Advice about refinishing knotty pine cabinets?

laurie_ky6January 9, 2008

My sister and I own a second home whose kitchen has a great layout. It would benefit from some updating, including new appliances, flooring, counter, and backsplash. The cabinets are knotty pine with slab doors and black wrought iron hardware. The finish has a strong orange tone, but the wood is in very good condition.

My sister wants to paint them. I'd prefer to do nothing and focus instead on appliances, flooring, counter. One compromise might be to refinish with a whitewash for a pickled effect. I just don't think knotty pine takes paint well. There are 30 doors and 9 drawers. Then there's the trim, which runs right into the dining room and matches all the other trim in the house. It isn't knotty pine, but I'm having difficulty imagining how we can refinish the cabinets without tackling the trim.

So, readers, we're looking to you for advice, especially if you've worked with knotty pine.

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I just painted 2 full rooms of knotty pine- the orangey kind. It takes paint if you follow a process. They have to be washed with TSP, (trisodiumphosphate) Then the knots must be sealed with kils or bins primer (I think its alcohol based) Then a coat of primer, then paint. It's a lot of work, but the rooms we painted look so beautiful. I am normally against painting wood- but I couldn't stand how dark and dreary my house was with all that dark orangey paneling. Do a google search- there are people out there who have white-washed the knotty pine to brighten it up.
Good Luck!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2008 at 4:33PM
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Newly finished knotty pine is actually very handsome. Before painting, you might try taking off a door, wiping off some of the current orangey finish with solvent on a rag (no sanding), then brushing on a couple of different types of wood finishes to see what you think.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 7:03AM
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If you're house leans itself to the natural knotty pine look - why not strip/sand and go with a natural color? I think natural pine is very pretty ...... but this is probably a lot more work and trouble than it's worth. I've never done it and probably would pay someone to do it before I'd attempt it myself. (But I'm a tad lazy!)


    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 10:55AM
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I would refinish them get rid of the orangey color. But I really like knotty woods, and I've been seeing more and more kitchens with them in magazines. Maybe the look is coming back. A friend of mine has knotty pine cabinets (installed two years ago at the recommendation of an interior designer). They're glazed a buttery-gold color and they're absolutely beautiful. I'm guessing it's a glaze and not paint, because you can see the knots through it. It doesn't look opaque like paint, but it doesn't have that "pickled" look either. In any case, they have both black and marble countertops, and the combination is wonderful.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 12:28PM
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It's the old finish that turns orange, and it can be wiped off with solvent and rags, no sanding needed except as part of repairing damaged areas. Fairly easy and probably a lot easier to end with quality cabinetry by making the most of the asset at hand than trying to cover it with paint. And I'm a person who's always had painted cabinets. BTW, I suspect they are, if not actually "in" yet, finally old enough to become appreciated all over again for their warmth and beauty and special style.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 5:34PM
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Thanks, all, for the helpful ideas. The orange is a bit much, but I like the "knotiness" of the cabinets. I'm not adverse to some work; I just don't want to get into a project where the outcome is not a significant improvement. The house was probably built in the late 1940s, and the cabinets are in keeping with the character of the house. It's hard to believe they are originals, but maybe the previous owners were especially careful.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 5:36PM
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