Those with painted cabinets....Satin or Semi-Gloss????

david123August 19, 2008


So, I have finally picked out my primer, sanding technique, paint color, wall color, countertops, and paint type (sherwin williams Pro- Classic Enamel, but cannot decide on the sheen.

I have done practice boards with both the satin and the slightly glossier semi-gloss.

The semi-gloss shows brush marks a teeny tiny bit more, and the satin seems more "forgiving". It is going over previously stained oak.

Does anyone out there have any comments/input as to what sheen would be better? More practical? Prettier? Etc....?

I just cannot make up my mind.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dream Kitchen on a Budget Blog

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When we painted the cabinets in our other homes, we used semi-gloss paint both times because we wanted a durable, scrubbable finish. If you're worried about brushstrokes, maybe look into a paint sprayer. We bought an expensive one and the primer and paint went on pretty smoothly.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 3:22PM
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I vote semi-gloss. If it's too flat, it will look dingy even when it's clean IMO.

If you don't go the sprayer route, make sure you have a super high-quality brush. You might also add a little Floetrol to the paint (that is, if you're using latex enamel). I started doing this halfway through painting the (high gloss) trim in my house and it's made a world of difference.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 4:25PM
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Are they custom cabs? Our designer advised us to go with 20% gloss. We ended up with 25% gloss due to paint availability. I think they look great - not too shiny but still easy to clean.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 5:07PM
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We are going with 10% sheen on our off-white painted cabinets. I wanted to avoid anything that looked plasticy or like thermofoil.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 5:16PM
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When I painted our old honey oak cabinets, I sanded the prior finish off completely, then used a satin finish paint, then a satin finish poly. No visible brush strokes. I used very thin layers of the paint and thick layers of the poly.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 5:28PM
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I have no idea what percentage sheen- these are my old oakies that I am painting myself. Maybe I can ask the paint store what the percentage is?

Thanks everyone!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 5:31PM
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I don't get it ... brush strokes are a GOOD thing.

I'm taking a lot of flak from snotty cabinet people, enduring withering sales pressure, making a lot of effort and paying a lot of money to make sure I GET brush strokes, evidence of the touch of a human hand, and not a lifeless factory finish!

I do woodwork 2 ways now: either a high gloss (it's a European look), or a flat, if you have a historic house. Nothing in between. But you can tell I'm not normal ... kind of Abby Normal.

It also depends on how much of the oak grain you want/need to fill. The shinier the paint, the more imperfections it shows. And one may fill the grain better.

If one isn't jumping out and screaming "pick me!" then they're both probably just fine. Pick one, destroy the evidence there were alternatives and agonize no more.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 5:51PM
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We used Cabinet Coat, which is a satin.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 6:21PM
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Thanks growlery......I needed a bit of a virtual kick in the pants to make this decision. When looking at it, the grain shouts! with the semi-gloss, but it whispers "I am oak" with the satin. It's funny,,,,,, I like the little brush strokes I am getting with the satin, but not with the semi-gloss. The strokes with the satin look very professional, homey, etc. It's hard to explain. I guess in this post I answered my own question.

Thank goodness I found this forum! I think I need to mark the kitchen web URL marked on the inside of one of the cabinets.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 6:29PM
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We used BM Satin on cabs, woodwork and doors.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 7:06PM
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I painted all our oak cabs with a sprayer using BM Bittersweet Chocolate in an eggshell finish.Eggshell gives you just enough sheen without beeing super shiny.Also we primered with SM pro block seals and bonds.This was recommended so you don't have to sand first.We are still in the middle of the remodel so we don't have pics yet but soon.Good Luck.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 7:47PM
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Abby Normal--I'm with you! :-) I'm painting my cabs right now, and I've decided I like a little teeny bit of brushwork!

I'm using BM Satin Impervo. It is plenty glossy enough! Once everything is painted, and the lights are shining on them, they will be shiny, even in satin. I was just taking some progress photos of mine (haven't uploaded yet). The sun was streaming in the window, and they looked super shiny!

So I vote satin! Especially over oak.



    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 8:20PM
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I went with Satin Impervo - I wanted a sheen not a gloss!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 9:04PM
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You're going to be real confused now...we went with sherwin williams..started out satin..but it was too dull and showed fingerprints...switched to their semi gloss and much much better..and no it's not glossy at all!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 9:55PM
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Mine is BM Satin Impervo on my painted cabs and island and I have no problem with their finish. It's very nice.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 10:21PM
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Thanks everyone for your input- what a great forum!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 8:21AM
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Glad to be of help, David.

The blog world gets lonely. Stop by any time!

And Francy, love muffin, sugar kitten -- you're DEFINITELY Abby Normal. We've seen the photos. (one of us one of us one of us one of us)

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 8:51AM
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Here is my red painted kitchen with satin paint and satin poly. It's hard to see in this photo, but it was plenty shiny, and still allowed the grain to show through enough to act as proof that these are wood, not thermofoil:

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 3:23PM
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I just finished painting my cabinets with the same paint. I used a satin because I did not want a glossy look and the salesperson at SW recommended it. The satin gives a softer look. They look great!! The brush marks fade away after it dries properly and it is super easy to clean. My husband always seems to touch my white cabinets when his hands are dirty so I have had plenty of experience cleaning them. I am also a HUGE fan of Mr. Clean sponges.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 3:59PM
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I only use gloss on cabinets, in fact I only use professional high gloss on cabinets because I want a surface that will withstand anything. I also do the same on all woodwork and trim (latex, not oil based). And I'm the person who always recommends the Problock seals and bonds from SW. I don't like to sand, and with this, there is no need, no matter the gloss level when you start.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 5:32PM
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