Professional/Factory Grade Paint Finish - Cabinets

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by RebeccaP posted 12-06-2008 02:21 PM 27497 views 12 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View RebeccaP's profile


9 posts in 3674 days

12-06-2008 02:21 PM

Topic tags/keywords: factory grade paint finish cabinets paint

This is my first posting. I am doing a refurb of a house for my folks. Not a lot of money involved and good quality maple kitchen cabinets original to the 1968 rancher house. I’m leaving cabinets in place, and replacing the doors with a simple shaker style full overlay that I’m making from maple. Question: How do you get a high quality/factory grade paint finish on both the new doors and the old cabinet carcasses when a) you don’t have a lot of money for more tools/equipment, b) you have have wagner sprayer? Also what kind of sander would you recommend? A finish sander? I’ve been doing it all with elbow grease on the prototype door/cabinet, but with 25 doors and cabinets, I’ll probably run out of elbow. Thanks for any and all input! Rebecca

-- Measure four times, cut once, mess it up, waste money, and start all over again.

16 replies so far

View Steelmum's profile


355 posts in 4169 days

#1 posted 12-06-2008 02:40 PM

I would probably go with the finish sander and lots of sandpaper, in different grits. If you are going to paint the carcass all you need is about 180 grit and smooth enough so that you can’t feel any difference with your eyes closed. There has been discussions on what top coat to use and what paint to use. When I paint furniture I use water base paint and varnish. When I paint my kitchen cabinets I am going to try semi-gloss kitchen or kids room wall paint, and a roller and brush. Let me know what you decide to try and how it comes out. I’ll not be doing my kitchen for a while.

-- Berta in NC

View PetVet's profile


329 posts in 3693 days

#2 posted 12-06-2008 02:50 PM

If you don’t have a random orbital sander I would purchase one. In one of the woodworking magazines they tested a bunch of the smaller ROS and the Rigid got a best buy rating at $70. I replaced my old Bosch with one and have been extremely pleased.
Berta is right on with the sanding. Have you tried the Abranet sandpapers yet? Woodcraft has them and they are very durable, plus they go up to 600 grit!
I would use 1# coat of shellac as my primer. Goes on easy, can sand them in less than an hour, and will take any topcoat you want to apply over it.
You are such a good daughter!!
Good luck.

-- Rich in Richmond -- Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

View Woodchuck1957's profile


944 posts in 3970 days

#3 posted 12-06-2008 03:47 PM

Before sanding it would be a good idea to wipe the cabinets down really good with TSP cleaner which can be found at any good paint or hardware store. Those little nap rollers that are about 4” long and about 1” round can do a great job. Use a good primer before painting. Patience is the key here, cut in the inside corners of a small area with a brush. then roll before the cut in corners dry, so it blends in. Have lots of light and ALLWAYS look back for runs before they dry or skin over.

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 3973 days

#4 posted 12-06-2008 03:56 PM

I would use a quality oil based paint applied with a good quality china bristle brush. Thinning the paint with a little penetrol will help with a smooth application.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4334 days

#5 posted 12-06-2008 07:01 PM

I use real milk paints to reproduce Shaker and historical colors.
Its tricky and I don’t recommend it for casual use.

Here’s a company that makes simulated milk paints in both latex and oil-based.
I’ve used their products and they are easy to apply.

Heritage Village Paints

As always, experiment before committing and use the best preparation techniques.

-- 温故知新

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2658 posts in 3732 days

#6 posted 12-06-2008 07:12 PM

I like wipe on urethane (sp), it goes on easy and you wipe off the excess, dry, and do it again. I then lighting sand with 320 to 400 grit after about five days of the final dry and then use a good paste wax. When done there is a beautiful satin finish that is very durable and cleanable.

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View RebeccaP's profile


9 posts in 3674 days

#7 posted 12-07-2008 01:25 AM

Thanks very much for all your input. I bought a finish sander today, and will check out the higher grit papers. Have been using shellac-based primer so far. I’m going to try the small roller tomorrow. —Rebecca :)

-- Measure four times, cut once, mess it up, waste money, and start all over again.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4305 days

#8 posted 12-07-2008 07:16 AM


I make my living as a remodeling contractor and I have done this a few times. First I clean with TSP and wipe it down with clear water to remove any residue. I sand as little as possible and I usually only go to 150 grit. Paint has a lot of grace that clear finishes do not provide. You will not have to go past 180 for sure.

I use a cabinet scraper a quite a bit for refinishing, and I use Mirka sandpaper or 3M. I buy these from professional supply shops for cabinet makers and contractors. Whatever you get from the big box stores will be fine, I have used them too.

Bondo body putty can be purchased in the big box stores and is used to repair damaged areas on paint grade work. I love this stuff.

Then I seal everything with shellac. I don’t make 1# or 2# cuts with the flakes like many of the woodworkers, I buy dewaxed shellac in the can – ready to go from the hardware store. It is Zinsser SealCoat. After that I can spray anything on as a finish coat.

I strongly recommend Sherwin Williams ProClassic line of paints. The ProClassic line comes in oil or latex. The latex flows out smooth, dries fast, and cures hard like an oil base. Books and plates don’t stick to it after it cures. Oil base is the toughest but takes longer to dry.

You should be able to spray both of these with your Wagner sprayer just fine. I also recommend using Penetrol for oil base paint and Floetrol for latex paint. These products enhance the handling of the paint without thinning it. It creates a longer open time and allows the paint to level better before drying. This allows brush marks to disappear.

When you paint, do the backside first and let dry thoroughly. Then paint the outside or most viewed area last. In case the paint is not cured enough and it sticks a bit to the table or painting blocks, the damage may be minimized.

I spray everything that I can, you can’t beat the look. More thin coats are safer and better than fewer thick coats. They dry faster and are easier to control. Check to see if you are using the right tip on your sprayer. I have an airless sprayer and I use a fine finish tip for doors and trim.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View stevareno's profile


10 posts in 3664 days

#9 posted 12-07-2008 10:08 AM

Hello Rebecca. While I am brand new to the forum, I am “old” to painting, having picked up my first spray gun for money back in 1975. I was a Journeyman in the Painters’ Union, and currently work as an Industrial spray painter. I read some good advice here, but may I offer my two cents?

TSP….A definite must. This will remove any grease, kitchen grime etc.

Sanding….If the cabinets have any gloss to the finish at all…it must be dulled…150 grit is fine. Take two pieces and rub them together to knock down the grit first. I find a power sander easier…but not an orbital, as it will leave swirl marks…..bad news! I then finish sand with 220….it will provide an excellent substrate for your paint.

Priming…..wood needs to be primed prior to painting if they are NOT already painted. Previously painted…IS PRIMED! You need to use an oil-based primer on unpainted wood for absorbtion and adhesion. The primer is then sanded smooth with 220 and wiped clean with TACK CLOTH. You are now ready to paint…..

Painting…...wagner power painters IMHO… are the worst scam on the market. The paint is sprayed too heavy…..leaving stiple and quite possibly runs. Your best bet is to rent an AIRLESS sprayer outfit…..GRACO, etc…...any Sherwin -Williams store has them to rent….50 bucks a day. The tip you need is an .011 – .013.
The fan sizes are indicated by the first number on the tip….ex…..211….is a .011 with a four inch fan spray….this is my recommendation. Now…...yes Sherwin -Williams has some good oil paints….but when I do cabinetry, my absolute favorite is BENJAMIN MOORE HIGH GLOSS IMPERVO!! I have never used another oil paint that lays out quite like this product. I brushed a metal door with it once, and noone could find a brush mark in it. It is darn near “automotive” in finish, with incredible gloss. Very rich looking. You really do not need to thin it for an airless application, but if you do….use a very small amount of mineral spirits. Penetrol is ok very sparingly, but it can also make the oil paint brittle when dry, resulting in cracking,when doors are slammed, etc.

I hope this helps. I know it sounds like a lot of work, because it is…..but the results you will obtain will be well worth the effort…!! I personnally feel this is the next best method to a professional laquer application. P.S…..never use latex paint for a project like this.

View RebeccaP's profile


9 posts in 3674 days

#10 posted 12-07-2008 01:44 PM

Thank you, thank you for your detailed replies. (Printing them out now). I knew it would be a lot of work and patience (and prep, dust, and clean up), but if I can replicate the finish I see out there on cabs that would cost thousands, and I think I can, I’ll save a lot of money for other necessities in the budget and give them a first-rate kitchen.

-- Measure four times, cut once, mess it up, waste money, and start all over again.

View rtb's profile


1101 posts in 3919 days

#11 posted 12-07-2008 04:00 PM

Welcome to LJ’s. AND listen to Todd !

-- RTB. stray animals are just looking for love

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4305 days

#12 posted 12-07-2008 05:43 PM

Stevareno definitely knows what he is talking about. It sounds like the Sherwin Pro Classic Oil that I use is a high performance paint similar to the Benjamin Moore Impervo (I will have to try this one myself.) I use professional products to get professional results as does he. You can get the same results by sticking to a more professional line of products as well. It is not just about the tools or technique, but also about using high performance products.

Stevareno laid out in more detail the tip sizes for the spray gun and he is right. If you rent the sprayer from a professional paint outlet, they will walk you through using it with good knowledge.

I was thinking about the sanding issue. If all that it has is oil base paint you will be ok when sanding. If the cabinets have been topcoated with latex you are in for a mess. The latex will gum up when sanding because it is a flexible membrane and it releases from the oil base paint. When I run into this I have gone 2 routes, if the job is small I strip the latex paint off but not the oil paint. But, if the job is bigger I recommend going with new cabinets because the price point of refinishing hits that level. I usually sand to knock down the runs and heavy build on the corners, I do not sand them all the way down.

Remember that your topcoat is only as good as the substrate coats. If they will release then your top goes with it.

I left out the lacquer option because I did not think that you would go that route. Most homeowners are put off by the smell and are intimidated by the product. I actually use lacquers as much as possible because they dry wicked fast for more production.

I would back Stevareno and go with the oil base for greatest durability. From reading his post I think that we would get along on a job pretty good, I like a guy that knows his craft.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3974 days

#13 posted 12-07-2008 06:03 PM

really the best finish that you can use is a colored lacquer. it will give you the best surface which will be more durable than oil and latex. latex will chip and oil won’t give you much protection. so if you can i would go with a colored lacquer. the wagner won’t do the best job spraying it though. if you have any air compressor you might want to look into a little 40 dollar gun at home depot which will work well enough for this. and if you don’t have an air compressor borrowing one and getting the little gun will work too. just make sure to practice with settings and everything first.

View stevareno's profile


10 posts in 3664 days

#14 posted 12-08-2008 02:06 AM

Another excellent primer is XIM. This comes in a white base or clear, and the adhesion property of this product is unsurpassed, albeit, quite costly.

Rebecca, I forgot to mention that with the cabinet doors you are building, it is much quicker to just brush the primer onto the wood, as you will be sanding it anyway….....

Thanks to everyone for all the nice comments!!!...I think I am going to like it here!

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4305 days

#15 posted 12-08-2008 06:13 AM

We’ll make a pro out of Rebecca yet!

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

showing 1 through 15 of 16 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics