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Kitchen cabinet finishing Stain or paint?

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Forum topic by rut posted 05-03-2012 01:43 PM 2556 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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rut

81 posts in 1848 days


05-03-2012 01:43 PM

My wife wants the new cabinets I’m building (face frame construction with hard maple) to be a “country white” color.

I’ve been trying to find a type of stain that covers like paint. I say this because I’ve read information about how seasonal changes affects wood and would cause paint to crack at certain areas.

So I think maybe I’m a bit confused. If I painted my cabinets and raised panels, where exactly am I likely to see the problems? Where the stiles and rails meet or is it where the raised panel fits into the grooves of the stiles and rails?

If it is the latter, seems like that problem could be alleviated by applying the finish before assembly.

I ask because I’m having a difficult time finding a stain that covers like paint (maybe it doesn’t exist?). I visited a Lowe’s kitchen center and was shown some sample doors that they said was a highly pigmented stain. The finish came in various colors and really looked painted (completely opaque) yet I could still see the lines where the stiles and rails met (as if it were stained). I haven’t been able to source anything like this on the web.

So bottom line, am I fussing for nothing and should just use paint or do I really need to take some special steps to avoid cracks in my finish and continue to search for this highly pigmented stain?

Thanks,
Rut


9 replies so far

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AJLastra

87 posts in 1694 days


#1 posted 05-03-2012 02:05 PM

Rut

To start with, I apologize if this sounds sort of basic and you may already have this knowledge….I mean no insult but I need a starting point and here goes. Paint, as you may already know, is simply clear varnish, if solvent based, with pigment added to it. Clear Varnish, whether water based or solvent based, is varnish with the pigment removed. The more resin added to the mix, the thicker the product. If you’re looking at painting these cabinets, think paint and not stain. Given that these cabinets ARE to be used in your kitchen, they will be subject to a lot of handling, substances, smoke perhaps. the first thing I would apply is a good alkyd enamel undercoater. This stuff covers opaque and sands beautifully if you need to level the surface before you apply your topcoat. I believe that if you use an undercoater, you’re not going to have an issue with cracks in your finish. Your topcoats will adhere nicely. Dont know if you’re spraying or brushing but in either event, I would topcaot after the undercoater. Wait for it to dry completely, lightly scuff sand the topcoat and then apply THIN coats…...........at least three….........of a fast drying varnish like Zinseer Quick 15. This stuff dries very fast which goes a long way toward limiting if not eliminating dust nibs in the final finish. you can find that final finish in a variety of sheens. and it will provide a tough final topcoat for the cabinets. If you want the same protection but dont want to deal with a solvent based topcoat, believe it or not, Minwax Polycrylic isnt bad for a waterbased polyurethanne topcoat over the paint.

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rut

81 posts in 1848 days


#2 posted 05-03-2012 02:09 PM

Thanks for the reply. Is the undercoater you are referencing the same as a primer? I’m familiar with using sanding sealer under lacquer finishes and this sounds like the same idea.

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AJLastra

87 posts in 1694 days


#3 posted 05-03-2012 02:58 PM

It is a primer but its thicker than what you’re thinking of. And you are on track by thinking about the sanding sealer. By building to the final finish, the chances of having that crazing or cracking can be kept to a minimum if not eliminate it altogether. My thinking is that if you stained, pigmented stain would simply stay on the surface of the wood as compared to aniline dye which would penetrate into the wood, even a hard wood like maple. This wont do anything to keep the wood from crazing but it will of course color it. If you went that sort of stain route, you’d need to seal coat it with dewaxed shellac but then again, you still want white and white pigmented stain is basically going to be what is marketed as “clear” or “white” base coat. again, that stuff is simply varnish tinted white just like paint. I mention spraying because if the look you’re after is one with no brush marks or ridges, etc, you wont get that with a brush or foam applicator, thats why you’d sand after the color coat dried just like you do when you color and finish your other projects. you would ultimately adjust the look, feel and sheen of the final coat on the cabinets by finish sanding any defects level and using a product that dries fast and keeps the surface imperfections to a minimum.

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Earlextech

1159 posts in 2156 days


#4 posted 05-03-2012 05:18 PM

“Country white” makes it sound like she might like a milk paint. Look at General Finishes waterbourne top coats, stains and milk paints. These products are made for cabinetry and furniture, unlike latex.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

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rut

81 posts in 1848 days


#5 posted 05-03-2012 05:22 PM

I actually ordered some of the milk paint but it was more of a white wash finish then solid that I’m looking for.

View Charlie's profile

Charlie

1100 posts in 1752 days


#6 posted 05-10-2012 08:55 PM

Sorry I missed this and it’s been a while since anyone posted, but…

If the milk paint looked like whitewash, then you thinned it too much. Milk paint has a LOT of pigment in it. You can get a nice finish by using multiple coats and sanding between them. But if you really add a lot of water to the white, it will look like that whitewash you’re talking about.

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chip73

55 posts in 1679 days


#7 posted 05-11-2012 12:51 AM

If you use milk paint do you need an undercoat or sealer before you paint. And will you need to put a clear topcoat to finish. Excuse my ignorance you guys have a lot of knowledge and I have a lot to learn.

-- Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

View jumbojack's profile

jumbojack

1667 posts in 2090 days


#8 posted 05-11-2012 01:06 AM

Hey Rut:
For what it is worth, I built cabinet doors last year during the summer. Mine were constructed from Poplar. I put on two coats of Zinsser 123 sanding after the second coat. Then I rolled and brushed (never again) two coats of a premium Bennie Moore paint.
http://lumberjocks.com/projects/51282
I have seen no evidence of checking cracking or any of the maladys afore mentioned. Just let me say if you can find a way to spray; do so. It took days and days to finish. I have since purchased a Critter spray rig and have shot latex paint with GREAT results.
I think the message here is PREMIUM paint. Do not skimp on the paint.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

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Charlie

1100 posts in 1752 days


#9 posted 05-11-2012 01:33 AM

Chip73,
Milk paint goes directly on bare wood. That’s where it works the best. Put on a thinned down coat. Light sand because it WILL raise the grain. Milk paint is FLAT. It has no sheen. If you want shiny you’d have to go over it with something. You can also mix pure tung oil into it at about 10%. No more than 15%. It adds some durability, especially when used outdoors.

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