Chalk Painting the Cabinet Doors in my Casita Travel Trailer
This is my first article, of a seven article How-To series, on the Glamping makeover of my Casita Travel Trailer:
Chalk Painting Cabinet Doors.
(Please see my post My Casita Camper “Before Glamping” Pictures, to learn why I chose to buy a Casita Travel Trailer; including before pictures as I cleaned her up to get ready for her makeover).
The picture you see above is what the interior of my Casita looked like before the makeover.
I you will notice, the interior walls are either white molded fiberglass or carpet, with the exception of the cabinet doors.
The cabinet doors are standard MDF door construction made to look like wood.
My Casita is a 2006, but the new models are still made with these MDF doors and similar hardware. It is a nice clean look, but not Glamped enough for me.
Where do I get my inspiration?
I receive my inspiration from many sources, but if you go to my Pinterest board, Glamping Trailer Interiors, you will see a wonderful potpourri of camper designs!
I truly believe that ALL of the designs I save to my Pinterest board are beautiful; suiting the taste of the person who created them.
And while I LOVE color, which is all over my home, I wanted a subtle interior in my travel trailer; a little shabby chic mixed with beach cottage feel.
Preparing to Chalk Paint my Casita
The image below shows what the carpet on the walls looks like.
Outside of all the labor involved in cleaning the carpet in my Casita, painting the cabinet doors was the MOST labor intensive.
NOTE! You cannot shortcut this section. If you want to paint your cabinet doors, it’s important that you take your time and do it right. You will be VERY happy that you did.
8 Steps to Chalk Painting Cabinet Doors:
Step 1: Remove all the cabinet doors to be painted.
The obvious first step in this process is to remove all the cabinet doors you want to paint.
However, what is easy to forget is to tag the back of each door with a numbered sticker, and placing another sticker, with the same number, at the place where you removed the door.
This step is VERY important because many of the doors are the same size, and you want to make sure each door goes back on the same hardware it was removed from so everything (i.e. screw holes) line up, or your doors may not fit well.
Also, note I said “remove all the cabinet doors that you want to paint.”
I decided that any door in my Casita that would be hidden from view would stay in its original condition (i.e. brown).
After all, chalk paint can be expensive, and if you are not going to see the door, why paint it? (The last picture in this post shows you some of the painted doors and walls, and those that remained unpainted.)
Step 2: Selecting the chalk paint colors and tools.
One thing I must share with you up front: this is NOT my first chalk painting project, and I did take a class on several ways to work with chalk paint.
Depending on your personal skill level, it may or may not be necessary to take a class, but I consider myself an artist/designer by trade, and I still found training by someone who has worked with the material very beneficial.
The paint I was trained on is Annie Sloan. There are many brands out there, and from what I hear others say, this is one of the more expensive, but it hasn’t failed me yet. I love how well it goes on.
Another popular and easy to find brand is DecoArt AMERICANA DECORE CHALKY FINISH SHABBY CHIC PAINT. (affiliate link) This link is for a six-pack set, for less than the price of a can of Annie Sloan (you are getting 6, 4 oz size, vs the the larger 8 oz size).
Again, I have not used this paint, but if this is the only paint available to you, it gets good reviews, and seems worth a try (and at that price I think I will order it to use on some projects).
You can also find recipes on the Internet on how to make your own chalk paint. I may like to try that on a future project, but my camper doors were not the place to experiment.
If you want to make your own chalk paint, this is a great post on user experience with chalk paint brands. It includes reviews of paint, and a how to make your own recipe.
So why did I choose chalk paint over other forms of paint?
While I do love the look of chalk paint, the number one reason I chose to use it is because you DO NOT have to prep the surface you are going to paint.
No sanding of any kind! In fact, it doesn’t even have to be wood! I’ve seen it used on leather and metal, too!
This photo shows everything I used to paint my cabinet doors and walls:
- A 32 ounce can of Pure White. This is the “whitest” of the Annie Sloan colors.
- Small jar of Coco. Where I buy my paint, I can buy small containers of colors. This saves me money from having to buy a 32 ounce can for a color I rarely use. I used the Coco color to add a dry brush technique to my doors, giving a subtle aged looked.
- Anne Sloan’s Soft Wax in clear. (She makes a dark wax, which I have used on other projects, and, although I have never tried it, I understand you can add a little chalk paint to the clear wax to tint it to whatever you please.)
- Painter’s Tape and a Cheap Paint Brush. I want to emphasize the “cheap” paint brush. Annie Sloan does make some very nice brushes to use with her products, but I am tough on brushes, and the brush below does the trick for me. Furthermore, I have no guilt throwing it away. If you take better care of your brushes than I do, you might want to invest in one of Annie Sloan’s, they are very nice.
The next photo is a color palette I made when I took my class, and shows all the different colors in the Annie Sloan series. As you can see, there is a wonderful collection of colors!
Step 3: Lining up my doors to paint, and covering hardware with painter’s tape:
I painted my cabinet doors on my kitchen table, covered with an old bed sheet. Even with this preparation, soft specks of paint did get on my tile floors, which I had to clean. So if you want to avoid that step, cover your floors, too!
I also taped the hardware to protect it from the paint, which you will see in Step 4 below.
If you wish, you can take off all the hardware, but you would want to make sure to number which hardware went to which door, so the screws line up again when you are done. Personally, I didn’t feel that step was necessary (and too much work!).
Step 4: Initial Coats of Chalk Paint
In the image below, you will note that the top door has one coat of chalk paint, and the bottom door has two. I used a total of three coats of the Pure White paint on all surfaces.
Note: When working with the paint, and to give the illusion of “grain,” I painted in the same direction as the original grain on the doors. Also note in the next photo that I chose not to paint the back of my doors.
Again, there is a cost to chalk paint. But the real reason I chose to leave them in their natural state is so I could scrub them, should anything they hide get on the door. Chalk paint does clean well, but why worry about it if you don’t have to?
Step 5: Dry Brushing with Coco Color
To create a dry brush effect, simply take your second color, put a small amount on your brush then dab it on a paper towel to remove most of the paint. Then, in a light sweeping motion, barely touching the door, brush up and down in the “grain” direction to get the look you want.
How much you put on is entirely up to you, and you may wish to practice on a sample board beforehand. But if you mess up, no worries, just cover the mistake with more Pure White paint, and then give it another try!
Look closely at these doors, and you can see I dry brushed in an upward fashion making sure to add a little more on the edges of the door.
Step 6: Adding Architectural detail to a Door
It was important to me that one door had some architectural detail, and wasn’t flat. So I chose the door above the sink in my Casita to add some detail.
In the next four images, you will see how I transformed this plain door by first glueing on a piece of wood accent moulding, which I purchased at the local home store.
If you can’t find something similar at your local hardware store, this molding is close to what I used: Ekena Millwork Small Farmingdale Center with Scrolls (affiliate link).
Once the wood glue dried, I painted it with three coats of Pure White (a little more paint was needed to fill in all the details of the moulding), and then I dry brushed it with Coco. I love the way this door turned out!
Step 7: Chalk Painting the Dinette Table
Painting the dinette table was the same as painting the cabinet doors.
Note the can of Soft Wax on the table. This was helps seal the chalk paint, and as bonus, especially for the dinette table, it creates a waterproof surface so liquids do not absorb into the paint; making for easy cleanup.
All my chalk painted cabinet doors and walls got at least one coat of clear wax, which I applied AFTER I reinstalled them in my camper.
The reason I chose to add the wax after the doors were reinstalled, is because you must rub the wax in, just like you were waxing a car.
I found it much easier to complete this process when I had the door hinged and locked.
Step 8: Chalk Painting Interior Walls and beginning to reinstall doors in the camper.
In this last image, you can see where I added chalk paint to the center panel dividing the dinette area from what will be the bed.
Also note all the surfaces I did not paint. Those surfaces are going to be covered by the bed, so I felt no need to paint them.
My cabinet doors and interior walls are now complete, and I am already seeing a big transformation in my camper!
The white cabinet doors have really brightened and opened up the space, and I love the look!
In my next article, I will share with you how I added teal spray paint accents to some of the Casita’s interior and exterior surfaces.
In the meantime, please feel free to ask me any questions you may have, make comments, or share experiences. I’d love to hear from you!
Mrs. Padilly’s Series on her 17′ Spirit Deluxe Casita Travel Trailer’s Glamping Makeover:
Casita Glamping Makeover:
- Chalk Painting Cabinet Doors
- Adding Teal Paint to Accent Surfaces
- Installing a Tile Backsplash
- Installing Wood Vinyl Flooring
- Decorating the Screen Door
- Window Treatments
- Dressed for Glamping
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