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Sam has a great experience with powder coating her vintage steel kitchen cabinets

vintage steel kitchen cabinetssamThree days before closing, a pipe burst in Sam’s soon-to-be 1950s brick ranch house — making a gut remodel of the kitchen Job #1. Sam wanted to reuse the original Geneva steel kitchen cabinets, so she found a local powder coating company. They did a great job, and she’s thrilled with her modern-meets-retro kitchen remodel.

vintage steel kitchen cabinets

Sam writes (edited):

We’re in the early stages of a complete renovation of a 1950 brick ranch. I can’t tell you enough how much of a help your site has been. A little back story on the original kitchen pictures: A pipe burst and flooded the house 3 days before we closed on it.  Since no one was living there, the plumber estimated the water ran for 5-6 days.  That’s why everything is pulled out from the walls and there are fans and cords everywhere.  We were planning on gutting the house anyway, so it wasn’t the worst thing in the world.  And the flood did reveal asbestos flooring, so the house also had to be asbestos abated. At least it was under the seller’s home owner’s insurance and not ours!

vintage steel kitchen cabinets

We had the home’s original steel cabinets powder coated, and I’ve learned more about the door warping issues some people have had from powder coating.

The warping was most likely not caused by the powder coating, but by the paint removal process. Some coaters prefer to “burn” off the existing finish using a burn oven. Burn oven temps start at 750 degree and can go over 1,000. In comparison, powder coating “bakes” at 390 degrees. Media blasting is a safer way to remove paint for hollow steel doors.

The bottom line is to talk to your coater, and make sure you’re dealing with an experienced professional. Our coater has done steel cabinets before and has been a great help. They also have fabrication capabilities to repair severely rusted cabinets.

Editor Pam notes: Thanks, Sam, for sharing what you learned about the powder coating process —  and also for echoing my longstanding cry to ensure you’re working with properly licensed professionals to get their guidance when you are dealing with/working with old materials — Be Safe / Renovate Safe. READERS: I am not an expert on this issue, so am not formally weighing in one way or another on what Sam learned. DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH on this issue, with your own properly licensed professionals. That said, I think this is a good conversation and consistent with some of the chatter I have heard over the years, that:  Yes, we’ve had readers who have said their doors warped.

vintage steel kitchen cabinets

For all of the cabinets pictured, media blasting and powder coating was $2,500. The lowers cabinets are vintage turquoise in high gloss.  The uppers are high gloss white.It would have been cheaper had we gone with an in-stock color instead of the turquoise, since that had to be custom ordered. But the turquoise was worth it.

If anyone in the Kansas City area is looking, I highly recommend Liquid & Powdercoat Finishes. I can’t say enough good things about our powder coaters. They did an absolutely fantastic job.

vintage steel kitchen cabinetsvintage steel kitchen cabinetsvintage steel kitchen cabinetsvintage steel kitchen cabinetsvintage steel kitchen cabinets

The cabinets turned out beautifully! I lucked out on the back plates.  I found a guy (through Retro Renovation) who was selling back plates and pulls that were basically in pristine condition.  I was able to replace all of mine that were severely cracked or chipped and have a few extra for future replacements.  The upper hardware was in good condition, and none needed to be replaced.

vintage steel kitchen cabinets

The countertops are concrete and the new cabinets are walnut.  All of the new cabinet pulls are similar shape to the original pulls to keep similar lines.

Sam, the finished kitchen looks fantastic. You did a really nice job melding the vintage cabinets with several more modern elements, including the concrete countertops, subway tile backsplash (yes, we’ll call that a modern revival in this use) and the flooring. Selecting the walnut for the pantry cabinet also worked really well. You also get extra double brownie points given you had so little time to work with! Glad the resources here could help — and thank you for sharing all your results and experience right back with the community!

CategoriesSteel kitchens
  1. Sandra Shagat says:

    It’s a great look. There’s a lot to be admired here. You said the hardware for the upper cabinets was in good shape and didn’t need to be replaced. If you did need to find more of those handles, where would you look? I really like that shape, but I haven’t seen it anywhere but in your kitchen. Any leads would be appreciated. Thank you!

  2. Pam Kueber says:

    Sandra, those are Geneva steel kitchen cabinets. That particular design had a unique recessed backplate, with a cabinet pull. I don’t know of anywhere to get them today… except from vintage/salvage cabinets.

  3. Juliette says:

    LOVE that particular shade of turquoise lowers with the white uppers. Love the use of walnut. Love the cute photo with your adorable baby. The little one must be so much bigger now it’s years later!

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