Painting Kitchen Cabinets with Wise Owl One Hour Enamel Paint: What You Need To Know.

Painting Kitchen Cabinets with Wise Owl One Hour Enamel Paint: What You Need To Know.

I hold the dubious distinction of being the one person who has painted her kitchen cabinets the grand total of THREE times. Who does that? Isn’t painting your cabinets once, enough?? Why the need to push the envelope? Trust me, I never set out to paint them three times. It just, kinda happened.

Initially, I sat down to write all of my experiences with the different paint brands: the good, the bad, and the ugly. But, half way through I decided to delete everything and start again. I wouldn’t write about them, I would do a Facebook Live and talk about them.







It’s a lengthy Facebook Live, but I hope that you find some useful information that you can apply to your own cabinetry. I don’t think anyone is ever excited to paint kitchen cabinets. It’s not my kind of fun. There are so many other things I’d rather be doing. But – I know that I’m not alone: solid wood cabinets, hate the aged wood stain (mine are builder-grade oak), but can’t afford to tear them out and replace them. The only viable solution is to paint them. That’s the only sensible, cost-effective way that I’ve found.

I like to think that I have always used high quality products; I’ve used Annie Sloan chalk paint with wax (I personally would not use wax again in a kitchen), Pure & Original Classico with a clear top coat and now finally Wise Owl One Hour Enamel paint, so I feel that I have a good take on what to do and what not to do. For this post I’m going to focus on the One Hour Enamel. It’s new to the market, I just finished painting my bottom kitchen cabinets with it. And I’m pretty excited about it!!

Even though most chalk paints tell you that it doesn’t require priming, it DOES require prep work. In the kitchen, the prep work is probably the most important step to getting the finished look you’re after. This is where you need to spend the most amount of time.

STEP ONE: Clean you cabinets thoroughly. Although I often wipe down my cabinets with whatever cleaner I have at hand, this is not the type of cleaning I’m talking about. I mean DEEP CLEANING. I washed mine down with a mix of TSP and water. And I had to wash them TWICE. It turns out that my cabinets were pretty disgusting and we are, as a family, complete animals. Make sure that you rinse off the TSP residue. Again, this is really important because the residue can interact with the paint, which we don’t want to happen. Once the cabinets are clean, make sure they’re dry. Because the enamel dries so quickly, if there’s any moisture on the wood it will be trapped under the paint and will affect the finish.

STEP TWO: Remove all of the hardware, take the cabinets off the hinges, and take the drawers out. I will admit that last time I painted the cabinets I didn’t remove the hinges (completely sloppy on my end) and the end result was a mess. I had to go back and replace all of the hinges that I’d managed to get paint on. Save yourself that chore. Take them off to begin with.

STEP THREE: This is a step that you may be able to bypass (although I couldn’t). Because my cabinets were already painted I felt that I needed to do this (and I’m really glad I took the time). Prime and sand. Last time I used a foam roller to paint the bottom cabinets, and while it made the work go much faster it didn’t produce the super smooth finish that I was looking for. It actually started to bug me a lot recently. My mission this time was to get a completely smooth, brush-free finish. I was willing to take the extra steps to get there. So, out came the sander. Then to the primer. Now, I used the primer for two different reasons; the first one was I had one area in the kitchen that had chipped (it was a factory finished corner, and I should have primed it to begin with, but I didn’t (sloppy again) and I paid the price. On a side note, I’ve noticed that the factory finish from Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn both want to resist chalk paint. I’ve had to prime those too, on occasion). The second reason (and you may want to do this yourself, especially if you have oak cabinets), is to help fill in the deep oak grain. Will it remove it completely? Probably not, but it will certainly help. And I’ll do anything to get rid of an evidence of oak wood.

I highly recommend using Wise Owl primer in Clear. It’s water-based, and for whatever reason because it’s clear I don’t find it to be intimidating. Completely weird on my part, I know. I personally think it’s a genius concoction. I decided to use a medium dark color (Weathervane) to coordinate with my granite counters. It’s also a color that changes somewhat with the light: sometimes it looks very grey, other times it takes on a more brown grey hue. Given that I knew I wanted to prime, I didn’t have to concern myself with the ‘typically’ white primer showing through. Wise Owl do, however, make a White primer if you’re going to paint your cabinets a light color. You do have to let this cure for four hours. I applied it to the cabinets on the evening, so it had extra time overnight.

STEP FOUR: Now the fun begins. I probably should have mentioned this earlier, but I forgot. This is a good time to invest in a good quality brush. This is the area where you do not want to go cheap. Sometimes going cheap is a really expensive mistake to make. Because the enamel dries very quickly (have I said that enough?), you don’t have the luxury of being able to pick out any loose bristles that may have fallen out of your brush. I probably can’t stress this enough – use a quality brush, and one that is a comfortable size for you to handle. Big doesn’t necessarily mean better. I have a stash of Cling! On brushes, and I really like them – they have a ton of choices. I used the S50 Shorty (my absolute favorite; easy to use, nice short handle) for the majority of the painting. In the areas that were difficult to get to (namely behind my built-in stove) I used the angled P16. It’s one of those brushes that you probably won’t use often, but when you do need it – it’s priceless (and for $18.50 it’ well-worth the money). For small touch ups, I used the S30 (the S50 probably would have worked, but this is just a super fun brush to use in small areas). I also always use a damp paintbrush. Always. Just make sure it’s damp and not wet.

So many brushes, so little time.

STEP FIVE: Basically, it goes without saying that you need to stir the paint. Stir really well, and then stir some more.

This is something you DON’T do. UNDER ANY SITUATION. You don’t look outside, see the sun shining, discover it’s in the low 70’s and decide to take your cabinet doors outside to paint. DO NOT DO THAT. Again, because the paint is fast-drying any tiny bit of fluff, or debris, or ANYTHING can float through the air, land on your wet cabinets, and then all bets are off. I don’t want to talk about it. Just don’t do it. OK?

I will also tell you, if possible, to work on a flat surface. Place the doors on a table and let gravity work for you (never in a million years did this middle-aged woman anticipate saying that gravity was your friend). The paint is self-leveling, so working on a flat surface will greatly benefit you and the flawless finish, that we’re going for. There is a trick to using this paint, and I would be amiss to not tell you that there’s a small learning curve to painting cabinets. For this reason, I will recommend you start by painting the insides of the cabinets, until you get the feel of the paint. The main difference between this enamel or other paints is that, as I keep saying, it’s fast-drying. Basically what this means is that you can’t ‘cut in’ as you normally would. Trust me, I tried. As soon as you put the paint on to the wood, it starts doing what it’s supposed to do – it starts drying!! If you ‘cut in’ you will end up with paint lines that will be hard to blend. What you need to do is start at the top, brush the paint in a straight line all the way to the bottom. Take the brush off the door, put it back and pull the brush back up to the top. Then move the brush to the next space, always using a wet edge. The main trick is to not OVERWORK it. Once you get the hang of it, it really is a very easy medium to work with. My paint dried in around 30 mins. UNHEARD OF!!!

Did you notice that my Janitor sign is crooked? It’s because I’m the Janitor, and Janitors don’t always have time to fix stuff!!

STEP SIX: This is also, in my opinion, an important step. WASH THE BRUSH between coats. These cabinets took two coats of paint. Usually, I wrap my brushes in clingfilm when I’m inbetween coats; but you really can’t do that with this. The leftover paint starts drying on your brush very quickly. I did a quick wash, and my brush was back to it’s former beautiful self. The fact that the paint overall dried so quickly was a little daunting at first. I definitely had some ‘Wow’ moments. Once the first coat was dry, I lightly sanded it with a 220 sanding block (because I’m not sloppy now. I have evolved). And I was ready for the second/final coat.

The angled brush was especially useful to paint behind the built-in stove.

STEP SEVEN: Obviously this is the stage where you let the paint dry (I decided to leave it for a few hours). Admittedly, it was dry within the hour – but, in all honestly, I was nervous that I would scratch it up. Total paranoia, I know. I started painting the cabinets in the morning, by late afternoon I had hung them with the new hinges and replaced the old hardware. This was the weird part. I’m so used to painting cabinets and having my kitchen be in complete shambles for several days, that it was a little unnerving. But in a good way. I have 10 drawers, seven doors, and about a 10 foot bead board counter base (that I painted the back of (painting that was a complete breeze). I had ordered a gallon of Weathervane (a warm grey color – it’s what I would call a ‘timeless’ color) and I have about 3/4 of the gallon left. I seriously over ordered. Like seriously. I could paint my neighbors cabinets, if I were that way inclined. Which I am no, thank you very much.

STEP EIGHT: Relax. Chill. Have a glass of wine. You deserve it. The enamel will cure rock solid in 10 days, opposed to the regular 30 days that other enamels take. Clean up is easy, just soap and water. Now I’m thinking of painting my upper cabinets. And I can’t even believe I just typed that.

So worth the work!

If you want to try Wise Owl paint or Cling! On paintbrushes for yourself, click on my affiliate link here:


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As always, thanks for stopping by!

Diane aka The Paint Factory

And I did it – I repainted my upper cabinets in Kashmir!!!! Just gorgeous!

The fine print stuff: There are affiliate links included in this post. This is my honest and truthful opinion on the products that I used. My opinion can not be bought. Companies are most certainly welcome to try and influence my opinion (by sending wildly expensive gifts that I may/may not use in the hope that I will write a glowing review). At the end of the day, if I don’t like your product, I’m going to have to write and say I don’t like your product.

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