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Is this a really bad idea for painting kitchen cabinets?

Posted by aggierose (My Page) on
Mon, Jul 16, 12 at 21:20

I've been reading a lot lately about painting old wooden furniture and there seem to be a few products out there that allow you to do it without all the sanding. It got me to thinking about kitchen cabinets. I was told that the way to do kitchen cabinets involved lots of labor (including sanding them down) so I decided it was just too much work. Why not use one of the products I've found, like this one:

http://www.homedepot.com/buy/paint/primers/zinsser/cover-stain-oil-base-primer-sealer-1-quart-98106.html

Or, even chalk paint??

Is there a reason this wouldn't work? We are moving next month and would really love to paint our kitchen cabinets but aren't planning on doing it due to the labor.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Is this a really bad idea for painting kitchen cabinets?

On This Old House they showed a homeowners painting her cabinets. There is a lot of prep work involved, see the 6 page tutorial.

Here is a link that might be useful: TOH link


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RE: Is this a really bad idea for painting kitchen cabinets?

I would never ever use chalk paint on kitchen cabs.
I have never found chalk paint to be particularly wipeable(sp).

All the waxing and finishing you would be better off
with a little sanding.

And the oil based is not really necessary.

Are your cabs painted now ?


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RE: Is this a really bad idea for painting kitchen cabinets?

I would leave the cabinets as they are rather than take short cuts in prep work. I think the new owners will appreciate that you didn't take the quick route. Improperly done painting always will result in the paint chipping off prematurely.


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RE: Is this a really bad idea for painting kitchen cabinets?

Are you talking about the cabs of the house you are moving into ?


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RE: Is this a really bad idea for painting kitchen cabinets?

Yes, I'm talking about the cabinets of the house we are moving into. They are stained a dark brown right now. I guess I'm wanting to know why these products (not necessarily chalk pain) wouldn't be just as good as doing all the sanding? Will the paint not last? Would it be more likely to chip? I don't see the point in doing all the extensive labor if science has brought us products that achieve the same results with less work? What am I missing? Is there something different about refinishing wood cabinets vs refinishing a wood piece of furniture? I certainly don't want my cabinets to look bad and I will leave them dark brown before I do a bad paint job. Just trying to learn more. Thanks!


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RE: Is this a really bad idea for painting kitchen cabinets?

You could ask on the woodworking forum or the paint forum for information about this product - it does sound promising.

I have painted over all kinds of finishes in our old house and the issue of paint adhesion is, I think, slightly overblown. But a stain bleeding through could happen, so I'd advise some sort of sealer for what you have in mind, plus the kitchen can be a challenging environment. You could also do a test on a separate piece of stained wood.

But another way to look at is, what is the worst that could happen? Maybe the door over the stove peels? If so, could you replace it?

My mom, who has her own quirky way of doing things, recently painted her melamine-over particle board Ikea kitchen cabinets with Tremclad paint. Looks great and is holding up well.

Karin L


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RE: Is this a really bad idea for painting kitchen cabinets?

A piece of furniture is not exposed to grease on a daily basics ...
The only people who advocate painting kitchen cabs in chalk paint are the ones selling it..

Maybe you perceive sanding as down to the bone.
It's just a little scuff.

Two coats of primer .
Two coats of top coat.

Go check out the paint forum.
A lot of advise there.
Like I've said before : Painters are like fisherman
they all have the best bait..

In the end the labor you put in will bring way more joy
as you live with what you have accomplished .


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RE: Is this a really bad idea for painting kitchen cabinets?

I'd do that dresser you bought and see how you feel about painting before I'd take on a kitchen. Kitchen cabinets are, in my opinion, the hardest things in the house to paint and have look good. Yes, when I've done them I've stripped, and sanded, and primed, and painted, and they have looked great. It's the stripping that's the killer. And yes, there are some awesome new products that appear to make the process easier. But, again, I'd suggest you start smaller and see how it goes. Some people have a hand for painting and some don't. I, personally, am a total perfectionist when it comes to painting - no brush strokes or roller marks, no drips, great coverage, and the cutting in better be perfect too. That takes some practice... or at least it took me some. Good luck with all your projects!


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RE: Is this a really bad idea for painting kitchen cabinets?

I think what you're absorbing is the marketing more than true product performance abilities.

Sometimes, they aren't the same thing. "Paint and primer in one" is one of the most common examples.

If you think about it, how can a paint be a primer too? If you understand the individual job each does, ya start to put the puzzle pieces together. As in, "yeah, how does a paint film know when to be paint and when to be primer"? Answer, of course, is it can't.

Paint and primer in one can be said for just about any can of paint provided the substrate (surface) you're painting is in tact, with no extenuating circumstances -- because then it's a case of you don't need a primer to do the job of a primer so WTH. All ya need is the paint part, not having primer performance properties is a non-issue. Like most marketing spin, you can convolute "paint and primer in one" until it can be true.

And you could use chalk paint on kitchen cabinets. Simply use the cabinets like a bedroom dresser and not kitchen cabinets.

If there are any truly legitimate short-cuts to painting kitchen cabinets, I have not yet learned about them.


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RE: Is this a really bad idea for painting kitchen cabinets?

As my husband tells me, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right. Simply put, IF the existing cabinets have any greasy film or other & you haven't cleaned them adequately, whatever is applied is likely to chip or peel. My last & most recent project was my bathroom vanity which had a 70's stain & poly (I cleaned them really well to get all residue/hairspray, etc. off, lightly sanded, primed & painted). It's been 2 yrs & the vanity still looks great. Also, just an example is a wall we once painted...it had a mystery substance dotted on the wall. No matter how many coats of kilz we applied, those spots still bled through? Because the spots were kind of a clear substance, we didn't really think much of it until the 1st coat of kilz went on. Funcolors & beeps have given you good advice. Good luck!


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RE: Is this a really bad idea for painting kitchen cabinets?

aggierose, the first product you listed in your original post would work very well - an oil-based primer. You would still need to clean and lightly sand the cabinets before applying the primer. By lightly sand, I mean about 15 seconds on each door. You don't need to sand down to bare wood.

Another product you could use is a waterborne enamel like Cabinet Coat. This is the third time this week I have recommended this product, but really, I don't have any connection to the company. There are other such products out there. There is a review of Ben Moore Advance on the Paint forum that you might want to read.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cabinet Coat


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RE: Is this a really bad idea for painting kitchen cabinets?

Thank you all for your advice! graywings, that cabinet coat was another one I was thinking about, just didn't mention it. I will definitely put more thought into this before diving in. I certainly don't mind doing light sanding and I would definitely be cleaning/degreasing before I started. My husband and I are perfectionists as well. We've done tons of painting, but only on walls and crown molding, nothing else. I tell you though, my husband cuts in like a pro!! Poor thing, every time we paint our house he has to do all the cutting in! We have 2 cabinet doors we may be replacing with glass. I might try to paint those 2 doors to see how the process works and how it looks. If it turns out bad we can replace them as planned!


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RE: Is this a really bad idea for painting kitchen cabinets?

Is there a high gloss on the wood finish?

Trust me.. prep work is the harder part of the project, but done correctly will reward you with the best possible finish!

I haven't read all the comments (need to get dressed!) However, If these were my cabinets, and the cabinets were in good condition... I would either dull the gloss with a deglosser, or lightly sand. You MUST take all hardware off, please don't paint over hinges. :) After, I would go to SW and buy their ADHESIVE PRIMER, this is a great primer for your project. Once primed, your ready to paint. I would even use chalk paint - but finish it with lacquer, not wax.


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RE: Is this a really bad idea for painting kitchen cabinets?

If you think about it, how can a paint be a primer too? If you understand the individual job each does, ya start to put the puzzle pieces together. As in, "yeah, how does a paint film know when to be paint and when to be primer"? Answer, of course, is it can't.

I've always wondered the same thing about shampoo and conditioner in one. Shampoo strips the hairs and conditioner adds to it, so wth?


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RE: Is this a really bad idea for painting kitchen cabinets?

There was a post here about T$re$ndclad and it has been removed. I tried to respond with the name in it and GW locked up on me, saying the page was not there. Maybe they thought it was advertising. Anyhow, did a search for this and there are tons of blogs on using it on everything and anything. Now I'm really intrigued with the options Even the car guys are using it for complete restoration. One is about kitchen cabinets. I may just try this on a couple of my hard maple ones. Or some other restoration furniture.

Thanks for whoever it was that posted. Although I hope we both are not in trouble now. 10 years on GW and just recently a couple of emails from them calling me out for advertising. Something I have never done.


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RE: Is this a really bad idea for painting kitchen cabinets?

A number of years ago, I painted the cabinetry in our kitchen, and found that the most difficult part was finding enough work space to lay out all the doors and drawers in a way that made it go smoothly.

Our solution was, of course, the garage, with saw horses and a big old hollow-core door we kept around as a work surface. Even so, I had to do all the upper ones one weekend, and then all the lower ones the next weekend. Which seemed onerous, until it was done, and then I was ridiculously pleased with myself for doing it right.


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RE: Is this a really bad idea for painting kitchen cabinets?

I painted my kitchen cabinets years ago. They were dark stained and I painted them white without sanding them. I did clean them really well with TSP substitute, then used a really good bonding primer and a high quality 100% acrylic latex paint. We lived in the house for over 10 years with 3 kids and they still looked great when we sold the house.


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RE: Is this a really bad idea for painting kitchen cabinets?

Whether you sand or not, I think the most tedious part of the job is the painting -because you will be trying so hard for a perfect finish. I've been painting furniture recently using my brother's air compressor with a spray paint attachment, and I am totally sold on this method of applying paint to anything but a room. Their is no mess to clean afterwards (unlike things like the Wagner spray gun). The only thing that runs through the tube is air. The paint only moves from a small canister attached directly to the gun through the nozzle of the gun. Could not be easier to clean. I have no idea how expensive air compressors are, but if it is affordable, I would highly recommend it as a way to apply both the primer and the paint. There are products made to add to the paint which will allow them to move through the spray gun optimally. I used floetrol. Just ask the paint store guys how to best handle the paint and primer products with this setup if you go this way.


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RE: Is this a really bad idea for painting kitchen cabinets?

I've been wanting to do something with my cabinets too and while googling around looking for ideas I came upon an article on Home Depot's forums (didn't even know they had them) saying to use porch paint, that it was durable as heck and didn't leave brush marks, etc. I don't recall if it's an oil based paint or not, that would be onerous to use but the idea sounded interesting.


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RE: Is this a really bad idea for painting kitchen cabinets?

I learned a bit about floor paint while I was hunting for a glossy latex floor paint. No one had it except Home Depot (Behr). Other companies make a flat latex or a glossy oil, but that's it. What someone told me when I asked if I could just use glossy wall paint on the floor was that the floor paint makes a thinner layer that does not compress the way a wall paint does. True or not, I dunno, but that might explain the durability. As for brush marks, I think the floor paint is a bit runnier, as it is meant to be put on a flat surface I suppose (!), and as such I try to only use it on things I can lay flat to paint.

Karin L


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RE: Is this a really bad idea for painting kitchen cabinets?

I've always wondered the same thing about shampoo and conditioner in one. Shampoo strips the hair and conditioner adds to it, so wth?

lol! Exactly. I've wondered about that too - tried it and that doesn't work for me either. And then there's WEN from Chaz Dean. So many questions. :-D


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RE: Is this a really bad idea for painting kitchen cabinets?

Tremclad is Canadian for Rustoleum.

For priming take a look at BM Fresh Start..
I still don't know why you would need an oil based primer.
Or why you would want to work with ALL that mess.
Ditto Graywings and also advise taking a look at BM Advance.

To cut your work in half:
Paint the interior with ASCP and seal with a polycrylic.
No sanding and priming needed.
I used Paris Grey on my interiors.
With a quart you'll have enough to do all your interior doors with probably 4/5 left .
ASCP is expensive but everyone should try it once then experiment with making your own.
It's a joy to use I just can't stomach the cost.

"And you could use chalk paint on kitchen cabinets. Simply use the cabinets like a bedroom dresser and not kitchen cabinets. "
Too funny Funcolors !!


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RE: Is this a really bad idea for painting kitchen cabinets?

Kitchens DO need an oil based sealing primer because even if you do all the right steps and clean the cabinets with TSP, scuff sand, and then prime with just a regular water based stain blocking primer, microscopic kitchen grease that is still left can bleed through. Especially in older kitchens that don't have proper ventilation. Grease gets into the pores of the wood where the finish has failed. Just like the pitch in knotty pine, water based primers just don't cut it here. Bleedthrough may not happen right away, but it WILL happen, and it will ruin your paint job.

Painting is all about prep work, and there are no shortcuts to doing that right, despite what all the marketers would have you believe.

And, I'd never recommend doing chalk paint anywhere in a kitchen, even if you are going to seal it with acrylic. That's still two coats of painting, and you might as well make that a coat of primer and a topcoat. The only thing you're skipping is the scuff sanding, and that's not at all onerous to do. You'll just end up with a better quality job if you use the right products for the right job and don't skimp on the labor portion either.

If you want to minimize the labor, a HVLP sprayer as was suggested above will help you with that, but it does have a learning curve and requires a significant investment in equipment. However, I'm of the opinion that every single home needs to own a decent air compressor, because there are SO many things that you can do with it. Filling the kids float toys, blowing leaves off of the driveway, using a brad nailer to apply crown molding, using an air wrench to remove the lugs to change a tire, and the list could go on and on....


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RE: Is this a really bad idea for painting kitchen cabinets?

I have seen Rustoleum sold as such in Canada too on the shelf next to Tremclad, but I gather one company just bought the other (Rustoleum bought, I think) so we'll hope that the product lines get rationalized at some point.

No warning so far, Emagineer!

Karin L


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