Want to paint oak cabinets white-pictures included please help me

libby1208April 3, 2010

I am new to this forum and we just bought a house that had oak cabinets and black appliances. We just bought stainless appliances and I think that it really clashes with the oak and am looking to paint the cabinets white.

From the research I have done online I am thinking of spraying on BIN primer on the cabinet doors (doing this part outside) and then using Zinser Bullsye 123 on the actual cabinet frames and veneer sides. I was planning on painting with Cabinet Coat. I was reading that this would give the smoothest most durable finish.

The questions I have is does the BIN spray cover the oak grain? If not are there other products anyone had success with to cover the grainy look of oak?

The Cabinet Coat comes in plain white. I am wondering if this will look too stark on the cabinets and if antique white or something like that will give me a better outcome. I am also planning on doing a backsplash (you can see the one piece standing on top of the countertop and adding stainless pulls to the cabinets.

I am completely new to this DIY stuff and I am basically wondering if I am choosing the right products for oak and if it is even worth it to attempt this job. I am worried about grain showing thru and also about brush strokes. Please let me know if anyone has done this before and what products you would recommend for specifically oak cabinets. I would love to see before and after pictures too. Thank you so much for your help...I am feeling really clueless and it looks like this board has a wealth of information on it!

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You might try this link for ideas for what you can do with your existing cabinets. She painted her oak black instead of white, but did a fabulous job.

Here is a link that might be useful: 1400 kitchen

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 1:50PM
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I have an oak bathroom vanity that I am not painting white, but stained it with gel stain in Java, which is nearly black. I am really loving the way it is turning out. I know that General Finishes has a milk paint that may work. Also, the wood and metal paint from Sherwin Williams is excellent quality. I didn't paint because I really wanted to eliminate as much as the oaks grain as possible and the gel stains sit on top (by the second and third coat) giving a more even finish.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 6:45PM
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Bump...I am sure someone here has done this!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 12:38AM
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I painted my oak cabs a cream color. I could see the grain, but it didn't bother me one bit - in fact I liked it. I wouldn't worry about it. Also, I didn't have a problem with brush marks. Long strokes are important. Prep is everything in painting. There will be things/gaps that don't show up on the stained cabs that will show on the painted cabs. If there are things that bother you after the prime coat, stop and fix before painting because they are not going to go away with the paint. I know there are instructions on this website for painting cabs - I did mine before I found this website and just got instructions thru googling. I used kitchen and bath paint from HD. I think it was sateen, not high gloss. I can't remember what I used for primer. The painting was time consuming, but rewarding. I took off the doors and painted in the basement, but could have done with a little less humidity. Good luck on your project.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 8:12AM
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Here's a link to the product we used to fill the grain in our oak cabs before painting them white.

Here is a link that might be useful: Behlen Grain Filler

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 8:42AM
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You'll need to clean them well with a pro product for wood, sand and give two coats of primer. Zinssner 123 is good. The it was recommended to me to use Aura paints or the one below.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 11:25AM
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Thank you for your responses. I guess I can't really picture what the grain will look like if I don't do the grain filler to cover it up. Does anyone have before and after pictures of cabinets that went from oak to white? Or at least after pictures. I am really curious to see what the grain looks like if it comes thru. Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 9:44PM
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You might want to cross post over on the paint forum about this. I'm pretty sure I've read about people being very happy with a product from Fine Paints of Europe called Brushing Putty in order to cover the grain in cases like this. But beware, some people have reported that it's VERY stinky stuff.Good luck ... I think they'll look great painted!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 11:31PM
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I have seen some amazing transformations on GW.
Enjoy the below pics.


After Sheesamungablog


After Apartment Therapy


After How to Paint and Refinish oak


After Duration Painting

A Link.
Before/after pictures-oak to cream/glazed -pictures GW

Here is a link that might be useful: Strip oak cabinets to bare wood before painting?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 11:58AM
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I think white will look great in your kitchen! Can't wait to see more pics!!!


    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 12:21PM
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These were the cheap oak cabinets from my kitchen. I cleaned them up and sanded them lightly. Put on a coat of primer and two coats of BM Satin Impervo paint.

Since they were going in the laundry room I did not want to put forth much effort. I actually like the grain showing through for the laundry room.

Here are the same three cabinets while they were doing temporary duty in the new kitchen while we were working on other areas of the house. This was before I decided to move that wall . . .


    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 12:36PM
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I'll offer my general advice on painting:

If you're doing them yourself, you'll be tempted to load up the brush, thinking a good thick coat of paint will fill up the grain. DON'T!

It will cause problems. Even if it looks OK, it can drip in places, or get a slow, all-over kind of wrinkly waterfall effect. Or just take a long time to dry.

It also makes drips on your floor, makes it hard to keep the paint where you want it (it seeps under blue tape).

I've done a LOT of my own interior painting, and I speak from experience: Do a good primer coat and 2 nice thin coats. Don't mess with little imperfections in wet paint, you'll just make a big mess!

Paint levels itself out a lot. The little bumps and strokes you see will mostly disappear.

Then, let everything dry a day. Look at it when you're not so tired. If you still see a lot of grain, think about a third coat then.

It is true, high gloss paint shows imperfections much more than less glossy paint.

You might want to experiment on a cabinet first.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 1:30PM
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We're doing the same thing! I'm not brave enough to tackle it on my own. We have hired a painter that did our neighbor's cabinets. We're on the list to be scheduled (apparently, he's a very busy man because of the quality of his work). He's also the one that painted our hearth room. I was amazed to come home and find he had mopped the floors and cleaned all the surfaces including our counters.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 1:39PM
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Thank you so much for all of the pictures...this is giving me a little direction of where I need to go. My husband is still really against painting and wants to leave the oak alone the way it is...but I am really thinking paint will brighten things up!

azwildcats70~your house is beautiful...I love the wall color you chose. Your kitchen is going to look amazing!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 11:47PM
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I think you'll love the white. We're in the process of painting our oak cabs as well. We hired the doors and drawers out, and tackled the rest on our own. It seemed like a huge pain at the time (started about 2 wks ago) But, guess it wasn't too big a deal now that it's almost done! We had some carpentry we also had to do. Dh beefed up the moulding, added bead board in places.
I'm anxious to get my doors back to see just how much of the grain shows. Because very little shows on the frames. Least nothing that bothers me at all. I think I'm just so happy to get rid of the horrid honey oak. ANYTHING is better then that.

Here are some shots in the middle of all this. Obviously not even close to being finished. The doors that go back on these cabs will have glass fronts.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2010 at 12:20AM
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I also wanted to mention the back of our bar looked very much like the side of your island. And that's one of the spots we put the bead board. Have you considered something like that there?
Also, the pic of the side of that taller cab (pantry?) would look adorable painted with chalk board paint :)

    Bookmark   April 9, 2010 at 12:24AM
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momto4boys, I rarely ever post but I read a lot. I would love to see your kitchen when it is done! I have looked into this subject a various times and always noticed your kitchen because it is so similar to mine.

Are you having someone else paint yours?

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 4:49PM
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We painted the cabinets themselves. But, the doors and drawers our painter has right now. I should get them back tomorrow!!!
I'll post as soon as it's all put back together. Hopefully SOON!!!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 5:32PM
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momto4boys~Thanks for sending the pictures. What is involved with putting up beadboard? I think that might be good for the island too where we have large areas of veneer. My husband is handy but I have no idea what is involved with that. Do you just put the bead board over the veneer? I love the way it looks and was thinking about that originally but thought it would be too much work.

Can you please tell me what you used as far as paints? My plan is to use the zinser bullseye spray primer on the doors that we can take outside and to use the bin primer on the frames and veneer portions and I was looking into using cabinet coat as the paint but wasn't sure if I should have it tinted to an off white or just leave it white as it is.

Your kitchen looks amazing and I would love to see pictures once your project is completed!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 11:14PM
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Libby, I can tell you that our painter used Ben Moore Oil Based Primer/paint for our oak cabs. We went green (BM Sussex Green) and you can see the oak grain if you're staring at them but it doesn't bother me at all. They lightly sanded then primed then painted. All with brushes.

Also, look into beadboard wallpaper. You can cover the veneer with that if you're so inclined.

Here's a pic of our cabinets:

Here is a link that might be useful: Beadboard Wallpaper Project

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 11:30PM
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Libby, the beadboard was super easy. Dh is handy, but by no means a pro. And it's a project he's never taken on. We just bough a couple sheets, and he cut them to size. Then nailed with a nail gun. Chaulked around the seams, and put a little piece of trim along the bottom.

We also used the zinser primer. And BM satin impervo. We painted the boxes ourselves, and had a painter spray the doors. I love the finish done by spraying it. But, I probably would have been ok with brushing it on ourselves.

Because you have SS appliances, I think yours will look amazing. I'm not a fan of white appliances and white cabs. But, I did it anyones. Just to kill off that oak :)

we used two colors, BM white dove for tops, and BM baby fawn for bottom cabs. They're too ligth on bottom. Didn't do what I was wanting. So, we'll re paint them whenever I realize I can't stand it any more :) I'm a little over the whole thing for now, lol

few before

and after


    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 10:23PM
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Momto4boys, thank you for letting me know that you used BM Dove White for the paint in the BM satin impervo after priming the cabinets with the zinser primer. I like how the insides of the cabinets look also as well as the pretty bead board. Your husband and you sure are talented. Perfect chosen hardware for the doors and trim on top of the cabinets also.

I am still trying to decide if I want to paint my cabinets or get prices for new doors or new cabinets. I guess I will get quotes and then make the decision. My cabinets are laminate and particle board golden oak with a mini-wax gel of honey maple that took out all the worn out areas and added a pretty reddish/orange tint to the cabinets that I like but I still tired of the oak looking grain.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 12:03AM
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momto4boys, Love your crown molding! I'm especially interested in the small piece of molding where the molding joins the cabinet. Could you post a picture of a piece of that, and picture of it installed close up? Any tips on how your husband did that?

Sorry, libby, for hijacking, but that's just the look I've been wanting!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 12:49AM
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Minority opinion...I don't think there's anything wrong with your kitchen. The appliances are not a problem and neither is the oak.

Get some cabinet knobs that look like stainless or brushed nickel, Find some new light fixture globes or a whole new light fixture with more spunk. Introduce a perky, more assertive paint color and a fabric that pulls together the oak color, the grays, and the paint color. You've got a very pleasant room there that many cooks would envy. It just needs more decorating personality.

Unless ... you always intended to paint and the appliance color is merely your excuse for more change. If so, go in peace.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 1:14AM
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momto4boys - LOVE your kitchen. Thank you for the inspiration. I am so nervous about painting our oak cabs white. Does the oak grain show through? I can't really tell from the pics. Also - What color did you paint the walls? Oh yeah - what is the counter top? THANK YOU Amy

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 12:52PM
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Sorry for resurrecting an old thread, but I was searching the forums and am in the same boat as the OP, so didn't want to start a new thread.

Amy_work, how did your cabinets turn out? I am in the middle of painting my builder oak cabinets myself (primer goes on today), but had the same questions as you regarding what color white to paint them. I also purchased the Cabinet Coat in the White base, but have since read other threads on GW that this White may be TOO white. Did you go with the White base or get the Tinted Base to a BM color?

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 10:38AM
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