6.26.2012

the DIY that almost ended me

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i've read the blog posts and the tutorials. i believed the warnings that painting cabinets is HAAAAAARD.

but i am also blursed (blessed/cursed) with delusions of grander capabilities than i actually possess, so i am not appropriately scared of projects that i definitely should be. i just jump right in the deep end and only survive because there is no other alternative but to keep swimming until i am out.

after 5.5 years living among the faux cherry kitchen cabinets that the house came with when we first bought it-- and that i once actually loved (stupid, stupid girl)-- i recently transitioned to, "okay, i would never pick these on my own, but they really arent that bad."

and then one day last week, i tipped right over the edge into THESE ARE HIDEOUS AND THEY MUST GO NOW! territory.

god bless jesse. i call him up out of nowhere and say, "i have a big project i want to do and you will have to help me majorly and it will take days and days and i want it so bad, so you cant say no."

is raging impulsiveness a sign of a brain tumor? sociopathy? imminent death? no? then okay, it's not at the top of my list of traits to change about myself at the moment. WE PAINT!

and paint we did. we painted, and we deglossed, cleaned, sealed, unscrewed, mounted, cried, sweated, and wallowed.

but we finished. yes we did:

it wasnt the actual difficulty of this thing that was a kick in the soft stuff...it was the all-encompassing nature of it.

you will never realize how much surface area your cabinet doors comprise until you take them off and have to find a space to lay them out in. you never realize how much you use your countertops until you cant touch them for 48 hours. you never realize that your children are not actually the cuddly fruit of your loins that you always assumed, but are instead invincible destructi-cons with a vendetta of mental anguish to carry out against you until you try something like this.

we have child locks on all of our lower cabinets, so the kids have never really been able to see inside, much less open ALL OF THEM ALL AT ONCE WITH UNRESTRICTED ACCESS. good sweet gracious, all hell broke loose when they realized pandora's box had been opened. with the mess that this kind of undertaking requires anyway--plus two toddlers--we had on our hands a grade A shitstorm unleashing fury on us for 4 full days.

i walked in at one point and layla seemed to be smoking several birthday candles she had unearthed while also wielding a food processor cheese-grating attachment blade at judah as he fended her off with a pyrex shield and brandished an immersion blender back at her. precious moments and willow tree: where are your collectible figurines for these moments?

jesse and i have decided that as mosquitoes are attracted to CO2, so are our kids to any agendas we might have of being productive. they sense this distracted weakness in us and lose their minds like 2 little blood-thirsty life-suckers. whereas if jesse and i are being lards on our laptops in the same room as them, they will happily and quiety play or watch TV for HOURS. but dare we try to go one room over and do something requiring 5 quarks of brainpower, 4 ounces of focus or even 75% of our limbs, they experience tiny brain hurricanes that render any formerly-engaging activity utterly useless and invisible and all they can think about is stopping our progress at any cost.

chaos and stress reign supreme, messes abound and jesse and i creep ever closer to the grave.

am i painting an adequate picture of the FOUR DAY PROCESS for you? if not, tough luck, because big mommy aint repainting anything else for at least a fortnight.

but was it worth it? shockingly: yes.


let's dive in, shall we?

i was settled on the amazingly in depth tutorial from young house love until i realized that, besides being super talented, these people are also insane and may secretly be ninjas or at least contractors. my mind cant function inside of 13-day time lines, removing all belongings from all cabinets and drawers, and sanding every surface twice. then again, they had real oak cabinets so being super by-the-book was more important to them. they are rockstars a million.

so instead i used the before/after transformation and beadboard idea from this blog to guide us. finding this blog gave me several important pieces of info:

1. rustoleum makes a line of "transformations" paint kits designed to give you everything you need to change the color of cabinets, counters or furniture all in one box. they are cheap, come in many colors and come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. we ended up getting the cabinet kit for the cabs and the furniture kit we used on our counters (since the counter top one didnt come in a black option for some reason). the cabinet one was $75 and the furniture one we used on the counters was $35. both had 4 steps and coats included: deglossing, painting, decorative coat (optional...we didnt) and protective coat. no sanding required was what sold us...and the price tag.

2. adding beadboard panels to the cabinet fronts. this "one little extra" as i billed it to jesse, ended up adding a whole day and a half to the ordeal because we had to cut them exactly right and that took all of jesse's efforts for one whole night of work and then we caulked like drunk people around the gaps to make it seamless and had to go back and sand the gloops and overflows (so dammit, we had to sand a little bit anyway).

before the storm. i lived here for 5.5 years and this never really bothered me. now i see this picture and have almost a physical aversion to it.

after taking off all of the door fronts and gold hinges. we didnt have any pulls on the cabinets or drawers before bc it never bothered us, and anyway, lipstick on a pig, you know?

as i was removing all the hinges and taking them down, i was so naive and happy as the project got under way. i love my cabinets and saw only the good in them. i would actually sweet talk them, telling them, "you're just tiny little cabins, that's where you got your name. snuggy little homes for all my stuff to cozy up in." by the end of the project, the cabin/cabinette wordplay charm had vanished unless youre thinking of those cabins that horror movies are set in that scare the living crap out of me and i never want to be around. yeah, that's more of what these were like.

preparing to be cleaned and deglossed. i labelled them all (with info of where they belonged) with a post-its before writing a master list of the location and dimensions of each (since the post-its would be removed eventually)

i bought the cheapest knobs from home depot that they had in a shape that i like and then went with my old fave, oil-rubbed bronze spray paint to give them the finish that i actually wanted rather than springing $5 per knob on one that came that color

the existing hinges got a coat of it too.

jesse cut out the beadboard rectangles for the cabinet fronts and the cabinets frames. he also got a terrible haircut somewhere during the week, but we love him still and find his sexiness fully restored by the skillful use of these power tools.

the first beadboard find its new home. this is such a chic two-toned look, maybe we should have stopped there. oh sorry, i thought i lived in opposite land. ZING!

we used just liquid nails to attach the beadboard since its not like they would be getting yanked on. for larger sections that the liquid nails wasnt enough to hold tightly down, we secured with little nail-gun brads

after 1 coat of deglosser and 2 coats of paint. note the dishes in the sink are NOT from cooking since that did not happen at all during this project, but instead are full of things i accidentally touched with the deglosser during that phase. that is serious stuff and i didnt want any of it on things that would eventually touch our food.

seeing my cabinet-contents without their doors was like seeing your teacher in a swimsuit or something. you always knew it went on out of your sight, but it's just slightly wrong or indecent to see it all exposed in the light of day like that.

everybody in their ghost makeup!

the countertop situation deteriorates heading into day 3. clean and clear countertops are my love language. more so, the state of my countertops is often a perfect barometer for the state of my stress level. guess how laid back and fun to be around i was at this point!

late friday night we finished the protective coating and got the hardware installed on all the doors. we were so tired but had to get them hung to see the final product:

so so so pretty, but also utterly spoiled by the off-white countertops.

enter phase two: countertop makeover.

jesse went to bed at about midnight, but i HAD to get going on the counters because the white on offwhite contrast was ruining my before/after moment.

i cleaned the living snot out of the counters, and it was actually a little sad to rub the deglosser all over them and prep to paint them since they now looked better than ever. kind of like a dog that bites someone and has to be put down and acts so sweet in that sad back room at the vet and makes you think, "oh let's not go through with it, he will be good! look how gentle and docile". your heart breaks, but you know this creature is a danger to all future people who come into contact with it. so it was with my counters.

here was my real "old yeller" moment of truth:

nothing like rolling out black paint onto the broad white expanse of your counter to make your ovaries clench up a little bit.

after dealing with the front and backs, vertical-hanging, and decorative grooves of the cabinets, painting flat, horizontal, waist-high countertop was the most pleasing experience EVER. i seriously enjoyed all of the coats as my roller glided across the conveniently placed and perfectly-textured-for-paint surface.

after letting it dry overnight and then putting on the topcoat and letting THAT dry for another 24 hours (not being able to use your countertops at all is CHALLENGING. the top of our trashcan became our only oasis during this time) i finally had my AFTER[glow] moment:

breathe it in...but not too deeply, the topcoat hasnt fully cured yet.

cost:

rustoleum cabinet transformations kit (frost)-$75
17 knobs and 5 handles hardware- $50
two 4'x8' sheets of mdf beadboard-$40 (lots leftover for a future bathroom project)
furniture transformations kit (used for counters) in black: $35
oil-rubbed bronze spray paint-$7
liquid nails and caulk tubes-$5

we already had and needed:
-saw, caulk gun, nailer, sander
-paint rollers, tape, trays & NICE brushes (crucial)
-hinges

so $212 for what amounts to brand new cabinets and countertops (in my mind at least) is a STEAL. we could never had afforded actual replacements or even paying someone else for this labor (in case, you know, my WORST ENEMY was looking for some work, i might have wished this upon him).

of course, i am your textbook "if you give a mouse a cookie" kind of girl (aside: wait, do you have a cookie right now? can I have it?), so now we are planning new wall paint, new barstool tops, moulding, a decor switcheroo and a tile backsplash to complete the ugly ducking metamorphosis.

the paint color and decor were fine before when this was a land of cherry and cream, but just like tom brady traded up to giselle when he became an NFL star, these counters and cabs deserve something of a va-jay-jay upgrade of their own now that they are classy fellas (thank you liz lemon for that).

please make a big deal out of this transformation. if it's not that great, go ahead and lie to me. i am in a fragile zone of post-stress storm tenderness and can only bear to hear good things about this epic effort.

56 comments:

  1. You are my HERO. Our cabinets were painted before we moved into this house, but we have white formica countertops with gold flecks in them. Beautiful......in 1965. Or maybe never. I've been DYING to paint them (who has the $ to replace countertops these days? Not me) but I'm so so scared. Wanna come over to AL and help me not be afraid anymore? I'm sure if I had someone to pat me on the back and say it's okay (Nathan isn't that person :)) then I could go through with it.

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    1. what does nathan do? yell at you and say you cant do it? hahaha no, im sure he's more like jesse who will just take a "you got yourself into this...." stance. i will come to AL and help you only if i get to snuggle max, talk to iliya and get fed a constant stream of CSA goodness.

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  2. I can't believe you need internet validation the transformation is amazing!

    Good work!

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    1. this project has shaken me to my core and made me doubt everything. ive been staring at them so long that they could seriously be hideous and i wouldnt be able to tell!

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  3. This is SERIOUSLY impressive! I'm loving white cabinets right now, and they look amazing in your kitchen!

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    1. thanks meagan! i was doubtful if i could join the white cabby club, but i think it works too.

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  4. Wow, Keight. That is amazing. It looks so good you might inspire me to work on out 1970's cabinets. I can't decide If I should paint as an intermediate step before full remodel which will probably be years. Back to you...this is really amazing and the price is very impressive.

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    1. if you have patience and dont expect a fast turnaround (unlike us on both counts) i say GO FOR IT! there no point hating where youre at until "one day" if you have the power/resources to change it and make you love where you are.

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  5. SOOOOO worth it! It looks great, and I'm not even lying! I just about snort laughed at your description of the shitstorm of kid interference. This is so totally true, and the best description of it that I have ever heard.

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    1. the shitstorm is the most intense and easily recollected sensation. i can bring it to life with such ease. that cant be healthy for me or the readers.

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  6. This is seriously amazing. I am super-de-duper impressed...no lie. You are a renaissance mom for sure! Congrats!

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    1. aaaaaand i must now get "renaissance mom" embroidered on everything i own!

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  7. I had to skip past the diy steps to comment on the remark that your kids flock to chaos when you are buried in project-ness. Mine too. That's why we gave up on getting things done YEARS ago! Now, back to my reading...

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  8. LOVE it! The breadboard was SO worth it and totally inspiring to me as we're house hunting and seeing lots of really old and dated kitchens. A cheap (even if not easy) way to have a big impact.

    ...You're also bringing up my traumatic memories of our last place, when I repainted the cabinets and counters at the same time and we had no furniture yet - and the floors had their carpet ripped up with nails sticking up out of the floor, so our ONLY usable surface in the whole apartment was Annabel's Little Mermaid folding table. Even the floors were off limits. Did I mention Nate was in Africa at this time? ...Like I said, traumatic.

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    1. this description made my armpits sweat. holy crap that is INTENSE.

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  9. I love this! I 100% sympathize with you. I did the same kitchen transformation a few years ago. However, I could kick my own ass for not knowing that rustoleum made a kit for painting cabinets, as I went the whole sanding route & it sucked. Now I know, and my husband will thank you for the more work I put him through.

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    1. let's save your ass and pretend like they *just* invented these kits. it could be true??? glad to know the sanding was really as bad as i feared. except not glad about your suffering. and so true about husbands hating bloggers/pinterest for all the work they inspire their wives to bring home to them.

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  10. Oh my gosh, that is gorgeous! My family is thinking about changing up the look of our cabinets. I knew it'd be hard work, but after seeing this, I'm totally willing to make our kitchen look that good! Great job!!

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    1. my heart = warmed. thank YOOOOOU!

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  11. it looks amazing! i love the addition of the beadboard. it really gives it a beachy feel. and kudos for tackling the project with the kids around. holy heart palpitations. you guys are awesome! i'm so intrigued by the countertop painting. mine are an awful green and i would love to change it up. interested to hear how the paint job holds up over time!

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    1. me too! the durability over time makes me a tad squiggly in the nerval regions. i did do about 3 coats of the protective layer (it only called for one) to try to head this one off at the pass, but i also figure (not to be cavalier about the $ or the effort) that for $35 and one weekend of work/waiting, i could redo these once a year and not cry myself to sleep over it, you know? annoying, but still preferable to the old stuff.

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  12. it looks so great! We are thinking our cabinets for a third time. Haven't considered painting the countertops yet.

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    1. shut the FACE! you have done this twice and are thinking of going back for thirds?!?! so your mental health facility must grant weekend passes out into the real world, huh? jokes! you are a super studddddd.

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  13. It looks totally amazing!!! But I actually really like the blue walls behind the black and white cabinets/appliances. I think the color makes everything pop. Hope I can remember this if I need it someday!

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    1. i really do love that colorm but unfortunately, in my mind, that blue was a willing accomplice to the nasty cherry all these years and i cant separate the two in my mind. so it has to go too. we need a totally fresh start. we're thinking cool gray!

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  14. Keight--oh my gosh, this is amazing! I love white cabinets and the breadboard makes it over the top! And I'm super intrigued by the painting of your countertops. Ours are awful, wait let me back up. One of ours (the original) is an awful speckled green. The other (what appears to be an addition) is an ok-ish black speckled, made to look like a granite knockoff. But the major problem is they don't match! Who does such a thing?
    Anyway, I have heard you can buy such kits and iMm glad to know it was easy and turned out so well! I'm also totally impressed by your ability to do this with the kids underfoot. Y'all are superhuman.
    Love it!

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    1. what the WHYYYYYY? also, as my gorgeous DINK friend, let me give you some advice: DO IT! DO IT NOOOOOW! jesse and i sat around last night bemoaning the fact that we never did this stuff when we had no kids and (what now seems like) unlimited free time. be smarter than us!

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  15. All I can say is damn girl! That is awesome! Can't wait to see it for real this summer!!!

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    1. many beers and cheese on top of these for you and me. happening.

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  16. You have so much energy and ambition... the countertop is my favorite part!

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    1. oi, i dont know if i can claim either off those. delusions and will to survive seem more fitting most of the time. but they end up looking like energy and ambition, so yes!

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  17. that turned out great! I love it!

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    1. thanks tracy! and great internet sleuthing. you were the first person outside of our family to know what we were doing.

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  18. Wowie. What a project. But sooo worth it in the end. We redid our cabinets a few years ago......the hard way. At least we had my parents helping, but this meant my mom got to see EVERYTHING behind the cabinet doors, which gave me perma heartburn.

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    1. i too would be in perma buttclench mode if my mom could see everything in my cabinets all at once. i would hear such silent judgement! but for free labor...possibly worth it?

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  19. I am an internet stranger, but I must commment - I absolutely love this!! So beautiful!! As someone else said, I love the blue too, actually. But - gray will look nice too. Please post more "after" pictures!

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    1. hello, stranger! yeah, i know, the blue really is a gorgeous shade, but i just feel like it's not right in here now. but then again, i have deep history issues with everything in the room and am not an objective observer. i am excited about a neutral and clean color palate with some cute, less-permanent pops of color.

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  20. This looks AH-MAZING! I love the blue and yellow (my kitchen is teal, orange, yellow and lime - i swear it looks much better than it sounds) so I love the bright colors. But grey will be nice (our bedroom is grey and white with red accents) and really soothing. I cant wait to see the pictures with the new colors. Overall, your house seems awesome! I love your pantry and your kitchen and am totally jealous of all your upgrades (We live in a rental. What's here is here, to my chagrin).

    Keep it up - I love your blog - i check it daily and get excited with each new posting! Thanks for sharing your life with us!

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    1. that sounds like such a fun kitchen palate. i feel your pain in the rental that you arent allowed to mess with...that would be hard for me if it wasnt perfect. thanks for your sweet words about the blog...making my day!

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  21. WOW!!! I loved the subway tile picture on facebook last night, but picturing it with this is perfection! Love some white cabinets! You guys did a fabulous job! DIY makes you want to lose your mind, but it is so worth it in the end! When we did our kitchen, we lived without countertops and with just a microwave and mini-fridge for weeks...i thought we might not both make it out alive! Also totally agree about the kids knowing when you are trying to get a project started. Maybe it will get better when we can make them help! Thanks for sharing your hard work!!!

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    1. thanks lacey! yall re our kitchen remodel twins: white blonde and ethnic-looking hot jesse + in too deep and might get divorced during the process. glad to know its worth it!

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  22. Oooooh. The effort was so worth it. It's beautiful. I can feel the freshness resonating out of the kitchen. Grey is going to be amazing.

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    1. yes! fresh is so much the word i want.

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  23. I was nearly ENDED by a similar kitchen cabinet and counter paint makeover project last summer, and I didn't have the paneling OR the toddlers. Our before looked just like yours! The problem was that the place was actively on the market, so I wanted to finish super fast before anyone decided to check it out while the entire floor was covered in plastic and doors. Super Fast = 3 sleepless days and nights eating nothing but Dominos.

    You might not want to hear this right now, but I did the bathroom cabinets too (in a dark brown color) and that was an EVEN BIGGER transformation. It went from looking old and crusty to brand new and super-clean. Highly recommended.

    We also had that same colored wood on all the folding closet doors, so I went ahead and did those in white. Ah... so flat, so amenable to the roller. That was awesome.

    Then, rolling off of my "paint-is-power" high, I started looking into stainless steel paint for the beige appliances from the 70s... And that's when my husband pulled the plug. Man am I happy to be living in an all-white rental now :)

    It was so sad that we did this only in time to move out. It's awesome you've invested in this now and your family gets to enjoy it! Can't wait to see it with the backsplash!

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    1. ok first off...no idea that you were married. a little fb background check and i see that it's new enough that i can get away with that. hooray!

      we, too, ordered pizza after this project was ordered. i actually rage-ordered and ended up with LOTS of poor choices.

      folding door cherry=SICK

      "amenable to the roller." poetry.

      you love your "all-white" living situation? you racist.

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  24. Boy am I glad I didn't see this when I still had my recently sold house. The kitchen cabinets were horrendous. Probably would have fallen apart if I'd tried this amazing transformation on them. Your kitchen looks great. Can't wait to see more photos of the paint job (which I'm sure will feel like the easiest thing in the world after the cabinets!!)

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    1. i know, right? doing the cabinets first was the right move. everything hereafter has seemed SO EASY by comparison. backsplash? a walk in the park? lifting 100 pounds with my barehands? a comparative breeze!

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  25. Looks great!! Love all of your color choices and the addition of the beadboard!

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  26. So getting ready to start this project myself. Got the same color and notice that is has a slight blue tinge to it now that it is home. Is this something you notice? Want it to look white but not a creamy white.

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    1. the EXACT thing happened to me. there was no perfect PURE WHITE option so i went with frost thinking it just looked blue-ish next to the warmer colors on the box. i wrote about the dilemma here: http://www.putapuredukes.com/2012/06/issue-of-color.html

      we have left it as is since last june because i couldnt even cope with the fact that it was possibly wrong after all that work. truth be told, it has bothered us almost zero. we did recently do a project that required some ultra white semi-gloss paint, and just to see the difference, i painted that paint over a cab and it was kind of shocking. so now i am painting over them (just the outsides) again slowly but surely, like 2 or 3 a night to really achieve that perfect white.

      if you havent started yet i would recommend telling the paint associate at the counter to mix it with ZERO PERCENT blue...even if thats not what the code tells them. otherwise, just buy a gallon of semi-gloss ultra white and sub that during that step.

      good luck!

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