways onto the wall so that imperfections show up easily.

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Once the patches dry, I sand them smooth. I find I have to repatch some of them because my mud shrunk since some holes are too big to fill with one application. Although this next photo looks like an “innie” belly button, it’s actually a photo showing a patched hole where the spackle shrunk when it dried.

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

If you don’t take a few minutes to re-patch something like that, people will wonder why you have an innie on your wall, and tell you to patch that nasty thing. I usually make it a habit to overfill the hole just a bit, and then sand it down flat.

Here’s a helpful patching tip. If I have drywall protruding from where I removed a nail from the wall, I take the handle end of my putty knife and push the drywall back in where its pulled out so that I create a divot, and then spackle it. After all, we can’t patch a hole that’s not a hole, now can we? Anytime a nail is pulled out of drywall it’s going to pull some of the drywall out with it, and it’ll leave a bump that you can feel if you run your finger over it. I use the “divot technique” to fix these. Here’s a picture of what it looks like after I’ve pushed the drywall back in to patch the hole. Now when I fill my divot with mud, I’ll get a much better result after it’s sanded again.

Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonILg

Here we are all patched up!

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After I sand all the patches smooth, I prime the whole area with white primer since my wall is going to end up with white finish paint on it. Sort of ugly with just primer but that’s ok. If you try to take the cheap and easy way out, and don’t prime over your spackled areas, you’ll be sorry because they’ll show through your finish paint. Trust me.

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After the primer dries, I put on my first coat of finish paint. I put one coat of paint on before putting up the wallframe because painting around the trim isn’t all that fun. Why do it twice and be frustrated two times when I only have to be frustrated once? I’m using Sherwin Williams ProMar 200 in an egshell finish in the color Pure White. We’re looking better now!

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now it’s time for the wallframe. I purchased my trim at Menard’s at a price of $3.99 each for two 8′ pieces. My fireplace that I’ll show later, also took two pieces of trim. So both projects together cost me $16.00. (I already had the paint, spackle, nails, etc…)

I have a power miter saw, but since I only have a few cuts to make, I decide to bring my miter box inside so I can cut the boards in my nice, warm house instead of my subzero garage. Incidentally, my miter box was purchased at a garage sale for a few dollars, and was still in the box. Score! They’re not that expensive to buy new if you want to invest in one, and they make nice, clean cuts. If you’re a DIYer, I’m guessing you already have one. If you’re a DIYer-wanna-be, go get yourself one! I promise you’ll use it again.

I put up a “pretend” frame made of tape first so I can decide exactly where I want my frame to go. I make sure my paint is nice and dry so my tape doesn’t pull the paint off the wall. Also, no need to press the tape down all the way. I just lightly tacked it up for a visual. When I remove my tape, I always pull it off by pulling it sideways against itself as opposed to pulling it directly towards me perpendicular to the wall. That also helps in not pulling my new paint off the wall.

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now that I’ve got my measurements, I cut my trim to size at 45 degree angles, being sure to cut opposing pieces at exactly the same length so my frame will be perfectly square. I pre-drill holes into my trim where I want to put my nails, since I’m not all that great with a hammer. It also helps to have a hole at least partially drilled ahead of time so my nail will hold itself in the wood. This frees up my fingers to hold the trim, a level and a hammer.

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I make one tiny dot with a pencil, not a pen where I want to put the end of my trim piece. Since I’m using a level, there’s no need to draw any lines. I tack up my top piece. Yet another helpful tip–never use a pen on a wall that’s to be painted because it will manage to successfully bleed through a ridiculous number of coats of paint. Or you’ll have to buy a primer that’s specially formulated to stop ink bleed-through. If you have small children, you may already be knowledgeable in this area.

Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I don’t drive my finish nails in all the way until all four pieces of trim are in place, just in case something isn’t quite right. That way, if I need to remove my trim for some reason, I won’t damage it during removal.

I use nails that just barely go through my trim, and into the drywall because I know I have water pipes running through this wall. My plumber’s a great guy and all, but I’m not wanting to see him today. I use 3d Finish Bright 1 1/4 inch trim nails.

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

There is no need to nail the trim into a stud because after the trim pieces are nailed up, I will be caulking around them, and the caulk will help secure the pieces to the wall. There’s no need to glue the pieces before nailing for this reason also.

Next the two side pieces go up using only one nail in the center of each piece in the beginning so I can still move the pieces back and forth on the tops and bottoms. Even though the trim will be moveable, I make sure it’s plumb before tacking it up. I’ll secure the ends of the side pieces after the bottom piece has been tacked up.

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now for the bottom piece. Again, tacking the side pieces up in the centers only allows me to make slight adjustments at the corners while adding the bottom piece. I can now tack in the four ends of the side pieces.

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I stand back, and take one final look to make sure everything is up to snuff before I drive my nails in all the way. I use a punch to sink the nail heads below the surface of the trim. Good heavens, my hands look like man hands! Goes with the DIY territory, I suppose.

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next, I putty all my holes, being sure to overfill them a bit. It looks like I’m just being sloppy, but it really is a better result if I overfill, and then sand down the spackle rather than to try to get it too smooth initially.

Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I sand the puttied areas, and then prime over them with my primer–not finish paint–so they won’t show thru the paint. If you skip the step of priming over the spackled holes, you’ll regret it on a sunny day. You’ll see a different sheen where you spackled, and you’ll say to yourself, “Gee, I should have listened to that lady who wrote that post.”

Now it’s time to caulk around all sides of the trim. (For a more detailed explanation on how to caulk trim, please refer to my post on wallframe wainscoting–click here.)

Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I also caulk where my corners meet, even if they appear to be snug. Caulking the corners is messy, and if you’re a dude with big fingers, you can use a wet cotton swab or rag to remove excess caulk from the grooves on the trim.

Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Caulking everything takes your project from, “Did you do that yourself?” to “Wow, who did you hire to custom trim your gorgeous peninsula?” OK, maybe not, but it does make a huge difference. Check out my progression photos of the corner joints before, during and after caulking.

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Once the caulk has dried, it’s time to put on the final coat of paint. I start with the trim itself, then move quickly to the inside of the box. I use a brush on the trim, and then a small roller on the inside of the box. I work quickly so that I roll over my brush marks that lap onto the wall before they dry. Then I paint the wall surrounding the box. And there you have it!

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

It’s my life’s mission to rid my house of all things builder basic. Giving my peninsula and my fireplace a little boost adds a bit of personality, and it’s nice to know everything in my house isn’t just like my neighbor’s. Here are my before and afters of both my peninsula and my fireplace which were both done using the same technique.

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And here’s my fireplace. The added wallframes on the sides just make it a little more prominent, and a little more interesting.

Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I’m trying to find the time to complete my foyer area by running wallframes up my stairs. The challenge on that project will be the funky angles I’ll have to cut. Stay tuned!

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

Wall frame Wainscoting and the Importance of Architectural Details

Calling all DIY’ers and decorators! Check out this project that can be completed with basic tools and basic carpentry skills. The wall frame wainscoting I installed in my entryway and my dining nook is easy to do, and I hope you’ll consider trying it if it’s a look you like. So far, it’s my all-time favorite project!

Although I love my home, it’s “ordinary” and in need of some architectural details to add some interest. I decorate my house for me–to suit my taste–but before any project I attempt, my subconscious always whispers, “What if you had to sell your home tomorrow? Is this project tasteful, and would most people enjoy the change you’re about to make?” Words to live by in my way of thinking, because we never truly know what the future’s going to bring. The fact of the matter is someday my house will be sold, even if it’s not until I’m six feet under. Some person will have to sell it, which means another person will have to desire it. And I want that to be an easy process for the seller, whoever that may be.

If I were going to sell my home, it goes without saying that I will have a leg up on the competition if my home is more interesting than the house down the street. A little extra “oomph” is crucial since I live in a neighborhood where all the homes sort of mesh together, and any potential homebuyers who are looking at my neighbor’s property are likely going to be looking at mine. Our neighborhood houses mesh together so much, in fact, that a relative of mine actually walked into a neighbor’s house thinking it was mine. Oops. Time for some curb appeal too, I guess!

How would my house appear to a seller if it were empty? In that vacant worse-case scenario, flooring, paint, light fixtures, door hardware, appliances, faucets and architectural details become paramount because outside of the major bones, that’s all the buyer has to look at. Those details are going to create that “desire” I mentioned earlier. Updating many of those items is something homeowners can handle on their own, and that’s why this homeowner always has a project going! So let’s get to it.

Since I didn’t think to take photos until right after I started this project, you’ll notice a partial piece of the plate rail is installed in a couple of the before photos. You’ll have to use your imagination to erase that, but here are my before pictures.

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Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket

I can run a nail gun with the best of ’em, but I don’t own one, and decided not to pester my “go to” neighbors, George and Deb, to borrow theirs. Especially since it was just a week ago that I returned their palm sander. Not only do I not want my neighbors to start locking their door when they see me coming, but I also want to demonstrate what can be accomplished with minimal tools as well as minimal skills. I did this wainscoting project with a tape measure, hammer, nails, punch, level, caulk gun, stud finder and a pencil. The only power tool I used besides a drill was a miter saw–more details about a substitute later. If you don’t own a drill, whoever you are, you need one. Buy one. You’ll use it someday, I promise.

So first I need to decide how high I want to place the plate rail. Mine is a plate rail as opposed to a chair rail since it has a ledge. Installation height is an easy decision for me as I love the look of the rail placed higher than the standard 36″. Mine is 64.5” from the floor. I use this height because this is where one of the panel rows on my six-panel doors hits. It’s appealing to me visually because the top of the plate rail and the row of panels in the door form a continuous straight line. See how it all lines up?

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I’ve heard people say they’re afraid to raise a chair rail because it will make the ceiling appear lower. That is not the case in my opinion. It draws your eye up the wall and visually raises it, just as your ceilings seem higher when you raise your curtain rods to within a few inches of the ceiling. Regardless, the wainscoting adds some needed personality to the area. Also, in my situation, if I put a chair rail at 36ish inches, my table would block most of it in my dining nook. If you’re wondering if wall frame wainscoting is too formal for your home, trust me, it won’t be. Although it is often seen in formal rooms, how you decorate around it will determine the level of formality.

The difficult part of this project is deciding how to construct the plate rail since there are many shapes of trims and moldings, made out of different types of materials. I experiment here with a few different kinds until I decide on a combination I like. Here are pictures of the winners.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The widest part of the chair rail, and the board to be installed first is a type of MDF (medium density fiberboard) or something similar. It was purchased at my local Habitat Restore, and repurposed so I’m not exactly sure of its composition, but it’s not wood. It feels like wood, sands well and paints up beautifully, and that’s what’s important. It’s actually called “buttboard” (Quite the name, right?), and it was a bargain at only fifty cents per board. It only came in four-foot sections, but since most of my areas are less than four-foot, I decide to use it. If I had long expanses of wall, I would choose something that comes in longer lengths. It measures 6” by 3/8” thick (actual measurements). Here’s a picture of the buttboard.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonILt
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonILt

First I use a level, and mark the wall so I know where to place the butt board. I mark where the studs are as well. I nail it up being sure to stay off the studs, and placing the nails high enough on my board so that the next two pieces of trim will cover them. This way, I don’t have to fill any holes. If I nail into the studs, there’s a chance of hitting those same nails when I install the trim on top of the buttboard. Hitting a nail with another nail is never a good thing.

The second and third pieces to go up are pieces of trim that are installed on the face of the buttboard. These are the pieces that need to be nailed into the studs. So these nails go thru the molding, thru the buttboard and into a stud. The two pieces of trim being used for the plate rail are made of vinyl. Here’s a picture of how all three plate rail pieces are put together.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Side note—I used to own one of those fancy-shmancy stud finders that runs on batteries. According to the one I had, my whole house was either one giant stud or it didn’t have any studs. (Couldn’t have been operator error.) So if you need to purchase a stud finder on a budget, here’s a suggestion. I’m sure this stud finder isn’t very expensive. I’ve had it for so long that I don’t remember where I bought it, and hopefully someone still makes them. I’ve used it, abused it, lost it, found it, dropped it, broke it and glued it back together.

It has a magnet in it, and you just run it across the wall, and it finds the drywall nails/screws. You can see the yellow lever move when it locates a screw which tells you where your studs are, and you can feel it pull when you run across them. Keep in mind, it won’t help you locate water pipes or ductwork—just the nails and screws. In many homes, if you look closely, you can see where the screws are located without even using a stud finder since homes shift and move and force them out to form “nail pops” or little raised areas in your drywall. So here’s a picture of my magical stud finder. I love this thing! Simple yet effective. If you’re a carpenter and are reading this, I’ll bet you’re either laughing or rolling your eyes. Laugh if you must, but I’m committed to my stud finder.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I’ve never used vinyl molding before for a project like this, and I love it. It doesn’t splinter, it cuts and drills well, and although I will still prime and paint it, it’s already white for me! It’s also less expensive than other materials.

Since I’m not a carpenter, and I know my limitations with a hammer, I pre-drill all my holes in the trim to save myself a migraine. I don’t want to find out if the vinyl will split without pre-drilling. I also don’t want to experience the inevitable each and every time I use a hammer. The inevitable would be bending a nail on the last hit, and trying to dig it out of the wood without losing my charming personality and whizzing the hammer through a window.

Tip: It’s a good idea to drill the holes on the curved part of the molding because they’ll be less noticeable in that area. I make sure the pilot holes are slightly smaller than the nails I’m using, and I countersink all my nails with a punch. I slightly overfill the nail holes with spackle, and sand them smooth.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

If you’ve read my other posts, you know I’m a garage sale addict, and my power miter saw is yet another of my earth-shattering finds. Before I invested in a power miter saw, I used a miter box for this type of project and it worked just fine. My miter box was also purchased at a garage sale (surprise!), and was still in the box when I bought it. It still had the Menard’s sticker on it too in case you’re wondering where one can be purchased. I also saw a miter box recently at our local Habitat Restore. My garage sale miter saw was probably purchased for a husband for Father’s Day by a wife with an ulterior motive. “Honey! Look what the kids and I got you for Father’s Day! (Pause.) Remember that trim that needs to be replaced in the bathroom?” Even purchased new in a store (in case you’re not a garage sale addict), a miter box is a small investment, and the cuts they make are very accurate. Isn’t she a beauty?!

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

You’ll most definitely need something that cuts a precise 45 degree angle in order to do this project, so maybe you could borrow a saw from a friend if you don’t have one and don’t want to invest in a miter box. Although a jig saw can be set to cut a 45, it wouldn’t be accurate enough to use for this project. I need to cut 45’s on the plate rail trim were where it extends around outside corners as well as on the inside corners. And there are many, many 45’s to come on the wall frames too! Here’s the plate rail completed.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

At this time, I break out the halogen light, and shine it on the walls so all the nicks and dings show up easily. I spackle all of these too and then sand all the patches smooth. I really want the walls to be perfect because we’re doing “fake” wainscoting. The proper way to do wainscoting would be to apply sheets of paneling to the walls before you apply your frames, but the look is the same whether you add paneling or not. All the baseboard would have to be removed too, so I don’t see the point in going to the work and the expense of adding it. Here are my polka-dot walls after patching.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I have seen where some people who have an even higher degree of OCD than myself, will sand the walls smooth with a palm sander before they prime to make them really smooth. I choose not to, but do what’s right for you. When I paint my walls, I’m going to be adding some degree of texture right back onto them so that’s why I see sanding the walls as futile.

I prime the plate rail and the wall, including the vinyl trim, even though it’s already white. I want the trim to match the white I’ve chosen for the rest of the project, so I need to put finish paint on it. The finish paint will stick to the vinyl better if I prime it first. Here’s the wall and trim primed. I love it even at this early stage!

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After the primer dries, I caulk every area where two boards meet one another, and everywhere boards meet the wall. Since I’ll be caulking several areas, I choose not to use any type of glue or liquid nails to hold my molding on the wall. I’ve done this before and don’t feel it’s necessary to glue the boards since nailing and caulking around them will hold them in place. And what if someday I want to remove my beloved trim?

So on my plate rail, I caulk against the wall on the top, between the top flat piece and the trim, between the trim and the butt board and between the butt board and the wall. There’s lots of caulking. If you’ve never caulked before, you’ll certainly have the hang of it by the time you finish your wall frames. Tip: Be sure to caulk after you prime so the caulk will adhere better to the vinyl.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Caulking takes practice. If you haven’t done it before and have trouble, don’t be discouraged. For the best results, I would cut a very small hole at a 45 degree angle in the nozzle. That alone will save you some grief. If you cut the hole too big, you’ll be up to your elbows in caulk, and you can’t make the hole smaller once the deed has been done.

Hold the gun at about 45 degrees, and go slow so the caulk has a chance to grab onto to the surface, while trying to keep the caulk gun moving and at an even speed. Try to keep an even “squeeze” on the trigger to keep the bead consistent. Here’s how small I cut my hole.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

As soon as you finish a section, immediately smooth the bead with a wet finger. Caulk sets up very quickly so you have to work fast. Once you get it nice and smooth, leave it alone. Walk away. Resist the urge to smooth it out one more time. Control yourself or you’ll live to regret it.

If you apply the caulk too heavily, you will have a nasty, huge mess on your hands–literally. I would keep a damp rag handy to wipe off any excess if you get too carried away, and be sure to wipe the caulk off before it starts to set up or you’ll have a brand new issue.

Practice, practice, practice. People who are proficient at caulking make it look easy, and it is–once you’ve had a little practice. I would recommend using white caulk as opposed to clear. Clear caulk is a thinner consistency, it doesn’t set up as quickly, and in my opinion it shrinks more than colored caulk. I try not to use clear unless I really must have clear for some reason.

Tip: Make sure the caulk you choose is water clean-up and is paintable.

Once the caulk has set up, I apply my first coat of finish paint. I use Sherwin Williams’ “pure white” in an eggshell. It’s immensely easier to paint my walls before applying the wall frames so it makes sense to at least get the first coat on ahead of time. The second and final coat of finish paint will go on after the wall frames. I decide to take a break for a couple of days after the first coat of finish. Here’s a picture after priming and after the first coat of finish paint and before adding the frames.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now I give my walls some personality! The most difficult part is trying to decide where to place the frames and how big to make them. I did some research into frame placement, and it can vary just as a chair rail height can vary. The consensus seems to be that the box sizes can vary based on the particulars of your room. As long as the spaces in between your frames are consistent, everything will appear consistent even if you must have different sized frames on the same wall due to windows or other obstacles. The most common measurement seems to be 3″ in between frames and 4″ between the top of the baseboard and the bottom of the frame. Also, 4″ between the top of the frame and the bottom of the chair rail were most common. Those are the measurements I’m going with.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The space in the above photo is actually 3″, but the camera angle has distorted the measurement.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Since my entryway is broken into different sized wall spaces by doors, most of my frames are going to be different sizes. Also, since I have small areas, the calculating is pretty simple. Because it’s a rather small area overall, I go with bigger boxes rather than smaller ones so it doesn’t busy up the space. In other words, if in a particular section I’m trying to decide between two boxes or three, I go with two. I have four total doors breaking up the area and six rectangular squares on each of those doors. If I went with smaller frames, that would be a lot of little rectangles fighting for visual attention, sending my eyes into a geometric frenzy.

The trim I choose for the wall frames is pre-primed MDF as opposed to vinyl simply because I can’t find a shape I like in vinyl. (I have since found some I like in vinyl. Go figure.) All my trim is purchased at our local Menard’s. I still have the tag from Menards on the back of the trim I’m using for the frames, and there are two numbers listed. One is #8595 and the other is #43559 08595. Here’s what the wall frame molding looks like.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I found on a few websites that some carpenters construct their frames ahead of time, and then attach them to the walls. I fail to see the advantage of doing it that way since I would have to have to create a jig, and have to drive the nails into the frames without destroying them—especially since I’m refusing to pester George and Deb for their nail gun. I don’t have that level of skill so I’m going to do it the “lay-person” way. The finished product will look the same—amazing.

So step one for attaching the frames is to make small pencil marks (don’t use ink, it’ll bleed through your paint) where the top piece of trim needs to go. Remember when your Mom and Dad told you to pay attention in math class because you would need that knowledge later in life? They were right, and now is later. I need to measure, and mark my spacing so I know where to put both ends of the top trim pieces, and then make a mark 4” down from the bottom of my plate rail so I know at what height to place them. You should only have three pencil marks for each entire frame—all on that top piece of molding.

No need to make marks lower down for the side pieces or mark the bottom piece since the location of the three remaining pieces is determined by the placement of the top trim piece. Once the top piece is placed perfectly level in its marked location, installing the remaining three is a walk in the park!

Next, I measure and cut my pieces to length–all at 45 degree angles. We’ve all heard “measure twice, cut once”, and that phrase takes on a whole new meaning in this project. If I have two or three boxes in a section, I make sure all the top and bottom pieces for all the boxes are cut exactly the same length, and all the side pieces are cut exactly the same length. I choose to cut my frames one wall section at a time, install them and then go on to the next section so there’s no chance in getting any of the trim pieces mixed up.

After all the pieces are cut, I pre-drill two pilot holes in both the top and bottom pieces about two inches or so from the ends. I drill three pilot holes in the longer side pieces–one in the center and the other two a couple of inches from each end. Again I make certain my pilot holes are slightly smaller than my nail size so the nails will grip the wood. I decide to tap the nails part way into my pilot holes before I put them up to the wall for installation so I don’t have to juggle the trim piece, a hammer, nails and a level. Some of the following pictures are recreated using leftover trim, so the molding pieces are smaller than the ones I actually used, but the process is the same. Here’s my cut trim with my nails standing at attention and ready to roll.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

It’s important to start with the top piece, so if any “fudging” has to be done, it can be done on the bottom pieces that aren’t as visible. I line up my first trim piece with my marks, and using a level, tack in the two nails. I don’t put my nails in all the way until I have all the frames in a section completely up, just in case of “installer error”. (Another possible whizzing-hammer situation.)

Again, I’m not a believer in using glue or liquid nails in addition to the trim nails I’m using because the frames will be caulked around when I’m finished. The caulk will serve as my “glue”. Also, since I’m caulking, there’s no need to worry about hitting a stud for the frames. They are quite secure with nails and caulk. Here’s a picture of my top piece tacked up, and a picture of the trim nails I used that I purchased at a garage sale. Be honest. It makes you want to go to garage sales, doesn’t it? They’re a bit rusty, but since I’m just using them for trim as opposed to bridge building, they’ll work just fine.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I have a spot in one wall that bows out so I have to scribe my top and bottom pieces to make them fit. To be more specific, when I hold my trim so that the center of the trim touches the wall, the end pieces stick out from the wall and won’t lay flat. In the interest of time, I’ll refer you to google to learn how to scribe a piece of wood, in case you run across this situation. It works like a charm. Tip: I would recommend using a compass for the sake of precision. It’s the most accurate way in my opinion.

In the event you have an area where your wall is concave on the other hand, just tack your piece up by nailing into the two pre-drilled end pilot holes, and the remaining gap in the center can be filled with caulk.

So after I have my top piece tacked up, I use my level, and hold up a side piece so that it’s plumb and meets exactly at the top where the corners meet. I tack it up with only one nail in the center of the piece of trim so that the ends move freely. After constructing these frames different ways, I find that tacking the side pieces only in the centers is the best way to begin installing those, and you’ll see why in a minute. Here’s a picture of my side pieces tacked only at the center.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

So what I have now is the top piece tacked on both ends so it’s secure, and then the two side pieces only tacked in the center. Now it’s time to match up the side pieces at the top corners and tack nails into the top pilot holes. It’s easy to be precise with matching these corners because the side pieces are tacked in only at the center, and you can move the top of the side piece freely in order to make a perfect corner.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

If you’ve been precise with the previous instructions, the bottom piece should go in easily by matching the corners and tacking nails in the final four pilot holes. If you have to fudge the bottom piece to make it fit, that’s ok. It would have to be pretty messed up to be spotted that close to the floor. The key is to cut all the corresponding trim pieces exactly the same length, and then installing them perfectly level and plumb. And of course you must have perfect 45 degree angles. It’s really not that difficult if you take your time. Here’s my frame with all the nails only tacked in.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Once I finish a wall section, I hammer the nails in all the way, countersink them with a punch and repeat the process in each section until I’m finished. It doesn’t look finished until I caulk around both the inside of the frame as well as the outside of the frame. I think it looks nice to also push some caulk into the joints where my corners meet, even though the cracks aren’t very wide. I use a cotton swab to remove any globs of caulk that gather in the groove that my fingers are too big to fit into. I also need to fill of all of those unsightly nail holes. I wait until I have all the frames done before I fill holes and caulk. I remember to spackle, let dry and sand before I caulk so I don’t disturb my caulk during sanding.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Although I’ve already primed and put a coat of finish on my masterpiece, I’ll need to suck it up and get out the primer all over again, and prime over all my newly sanded spackled areas. If I don’t prime over the spackled areas, I’ll look at my project when the light hits it, and be able to see each and every spackled spot through the finish paint.

Once the primer is dry, I need to hit the primed areas with finish paint again too in order to get those spots “caught up” to the rest of the walls. Remember the rest of my walls already have one coat of finish on them. After that dries, I can repaint my entire project.

I will admit that painting the final coat of finish, for me, is the worst part of the project, and I paint for a living. It’s no fun to paint around all those boxes. I just put on some James Taylor, and sing myself through the pain. It’s more tolerable if my mind is in the right place so I concentrate on how beautiful it’ll be when I’m done. I use a brush to paint the frames, and use a small roller to finish the remainder.

For the impact this adds to my home, I think it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to do. I saved myself some money by calculating my frame sizes and cutting my pieces so that I didn’t have much waste. I found that by adjusting my measurements by an inch or so, I saved a lot of potentially wasted inches of molding. Here are my before and after pictures.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting  / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting  / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting  / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Wall frame wainscoting adds a sense of elegance to this space and is a classic design addition. It’s like that little black dress that never goes out of style. It adds some formality without feeling stuffy, and I love it!

Note: If you’re a wainscoting lover, and this looks too imitating for your skill level, a wainscoting option that is simpler to install and is just as beautiful is board and batten. If you want to give that a looksee, feel free to check out my post, “Board and Batten for a Small Bathroom“.

This post was written by Tracy Evans, who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner, and Journeyman Painter servicing the Bloomington/Normal, IL area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view more before and after photos of her projects. And if you’re a fan of gardening, you may want to visit her urban gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

For more information about our local Habitat for Humanity Restore here in Central Illinois, please visit their website at ReStore@HabitatMcLean.org. Donate generously!

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets!

Are you one of those people who are bored with your oak kitchen cabinets? I was such a person, but no more! I took the plunge and painted them, and I can tell you step by step how to paint your own and have them turn out beautifully.

But, please heed these words of caution! If you don’t have a lot of time, endurance and patience, or if you know your painting skills aren’t up to par, my advice to you would be to leave your cabinets alone.

I remember a few years back looking at a house that I was interested in purchasing, and someone had done a not-so-lovely job painting the kitchen cabinets. They were destroyed by drips, globbed up hardware and very heavy brush strokes. It kept me from buying the place. I would have preferred to have the outdated, unpainted cabinets that I could have redone myself. A bad paint job on cabinets–or on anything for that matter–is difficult to correct once the damage has been done. And of course it can hurt your home’s resale value so I hope you’ll keep that in mind. But if you believe you have the patience, I say go for it!

I have always wanted a white kitchen, but all of the homes I’ve owned have had stained, usually oak, cabinets. Oak in the kitchens. Oak in the bathrooms. Oak, oak, oak. Enough! I think oak is nice and everything, I’m just in oak overload. My current home is very cookie cutter, and I’m trying to give it some personality. As you can see, I have a teensy, weensy kitchen, but it serves me perfectly. I like having everything within reach and it’s quite functional. But this kitchen is sort of tucked into a windowless corner and feels dark.

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s a brief kitchen history. When I moved in, the countertops were white, with a raised-up section by the bar stools that I had removed to make better use of my limited counter space. (Sorry, no pictures of the old countertops.) I thought the raised area looked really nice, but I needed to be practical with gaining every possible square inch of work space.

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I added the two far right end cabinets (upper and lower pictured below) to give me more storage and more counter space. I had to strip and restain the bottom one since it was brand new and didn’t match exactly to the old cabinets. And now after all that work, I’m painting over it!!

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I also changed my sink from a double bowl to a single bowl, which I love. A large cookie sheet will lay flat in it, and a single bowl takes up less counter space. I also changed the hardware from brushed nickel to oil rubbed bronze. My idea in switching from white counter tops to dark ones was in anticipation of someday mustering the courage to paint my cabinets white. My friend, that day has arrived!

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Since I don’t have a basement to work in, and it’s too cold to work in the garage in February here in Illinois, I’m working in sections in my kitchen. I need enough space to spread out and work on the doors I’m going to remove. I start with all the uppers for my first round. Step one is to remove the hardware and then the doors themselves. Tip: When taking down the doors, remove the top hinge last. Trust me on that one.

As I remove each door, I number them inside the hole created for the door hinge after I pop the hinge out. It’s a much nicer paint job if you remove the hardware as opposed to trying to paint around it.

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Please do not underestimate the importance of this step—especially if you have doors like my lowers that are the same right side up and upside down. This is especially crucial if you don’t have holes drilled for knobs or pulls. Numbering them will save you a trip to your “happy place”. My uppers are curved at the top so at least it’s clear which end is up, and I have pilot holes for knobs which helps too. I label them none the less as I learned my lesson long ago. I like to remove every screw and every hinge and put them in a bag separate from the knobs and handles and their corresponding screws.

Next I remove all the bumpers with a razor blade. If you paint over them, it doesn’t look very nice, and it’s pretty difficult to paint around them. They’re also a place for drips and runs to form if you leave them on. It’s worth the extra time to remove them and put on nice, new ones when you’re finished. If your cabinets are old, I’d bet my first-born that they’re pretty smushed from all the wear and tear anyway.

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I had “Merillat” stickers on some of my doors. I break out the “Goo Gone”, and spray where each of the bumpers and stickers are, as well as areas where I have grease and grime built up. I let it sit for a minute and razor off the adhesive and then completely clean those areas with more Goo Gone and a paper towel. It doesn’t matter what you use to clean your cabinets, but all the dirt and grease has to be completely removed in order to get a good result. I would advise using a cotton rag instead of a paper towel because I have some areas where I rub on the door fronts, and some fine bits of paper towel pull off into the grain. The “fuzzies” will be sanded off in the next step, but an ounce of prevention…

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I use the sander (using 100 grit sandpaper) that I borrowed from neighbors George and Deb. Thank you for making my life a lot easier, guys! As always, the idea isn’t to remove all the varnish or polyurethane, but rather to rough up the surface to help the primer to adhere. The areas I can’t get to with the sander, I sand by hand. I wipe all the dust off the pieces, using an old brush to get into the groves. Now comes the time-consuming part. My kids say I’m obsessive compulsive, and this next step might just prove they’re right.

I would like my cabinets to look as close to sprayed as possible, not like hand-painted oak cabinets. The problem is oak has a heavy grain that shows through when you paint it. Sanding alone will not get rid of this. If I just paint directly over the wood, my cabinets will scream, “This lady couldn’t afford new cabinets so she just painted us white–and we’re oak!” How embarrassing to have screaming cabinets. Especially oak ones. And maybe having the grain show through isn’t an issue for a lot of people, but it bothers me.

I did some checking into grain fillers that are designed to fill the grain on woods like oak. It sounded to me like you had to be a professional wood worker, an engineer and a rocket scientist to be able to use it, and I didn’t want to experiment with it on my kitchen cabinets. So this time I have a plan B. I read on the internet that you can float a thin layer of joint compound over grain to fill it. Drywall tapers and woodworkers everywhere will find that idea amusing I’m sure, but I tried it on a frame of an oak cabinet in my laundry room that I bought for a dollar each at a garage sale, and it worked perfectly.

Instead of regular joint compound, however, I use Durabond which is a type of drywall mud that dries much harder than regular joint compound. It comes in a powder form that I mix with water, and it dries more quickly than joint compound depending on which type I choose. I believe you can buy anywhere from 5 minute to at least 90 minute Durabond. The minutes would be my working time before it sets up. It generally sets up before the number of minutes listed, but it depends on the temperature of the water I mix with it, the humidity and other factors. To mix Durabond, I just add the powder to water (as opposed to adding water to the powder) until it’s a consistency of thin peanut butter. Then I’m good to go.

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I want to put the Durabond on thin enough that I can see the wood showing thru or else I’ll have a lot of unnecessary sanding to do as well as a much bigger mess. Keep in mind that Durabond is harder to sand than regular mud which is another reason not to put it on too thick. Remember, the idea is mostly to fill the little holes from the grain and cover any raised grain areas. I only floated the frames of my doors on the uppers because I have a process for the panels for later. I was too impatient to wait for the mud to dry on its own so I helped it along with my hair dryer.

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonILt

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Once they’re dry enough, I sand them smooth, being careful to leave a very thin layer of mud. All this prep work is very time-consuming and very messy but it all pays off. I realize I could have put the Durabond on even thinner than I did. Mental note for when I do the lowers.

Now I get to paint. First I prime the fronts and backs and let them dry. I use a brush where I need to get into the nooks and crannies and use a small mini roller to do the rest. I also prime the cabinet boxes on the wall.

I use 220 grit sandpaper to lightly sand the dry coat of primer before I apply the first coat of finish. This removes any little bits of “stuff” that float around in the primer and get stuck on my project. Since I’m getting to the end of my can of primer, it appears that those little floaties have been multiplying. You can strain your paint to cut down on the little varmints with a paint strainer that you can purchase anywhere paint supplies are sold. I most certainly should have done that.

I’m using Sherwin Williams’ “pure white” in a latex satin. Most people would use a semi-gloss for kitchen cabinets, but I don’t want that much sheen.

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

For the center panels on just my upper cabinets I want to apply bead board wallpaper. I tried this out on my laundry room cabinets and was very pleased with it. It actually has raised areas and grooves just like real bead board and there’s no way to tell it’s not the real thing. Time will tell if it’s durable enough to use on my kitchen cabinets. If it gets too beat up or tears, I’ll simply remove it and paint in the panels. I prime the panels before I insert the wallpaper.

I purchased the wallpaper at Menard’s, and it’s plenty wide enough to fill in even the widest panels on my cabinets without having a seam. I follow the manufacturer’s instructions to apply it, which are pretty standard. Wet it, book it and it’s ready to install. It’s pre-pasted, which is nice, but it’s difficult to cut. I use a fresh blade for each cabinet, score it well and still have trouble with it tearing instead of cutting. It’s a bit like cutting wet tissue paper, so I just have to baby it a little. Despite the cutting issues, I still manage to do a good job, and remind myself that I’ll be caulking around the perimeter where some edges are a little rough so it’ll be just fine. You can see a bit of a gap where the “bead board” and the frame meet.

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Pardon my glob of caulk. I tried to slow down so my son could take a picture, thus the glob. Normally you would want a nice smooth bead, and then you want to smooth it with a wet fingertip to make it nice and even and push it into the groove. I use caulk all around each panel where it meets the frame on all the doors.

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I did some research online about this bead board wallpaper before I purchased it. I read some complaints about it coming loose when you paint it so I prepare myself for a bit of a battle, but I don’t have any problems with it at all. I make sure it’s completely dry before I paint over it, and I think that probably takes care of any potential catastrophes. FYI-this wallpaper is designed to accept paint. Otherwise I would NEVER advise painting over wallpaper! If you want to see a painter squirm, mention painting over wallpaper.

Yet another home purchase was knocked out of the running for me because the homeowner had painted over all the wallpaper in the main living areas. Every seam was accentuated and screamed, “Look at me! I’m wallpaper that no one wanted to take the time to remove, and look how obvious it is!”. The only thing worse than screaming cabinets is screaming painted-over wallpaper. Once it’s painted over, it’s very difficult to remove because the paint forms a barrier and makes it harder for the wallpaper to become saturated for removal. Wallpaper isn’t fun to remove under the best of circumstances. No need to add to the misery. If you remember nothing else from this post, I hope you remember never to paint over wallpaper.

In addition to caulking around all the panel edges, I need to caulk the cracks where all the separate cabinets meet on the boxes so the cracks don’t jump out at you. (We don’t want them screaming too.) They’ll show up as black against the white paint. Pretend not to notice the prescription drugs. Oops.

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s a crack caulked halfway up so you can see how much better the caulked area looks.

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

For clarification, I want to prime, let dry, lightly sand, apply the wallpaper, let dry, then caulk, apply a finish coat, let dry, lightly sand again and then apply my last coat of finish. Order is important here because I don’t want to be sanding right after caulking or I’ll mess up my caulk. Remember the sanding after priming and then between coats of finish paint is with a high grit like 200 or 220. And after sanding each time, I need to brush off all of the sanding dust so it doesn’t end up in my beautiful, smooth paint job.

FYI–I also had to redrill the pilot holes for the hardware because they filled with Durabond when I floated them. No big deal because the holes show on the backs of the doors where I didn’t do any floating, so I know exactly where to redrill.

So after 14 hours of labor, I complete the upper cabinets. Yes 14. Yikes. This was for 7 doors. Keep in mind it took longer because of my OCD with the grain issue, but I’m thrilled with the smoothness of the wood. They’re as close to looking sprayed as you can get. That’s what we want!

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now for the lowers. Deeeeep breath. Some of my drawer fronts don’t want to come off because I realize my pilot holes for the screws that I installed a year or two ago for new hardware are too small. The screws are in the wood so snugly that they won’t budge. I can’t even remove them with a hammer. Live and learn.

So I’ll have to paint some of the drawer fronts while they’re still attached to the drawers. And a huge pain in the patooty is working around the random screws that were too stubborn to come out. As you can see, I’ve put tape around the threads so as to not fill them with Durabond or paint. I’m careful not to get too much paint built up around the screws so the paint won’t pull off when I remove the tape. Sorry about the blurry photo.

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I float mud on both the frames and the panels this time since I’m not inserting wallpaper on the lowers. Again, it’s a lot more work—and mess–than just painting them, but well worth it for this DIYer’s peace of mind. This picture is after I floated the door.

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This photo shows how little Durabond is left after sanding.

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Again I prime, lightly sand, caulk around the inserts and the cabinet boxes, apply finish, lightly sand, and apply the final coat of finish paint.

Here’s a picture of my paint shop, aka workbench, aka kitchen table.

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I decide not to keep track of my hours for the lower cabinets because it’s way too scary. All the DIYer’s whose blogs I read before I decided to go through with this all said they wished they’d done it sooner, and I whole-heartedly agree. They also warned of how very time-consuming it is, and I agree there too.

There will always be the oil verses latex, satin verses semi-gloss, to polyurethane or not to polyurethane debates. I have painted many vanities and pieces of furniture over the years, and I did a lot of research on the internet about different processes people use to paint their cabinets, but ultimately decided on what works best for me. I’m expecting to have to do touch ups on my paint job over time just as I have to touch up my interior doors and trim that are currently painted white. I love the crispness, brightness and contrast that white paint adds to my deep wall colors, and am willing to do the work to keep it that way. Check out my before and after photos.

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets! / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I hope if white cabinets are your heart’s desire, that you’ll give this a try. It does take some time to do it correctly, but if you break the job down into manageable sections, it’s not quite so overwhelming. There’s no reason why you can’t do a section, take a break for a few days or a week or two and then start again. If you have a basement or garage to work in, that would be a huge plus, but it can be done in a tiny space like mine too. And if you do it yourself, it’s immensely cheaper than investing in new cabinets. Everything I needed for this project, I already had on hand so I didn’t have to buy anything. But had I gone out and purchased the wallpaper, primer, paint, caulk and sandpaper, it would have cost less than $75.00. Now I feel like I have a new kitchen. Why did I wait so long?!!!

Update: Three years after I painted my cabinets and published this post, I purchased a new white fridge, microwave and dishwasher. Unfortunately, the color of my new appliances didn’t look the greatest with my cabinet color. After an exhausting search for a custom color to match my appliances, I found the perfect appliance white! I repainted one quick thin coat of semi-gloss paint on the cabinets, excluding the insides of the doors and other areas that weren’t affected by the new appliances. If you have issues with trying to find a paint to match your white appliances, see my post, “Don’t Be Afraid of Matching Whites in a Mostly White Kitchen“.

In addition, the bead board wallpaper has held up perfectly. No issues with it whatsoever. Above my range hood where my exhaust discharges, I have had to add some additional caulk where it pulled away slightly do to the air blasting it from my stove hood, I’m guessing. I’ve been very pleased with my white kitchen.

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.