Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Painted Cabinet Knobs

the old cabinet knobs

Problem #1: My cabinets are used. When we moved in, one of the first things we did was clean all the kitchen cabinets we had (we were promised more).  Try as we might, there was odd coloration around all of the gold knobs that we could not get off.  When we finally got the rest of the kitchen cabinets installed (which took a few weeks cuz my landlord is AWESOME), we discovered what the discoloration was.

The previous owners of the cabinets had birdhouse knobs on all of them.

On our new cabinets, we got one birdhouse knob, one gold knob, and one door with nothing on it. This has bothered me for many months now.

Problem #2: We have no closets or coat racks, so our coats most often get thrown over the back of the couch and then fall to the floor when someone sits down.  We also find it hard to keep track of hats.

Solution! Take off all the old gold knobs and buy enough new ones for ALL the doors/drawers that match the kitchen and use the old gold knobs to make a coat hooks.  My first solution was to find old mismatched/vintage type knobs at thrift stores, but after looking for several weeks, I couldn't find any and gave up. 

wood cabinet knobs
Step One: Buy knobs within my budget
Since my budget was "as cheap as possible," I found some $0.85 knobs at a big box home improvement store.  I have lots of paint left over from my college art 101 classes (luckily, they haven't dried out) so I knew I could make these match.  I took an old piece of cardboard and poked some finishing nails through it to give me something to rest the knobs on without smudging paint.

with two coats of paint, no varnish
Step Two: prime, mix, paint
While I've done a fair amount of painting, I wanted to make sure I was using the right products for a kitchen cabinet because it's so heavily used.  I used this how to page as reference.  They suggested sealing/gesso-ing raw wood as a base coat.  My gesso was dried out and unusable, so I used what I had on hand: some of my bookbinders PVA* glue.  I think modge podge would work well too and most crafters have that on hand (and if you don't have any on hand, a 1:1 ratio of white glue and water makes homemade modgepodge!).  I let that dry, lightly sanded, and mixed up a nice red color to match my kitchen. One thing I learned in art classes was to always mix acrylic paints with water to thin it out.  The paint will go on smoother and have less globs and paint stroke lines.  Also, you get a thinner coat, which is actually good because two thin coats will cover better than one thick, globby one. Another tip: add small amounts of white/black to the color you are mixing, don't add color to white/black.  It will take far too long and make waaaay too much paint for pretty much any purpose.  Oh, and I painted all of these in at least two steps: first the curvy part by holding the top and bottom, then the top while holding the curvy part. 

two coats of paint with varnish
Step Three: varnish and wait
After two good coats, I varnished the knobs using a matte varnish I picked up at a craft store (glossy is another option).  Typically things like varnish and paints are cheaper at big box home improvement stores, but when one is doing a project this small, it's not really cost effective.  Same thing if you are buying acrylic paint.  Find a few coupons and go to town at a craft store.  Be sure to varnish the bottoms!  You don't need to paint the bottom, but the varnish will help protect the knobs from any moisture in the kitchen (like wiping down cabinets).  After I varnished these, I waited FULL 24 hours before attempting to put them on the doors.  They were dry within half an hour, but I wanted them to fully cure.  Also, I didn't want to annoy the next owners by having my paint stick to the door like the stupid birdhouses.

the new knobs.  and the paint i can't get off. 
Step Four: install
Then it was install time.  I removed the old hardware and screwed my newly painted knob in its place. 

that birdhouse paint is REALLY tough to get off. Also, aren't my cabinets hung nicely?  Thanks landlord!
Step Five: go to the hardware store to get necessary supplies
I discovered as I was trying to install these that the pilot holes were not big enough for the wood screws that came with my new knobs.  The threads were bigger, the old screws don't work on the new knobs, and I didn't have a big enough drill bit to enlarge the holes to the correct size.  I currently only have new knobs on three doors; the thick drawers gave me a LOT of trouble. 

So now I have Problem #1 solved (pending visit to hardware store).  Problem #2: No Coat Rack, No Problem will be covered in a later post. 

* while Elmer's while glue is a PVA glue, bookbinders PVA is a higher quality PVA.  While high quality PVA can be used in place of Elmers, Elmers is NOT appropriate for bookbinding purposes.

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