Deglosser vs. Sanding Kitchen Cabinets

greenlolaJuly 31, 2008

I'm planning on repainting my kitchen cabinets this weekend. They're white with a glossy top finish & made of MDF(??)material. Can anyone tell me if a deglosser works the same as sanding the cabinets? Sanding looks like sooooo much work but if it's worth it I'll go for it.

Please help!!

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I cannot answer your question. But, unless you have about three cabinets, I can tell you that you probably have not allotted adequate time for this project.

Painting cabinets is about the hardest paint project that you will ever undertake.

Best of luck to you.


    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 7:03PM
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Your cabinets sound like thermofoil, which is just basically glorified plastic. Thermofoil can NOT be painted without a lot of prepwork, and even then, it may still end up peeling eventually.

If your cabinets are regular paint over a good substrate and the finish is in good condition with no flakes, chips or other adhesion issues, you can use the deglosser, then prime then paint. No way are you going to get it done in a weekend. You've been watching too much HGTV! LOL!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 7:59PM
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I can't answer the original question--I'm just sending good vibes! I finally got the courage to start my kitchen painting about 2 weeks ago. It is taking me just short of forever! I"m only doing about 1/2 of the kitchen at this time. Just today, I FINALLY (after 2 weeks) finished all the sanding, priming (2 coats), caulking, etc. We are almost ready for paint. We now have to do all the hinges (major pain in the arse given the kind of hinges I have). Part of the reason it has taken me 2 weeks so far is that I have 2 little boys to take care of all day. Also, doors look much better when painted horizontal. But we don't have space to lay them all out at once. So I can only prime a few doors a day (also used alkyd primer with 8 hour dry time--argh!).

So, I hope things move faster for you!! Good luck!!!


    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 8:44PM
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Thank you for your replay. I'm not planning on painting the whole kitchen cabinets in one weekend!! I'm very picky & like everything almost perfect. My cabinets are 9 years old and are in very very very good condition. I think that's why I'm scared to embark on this project. I was thinking of sanding the cabinets first, one section at a time. My kitchen is not small. I've lots of cabinet door & drawers.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 10:58AM
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So back to the original question, deglosser or manual hand sanding?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 11:03AM
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You might want to post in the Paint Forum. Lots of helpful pros over there. I suspect they will want to know if your cabs are made of wood or not. So you might want to do some detective work.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 12:59PM
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OK DON'T use deglosser. Instead, use Sherwin Williams PrepRite ProBlock Interior Exterior Seals and Bonds, Latex primer (be sure you get exactly that says BONDS on the label). It's made to cover shiny surfaces and bond tightly, and I've used it in several kitchens, and on all of my interior woodwork and it does BOND!! No sanding, just wipe down your cabinets with either a TSP and water mixture or a little vinager and water to get rid of grease.

This stuff is wonderful. I've converted many naysayers to the primer because you really don't have to sand or use a deglosser, and even if they're will BOND and you'll have a finish you can then paint on. :O) It's so much easier. I just love it (I just picked up another couple of gallons last night). And the finish will be tough as nails by the way. I personally also like to use a high quality sherwin williams paint.

THis is the base for a dark color:
Sherwin Williams All Surface Glass Enamel
Acrylic Latex HIGH GLOSS Ultradeep base 6403-25932

If you're painting white, just ask for the same thing in a white base.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 1:01PM
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Igloochic, I'm confused. (And to the OP, sorry to hijack!) I'm about to paint my dd's bedroom furniture as she spilled nail polish remover on it, which took quite a bit of the finish off. (So your post is timely!) Is the "base for a dark color" a different product from the PrepRite primer? Is this a 3 product process? (PrepRite, All Surface Gloss Enamel, then paint?) THANKS!

    Bookmark   August 2, 2008 at 7:39AM
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I'm not igloochic, but I've been spending a lot of time over at the paint forum, and I think that the All Surface Gloss Enamel base is what you have tinted to the color you is the final paint. So just 2 products; the primer, and then the gloss enamel, in either the white base (if you are going with a white, or light tinted color), or the deep base (if you are wanting it tinted a darker color)
That's my best guess anyway...

    Bookmark   August 2, 2008 at 7:52AM
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Igloochic, whould water base glaze stick to it?

    Bookmark   August 2, 2008 at 10:38AM
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Carrie, thanks a bunch...that makes sense!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 6:18AM
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"No sanding, just wipe down your cabinets with either a TSP and water mixture or a little vinager and water to get rid of grease"

I'm getting ready to painy my cabinets. They are oak (13 years old) and have a gloss finish so I have been reading some of theese threads with great interest.
What is TSP?

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 8:24AM
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I tried the SW Prep-Rite Pro-Block Interior/Exterior Seals & Bonds, air dry for 1 hr. then I put one coat of the paint I'll be using. It cracked!!!!!!!!!!! Do you suppose to lightly sand after the Seals & Bonds? or does it suppose to air dry longer?

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 6:56PM
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I believe (but don't have the can right here) that the primer is supposed to dry overnight (but I'm sure it's at least four hours) before you put paint over it. I personally never prime and paint in the same day because I like the primer to cure. I would never paint over it in an hour.

I've used this stuff so much on so many different surfaces (shiny) and NEVER had it crack. I can only guess that you either have grease that didn't get cleaned off, or it needed more cure time. What does the can say about cure time?

And Carrie answered the question right :) Thanks

and...what else, oh as to the glaze question. I haven't done it, but I would expect that would not work well, might even be disaster. Glaze is made to go over paint normally. Primer is very very dull and gad not porus, but its made to be a beginning coat to paint, and when painted over, the paint sticks tight to it. Glaze would stick, and streak. You'd never be able to glaze and wipe would set into the primer. You have to do at least one other coat of regular paint first. I personally like two (and for that oak it's great to follow up with the SW paint because it lays down so nice after one primer and two paints that the grain isn't an issue anymore).

TSP is a chemical Trisodium phosphate. It's not terrible dangerous (don't let the kids play in it and don't drink it) but you do wear gloves. It acts somewhat as a deglosser but is a great finish cleaner because it removed grease. I prefer it when painting kitchen cabinets.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 8:50PM
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You get TSP at HD or Lowes or other stores in the paint or chemical section - it comes either liquid or powder - we usually use the liquid but just bought powder to try but haven't used it yet. I personally hate TSP - smells and I don't think it works great but my husband loves it - I prefer simple green. But, for painting that is what's recommended. I will not use it.

I prefer Zinssers's primers - used a couple and this always works best for us - you might want to try a few and see what works best for you.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 9:36PM
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You guys are great! I'll try to cure overnight & see what happens.

TSP, Seals & Bonds (cure overnight), paint, topcoat?

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 11:11PM
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TSP (make sure they're dry before you go further and mix the tsp as noted on the box/jar)

Seals & Bonds (cure overnight)

Coat one of paint, at least four hours of cure time (I prefer overnight)

Coat two of paint, then let that cure a minimm of 24 hours before you start beating it up (install carefully but don't drill out holes for knobs or screws etc for a minimum of 48 hours). You get the best cure over about a weeks time, so don't wash or scrub before then!

I don't do a top coat. I use a gloss paint (you should for any high use area) and the finish is lovely and strong.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 11:34PM
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Igloochic, it seems that this technique would also work on stained shelves? We had to nix (or at least postpone) built-in shelves in our library because of cost, so I'll do a band-aid approach and paint the golden oak office bookshelves a more neutral white.

Do you think there are there any reasons why this might not work?

TIA, Nuccia

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 11:55AM
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Nope :) It works quite well. My first project was a built in shelfing system in a living room of a 1930s cottage. It came out fabulously. Only one more caution I'd add. Shelves get a lot of abuse, so you really want that paint cured up well before you reload them. I personally wouldn't put anything on them for a week after you've finished the last coat, just to be sure they're nice and tough. Then, they'll be bullet proof!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 1:06PM
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greenlola: are you changing the hinges and knobs? If so, the best tip I learned on the paint forum (that never occurred to me) is to do all your drilling/set up BEFORE you paint (actually before you even prime--but I read the tip too late). Because doing all the new hardware installation can involve manhandling your new doors, and can chip/scuff/mar your new paint job.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 1:25PM
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Hello igloochic and bayareafrancy,

I am also painting cabinets. I have raw, paint grade custom doors, and I am also painting over some existing oak cabinets. I have been reading this thread, thinking it is "speaking to me". LOL.

I have been on a paint search. I finally found Cabinet Coat and loved how it brushed on, etc. But the color wasn't what I wanted. It was a long and not-so-pleasant experience getting my local Ace Hardware to even mix up a quart of the CC with CC's own colors. Apparently I was the first CC customer EVER, and NOT ONE employee knew how to deal with it. It took over a half hour to get one quart of paint, and I even had to go back for a different color. They told me they couldn't do a color match with CC. I have to give up on that one, I guess.

Whew. I'm sweating just reliving that. So, my question is: I have a color that I created mixing two Behr colors, and I absolutely LOVE this color (a creamy white--natch ;^) ). Which would be a better choice for getting a better match, BM Waterbourne Satin Impervo OR the SW Glass Enamel described above?

I want the toughest finish, not too shiny, easy to clean because the boys in my house (ALL of them) are piggies, and a paint that does NOT take a professional to get wonderful results. Tall order? LOL.

I guess, in a nutshell, I am saying:


Pretty please? :^)

P.S. Francy, great tip about the pre-drilling. We have never done that, but it makes sense! Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 3:38PM
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BUMP for help...


    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 12:29PM
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I have never used the SW paint (alas, don't have access to it in my town) so I can't really offer a comparison. The name "glass enamel" makes me think it is a high gloss finish, and maybe you don't want that? But they rave about SW Pro-classic on the paint forum, and say it is basically the same as the waterborne Impervo. So it might just be an issue of access.

If you look on the Paint forum, I have a post called "I love this Impervo paint." There, rmkitchen replied that she used it too, and she talks about the kind of abuse it has withstood from her 2 little boys. Mine hasn't been "used" yet (I'm leaving the doors off for 1-2 weeks to cure), but I am hopeful that it will be tough stuff.

The application of it can be tricky! On a horizontal surface, it is much, much easier! Also I think the primer used can make a HUGE difference in the finished look. I say this because I started with Zinsser Cover Stain which went on very thick with pronounced brushmarks. On the backs of the doors, I didn't bother sanding these marks out, and they project right through the gorgeous Impervo paint. On the front of the doors, I did my best to sand (and sand and sand and sand) them out, and the look is much nicer. But it takes practice to brush it on well (and a slightly different technique), and high quality brushes make a BIG difference (use chinex brushes-a bristle made by dupont-that comes in different brands. Corona and Wooster are probably the best brushes on the planet. Or so I am told.).

I wonder how application of Impervo compares to Cabinet Coat? It might be the same, technique and difficulty wise. Good question for the paint forum!



    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 1:04PM
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I'm just heading to the site :) But I'll answer this first.

SW custom matches on the glass enamel (I know this because I took in two gallons of different colors yesterday and they matched for me in the glass enamel...colors from behr and another cheaper paint). I would use this instead of the other paint you suggest, but only because I know how tough the finish is on the glass enamel and I don't know the other paint.

I asked the guy at SW about a different paint for my yellow cabinets (going on unfinished oak) and (a paint from SW). He said it was good for cabs. I asked if it was as good as the glass enamel...he sheepishly said, "no way" :) They were out of the glass enamel in the light they had to rush a special order in since I was buying up the store again heh heh.

Anyhoo, If you want, paint the inside of one of your doors in the glass enamel, using two coats over a primer. See if the sheen is ok with you. I like it, and it is durable...but you need to be sure, and you have to do it right, to get the real feel, especially over oak which is very grainey. I always do at least the three coats (one primer two paint) over oak, and occasionally three of the paint.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 1:11PM
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Thank you both!

Yes, I know about painting oak--fortunately it is not the doors, just the boxes. The doors are all raw paint grade, sanded and ready to rock, so to speak.

One more question: what about using high density foam rollers? I have heard they are wonderful. Or are brushes better?

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 6:16PM
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Circus Peanut

I truly defer to those who have done entire kitchens, but I have had great success on my painted cabinets using either SW PrepRite or Zinsers' 123 as a prep coat, then two coats of Benjamin Moore's Aura semi-gloss. It's held up nicely through the rest of construction, and is a lovely sheen without being too glossy-glossy or too matte. (They also have a new gloss sheen, special for trim and cabs.)
It levels as well as an oil-based, plus it can be made up in any color you choose, including those of other companies (I have been using Sherwin William's formulas made up in Benjamin Moore Aura), although the Aura palate is luscious too.

Shelayne: I've done both brush and foam roller, and am now a roller convert. Make sure to get the higher-quality foam rollers from a real paint store, not the ones you get at the big box stores; the quality is noticeably better in my experience. The combination of microfoam roller + Aura is such a joy to put on that I've threatened to paint anything else that stands still enough :.)

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 6:41PM
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hey peanut:

when you apply aura with the roller, does it level to a smooth, non textured surface?

i've tried foam rollers (but maybe the quality wasn't good) with my Impervo, and while it leveled pretty well, there was definitely a bit of "orange peel" texture. so, when i have a big expanse to do, i roll it, then backbrush it.

also: was the aura hard to work with in terms of keeping a wet edge? i have heard a bunch of "horror stories" about it, so i was afraid to try it, and went with the Impervo. but i think i'll get a sample jar of it to play with, since i'll eventually have walls and trim to do in the kitchen.

or maybe you could just come an paint my kitchen for me!



    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 9:00PM
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I haven't done cabinets yet - have some that need painted, but haven't yet.... but I much prefer the thin rollers over a brush as it goes on much better - I prefer them over the thicker rollers too but it takes 3 times a long for walls. We have a sprayer for our doors and windows but haven't tried it yet for our air compressor.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 9:38PM
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Circus Peanut

Patina Galore (may I just call you PG?) -- I know what you mean, and the roller does leave just the tiniest of textures in the Aura, but it levels really nicely, not very orange-peeley. It's thickalicious and does have a pretty fast dry time, but you just have to train yourself not to over-backbrush. Covers extremely well, better than anything else I've used. I'm loving the matte finish on all my walls.

I sense you folks are kindred spirits in terms of obsessive experimentation. ;-) So here's ya some pseudo-scientific data: the same can of paint, Aura semi-gloss, two coats over SW PrepRite, both brushed and rolled (kitchen cabinet vs some shelves over the stairs). Mind you, this is an extreme close-up shot and they both look great from normal distance, although the rolled finish does look smoother.

brushed (Corona Chinex):

rolled (? brand microfoam, not the cheap Whizz foam):

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 10:13PM
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Shelayne, I went through the same ordeal at my local Ace trying to get cabinet coat tinted. Is that the only place you can buy cabinet coat in your area?
I ended up going to a local paint store that carried cabinet coat and they no trouble getting the right color.I did have to pay quite a bit more for it at the paint store though.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 3:32PM
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I am painting all my doors and trim with the BM alykd Impervo. I use the foam rollers now exclusively (with the rounded ends). I do lay everything flat on sawhorses though- I think there would be too many drips if I didn't. Finish is pretty darned good. I do sand with wet sand paper between coats and wipe off with a thin microfibre cloth. I thought I might need a brush to get everything into all the cracks and grooves of the trim pieces, but the foam has enough give and the paint levels out enough, that a brush is unnecessary.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 6:00PM
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Hi Chloe,

I am not certain about where else to find Cabinet Coat. I WAS (notice the emphasis) excited to find it in my area at Ace. To tell you the truth, I gave up on it, and now have my local Sherwin Williams trying to match the paint swatch that I brought them (a mixture of 2 Behr paints). Thanks for the tip, though!


I picked up the PrepRite...Seals and Bonds primer and had tried to get my color concoction in the All Surface Glass Enamel, and the color came out with a serious greenish hue. (Not my color at ALL!) The gentleman said that the sample I had needs a "luminous white" base, and that All Surface Enamel does not have that white of a base. Figures. Grrrrrr. SOOOOOO, he has ordered that luminous white base from the Pro Classic line and kept my swatch so he could work on it tomorrow.

I am disappointed, once again, that I cannot have the truly AWESOME cabinet paint in MY color. Yet, tomorrow I will most likely return to the store for my 5th (Yes, FIFTH) can of paint.

My paint search has been ongoing for 2 months now. Really, I should have just given up and gone with the Behr. That's where the colors come from. I just didn't want to have to also poly over them. I wanted to prime, paint, paint, and be done! Sheeesh, I am stubborn. :^p

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 11:56PM
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LOL Shey I know the obsession...i should just send you a couple dozen of my "quarts o'samples" heh heh

On the brush verses roller. I personally don't like the orange peel. I actually just threw a door away that was painted by the previous contractor. Quality roller or cheap, I still read orange peel when I see it and I hate that. I prefer an old fashioned brush stroke, but I also do like to use a good paint that lays down well so that it's not overly stroked.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 12:14AM
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Thanks for the photos peanut! My waterborne Impervo looks pretty much the same. I'm rolling the backs of the doors (because it's so much easier and faster), but brushing the fronts. From a distance they do look the same, but I love the silky feel of the brushed cabinets. Even my seven year old son likes to pet them.

If only someone would come and finish this kitchen for me! (End of Aug is my deadline for 50% of the kitchen cabinets painted).



    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 2:11AM
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I am rolling the backs as well. I was hoping I could just roll everything, as I have only started this and am sick of it already. Not the paint--just GETTING to the paint has me so over it! Heh.

I really really really really wanted to try the All Surface Glass whatchamacallit, but it is not to be. * sigh *

I hope this SW Pro Classic is "all that". From the raves on the paint forum, I am expecting big things. ;^) Well, that is IF I can get my color in it. That, of course, remains to be seen.

It does appear; however, that I WILL be able to use it on my dining table, as that is going to be an almost black color. At least I have that!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 1:37PM
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do cabinets for a living ,and I always sand them. it is really the best way , especially around the corners of the doors and drawers . when painting they should be a little more rounded otherwise they're much more vulnerable to chiping. And I certainly would never get paid for painting doors with brushes. the ultimate goal to paint kitchen cabinets ,is to make people think they're not painted. which is clearly impossible if brush strokes are visible. you may get away with brushing bathroom vanities ,or tables ,but not kitchen cabinets. Trust me you really have to spray the doors and drawers, you can foam roll the boxes but that's it.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2011 at 6:00AM
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I have 30+ year old cabinets that are stained pretty dark, in fairly good shape. Been wanting to lighten things up but have put this off because of all the work involved, especially sanding. Just recently read about deglosser and saw it on "This Old House" last night where he deglossed fairly dark stained cabinets and painted them white, turned out great. Considering replacing cabinet doors and drawers with new unfinished to save time. Anyone have any experience with this?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 9:23AM
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