All Replies on best finish for garage cabinets?

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best finish for garage cabinets?

by spamfilterman
posted 04-05-2011 04:21 AM

27 replies so far

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3481 days

#1 posted 04-05-2011 04:40 AM

I think the poly vs paint would be personal choice. I think if it were me I would use a few coats of semi-gloss poly with a light sanding between coats. If you paint them, I think an enamal paint would work best.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3894 days

#2 posted 04-05-2011 04:43 AM

ditto to snowyriver.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2691 days

#3 posted 04-05-2011 05:10 AM

I have painted everything in my shop with gloss white from Home Depot.This seems to be quality paint.I like the gloss as dust doesnt stick to it at all.The gloss white also really helps with lighting the area.I think the brand name is Behr?

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View childress's profile


841 posts in 3542 days

#4 posted 04-05-2011 07:57 AM

Would you be open to using melamine? That is all I would ever use for garage cabinets.

-- Childress Woodworks

View bb71's profile


42 posts in 3047 days

#5 posted 04-05-2011 04:49 PM

I just recently finished a bank of wall cabinets for the garage. Made from paint grade maple 3/4” ply. I used a water base semi gloss clear on them – water base only because its quick. Seems to be working well. I think I may have preferred to do them in white for exactly the reason that gfadvm mentioned – it would make things brighter.

I should have thought of that. I paint all my work surfaces (workbench, etc.) with fluorescent yellow. Real bright and its very easy to find little bits on it. Then again, my old garage was creamsicle orange! My wife put a stop to that in the new garage.

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5864 posts in 3195 days

#6 posted 04-05-2011 08:31 PM

If you are going to make the cabinets out of birch ply, I would not paint them. I’d build them, and use tung oil and mineral spirits. A 50/ 50 mix of both…..It will make the cabinets look good, and also put a good finish on them….Two coats will be fine… I use tung oil and spirits on all my cabinets, tables, workbenches, outfeed tables, and even jigs and fixtures…...take a look at my shop furniture and you’ll see why I like it…..Pine or poplar is good for paint….

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....

View spamfilterman's profile


149 posts in 3022 days

#7 posted 04-06-2011 01:04 AM

I have thought about melamine, but I’m not sure where to buy it.
I’ve also thought about lining the cabinet inside floors, shelves, and tops with laminate.

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 3061 days

#8 posted 04-06-2011 02:54 AM

No finish it dust free magnetic. :)
If you can find oil-based enamel paint, it would be great.
Higher the gloss, the most easier to clean.

View spamfilterman's profile


149 posts in 3022 days

#9 posted 04-06-2011 04:22 AM

If you use an oil-based paint like you suggest, are you going to smell it forever while it off-gasses like oil-based poly’s?
Maybe I should add that I have a pregnant wife, so I’m not too keen on smelling fumes for very long. :-)

I’ve read about latex enamel, like this:

Are these latex enamels decent?

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 3061 days

#10 posted 04-06-2011 04:40 AM

Actually any paint that has a sheen is enamel.
The higher the sheen, the more protection.

If that’s the case I would use water based.

SW Duration Home
Benjamin Moore Interior Semi-gloss Aura

They are all excellent products

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 3061 days

#11 posted 04-06-2011 04:54 AM

There’s more
i cant think off my head

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2640 days

#12 posted 04-06-2011 08:17 AM

First, my whole-hearted recommendation: I would never have thought I would ever say this, but… Rustoleum Universal Advanced Formula All Surface Paint. Spray paint ! In a can ! This is the easiest to spray, best atomizing, fastest drying, hardest stuff I have ever seen. I have sprayed all of my pegboard, hook backer boards, base cabinetry and shelving with this product. It is absolutely amazing and is far better than any paint I have ever run into in the past. It is a ground-breaking product. When they start selling it in quarts and gallons will be a great day. When they make the quarts and gallons tintable it will be a godsend.

My base cabinets are birch with a stain and lacquer original finish that were just cleaned with TSP substitute, then scuffed and shot. Most of the 3/4” birch wall mount backer boards and all of the shelves were not even primed and they are superior in looks and hard as hell.

This is nearly $7 a can at Lowe’s and Home Depot, so it’s not your cheap enamel. It kicks the crap out of epoxy spray paint. Be sure to spray outside on a calm day because it is highly aromatic. Tell your wife to stay inside for a bit. (Congratulations, by the way). It dries to handling in about 1-2 hours. I don’t mean tacky, I’m saying handle… as in install.

It comes in a small variety of colors ( I just use the white and black). It also comes in flat, satin, semi-gloss and gloss. I use gloss.

i’m not some kid that got a good can of paint. We build and install cabinetry, islands, entertainment centers, closets and built-ins, etc. We paint interior and exterior walls, trim, decks, fences, etc. We finish and re-finish floors. Name it. We use SW, Porter, and Behr, mostly. I believe I owe Sherwin Williams over $2000 right this minute. We use alkyd, latex enamels, acrylics, conventional and water-based urethanes, tung oil, varnishes, Rexthane, etc. The only ox-hair Purdy brushes in this town are the ones at our shop and the other ones I special ordered but haven’t picked up yet. We use brushes, rollers, Spraytech spray rigs, Earlex and Wagner HVLP, etc.

I am telling you all this so maybe you will realize that I am amazed that I am honestly advising you to rattle can your shop cabinets with a new product that blows everything away.

Try it and you will be a believer.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 3042 days

#13 posted 04-06-2011 09:17 AM

If you are worried about the fumes than I would go with a low VOC paint.

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2640 days

#14 posted 04-06-2011 09:29 AM

Forgot to add: No fumes after quick drying time.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View MarcusM's profile


57 posts in 2981 days

#15 posted 04-06-2011 02:33 PM

So, David, it wasn’t quite clear to me; are you saying you like the Rustoleum Universal Advanced Formula paint?



-- Tilbilly Mark

View ScottN's profile


261 posts in 2680 days

#16 posted 04-06-2011 03:32 PM

A little off topic.

Maybe consider using base levelers for you base cabinets. Not only for the obvious…leveling, but to keep the base cabs from setting on the floor so they wont suck up any moisture.

-- New Auburn,WI

View C_PLUS_Woodworker's profile


601 posts in 2908 days

#17 posted 04-06-2011 04:11 PM

ScottN just made a very wise suggestion on the base levelers.

I put mine up as high as the levelers would go. We have snow that comes into the garage with the cars and then melts, occasionally you will want to hose out your garage, etc.,, etc.

I choose to have the largest gap possible between the floor and the bases. Right decision, as now I can clean under the cabinets easily as opposed to if I had left a small gap. Usually just air hose out the entire garage.

View spamfilterman's profile


149 posts in 3022 days

#18 posted 04-08-2011 04:03 AM

Thanks for all the suggestions.

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3547 days

#19 posted 04-08-2011 04:39 AM

For shop cabinets I think you would be settling for second best if you go with anything other then melamine.e. I would go with two sided melamine. Melamine is very common in commercial environments with good reason. Extremely durable, extremely easy to clean, very white and bright inside, and after you are done building your cabinets your done, yep no finishing steps. I use melamine for all my outfeed table and assembly tables. However, I will admiit I build my shop cabinets out of scraps or whatever is left over from kittchen jobs.

-- .

View spamfilterman's profile


149 posts in 3022 days

#20 posted 04-08-2011 04:44 AM

If you use melamine, what do you do about the exposed edges?
Any problems with the surfaces chipping when cutting them?
Can you still drill ok for pocket screws?

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3547 days

#21 posted 04-08-2011 05:23 AM

I personally would edge band. But you could also attach a face frame from whatever wood you prefer. I have not actually used pocket hole screws with melamine but melamine will accept most any common wood screw with a self drilling point. I would just run my screws through the side panels and not use pocket holes. A finished slab panel can be used on visible ends so screw holes are not seen. A few draw backs with melamine are: accepts wood screw well first time but taking the screw back out, for whatever reason, weakens the joint if you replace the screw back in the same hole, also melamine can become weakened over time if the structure was moved regularly, thus melamine would not make for moveable furniture. Melamine is very popular inside cabinet shops for many reasons. For shop tables wood slides easily on the melamine.
A 60 tooth blade will do fine. I use Diablo 80 tooth myself but the less expensive avanti 60 tooth from HD does just fine.

Try building frameless cabinets, should be less expensive. Use slab melamine doors and get some edge banding experience. Simple yet nice cabinet for shop use. And this gives you some great Euro cabinet experience. If you were to go frameless I would definitely recommend still using face frame style hinge plates, which would be simpler. Probably too much information.

-- .

View Tideline77's profile


102 posts in 772 days

#22 posted 07-13-2016 01:30 AM

This is an older thread and I didn’t want to start a new thread with the same subject

I am in the process of building shop furniture and cabinets and plan to use the 3/4 inch HD pine/fur plywood for frames,drawers, drawer faces and doors. It seems to be the best quality and lowest price plywood that I have found locally. $29 sheet
I got Tom Clarksville book and will modify as I build

it is a big job to setup an efficient workshop and does take lots of time and planning.

I don’t know what finish I will use on the shop furniture.

I have several gallons of dull flat polyurethane by Coranado

The label says

Aqua plastic dull flat finish polyurethane

I will use this on the work table, out feed table and assembly table and other work tables on castors
because I already have it and need to use it and don’t want to leave the wood unfinished, and all furniture will be matching finish

The permanent base and wall cabinets I probably want to paint with a gloss white or a off white, because these will be a permanent part of this house (1000 sq ft garage with 11’ ceilings. Insulated and conditioned)
Future value of the home is a consideration, so I want it to be pleasing and functional on the permanent cabinets

Any feedback on what paint to use on raw plywood, I can pick the right day on weather and paint them out side before final installation

The plywood has a very smooth finish one side, very few voids
Interior will be left unfinished and base cabinets will not sit directly on the slab, so they won’t get any water damage from wick up any potential water spills.

Ideas on a hard plastic furniture foot that is at least 3/4 inch tall ?

I don’t want to see any water damage down the road and I can trim the toe kick /floor margin gap with a plastic trim piece to keep spiders and dust out

Thoughts and ideas from the LJ brain trust please

I did try some birch plywood and it was junk, I looked at oak and maple plywood and it looks like junk also

The pine/fir is actually really nice and looks to be 13 ply or 12 ply….my eyes are getting old

View Woodchuck2010's profile


707 posts in 859 days

#23 posted 07-15-2016 10:10 PM

I used oil stain then 2 or 3 coats of poly. Very smooth and easy to clean.

-- Chuck, Michigan,

View clin's profile


842 posts in 997 days

#24 posted 07-16-2016 04:01 AM

I’ve used pre-finished plywood for all my built in cabinets. Used white melamine for the doors. I’ve also used Baltic birch ply for some cabinets (like a rolling planer cabinet I just built). Used water based poly for those things.

For my fixed, base cabinets I used cabinet leveling legs:

They adjust from about 3”-5”. They make it super easy to level the cabinets and the toe kick just snaps on to them. Works very well. They would completely address any concerns about minor flooding. The toe kick will get wet, but it’s not supporting the cabinet weight and is not even touching the cabinet bottom so wouldn’t wick up moisture. And if you wanted you could certainly make the toe kick out of something like Trax or other synthetic deck board.

And the ability to easily adjust the level is really helpful. Especially in a garage. Mine are on the wall that slopes towards the garage door (1/4” per foot). That amount of slope gets a little tricky to handle with a fixed base. These legs make it a none issue.

I like the Platte River brand I used because they simply screw to the bottom of the cabinet. Versus the Blum that require you to drill some specific holes. I think so you can adjust from inside the cabinet. But it’s easy enough to reach up under the cabinet and turn the Platte River legs to adjust them.

There’s quite a range of birch plywood. The pre-finished birch I used is called BIMP, an acronym for the 4 Asian countries that formed a consortium. It’s not the best stuff. But plenty good enough for cabinets. It warps a bit, but is easily pulled square during assembly.

But I use Baltic birch ply for unfinished stuff, and I’d lay good money that that’s as good as plywood can be made. Except perhaps some marine grade plywood. Virtually no voids, dang near as heavy as particle board. Number of plies varies for some reason. In 3/4”, the fewest I have gotten is 11, most is 15. 13 is most common. And currently a 5’x5” sheet of that is $33. Usually some footballs on one side. But even the bad side is pretty good looking.

-- Clin

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


4577 posts in 2409 days

#25 posted 07-16-2016 04:24 AM

I have painted everything in my shop with gloss white from Home Depot.This seems to be quality paint.I like the gloss as dust doesnt stick to it at all.The gloss white also really helps with lighting the area.I think the brand name is Behr?

- gfadvm

It is Behr and is excellent paint.

Myself I use shop cabinets as examples of various colors of finishes for my own use and to show others how something might look. All benches are stained, everything above them is painted.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View AlaskaGuy's profile


4142 posts in 2310 days

#26 posted 07-16-2016 04:26 AM

Melamine or prefinished plywood.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View atedesta's profile


2 posts in 12 days

#27 posted 05-15-2018 07:29 AM

Sorry, I know that this topic is very old, but maybe my answer will help someone in the future since I spent a lot of time to find the right information. I am making mine as I didn’t like the option of having them look like they were thrown in and came from somewhere else.

I framed them out of 30×30x2mm SHS and then tops are 25mm Flooring with folded 2.4mm Zinc splashes. Doors and shelves are 19mm waxed flooring. Draws are 2mm aluminum on 2.4mm sliders. I have two shelves in each one and kickers around the base. I have just started to add upper cabinets which are actually old filing cabinets I bought a bulk lot from a tear out, so they all match. My Freind just purchased 23’ of Strong Hold cabinets off eBay for my garage and there’s a thread on here about them so I’ll just say they are high quality but tend to have cost prohibitive if you buy them new. Moduline and other “showroom” grade cabinets are nice but don’t meet your budget requirement. I find it hard to reconcile the plywood with the “showroom” look you’re going for. I’ve done a fair amount of cabinet work and building them square and sturdy with setting up time for dados can really take a long time.

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