Painting old oak cabinets

bemidjigreenMarch 10, 2012

The finish on my 20 year old kitchen cabinets is worn as well as being a hideous golden oak. I would like to paint them but am worried about the grain showing through as well pores appearing in the paint. I am not sure how to proceed as most DIY guides simply have you sand, high build prime and paint with an acrylic type paint.

I've read through some of the threads here but the folks who reply only reference products that are only available online and are very costly, like brushing putty and swedish putty.

Anyway, I was wondering if I even need a grain filler if I use a high build primer. Any specific brands for either product would be helpful. Also, I was planning on using cabinet coat paint as the finish coat, so any hints about compatible products or a good alternative would be much appreciated. Thanks for reading

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Hey Bemidji!!!
(I'm a Fargo dude...)

Are you in MN?!!? My brother just stayed there recently, watching the UND Fighting-Sioux/Bemidji Hockey game!

You could look at Old-Masters brand Grain-filler. Call around to your area Hardware stores and ask.
* This is a slllooooowwww/tedious task, and you'll go through a fair amount of sandpaper!
* If you don't like Oaks' coarse grain-structure, there's no alternative to grain-filling...sorry!
* After your filling stages are done/sanded real smooth, it's time for the primer!
* long're ready for the Cabinet-Coat!!
(a very good choice too!)
* ACE does have a nice Cabinet/Door/Trim paint. We do sell some of it here in Fargo!


    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 12:53AM
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Bimidji, I painted a builders grade oak vanity in a bathroom about 4 years ago. I did not use a grain filler, because I don't mind seeing grain...let's me know it is real wood :). But some folks do not like to see the grain.
After the job was finished, the wood looked pretty, and yes I can see subtle grain.

First of all, cleaning and prep is EXTREMELY important on kitchen cabinets. You may think they are clean, but they are going to have a lot of grease, perhaps furniture type products that you have used, etc. that will interfere with the adhesion and integrity of your paint.

Here are my steps:

*Cleaned well with TSP and water; rinsed well (important).
*Lightly sanded the sheen of the old finish with 220 grit sandpaper - to give a "tooth" for pain to grab to.
*Cleaned well again (to removing sanding debris). I actually washed it again lightly, when dry I used a tack cloth.

You wood is now ready for painting:

*Primed with Zinzzer 123 (there are other good primers also;check at your paint store or here on the forum.)
*When dry I lightly sanded again to "smooth" out the primer. Otheres may not recommend this - but I like to.
*Painted with two coats of Sherwin Williams Pro-Classic Semi-Gloss water-based paint. BM Impervo and Ace Cabinet Coat are also hightly recommended.

My vanity looks better than some I see in the big box stores. I also painted the matching medicine cabinet that has the light strip in the top (yeah, dated, but it will do for a while - it's in DH's bathroom and he doesn't know it is dated). THAT WAS NOT EASY, but I was determined. That turned out nice also.

I am cheering you on! You can do this - just break it down a few doors at a time; don't let yourself get overwhelmed, and use the best products you can.

Also, they are going to look ugly when you put that first coat of primer on; the first coat of paint will look much better, but not perfect, but they will look great after second coat. The Pro-Classic "leveled" really well.

One more thing, I used a good 2" Purdy brush and a good quality small foam roller. Brushed the molded edges, rolled any smooth surfaces, but I LIGHTLY went behind my rolled paint to smooth out the stipples. Brush marks do not show if you use the right paint and a light, even stroke.

Good Luck with your project!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 12:15PM
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Everyone has already given you great "step by steps", so I just wanted to add one thing. I've used a filler called MH readypatch. It's really for sheetrock, but the label says it can be used for wood, also. I filled the grain on a bath vanity and it worked well.I bought it at the orange big-box home store.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 10:53PM
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I've also used the mh ready patch, though not to fill oak grain. I have used it as wood filler and prefer it much over anything else I've used. Also, I've heard you can use bondo which is for cars, but may be similar to the ready patch.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 1:14PM
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There is a lot of info on these forums on gel stains and the process of applying. I too want to hide the hideously strong oak grain, not accentuate it. I have found that using a base coat of paint helps hide the grain/pores. I apply gel stain over the base coat. The gel stain gives a depth to the finish that paint cannot do.

Here is a bathroom that I recently did. I saved the vanities by building a new base and refinishing them in my paint/gel stain combo. New hardware, fixtures and quartz countertop transformed the space and I feel good knowing that I recycled and reused.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 7:04PM
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Shredbetty - your cabinets look great! Can you share what products you used to get that finish?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 10:43AM
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First, I used a palm sander and just hit the surface lightly to take off what was left of the old finish (which wasn't much). I used a Sherwin Williams latex paint in a brown paper bag color (it is just something I had laying around). I let that dry and then applied General Finishes java gel stain with a foam brush and manipulated while it was wet to get the look I wanted. I let that cure for a day and then applied the second coat the same way. I let that dry for a day and then applied a third coat the same way. I let that dry for a couple of days and then applied 3 coats of a satin finish polyurethane (letting them dry in between coats, of course).

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 6:51PM
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