best finish for garage cabinets?

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Forum topic by spamfilterman posted 04-05-2011 04:21 AM 21547 views 4 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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149 posts in 3258 days

04-05-2011 04:21 AM

Topic tags/keywords: finishing cabinet garage

Hello. I’m thinking about building a few garage cabinets.
I’d use 3/4” plywood, probably birch.
I’m trying to think of what finish to use.
I’ve read that a gloss finish would be best, as it should vacuum better.

I want a finish that will look good, I definitely want something easy, and it should be durable.

I’m open to just painting them…
If I paint them, what would you recommend? Is there a durable paint for this purpose? Some sort of epoxy paint?

27 replies so far

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3717 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

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5032 posts in 4130 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 2926 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 3778 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 3283 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.

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Rick Dennington

6348 posts in 3431 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".....!!

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149 posts in 3258 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.

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Steven H

1117 posts in 3296 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.

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149 posts in 3258 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?

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Steven H

1117 posts in 3296 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

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Steven H

1117 posts in 3296 days

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

There’s more
i cant think off my head

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David Grimes

2078 posts in 2876 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 3278 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.

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David Grimes

2078 posts in 2876 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 3217 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

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