Tuesday, 4 May 2021

How I painted my kitchen cupboards on a budget

How to paint your kitchen cupboards on a budget. Remove vinyl wrap and paint an mdf kitchen using a heat gun. Kitchen makeover renovation inspiration

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that I've been on a mission over the past few years to transform my tired, old kitchen through budget-friendly quick-fixes and DIYs. So far I've painted my tiles (the DIY that kicked this all off!), added loads of new accessories, and laid a new floor using peel and stick vinyl tiles. Next up on the list is painting the kitchen cupboards - something I've wanted to do for years but always been so nervous to.

My kitchen was installed when the house was built 20 years old, so as you can imagine its past it’s best. The cupboards are made of mdf and covered in a vinyl wrap that's peeling, cracked and grubby. So armed with a heat gun and a paintbrush, I embarked on one of my biggest makeovers yet. And although this involved three full days of work, I hope you'll agree it was definitely worth the graft!

 
How to paint your kitchen cupboards on a budget. Remove vinyl wrap and paint an mdf kitchen using a heat gun. Kitchen makeover renovation inspiration
The before - with the original tiles on the left 


Everything I used:

Heat gun - I borrowed this from a family member, but you can pick these up for around £10 from hardware stores

Rust-Oleum Kitchen Cupboard Paint in shade 'Dove' (only available online at Very.com*, £22.99) [Affiliate link] 

Rust-Oleum Furniture Laquer (Homebase, £14) 

Round brass knobs (Amazon, £7.99 for a pack of 4) 

Brass cup handles (Amazon, £6.99 for a pack of 10) 

Small foam roller

Small paintbrush

Frogtape



Prepping the cupboards 

As I mentioned above, my kitchen cupboards are that kind from the 90's - made from mdf with the door fronts covered in a vinyl wrap. I therefore had two choices when approaching this revamp. I could either paint over the vinyl wrap, or remove the wrap completely and paint directly onto the mdf. I chose to go with the latter as on a number of the cupboards the wrap is peeling off the edges, meaning the finish wouldn’t have been great at all. So off they came! I was worried this wouldn’t be the easiest of jobs, but I couldn’t be more mistaken - all you need to tackle this is a heat gun!

How to paint your kitchen cupboards on a budget. Remove vinyl wrap and paint an mdf kitchen using a heat gun. Kitchen makeover renovation inspiration

This is much easier to use than I thought it would be - you simply use a heat gun in exactly the same way as a hairdryer, holding the gun above the vinyl, which lifts off really easily when heated. This could, of course, be because my cupboards are very old though! There are parts of the kitchen from which I couldn’t remove the wrap, such as the surrounds and shelves on the side. For these parts, I simply sanded them using a piece of 180 grit sandpaper.

How to paint your kitchen cupboards on a budget. Remove vinyl wrap and paint an mdf kitchen using a heat gun. Kitchen makeover renovation inspiration

Painting the cupboards   

Next it was time to move onto the painting! There’s lots of different paint you could go for, some you’ll need to prime first, however I went for Rustoleum Kitchen Cupboard Paint. The good thing about this paint is it’s self-priming so you can paint straight onto any surface. Initially I wanted to go for a really dark navy colour, however I decided against this in the end as the room is very small and receives little natural light throughout the day, and I was worried it would make the space look even darker. So I went with the shade ‘Dove’ - I know, it was meant to be! It’s a really nice pale grey, that almost looks like a really cottage-style blue in some light, and I absolutely love it. Make sure you frogtape around your tiles/worktop to avoid getting any paint on those. 

How to paint your kitchen cupboards on a budget. Remove vinyl wrap and paint an mdf kitchen using a heat gun. Kitchen makeover renovation inspiration

Because my kitchen has thick grooves in the doors, I found it helped to paint those sections and the edges first using a small paintbrush, and then I used a mini foam roller on the flat sections to give a nicer finish and avoid brushstrokes. My cupboards needed 2-3 coats in total - I found that the parts I couldn't remove the wrap from needed more coverage than the plain mdf parts. In total I used just over one can of paint - I had to order a second can just to finish off some touching up.

Finishing the cupboards off  

Once everything was dry I fitted the new knobs and handles. The original handles were chrome, so I updated them with some brass ones I found on Amazon - knobs for the cupboards and cup handles for the drawers. After fitting them I was left with holes from where the old handles were, which I filled using wood filler. Once this has dried you’ll need to sand down and repaint.

How to paint your kitchen cupboards on a budget. Remove vinyl wrap and paint an mdf kitchen using a heat gun. Kitchen makeover renovation inspiration

The final part to this process was to apply a clear furniture lacquer. I went with Rustoleum again, and chose a lacquer rather than a wax. You simply paint this on - don’t worry it dries clear! - and wait to dry. This will protect your paintwork from chipping, something essential in our high-traffic kitchen!

And you’re all done! In total this took me three full days to compete, and I’m not gonna lie it was hard work, but was absolutely worth it. I had a few ‘what am I doing?!’ moments, but I’m so glad I went for it. It’s given this tired old space a new lease of life and has completely changed the way I feel about it. 

How to paint your kitchen cupboards on a budget. Remove vinyl wrap and paint an mdf kitchen using a heat gun. Kitchen makeover renovation inspiration

How to paint your kitchen cupboards on a budget. Remove vinyl wrap and paint an mdf kitchen using a heat gun. Kitchen makeover renovation inspiration

How to paint your kitchen cupboards on a budget. Remove vinyl wrap and paint an mdf kitchen using a heat gun. Kitchen makeover renovation inspiration

A brand new kitchen is never going to be a possibility in this home, however I’m so happy with the way a few quick-fixes have turned out over the years - I’ve previously painted the tiles (which cost me £10) and laid a new vinyl floor (£90 total) and had the worktop and sink replaced. If you’re too stuck with a kitchen that’s falling apart, or you’d just love to replace, then I’d absolutely recommend taking on a few DIY upgrades. You’ll be surprised at what you can achieve with just a few pounds and a weekend!

How to paint your kitchen cupboards on a budget. Remove vinyl wrap and paint an mdf kitchen using a heat gun. Kitchen makeover renovation inspiration

What do you think of the final look?! Is this something you’d like to do in your kitchen?

Thanks for reading,
Sam Xx

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