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Painting kitchen cabinets?

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Mar 03, 2014, 07:33 AM
Painting kitchen cabinets?
I was thinking of painting my oak kitchen cabinets white. How do I prepare the wood to be painted? Can I lightly sand them or does the old finish need to be completely stripped off? Also, what type of paint is best...oil, latex, flat, satin, gloss?
steven barbarich

This message has been edited. Last edited by: robemeen,
Mar 03, 2014, 10:46 AM
scratch up the finish (poly?) to give a good sticky primer like Bin or Kilz something to grab on to, then follow up with a good gloss latex enamel. oil would also be a good choice, but most folks prefer working with a latex.

whichever you use, beware the blocking factor. paint "drying" is sort of a misnomer. first, the vehicle dries. while that happens, the paint body is starting to plasticize, and it will need to complete the process to cure to a hard coat. it can take a week for the chemical change to complete, during which time fingerprints can become permanent, particularly if dirty or greasy. if you set cans, plates, etc. on surfaces while this curing is continuing, the paint will mar, and may bond to the can better than the wood. this cussable state is called blocking. don't stress new paint. give it a week.

sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
Mar 03, 2014, 01:46 PM
You might want to test an area inside a cabinet door first?
Some people do not like the oak grain, and want a smoother painted finish. A wood filler might be in order if a smoother/flat surface is your desire.

I painted our varnished birch cabinets successfully years ago. Removed all the hardware, hinges, etc. First cleaned them well with TSP in warm water to remove any oils/grease/soil, rinsed any TSP residue with wet/clear rags. Did a light sanding (bought a small palm sander and a smaller belt sander for the project). Removed any sanding dust.

Primed with Zinser 1 2 3 primer and used a commercial/industrial rated waterbase enamel recommended from Sherwin Williams. I highly recommend advice about any paints and prep from a Pro-paint store like SW or Benjamin Moore...rather than just a paint dept in another store (hardware or big box). You can carry in a cabinet door front or drawer to ask advice about too.
Mar 04, 2014, 10:37 AM
I have discovered a difference in "factory" paint stores. a SW center next to a shopping mall didn't even know what tung oil was. you want to find one with trucks in the lot, not Hyundais or BMWs. check them out early morning when the pros are loading up for the day.

pick out one of the old guys to ask, not the bright shiny young faces who prowl the designer colors section or stuck at the mixing bench. likely the kids have been through the training book, the old guys can't hack the ladder any more and went inside with all their skills.

first job out of (2nd) college degree was with a startup making paint database computers for the auto industry. they made me take orders on the phone for a week, then mix paint for a week, before I even got to sit at the computer bench and assemble and load the machines. found out really quick who knew about the product and who didn't from that experience. the guys who had rainbow fingernails from mixing to match a fender knew exactly how things worked in the field.

there is a wonderful, dangerous, prep and additive called "Wil-Bond" that on a job like this can really help you. but you have to use it with tons of active ventilation, take it from me. consider it a "sanding booster," after you sand what you can, including a doubled-over sheet across all the router work, brush on a thin coat before priming. it softens what you didn't scratch up and insures the primer is going to stick evenly to everything. warning, danger, fattening: liver-eating solvents. absolutely, nitrile gloves and ventilation from behind you.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: swschrad,

sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
Mar 04, 2014, 11:02 AM
Good point.
The SW store that I frequent, has a mature staff and they tend to ask each other for confirmation of advice if a tough question comes up. I've never been steered wrong there.
Sometimes you can luck out with a knowledgable person at the box store or hardware store, but much more likely a PT, HS/COL student that tends to have the pat answer, "Yah, that should work for ya."
Mar 07, 2014, 10:00 AM
There are a ton of posts on Pinterest from bloggers who have painted their kitchen cabinets. Just search Pinterest and do a lot of research. Most have them have used the better paints from BM and SW. I wouldn't take advice from a paint associate in a big box store. That is definitely not their area of expertise.
Mar 29, 2014, 05:01 PM
The original TSP really worked well to prep surfaces, not too sure about the product they sell now. I've found it's not great for that purpose. Check with the experienced guys at your paint store and see what they would use...
Apr 02, 2014, 01:08 PM
Hello, I have painted over 100 kitchen cabinet projects. We clean the cabinets and boxes with no rinse TSP. (protect the floor with resin paper.) Then sand with 150 grit in the direction of the grain. Only sand to remove gloss and imperfections. Completely clean all dust from surfaces in and around so no contamination. This is the most important part: Prime two coats Zinnser brand BIN product. It cleans up with ammonia. This stuff sticks like glue and sands in minutes, dries very fast. BIN gives an incredible bond. Ok, now Caulk all cracks that appear and fill nail holes etc. with good quality wood putty. Lightly sand filled areas and wipe clean. Now your ready for finish coats. I ONLY us Kelly-Moore brand 1685 (semi gloss) Dura-poxy. We have awesome success with this paint. Its water born, dries very fast, cleans and touches up beautifully, and can be tinted to any color. My wife chose white chocolate for our cabinets. Do not use OIL base! The new formulas yellow and do not touch up. 2 to 3 coats should do it. We install new hardware and felt pads. We take about 1 week to complete your average size kitchen. That's with 2 guys so don't be in a rush. Many of my customers save upwards of $10,000.00 by not replacing the cabinets. My wife and I got a bid for $18,000.00 to replace ours. Just so you know, we charge an average of $4000.oo to $5000.00 to paint Kitchen cabinets and that includes installing the hardware. This type of project is not for your average DIY'er. I've seen some really bad cabinet jobs over the years so you may want to hire a pro. Good luck.