Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Repainting a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer

Here's yet another "I'm not dead!" message.  No, I'm not dead.  Yes, I disappeared for a year plus.  And yet again, things are very different.

First off, I bought a house.  (WHAT?!!!)  I originally started this blog back in 2011 when I bought my first house, but then I hadn't bought a house because the seller had committed fraud.  That's why most of the blog entries are about baking.  For the first couple of years, I was settled in a nice house that I was renting and things were fine.  Then I started moving every year into different apartments and my commute got longer, so it became more difficult to find the time to blog.  Now that I've actually bought a house, I'm trying to start blogging again.  The blog will have a lot more DIY content than baking content for 6-10 months, simply because there isn't a really functional kitchen right now and I'm at the beginning of the remodeling process.  Hopefully I will have a lovely, complete kitchen at the end of this and will go back to baking posts as well as DIY.

This post is half and half baking and DIY: how to repaint a Kitchen Aid stand mixer.

I received one as a present several years ago and I love it, but the color was not my favorite.  It was also the reason that the price had been dropped.  (I also love finding great deals so it made the present even better to me that my mother found it on super clearance.)  Kitchen Aid had made a deal with the pink-ribbon-for-breast-cancer group where they donated some amount of profit for every stand mixer in the pink-ribbon color that was sold.  But that pink color is really bright and not the best for a small kitchen appliance, so they didn't sell well.  My mother found this stand mixer for something like 50% off.  Awesome!

There were two blog posts about repainting Kitchen Aids that I used as guides:  Apartment Therapy and reality day dream.  They were both very helpful and made me think that I could actually do this project, but they were also a little bit light on the details.  The most important thing I can say about my experience is this nugget of wisdom: don't be stupid like me.  In this case, "stupid" means deciding that something small can be fixed and making an even bigger problem out of it.

This project should have taken about a week, but it took me about 2 weeks due to a combination of things that I ran into that weren't mentioned in the blogs I looked at and me doing stupid stuff.  I also used just about an entire spray paint can of color and clear coat due to the number of repaints and touch-ups that I did.  The good news is that even with all of the mistakes I made, the results look great.  If I can do this, anybody can do it.

This entry is very image heavy because it's easier to show some of the details using pictures rather than with a description.

Materials for repainting a Kitchen Aid stand mixer:

  • good quality cleanser + rags
  • paper towel
  • rubber gloves
  • painter's tape
  • phillips head screwdriver (plus a flathead screwdriver if you take out the carbon brushes)
  • small, angled-head paintbrush
  • plastic sheeting or a tarp
  • two small wooden blocks (or something else to elevate the stand mixer off the ground)
  • sandpaper or sanding block (180 to 220 grit)
  • good quality spray paint
  • good quality clear enamel gloss spray paint

Part 1: Preparation

The preparation is really important for this project.  Before you do anything else, make sure to thoroughly wash the mixer with a good quality all-purpose cleanser to get any grease and food particles off of it.  Anything that's left will be painted over.  Next, take off the parts of the mixer that are easy to remove.  Apartment Therapy recommends taking pictures of the mixer with all parts attached so that you know where to put things back on.  I did not have any problem remembering where all of the parts went because I didn't take very many parts off.  I put all of the screws and the feet into a sandwich baggy which kept me from losing anything important.  Also, don't take the machine head off.  You'll be tempted to but it's a real pain to get the alignment and balance right when you put it back on.

The attachment screw and plate at the front of the head are easy to remove: unscrew the big black screw handle until it comes out of the mixer and pull off the plate that's embossed with "Kitchen Aid".  To remove the back hood, unscrew the small silver screw at the top back of the mixer.  To remove the skinny silver strip that runs around the top body of the mixer, unscrew the two small silver screws that hold it in place at the back of the motor.  You must remove the back hood first to get easier access to these two screws.  This strip will have grease build-up on the inside of the strip and the machine head.  That's a normal by-product of using this in a kitchen and doesn't mean that anything is broken.  Clean the grease from the mixer head and the metal strip.  The bowl clamping plate has 3 larger silver screws holding it in place to the base of the machine which are easy to remove.

The back hood screw is at the top left (dark blue arrow), the silver metal strip is held in place by two screws at the back (white arrow), the bowl clamping plate is at the bottom of the stand mixer (dark blue arrow), and the attachment screw and plate are at the front of the mixer (dark blue arrow).  If you're removing the carbon brush, carefully unscrew the two large, flat black screws in the middle of the body of the mixer (one on each side) and catch the springs and carbon brushes as they come out.

After removing the bowl clamping plate
After removing the attachment screw and plate and the skinny silver metal strip that runs around the mixer.  Clean the grease off from under the silver metal strip.
Clean off the grease that's on the inside of the silver metal strip.

I ended up removing the carbon brush screws (the two large, flat black screws on either side of the mixer) but you may not need to do that for your color.  The pink was so bright that is was still visible on the inside of the screw holes, so I decided to remove the carbon brushes to paint the holes.  If you decide to remove the carbon brushes and screws, be careful when unscrewing the brushes.  There is a strong bronze spring that is held in place by each of the screws, and the carbon brushes are on the end of the springs.  When you unscrew the carbon brush screws, the springs will try to pop out with a lot of force.  Make sure that you don't loose the carbon brushes because the stand mixer can't work without them.  (See below for more details on the carbon brushes.)

To remove the feet, turn the stand mixer upside down.  My mixer has 5 white rubber feet that easily pull off and on.  I stored them in the baggy with the rest of the screws while I painted the mixer.

Once you have removed all of the parts that you want to, gently sand the stand mixer.  The goal is to remove the glossy top coat without removing the paint.  You do not want to sand through to the metal.  I used a 180 grit sandpaper block, and cut out small pieces of 220 grit sandpaper for small, hard to sand places.  The sandpaper block is very useful for this type of project and is worth the money.  Sand the mixer in a gentle circular motion.  You will see white dust accumulating and the mixer will lose some of its shine.  Wipe all of the dust off the mixer with a damp paper towel or rag.  Make sure to get all of the dust so that it doesn't end up glued to the mixer with paint.

It's a big difficult to see in this picture, but the mixer has been sanded and is not as shiny as it originally was.
The sanding is easier to see.  I had to sand some of this in straighter lines rather than in circles because of the shape of the mixer.

You want to be sure that you have completely taped up any part of the stand mixer than you don't want paint to get on.  Feel free to use more than one layer of tape.  To cover screws, put a piece of tape over them, trace the outline of the screw with your fingernail, and either cut the tape with your fingernail or with a box cutter to lift off all of the tape except what's directly over the screw.

Put a large piece of tape over the screw, find the outline and cut around it, and remove the excess tape.
With the screw covered and the motor and power cord taped off.

Make sure to cover all parts of the motor.  I covered the motor with a small sheet of plastic drop cloth, and then taped over the entire motor.  To keep the cord clean, I taped halfway down the cord and then put the rest in a plastic bag, which I taped in place to keep it from sliding.  Make sure to put the bag far enough down the cord that it's easy to move the cord out of the way, and that the bag isn't hanging straight off the top of the cord or it will fall into the wet paint on the neck.

I taped over the control knobs and then taped down the control arms as far as I could until they went into the machine.

Control knobs and arms are taped.  Next, I taped up all of the remaining metal parts.  Note that I did not sand the rotating underside of the machine head.
The most awkward parts to tape are the small metal parts that are in the rotating underside of the machine head.  It's important to not push the spring upwards when putting tape on the attachment coupler or the tape will get pushed down by the force of the spring.  Don't miss the two small screws that are behind the rotating part.  To tape the circular metal band that runs around the rotating machine head, I used small pieces of tape that were short in length because they were easier to place accurately.

When you tilt the head back, you will see a large silver screw head in the neck.  This is an adjustment screw for the height of the rotating head relative to the bowl height (i.e. you use this to adjust the height of the whip if it's hitting the bottom of the bowl).  You don't have to cover this if you don't want to but the end result looks better if you do (IMHO).

The height adjustment screw is inside the neck.
Overall, it took me about 30 minutes to clean and sand the mixer and remove the parts, and then about 2 hours to tape up everything.  Each time I thought that I was finished taping, I noticed another little screw.  Take your time with this part and do it right!  This will really help the end result look crisp and sharp.

Don't forget to put tape in the attachment hole to seal it up.  You don't want to fill that with paint or it could cause problems when using attachments in the future.  I balled up a piece of tape and used that to fill up most of the hole, and then put a flat piece of tape over the hole and gently pushed it in using my thumb.  It filled up the hole and sealed it up to the inside edges.

With all parts taped and ready to go.  There is a big piece of tape in the attachment hole.
All taped up and ready for painting.


Part 2: Painting

This is where I made all of my mistakes.  So again, my helpful advice is to not be stupid like me!

Based on my previous spray paint experiences, I use Rustoleum products.  They spray well, cover well, are glossy and shiny when they should be, and the sprayers don't clog up.  I was really tempted to paint the stand mixer teal (one of my favorite colors) but I decided to go with traditional navy blue because I haven't made any color decisions about my kitchen.  Navy blue goes with many color schemes and I didn't want to take the time to paint it only to end up deciding to change the color because it clashes with the backsplash.  I used a paint+primer product that works on metal (and other materials).  You should only be spray painting metal in this project.  The top coats were done with Rustoleum clear enamel gloss.  This product is nice and shiny, and you will want to put on 3 to 4 top coats.  Make sure to follow the specific instructions on the paint can!

Navy blue and clear glossy, ready to go

First lesson learned: do the painting with the mixer elevated off of the plastic or tarp, or pick up and move the mixer before the paint really starts to dry.  In this case, the issue isn't that the paint will stick to the plastic and start to peel off when you pick the mixer up, it's that the paint will puddle at the bottom of the mixer and you will end up with a thick, lumpy edge of paint at the bottom.  I put the mixer on a couple extra blocks of wood.

Just after spraying on the first coat of navy blue.  I haven't moved the mixer to the block and flange yet.

Second lesson learned: turn the mixer over and do the first coat from upside down.  This sounds strange, but it's very difficult to paint some parts of the mixer when it's right-side up, like the rotating part of the machine head.  Do the upside down coat first, and only worry about painting the areas that are obviously only easy to get to when the mixer is upside down.  You don't need to do a full paint job on the mixer when it's upside down, you just want to hit the parts that you would need to turn the paint can upside down to hit when the mixer is right-side up.

Once the first coat was cured (24 hours), I turned the mixer upside down and got the rotating machine head part and the base of the mixer.

Third lesson learned: don't try to spray paint every nook and cranny.  Both of the tutorials that I followed just said that they spray painted and then the whole mixer was done.  That was not my experience at all.  In fact, I made things harder on myself by trying to spray paint every inch.  The paint ended up getting very thick in some places and then the thickened paint got scraped off by the movement of the mixer parts.  Specifically, the speed adjustment knob arm and head locking knob arm (one on each side of the mixer) kept scraping off the paint and it took me days to figure out that I had sprayed on the paint so thickly that moving the knobs was what was removing the paint.

Instead of spraying every inch of the mixer with paint, use a thin, angled paint brush to get the parts that need only a thin layer of paint.  To get the paint out of the can for the brush, hold the can a couple of inches away from the plastic drop cloth and spray out a small amount of paint.  The paint will puddle up and you can dip the brush into the pool of paint.

In my case, the area directly under the two control knob arms (not on the side of the machine but towards the interior, directly under the arms) were seriously problematic.  I ended up cutting out a small square of sandpaper, sanding off all of the paint that I put on, and then lightly painting on a thin layer with the paintbrush.  That was the only thing I tried that worked really well.

To sandpaper under the arms, I took a small square of 220 grit sandpaper (maybe 1/4 inch by 1/4 inch), wiggled it under the arms so that it laid flat with the gritty side down against the paint and with a decent sized part of a corner sticking out, and then rubbed back and forth to get the old paint off.  It's tricky but you can do it if you need to.

There were also some smaller areas in the neck that were difficult to spray paint because the head had to be tilted back to access them so I couldn't paint them when the mixer was upside down, but I also couldn't get a good angle with the paint can because the neck didn't go back far enough.  That ended up being another "super thick paint causing issues" area, and again I used a small square of 220 grit sandpaper to clean it up, and then used the little paintbrush to apply one thin coat of paint.

I recommend painting with the paintbrush before doing the first full right-side up coat of paint.  This will make it easier to have the paintbrush-applied sections blend with the sprayed-on sections.  Not that there is any obvious difference to the eye - I only know where they are because I painted them.

The first time I saw this, I thought it was because I hadn't moved the knob between coats of paint.  That was true, but it kept happening after every repainting coat.  I eventually sanded off the paint and redid it with a thin paintbrush.
The actual paintbrush.  It's hard to see in this photo, but it's an angled brush.
For some reason, the area right around the adjustment screw in the neck didn't take the spray paint very well.  I ended up sanding it down and painting with the paintbrush.
Because I was tilting the head up and down while the paint was wet, some paint got on the neck rotors and made the smooth tilting motion more sticky.  I scraped most of the paint off with my thumbnail.

Fourth lesson learned: only do very light coats of paint.  It's tempting to do several thicker coats instead of 3-4 very light misting coats of paint.  Don't do it!  I had several drips that weren't visible when I was painting but once everything was dry, the outlines of the drips were obvious.  There were several large drips on the neck that I ended up sanding back down to the original pink paint and then spraying again with navy blue and then clear.

Mentally prepare yourself for how long the painting part will be.  When you're applying the new color, do several very light misting coats and don't rush things.  Follow the instructions for drying times and curing times.  I decided to let the navy blue paint cure before applying the glossy top coat, so that added 24 hours to my painting time.  The curing time may be different depending on what product you use, so always follow the instructions for your paint.

The same lesson is true for the glossy top coat.  Don't rush!  Putting on a thicker top coat made the mixer so shiny and pretty, until I looked at the other side and there were big drips running down it.  I tried to fix it by painting them out with the paintbrush but it was too late, and I had to wait until the paint had dried and then sand the drips off and repaint both the navy blue and the top coat.  Don't be stupid like me!

And whatever you do, don't use the mixer until all of the paint is cured.  Curing is different from drying - paint that is dried to the touch hasn't completely bonded chemically to whatever object it's on and can still be messed up.  Generally you need to wait 24 to 48 hours for the colored and clear paint to completely cure.  A good way to test if the glossy top coat is cured is to press on it with the edge of your fingernail.  If that leaves a small indentation, then it hasn't finished curing.

Fifth lesson learned: natural light is best.  I did the original two coats of navy blue in the basement with fluorescent lights because it was raining (ah, the Pacific northwest) but on the second day it actually got sunny.  That's when I moved the mixer outside to the front porch and the drips in the navy blue paint were suddenly really obvious.  If it's at all possible, do the painting part in natural light, next to a window or outdoors.

Sixth lesson learned: most mistakes are fixable.  With a fancy shmancy project like this, it was surprising how easy it was to fix stupid painting errors.

The first big mistake I made was that I dropped the mixer when I was carrying it upstairs.

The big ding is right below the screw.
The mixer ended up with a big ding right below the screw on one side of the neck.  I tried to fix it by spraying on more paint, which did not work:

Big bubble of paint
I added too much paint too quickly and while I covered the ding, I ended up with a paint bubble above the screw and a thick paint edge at the base of the machine head.

If you make a mistake, wait for the paint to dry (about an hour or so), sand off the mistake, and repaint.  The sanding block and the sheet of sandpaper were both useful for this.  I used the sanding block for the larger mistakes and the sandpaper for the hard to reach mistakes.

This is actually a different mistake in the same spot caused by me trying to fix yet another, different mistake.
If you end up getting paint on something metal, you can literally scrape it off with your fingernail once the paint has dried.  Don't try to get the paint off when it's wet because you'll just end up smearing the paint around.  Once it's dry, gently scrape it off with your fingernail.

Due to the truly ridiculous number of mistakes that I went back and fixed, I ended up using the entire can of navy blue paint and glossy enamel paint.  If you're more careful than I am, it will take less paint and less time (because I had to wait for the paint to dry after each mistake).  It should take about a week total for the entire project (including the curing time) but it took me a good two weeks.

My mixer has gotten a lot of use and has accumulated some decent nicks and bumps.  There are some small areas where the paint isn't quite smooth and not quite as shiny due to the bumps but I'm probably the only person who'll notice.  It's okay to repaint an old mixer that gotten banged up.  Just do your best to sand out the paint scrapes and bumps as much as possible.

Because it was so easy to fix mistakes, it was also easy to decide to paint an area that I originally wasn't going to paint.  This is the carbon brush screws areas.

The large, flat black screws on both sides of the head of the mixer are the screws that hold the carbon brushes in place.  These guys:

You can still see the pink around the inside edges of screw holes so I decided to take out the screws and paint the holes blue.

Neither of the two blogs that I used as guides mentioned anything about these screws and all of the final pictures look great, so I suppose they didn't have any issues with them.  But on my machine, the bright pink paint on the inside of the screw holes was blindingly obvious.  So after I finished the entire paint job, I decided to remove these screws, paint the holes with the paintbrush, and put the screws back in.  These screws hold the carbon brushes, which are on long springs.  One end of the spring pushes against the inside of the screws and one end has the brushes which are pushed into the carbon holes:

With the screw removed.  I've also sanded down the problem area below the head tilt arm and I painted the screw hole and that small area at the same time using the paintbrush.
Be careful when you unscrew the screws because the springs are pressing on them and will literally try to spring out of the holes if you just pull the screws out like they were normal screws.  When you've got the screws loosened, slowly pull them straight out the holes.  The end of the springs sit inside a small circle on the interior end of the screws.  Once you slowly remove the screws, you can slide the springs out.  The carbon brushes are on the end of the springs:

These keeps your machine running
Although the carbon brushes look like they're square shaped, they actually not.  Three of the four corners are 90 degrees, but one of the corners is actually 45 degrees and that side of the carbon brush is visibly flattened compared to the other three.  You can kind of see it in the picture above.  This is important because the carbon brushes have to be reinstalled correctly or the motor won't turn on (if you're lucky).  Here are a couple of links about people who have removed the carbon brushes and what happened when they didn't put them back in correctly: question 1 and question 2.  Don't be intimidated by these stories but do remember that the orientation of the carbon brushes is important.

To put the carbon brushes back in correctly, look down the holes for the carbon brushes using a flashlight.  You'll see that three of the corners at the ends of the holes are ninety degrees and that one corner has a small bump shape in it.  This bump doesn't run the length of the hole - it's only at the end in the inside of the machine head so that's why you need the flashlight to see it.  If you know what you're looking for, it's easy to find.  The motor shouldn't turn on if the rotation of the carbon brushes are wrong.  So if you think you've got them in correctly but your stand mixer doesn't turn on, double-check them.

If you're lucky, the springs will stay in place when you remove the screws and you can carefully paint around them.

If you're really lucky, you've got an original color that doesn't show through and you can just skip this.

Part 3: Reassembly

Hooray, you've made it!  

Once the paint has completely cured, you can put all of the parts that you took off back on.  With the exception of the carbon brushes, there isn't anything complicated about this part.  The screws on my bowl clamping plate, skinny metal strip, and back hood were all slightly different sizes so I literally couldn't mix them up.  It took about 5 minutes to reattach everything.  Make sure you put the skinny metal strip back on before the back hood.

It turned out so pretty!
One everything was put back on and I was ready to celebrate, I discovered the gross amount of adhesive left on the power cord from the painter's tape.  Glue is a pain to remove, but fortunately I had a bottle of gojo:

I adore this stuff
I've always kept a bottle of gojo around ever since my high school days when we used it in auto shop.  It's a very serious exfoliator and it smells good, like oranges.  I used a green scrubber pad (like for washing dishes) with gojo and it removed the adhesive from the power cord and all of the paint from my hands (which is why I've got rubber gloves listed in the materials section).

At the end of this, I absolutely love the way my stand mixer turned out and I'm not sorry that I tried this.

Classic navy blue goes well with stainless steel