A note of caution for anyone repainting their cabinets

jimyyzOctober 30, 2008

I have similar cabinets to girlwithaspirin and have run into problems with the paint sticking. I cleaned my doors with TSP, sanded, recleaned to remove the dust. I then painted 2 test doors. On one door i put a coat of 123 primer first and then the first coat of Impervo. On the other door i skipped the primer and painted just a light coat of Impervo a la girlwithaspirin's directions. I then let both dry for 24 hours.

Unfortunately, the paint scratches off both doors quite easily -- the door without primer easier then the door with primer. I am certain that allowing the paint to cure would have made little difference. You can tell within 24 hours if the paint is going to hold or not.

I'm therefore glad I did the test first. I doubt it would have been very long before the doors looked awful through regular use.

Obviously whatever finishing/protection coat (not sure whether it is urathane or something else) is preventing the doors from accepting new paint and I will have to strip them further.

I will keep you posted on my progress. Oh yeah, and if anyone has been through the same problem and has any tips I would love to hear them. Tks!

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I am not having such problems, except on the fake wood side panel areas (kinda like a wood grain wallpaper)- but we are putting end panels on most of those so it's not a problem.

I can link you to my blog to show what steps I do- but in a nutshell I

Do not use TSP (Heard it can cause problems)- I use arm and hammer degreaser or ivory dish soap and rinse rinse rinse. Then, I use Liquid Sand (by kleen strip, I believe- non toxic) and let that sit 15-20 minutes until dry.

Then I use 1 or 2 coats Sherwin Williams Bonding primer (latex based) or for a few items, Zinsser Stain Sealer Primer (it is excellent but I don't like oil cleanup). Then wait 8 hours, do a light sanding with 400 grit, and clean up every speck of dust with a damp cloth and vacuum. Then, 2 coats Sherwin Williams Pro Classic Satin, sanding inbetween the two coats with 240 grit after 8 hours.

Then, I do not touch them for 72 hours to let them cure. So far, not one ding or scratch- I cannot scratch off the finish at all with my fingernail. I am painting 7 year old oak cabinets, if that makes a difference.

Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: My DIY kitchen blog

    Bookmark   October 30, 2008 at 2:04PM
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Our experience, which may or may not apply to your situation:

It took over a week (about 2, I think?) before our oil-based Satin Impervo was dry/hard. When my dh stacked or leaned the doors they would slightly stick together even after letting them dry in his heated shop for about 10 days. I'm sure the paint probably would've scratched easily after only 1 day. Ours was on new doors, and we used the BM oil-based primer. (Fresh Start alkyd)

For our kids' beds, we wanted faster drying, and since we were using a light color, opted to use the water based BM Waterborne Satin Impervo (over the alkyd primer) and had good luck with that.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2008 at 2:27PM
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If your cabinets are factory-finished (or, in some cases, finished at a local shop using a conversion finish) they have a very hard finish that's nearly impossible to paint over. You practically have to sand down to bare wood to get good adherence. Try a bit coarser paper on the first go and sand again with a fine grit before priming.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2008 at 3:25PM
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Why don't you try the liquid sanding deglosser on a small practice spot, and repeat with your primer and paint (without sanding) to see what happens- I'm curious!

    Bookmark   October 30, 2008 at 3:57PM
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Thanks for the replies. unfortunately the TSP is already done. It didn't affect painting the frame (which is laminate). My next test is with liquid sand followed by a coat of 123 primer. Then I will restest it to see how easily the paint scratches off. I believe that curing has more to do with the hardness of finish rather then the adherence to the substrate.

David, any tricks for getting an ultra smooth finish? I will be sanding in between coats and using foam rollers but I find that no matter how careful i am i still get some brush marks. Perhaps it's impossible unless spraying. I will do one more test when I start painting with the final coat paint using a little Flotrol. I've heard that it should help. But that might only be true for when using brushes.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2008 at 4:26PM
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Well, I am using a different paint (a waterborne paint)- is yours oil based? I know there are other ones other than SW pro classic out there, just not sure of the brands. Mine is a self-leveling one, so what I use is either foam rollers or 4 1/2" Wooster Pro Doo Z (got that advice on the paint forum) and follow up with one back brushing with a Corona excalibur (it's a Chinex brush, made specifically for waterborne paints). But, the trick is to not over work the paint- going over it once with the brush is enough. It starts setting quickly and if you to back over it you will get icky glops that you really have to sand out hard.

I am using a satin finish as well- I think it hides tiny brush marks and tiny drips better than a semi-gloss. I found that just rolling the paint left little stipple marks, even with this self-leveling paint.

If yours is an oil based paint, I really have no clue what to do to eliminate brush marks. I chose the pro classic based on recommendations on the paint forum, from my paint dealer, and from my hated of mineral spirits and oil based products, the smell gives me a headache so I have to minimize it's use. Plus I have kids and cats that always seem to help out when I turn my back, so soap and water wash up is important.....

Good luck, and try posting your question on the paint forum, you will get some good advice there (sometimes conflicting, but at least more ideas to try or think about)

    Bookmark   October 31, 2008 at 8:46AM
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David123 - I saved your website in case I ever decide to paint any of my cabinet. I did my bathroom cabinets and the paint scratches off easily which is very frustrating. What was the reason for using a latex primer and then an oil based? Is that so you could could an oil based paint? I wonder if the oil based paint gives you a tougher finish than the latex.


    Bookmark   October 31, 2008 at 9:56AM
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The Benjamin Moore Impervo is a self leveling paint as well and comes in either oil or waterborne. I went with the latex for the same reason as you. I chose this brand because it was highly recommended in the painting forum.

I'm pretty much following the same techniques as you. I guess it comes down to the fact that when you are using rollers and brushes there will always be a few brush strokes showing no matter how careful one is... unless you are telling me that you did get a perfect, sprayed-on like finish?

    Bookmark   October 31, 2008 at 10:41AM
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No, the finish does not look showroom perfect, but pretty darn good- upon close inspection you can see a few blips and brush marks here and there, but really, not too much. On my practice board, more showed up with the semi-gloss.

I went with a latex primer because I hate working with oil, but on a few of the raw wood items I needed an oil based primer (the Prep Rite Bonding primer is not for raw wood), and in one case I left the liquid sand on too long and the stain kept bleeding thorough the latex primer and I had to redo it with the Zinsser Stain Block primer (hope that makes sense).

So far, I am very pleased- workers who come into my home assume it is professionally done (maybe they are just trying to be nice?!?!). The way I think of it is that its so much better than the finish before, maybe not as good as a new cabinet would be factory-finished, but still does not "cheapen" the house, if you know what I mean. Good luck- Oh yeah, are you using a Corona brand Chinex brush (the excalibur, I think it is?) It is by far the BEST brush out there! (and I have many)

    Bookmark   October 31, 2008 at 1:13PM
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Ugh, even with the liquid sand the primer came off when scratched lightly with my thumbnail. It looks like I have to strip them using furniture stripper.

why always me?! lol.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2008 at 2:54PM
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Bummer.....Good luck, and let us know how it turned out. Why do you think it's happening, if you had to guess? Did you post your concerns on the paint forum? What did they say? I have a few friends who want to paint their cabs after seeing mine, and wonder if I just had some special luck?!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2008 at 8:43PM
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no, i didn't post my concerns in the paint forum since I was pretty sure what was causing the problem and, therefore what had to be done. sure enough stripping them does make a difference. though it was another whole step, and a lot of extra work it was worth it. i did another test yesterday and the primer now sticks. and as you know, this is very important.

one more thing i should mention, a friend who use to be a professional painter, told me to to add some FLOETROL to the paint (as per the instructions). he was right, the difference with the Floetrol is substantial... and I am using BM Impervo which is a self-leveling paint. not only does the paint go down smoother but i could also put down a lighter coat. the result is so close to a spray finish that i doubt anyone could tell that they weren't sprayed.

(NOTE: Floertrol is for latex paint only. if you are using an oil-based paint use the oil version)

since I am going to all this trouble and seeing that that i will be living with these cabinets for many years I would rather spend a little extra effort now, and an extra day or two, if it means getting a much superior finished result.

the only extra advice I would give is to be very careful with the corners and in the grooves. This is where paint drips tend to occur and show-up.

i will post some pictures when I am done.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2008 at 11:01AM
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Great! Glad you found a solution- I have no idea why mine didn't have the same problem, but it's good to know there are alternatives in case it does happen. I didn't know that Floetrol could be added to Waterbourne paints- for some reason it thought it could not, but I don't know why I thought that. I am about 2/3 done with the cabinets, so I probably won't change what I'm doing and add it to my paint, but good to know for the future and for some friends of mine who plan on a similar project.

Post some pictures with your progress!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2008 at 12:03PM
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Why don't you take a painted drawer to the paint store where you bought it and ask them for their advice? They should stand behind their product, and know what, if anything, you are doing wrong.

Carla in Sac

    Bookmark   November 5, 2008 at 12:36PM
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i'm sure they would say that the problem is because of the coating on the cabinets. of course the primers that claim they will stick to anything don't stick to absolutely everything.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2008 at 1:03PM
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I don't think you are giving the primer or the paint enough time to cure before you are testing it for scratches. 24 hrs is not enough time. The can on the 123 primer states that full adhesion is not achieved for 7 days. I am currently painting my kitchen cabinets and I am using the 123 primer and the cabinet coat paint. If I scratch the primer within 24 hrs it will scratch off and I would expect it to. Even the cabinet coat paint is not fully cured for 30 days. During this time if you scratch it hard enough it will come off. I have used this same process on two other cabinets in my bathrooms and after 2 months time it is hard as a rock and we are not careful. I even painted the inside drawers and they take daily abuse from hairbrushes etc., being taken in and out and everything is holding up fine. I have oak cabinets that had a coat of poly on them when I painted them.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2008 at 7:09PM
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thanks. i'll give it a few more days and then recheck it... though i'm pretty much done the stripping anyway.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2008 at 10:42PM
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even after a week the regular primer still scratched off. I did another test with BIN primer. It worked much better and it didn't scratch off.

Both tests were on cabinets that had been through one round of stripping. I should mention for anyone that might be going through the same process that one stripping was NOT enough. I had to strip them a second time and followed that with three rounds of sanding (50, 110, 220) to fully remove the protective coating. And I'm still going to use the shellac based primer.

One last thing, I can't go on enough about how much of an improvement adding Floetrol to the paint made. There are absolutely no brush strokes. The cabinets look like they have a factory finish. I will post pictures when I am completely finished. (hopefully within the week!! : )

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 11:40PM
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jimyyz, glad to hear things have started to turn around and you are getting the results you were looking for. I am just starting my cabinet painting project and all the advice on this thread has been super helpful, especially the floetrol tip! Can't wait to see how they come out. Please post a pic one they are finished. :)

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 12:52PM
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Circus Peanut

Use Floetrol for latex, and Penetrol for oil-based paints. They're both marvellous. :)

1 Like    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 1:18PM
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