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The finished cabinets in the master

It never fails that when we share a photo of the inside we get asked about the cabinets! EVERY TIME! I posted on Instagram just the other day and again, it happened, a few times! It was one of the last things we completed because I. WAS. DREADING. IT. We’re going to jump a little out of order and talk about them now since I keep getting questions.

Notice the pile of primed doors that’s been showed aside so I can work on ANYTHING else. That’s not half the doors. The fiver was full or storage and unfortunately doors to cover those areas!

I wanted gray cabinets. For whatever reason I loved the white and gray look. It wasn’t practical for a mom of three boys and two dogs to have white walls and light cabinets, but I wanted them. I picked out a beautiful light gray. I chose Glidden Silver Cloud and I got it in the Glidden Gripper. After a year of use I would NOT suggest you use the gripped on your cabinets. It worked amazing on the walls. DON’T use it on the cabinets, Use a cabinet paint. Lesson learned on our part. The color was great, but it didn’t adhere like a cabinet paint will for long term use and durability.

When removing the tape, the cabinet pulled off immediately. I knew we should have used cabinet paint right away. Lesson learned!

After I finished painting the cabinets they were too light and you could see the brush strokes since we didn’t spray them. I knew looking at them that I could never keep them clean and I wasn’t going to be happy long term.

As you can see, the cabinets were not dark enough and there wasn’t much contrast either.

My mom had recently painted all her kitchen cabinets and used an gel stain to give them a beautiful antique look. The picture below is of her kitchen. She had the same moderate grade builder oak cabinets and I LOVED how hers turned out.

The inspiration for our camper cabinets. My Momma’s kitchen.

My moms cabinets were a tan to start and hers were stained with a really light gray stain that she special ordered. I didn’t have that option for the stain because I needed it yesterday at that point. I had put it off for as long as I could and we had to have the camper house ready to go by that next weekend. Whatever we could find in the store is what we got to choose from. Jordan found MINWAX GEL STAIN in black along with MINERAL SPIRITS at Lowe’s on his way home from work.

We waited about a week for the cabinets to dry before we stained. The stain is gel so it’s quite thick. As soon as I touched the cabinets they were much darker than I was prepared for. I was really disappointed initially. They were almost completely black when I put the stain over the paint. The stain was thick and sticky and didn’t wipe off like everything i had read said it would! I hadn’t used the mineral spirits to cut the stain because I had read contradicting advice. Some said to do it, some said not to and I wasn’t completely sure how to go about it. I dipped my brush into the mineral spirits and painted over the gel. The gel wiped off almost in its entirety, but left the cabinets a dark gray. To say I was discouraged was an understatement. My mom encouraged me to keep going and I finally found a rhythm. If I wiped the gel off immediately I got a better color and more texture showed through. It almost looked more like a wood grain. I still wasn’t totally happy, but when Jordan saw it he loved it. It took a little practice and I had to rework a couple areas, but I got it done as it’s a constant favorite detail when we share.

Here’s a quick recap.

* Cabinets primed and painted WITH CABINET PAINT
* Gel Stain (We used Minwax-black)
* Mid quality paintbrushes that don’t shed (You won’t want to reuse these!)
* Mineral spirits
* T-shirt or towel to wipe the stain (Something that doesn’t shed or leave lint)
* Rubber, nitrile or latex type gloves to keep the stain off your hands

* Prime and paint cabinets and let dry well (we waited about a week)
* Paint gel stain on and wipe off immediately
* Use mineral spirits to paint over and remove some stain if it’s too think or you don’t get the desired effect. (I also found painting with stain again and wiping immediately often achieved what I was looking for)
* Work small areas at a time and step back to see the whole picture before stressing too much

* DON’T CLOSE THAT CABINET DOORS FOR A FEW DAYS. I found it was easier to work on them after they were hung, but it takes for the stain to dry and it will stick and peel if you don’t allow it to dry.
* Keep working and go back to adjust areas after you see a bigger picture. You might be surprised how much you like it when you see the whole project rather than a small sample.

I’d love to hear and see how your project turns out. Leave us a note here or tag us in photos on Instagram. We’d love to see how this works for you! Happy renos!