About 5 years ago I had my kitchen redone and the cabinets were painted black. A painter did it using a sprayer, 100% acylic exterior satin. I didn't have him put on a poly at the time, because I did't want the finish to be really shiny. I'd like the finish to sort of look as close to the warm glow of a waxed finish as possible (the house is 1920's). The paint still looks good, but it is hard to keep them looking clean (black tends to show dust very very well). I'd like to apply a poly on top. I've looked at the General Finishes high performance polycrylic (in satin or matte), and I also saw a minwax rub on poly in satin. Does anyone have experience with these products, or suggestions on which finish would be the best to use on my cabinets?
First off since this is the kitchen before you plan on adding a poly finish to your cabinets, I recommend that you thoroughly wash them with a solution of TSP, in a mixture as recommended on the box. This will remove all grease and oil from the surface and prepare the surface for your coats of poly. However, once you have washed the grease and oil off, rinse them again with clean water to remove the excess TSP and change your water often through the rinse process. Then allow them to dry thoroughly. You may notice the black surface may dull up a bit but this should correct itself once you apply your poly and it will create a surface where the poly will adhere more readily.
As to the type of polyurethane, I would recommend using a latex version in the sheen you wish to have. This type dries quickly and though it goes on in a milky white from the can it dries clear and provides a hard finish, though it may take several coats (3 to 4) to standing up to the cleaning that you may use over time. In addition, when applying it do not over brush it or you will find brush strokes and bubbles may appear which you may need to sand out one it has dried thoroughly. Use good quality brushes so that hairs do not fall out and end up on the poly surface, otherwise you will need to sand them out. Once you start your poly finish, you will likely find that you can apply a couple of coats in a single day. Just be sure to allow it to thoroughly dry first prior starting the next coat and do any sanding and cleaning up of the dust when it is thoroughly dry and prior to adding the next coat. It will take a bit of practice in applying the finish by laying it on and allow it to flow without over brushing. By the second and third coats you will have it mastered so that your final coat is smooth as if it was sprayed on.
From the sounds of it I believe you wish to have a satin finish which is available in this type of Polyurethane. Minwax does produce this type of latex polyurethane. They also produce a polyurethane which is solvent based and takes longer to dry and often adds a yellowish tint to the covered surface and requires the use of mineral spirits to cleanup the tools. It also takes much longer to dry before re-coating. Though Minwax makes polyurethane with an added stain within it, I don't believe these are what your want or need as you feel the black finish is fine but it just needs a covering coat to make it easier to clean and stand up to cleaning. This last type of poly is definitely not one I'd recommend.
If you use the recommended type of polyurethane and if in several years you feel the need to redo the surface, you only need to again wash the surface with TSP and following up with a good rinse and apply several fresh coats of the latex poly to finish the task with light sanding as needed in between coats.
As an added note this type of poly has a low odour content and also all tools clean up with soap and water.
I've used it on oak bullnosing I applied around our tiled fireplace hearth as well as an edging for a tiled bathroom counter top where it has stood well over the last 12 years. I've also used it on oak stairnosing which surrounds our sunken livingroom where it has stood up to foot traffic very well in the last 10 years, though I did apply 4 coats of the latex polyurethane on these surfaces to be sure.
When you do apply the poly I would recommend that you remove all doors and drawers, marking each location they are from with tape on the back of them and them lay them flat in a large dust free area which has good lighting so that you can work easily and quickly with each without having to handle them too much. Of course all handles, etc. should be removed prior to beginning the task.
Once the doors and doors are finished, work on the cabinet faces and any exposed edges.
With luck, proper drying conditions and proper humidity you could be finished in 2 to 3 days or less depending how large your kitchen is.
Others may have additional suggestions.
Good Luck!This message has been edited. Last edited by: Simply_Me,
Thank you Simply Me for such a detailed response!!
Do you have any particular brand that you find easy to use? Or are they all basically the same? I've been looking at all sorts of brands, and they all seem to have good reviews... Rustoleum, Minwax, General Finishes, Benjamin Moore...
So, I suppose I'm asking if you, or anyone here, has used a few brands and has a favorite go-to? Or any experience with the satin vs. the matte finish? (for that waxed look?) The cabinets are satin now, and it's a decent glow, not overbearing... but in my mind poly has more shine than paint (the satin poly would have more shine than the satin paint). Any actual truth to this?
If anyone has any comments on the brands or sheens I'd love to hear them. If not, guess I'll just have to take a stab at it and hope for the best!
I've used Minwax Latex Polyurethane in a satin finish and though it has a gloss it is much lower than that of the gloss variety, which is the result I desired.
As to comparing different brands of polyurethane, I've not done that but I would expect that each brand is similar and those brand names that are held more highly may have a product that is equal to if not better than some of the competition because of their customer service, guarantee, and reputation for quality products which is of course why they became popular and are preferred by many.
When trying to determine which sheen of polyurethane you wish to choose, I've seen displays in some stores where each type has been used on a sample of the same wood to show the level of sheen that each yields. This is the only guide that I've seen. The only way I can think that you can determine which is most desirable on your surfaces, would be to buy a pint of semi-gloss or satin and matte finish and place each on a small area drawer of cabinet door and expose it to the light level you have. Once you make your choice you can simply add additional coats of the chosen finish and apply it over each area and it should hide the sample surfaces easily. If you do this I'd choose a door or drawer which is not nearly exposed as all of the others so that when finished the test areas do not stand out too readily and this don't stand out unless you point out the area. Possibly choose one that is near the floor and possibly in a shadowy corner of lower light.
Others may have additional suggestions.
You're awesome Simply Me! I'll look for the samples in the stores... I went to an Ace yesterday, but it was a smaller store with a limited brand selection and no samples. Hopefully the larger Ace by me will have a better selection and the sheen samples in the store. If not, I'll do the patch test. Thank you so much for taking the time to post and help me out. I appreciate it! On with the project!!
If you have a store that specializes in paint and decorating supplies, you will likely have better luck finding the samples you desire since this is their specialty. Hardware stores carry a broad range of products and thus may lack the samples. Home Depot and Lowes would likely have the samples as well as they carry a large selection of paint and wood finishing products.
I've used the general finish wipe on poly on my kitchen cabinets and loved it. Very easy and you can control the number of coats and resulting look of the finish.
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