The final step for my kitchen remodel was to give all of the cupboards a sprayed coat of varnish. Because the cupboard doors and drawers have to be sprayed outside (due to the mess and fumes), we had to wait until the summer months to do this part! This time, we were not only doing the cupboards that were refinished before, but giving all of the cupboards in the kitchen a fresh new coat.
The benefits of using a spray gun to varnish is that it gives a beautiful, even coat of finish. It also can make the project go so much faster than if you were to use a brush to put it on. The risk with spray varnishing (and with any varnishing), is that things like humidity, dust, or anything on the wood surface can cause a mess!
We picked a weekend that was not supposed to be very humid to do the project. The first step was removing all of the handles and hinges from the cupboard doors and drawers. For the pieces that we just redid this winter, they only needed a light scuffing with 220 grit sandpaper to give the new varnish something to stick to. This step is super important to ensure the layers of varnish stick to one another, and your new layer doesn’t start peeling off.
For the cupboards that were still the original finish, I gave them a good cleaning to remove any grime and product from them. When I first bought my house, I used a lot of wood polish on the cupboards to make them look nice, but if you try to varnish over that, you will get a bunch of fisheyes in the varnish and have a mess on your hands! Since these cupboards are almost 70 years old, they needed a little bit of cleaning up before they got sanded and then their new coat of varnish!
My dad is pretty handy with a spray gun because he used to paint cars, so the actual spraying process went super quick. You want to get enough product on the surface, but don’t want it to start running. To prevent runs, as soon as a piece was sprayed, I would take it and lay it so the surface was horizontal to the ground. This allowed any excess varnish to lay out flat, instead of having runs down the face of it.
It was important to prevent any dust from flying around during the spraying process, so we used a tack rag to wipe off the surface of each drawer and make sure there wasn’t dust inside of it that would get disturbed when the air hit it. Taking extra precautions is a lot smarter than having a bunch of dirt end up on your new cupboards!
I let everything sit and dry for 24 hours before touching any of it. It looked like it was pretty dry just a few hours later, but I didn’t want to start putting handles on and having them stick into the varnish or anything like that.
The next day, everything was perfectly dry and so beautiful! I used a satin finish, which didn’t leave them looking too glossy. For the cupboard boxes that we couldn’t take outside, I lightly scuffed them all with sandpaper and then used a water based varnish in the same finish as the spray varnish, and used a brush to apply it.
This project has been a labor of love, but it is so important to me to preserve the beautiful original cupboards in my kitchen! Compared to where they were, the wood looks so beautiful now, and can hopefully last another 70 years!