stripping oak kitchen cabinets...

jimyyzNovember 10, 2008

i started stripping my kitchen cabinets because the primer (123) wasn't sticking well and scratching off with a rub of my thumbnail. Someone mentioned that I wasn't letting the primer cure for long enough. Well, it's been almost a week and the primer still scratches off relatively easy off my test door.

I've gone gone through 2 rounds of stripping using klean-strip premium paint stripper. With each coat I scrape off the paint and use very coarse steel wool. But even after two coats I am still finding a lot of remaining patches of whatever the protective coating is. It takes a lot of elbow grease and scrubbing to get it all off. At this rate it will take me a year to get them cleaned and ready for repainting.

I'm wondering if there is something else I could be doing instead of scrubbing with steel wool. Perhaps a better stripper?


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Many newer kitchen cabinets have conversion finishes on them. These are extremely durable, but at that cost have several disadvantages:
- Strippers barely touch them.
- Nothing will stick to them, not even itself outside a very specific "recoat window"
- Because nothing will stick to them, touch up repairs are quite limited.

I have had to strip some of these finishes and it was not fun. If they were mine, I'd look seriously at replacing the doors and drawer fronts with new stock. Cheaper and easier.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2008 at 5:06PM
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I wish I could just go that route but unfortunately there are other more pressing issues for the reno budget right now a new roof!! ugh. For now I will just have to do the absolute best I can and then perhaps next year i can replace them.

I guess I will just have to buckle down and use elbow grease. It is working slowly.

Thanks bobsmy...

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 10:36AM
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Have you tried the shellac based primer? Get a small can and test it on one door. If the shellac does not stick then you know the original finish is a conversion varnish, and probably nothing will stick.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 10:46AM
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The shellac based primer sticks much better and doesn't scratch off like the regular primer did.

Seeing that I was already far into the stripping process I spent the day sanding to remove any last traces of the conversion finish. First I used 50, then 110 then 200 paper. They look like new unfinished oak cabinets now : ) I am still going to use the BIN shellac primer.

One last question: Tomorrow I will do a final cleaning to remove the dust. I plan to vacuum and follow with a tack cloth. Should I also do a final rub down with denatured alcohol or is that overkill?

Thanks for all of the help.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 10:53PM
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Glad to hear you found a paint that works.

It is a good idea to do a final wipe with a compatible solvent just prior to applying the finish. This hepls remove the dust that is nested into the pores of the wood. The solvent also slows the initial drying, allowing deeper penetration of the product and a flatter more level finish without brush or lap marks.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 10:39AM
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