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What kind of paint should I use to paint oak kitchen cabinets?

Posted by janesylvia (My Page) on
Thu, Oct 31, 13 at 22:02

My house has a lot of oak cabinets: covering three walls and a big breakfast bar. I'd like to paint them white. There are several choices as follows:
1. Zinsser Smart Prime + Benjamin Moore Advance Paint
2. Nuvo Cabinet Paint
3. Rust-oleum cabinet transformation
4. Sherwin Williams premium wall wood primer + ProClassic enamel paint.

Which choice would produce the best result? Do I need to use the rotary orbit sander + sand block to sand all the cabinets and drawers? I saw it looks like veneer instead of real oak wood on the side of the breakfast bar. Do I need to use rotary orbit sander there before painting? Now the hinges are bronze-colored which match well with oak color. If I paint the cabinets and drawers white, would it be better to change the hinges to stainless steel?

Any input or sharing of experience is greatly appreciated.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: What kind of paint should I use to paint oak kitchen cabinets

I painted my oak bathroom vanity black. I found the same hinges at Home Depot in black and changed out all of the hinges. I took my doors off and painted them while they were laying flat. Take your time. Let each coat dry thoroughly. Pay attention to wiping drips off the edges of the backside.

I am reposting below exactly the steps I followed.

There was a person who used to post on the kitchen forum quite frequently. She had re-done several houses. She advocated painting cabinets as follows (I've cut and pasted her advice from several different threads):

I only use high quality nylon (Purdy) brushes. I prefer them for wood finishes. They cost more but they last forever!

This is exactly what I use:

Sherwin Williams PrepRite ProBlock Interior Exterior Seals and Bonds, Latex primer (be sure you get exactly that one...it 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 thermafoil...it 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.

I use one coat primer and let it dry a day at least, then two coats (one day between at least) of paint with a good Purdy brush (which is important). With just one coat the grain still effects the paint, but with the two on top of the primer you get that nice smooth look :)

I'm a paint freak, so forgive me for saying this if you know. Don't use rollers for wood. I like a 1 1/2 inch and a 2 1/2 or 3" brush at the most. The smaller works well on the small areas so you don't drip or oversmear the sides of the project.

I have painted several cabinets using the SW primer without any other prep work, except making sure the cabinets were relatively clean. So far they have held up fine.


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RE: What kind of paint should I use to paint oak kitchen cabinets

This is helpful, and tempts me to consider painting my kitchen chairs.
We painted cabinets in a previous home with proclassic enamel, and use it in our house for trim now. It holds up really well.


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RE: What kind of paint should I use to paint oak kitchen cabinets

I painted my oak kitchen cabinets. I took off all the doors and sanded them by hand. Then, primed with two coats of Zinsser. Allow sufficient drying between coats and as bbstx said, get a good quality brush.

Then finally, 2 coats of your paint of choice.

I am very happy with the results, especially after new knobs went on.

One tip: make sure you have a safe place for all the screws, hinges, hardware and a system to remember which door goes where.


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RE: What kind of paint should I use to paint oak kitchen cabinets

It looks like they don't have that SW primer anymore. The Prepright Pro block is now listed for interior use only and doesn't mention "bonding". Also has a different number from the original one.


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RE: What kind of paint should I use to paint oak kitchen cabinets

Well, that stinks!! I loved that stuff! Did you ask the SW salesman what they replaced it with?


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RE: What kind of paint should I use to paint oak kitchen cabinets

bbstx, thank you so much for your kind help. I have two more questions:
1. If the surface of some oak cabinets is not smooth, the grain making some cabinets' surface a little up and down. Can I still skip sanding?
2. Is it possible for me to see a picture of that lady's finished work?
3. Would it still be better to use brush than roller to paint the big slabs of 7 feet long under the breakfast bar?

uther, thank you very much for sharing your experience. Did you also change the hinge to stainless steel?


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RE: What kind of paint should I use to paint oak kitchen cabinets

1. I think if your surface is not smooth, you'll have to sand. You can always do a test run on the back side of one of the doors.

2. I'm not aware of her posting any photos. It was igloochic. You can do a search.

3. There is a technique where you can put the paint on with a roller and then immediately lay it off with a brush. I've attached a link to a video showing that technique. I've never done it but I've never painted anything big enough where I needed to bother.

Here is a link that might be useful: Paint with roller, Lay off with brush


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RE: What kind of paint should I use to paint oak kitchen cabinets

My hinges are hidden, so they stayed original. I did change out the knobs which is a small and easy task, but SO rewarding!

On the subject of sanding, I did hand sand my cabinet doors very carefully and I can still sometimes see a little grain on a few of them when the sunshine from the window hits them just right. Doesn't bother me though since my kitchen is a very casual, cottage-y space.


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RE: What kind of paint should I use to paint oak kitchen cabinets

If your hinges can be seen and you want a cleaner look, change them out to white hinges. Take one hinge off and take it to the closest big box store. They will help you match it - if it can be matched. When you put the new hinges on the cabinets, be sure you notice that there are long screws that go into the frame and shorter screws that go into the door.


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RE: What kind of paint should I use to paint oak kitchen cabinets

I recently used a great paint on my trim. It is also designed for cabinets. I had my paint store tint it to BM Simply White color. It recommends you use a soft bristle brush. I used the ones from Purdy. I had used a regular brush on some test sections and a roller to check the finish. The soft bristle brush provided the best finish.

I also liked that it was very low odor and I had no reaction to it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cabinet Coat Paint

This post was edited by mic111 on Mon, Nov 4, 13 at 15:01


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RE: What kind of paint should I use to paint oak kitchen cabinets

bbxtx, thank you so much for your recommendation and the video link, which are very helpful.

uther, thank you very much for your detailed response.

mic111, really appreciate your sharing of experience and the link. Is the paint you used on your trim available online only? I'd also like to paint the kitchen cabinet BM simply white.


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RE: What kind of paint should I use to paint oak kitchen cabinets

I got mine at a local paint store. I went to the web site for Cabinet Coat to see who carried it and then called around to see who had it in stock in my area. I then asked if they could tint it BM Simply White and they did. I put it on new trim and it matches the old trim which was also BM Simply White but in a BM paint.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dealer Locator for Cabinet Coat

This post was edited by mic111 on Tue, Nov 5, 13 at 12:49


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RE: What kind of paint should I use to paint oak kitchen cabinets

mic111, sorry for my late response. Thank you so much for your detailed response and the link, which are very helpful.

uther, I am thinking of putting handles on the cabinets and knobs on the drawers. I don't know if that would look good.


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RE: What kind of paint should I use to paint oak kitchen cabinets

Gee, janesylvia, I think I would do just the opposite with the hardware, handles on the drawers and knobs on the doors.

I did a quick search on houzz and found that most kitchens have handles on the drawers and knobs on the doors like this

although some have just all handles, like this:


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RE: What kind of paint should I use to paint oak kitchen cabinets

bbstx, thank you so much for your suggestion and the photos, which really help me a lot.


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RE: What kind of paint should I use to paint oak kitchen cabinets

If you are changing out pulls or knobs to a different location or a different size, remember to fill and sand the old holes. Then buy or make a template for installing the new hardware.

Here is a link that might be useful: cabinet drawer and door installation template


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RE: What kind of paint should I use to paint oak kitchen cabinets

bbstx, thank you very much for your help. The cabinets and drawers have no knobs or handles now, so I do need to buy the template you recommended. I bought the SW problock primer today. They still sell it but with a new look. They said now it's low VOC. What kind of paint did you buy? I am hesitating between the SW proclassic enamel and the BM advance paint.

Really appreciate your kind help.


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RE: What kind of paint should I use to paint oak kitchen cabinets

I was only painting a bathroom vanity. So, rather than get worried about the paint color, I just told the guy at SW to give me a quart of black paint. He did. It worked fine. I know sometimes there are reasons to fret over getting the paint color just right, but I wanted black, plain black.

Don't forget to clean your cabinets before you start painting. I think I simply washed mine with soap and water using well wrung out microfiber cloth.

Also, find some method of remembering which door/drawer goes where. Drawers are simple, write a small number on the bottom of each drawer. If the order isn't logical, make a rough drawing to serve as your map.

Good luck! Be sure to post pix of the finished product!!


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RE: What kind of paint should I use to paint oak kitchen cabinets

I hope it's not too late. We just finished painting our kitchen cabinets and a ton of built-ins with shelving. Ours were dirty and the paint was older. So, we deglossed and sanded. Then, we laid them flat on saw horses. We first coated with Zinnser Primer Plus 123, then we used two coats of Benjamin Moore Advance Semi-Gloss. We brushed everything.

I can't say enough great things about the BM Advance paint. It gives the cabinets a furniture like finish. I've used Satin Impervo and Regal Select Semi-Gloss and Advance is by far the best option. The only warning is that you have to go back after say 30 minutes and check for drips - luckily the paint stays open long enough to correct those.

bbstx is right about the cabinets and numbering, etc. Take pictures of your kitchen in detail before you start.


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RE: What kind of paint should I use to paint oak kitchen cabinets

bbstx, thank you so much for the tips. I have some other remodeling to be done by contractors. These days, I have been busy buying lights and materials for bathroom remodeling. Sorry for my late response. For the kitchen cabinets, I will paint them myself.

screedesq, thank you very much for sharing your experience, which is very helpful. I'll use the Benjamin Moore Advance Simply White Semi Gloss. For the primer, I'll use Sherwin Williams PrepRiteProBlock latex primer. The sales lady recommended SW premium wall wood primer. But according to bbstx's referred post, the former should be better. I have the external hinge of bronze color. Did you have the same? Did you change them to stainless steel? I don't know if it would be a good idea to change them to internal hinge and if it would be an easy job. Did it take you a lot of time to degloss and sand the cabinets? Did you use a rotary orbital sander to do the job? The contractor who is going to remodel my house suggested Rust-Oleum Transformations. I doubt it would produce the same good result as SW preprite problock latex primer + BM advance? Really appreciate your help.


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RE: What kind of paint should I use to paint oak kitchen cabinets

Hi, I used BM's cabinet coat as primer and BM's advanced for paint. I picked a grayish color for my orangy oak cabinets. I love the results and highly recommend BM products. I had never really painted much before doing my kitchen. I did lightly sand the cabinets before painting.

 photo MyKitchen_Before_OakCabinets_front_view-1_zps1bd226aa.jpg

 photo Oak_Cabinets_Painted_front_view_zps0232e19f.png

Here is a link that might be useful: Products used link


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RE: What kind of paint should I use to paint oak kitchen cabinets

We did use the orbital sander as much as possible. We had a lot of cabinets so it took a while.

We did not replace the hinges. You can't really see ours from the outside of the cabinets and they were in good shape.

I can't speak as to rustoleum. I know the Advance is pretty great stuff.


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RE: What kind of paint should I use to paint oak kitchen cabinets

Wow, Mrs.Shayne, that is quite the transformation! Well done!

Jane, I would replace the hinges with white hinges. It will give you a cleaner look, closer to the look of concealed hinges. If you can find hinges with holes to match what is on there, it is an extermely simple task. Just put the screws for the new ones in the old holes. One thing I didn't notice when I was replacing my hinges is there are 2 different screw lengths. Be aware of that. IIRC, the ever-so-slightly longer screws go in the frame and the shorter ones go in the door.

While concealed hinges would be ideal, I believe that takes some routing skills (I could be wrong, and if I am, I'm sure someone will help me out).

Whatever you do, don't paint your hinges. To me that just screams "amateur."

Concealed hinges

cabinets with exposed SS hinges:

Here is a link that might be useful: white hinges


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RE: What kind of paint should I use to paint oak kitchen cabinets

Mrs. Shayne, thank you very much for your information. You did a wonderful job. It's really encouraging to me that you did such an excellent job almost without any prior experience.

screedesq, thank you very much for your help.

bbstx, I really appreciate your continuous help and attached pictures. I'll take white hinges into consideration.


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