Painting over Merillat cabinet finish

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Forum topic by Michigander posted 02-04-2014 07:05 PM 11138 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Michigander's profile


220 posts in 2654 days

02-04-2014 07:05 PM

Topic tags/keywords: impervo prime prep to paint over

I have a kitchen full of maple Merlilat cabinets with a “oatmeal” finish that is getting very tired looking. It looks like a white pickeled finish. I am planning to paint the cabinets using custom off white Benjamin Moore Impervo Satin Alkyd Low Lustre Paint which is what is used for all the trim in the house. I plan to first clean with TSP then sand with 180 grit paper and remove dust. Do I need to prime and if so what primer do you recommend? I will be applying by brush and or roller.
I am using the impervo because it levels out nicely and the brush marks almost disappear. Some primers do not level very well so I’m concerned you will be able to see brushmarks.
Is there anything else I need to do or to watch out for or do differently?
Thanks for your input.

10 replies so far

View CharlesNeil's profile


2468 posts in 4105 days

#1 posted 02-04-2014 08:43 PM

The Merrilat finish is a precat lacquer, and you can paint over it fine. Unless yo have another reason for sanding to 180 , you dont need to.
I would do as follows :

Clean well with some naphtha, to remove any contaminates . Clean them 2 x times

Give them a good scuff sand with some 320 .. you just want a good dull surface , the 320 will give you plenty of bite .

While priming probably isnt a absolute must, I would use some BIN ,shellac base primer for 1 major reason , to insure adhesion . The shellac will stick and seal off any contaminates . It also makes for a nice white surface to paint over . You will want to give it a 320 light scuff sand as well just to smooth it up. Also if you have defects try using some Autobody filler (bondo) , just be sure to abrade the area it will going on . The Bin will also prep the surface of any areas you may have to sand thru the finish .

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

8609 posts in 2563 days

#2 posted 02-04-2014 08:46 PM

Not sure about the finish on your Merillat cabs, but I painted 30 year old cabs that were given to me, and I primed with water based killz and they turned out great.

-- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View CharlesNeil's profile


2468 posts in 4105 days

#3 posted 02-04-2014 08:50 PM

Matt , the water base does fine , as long as your sure you have no contamination .

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5231 posts in 2728 days

#4 posted 02-04-2014 09:15 PM

Want to reiterate that concern about cleaning….twice should be the minimum. That solved, you shouldn’t have any other problems.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Michigander's profile


220 posts in 2654 days

#5 posted 02-04-2014 11:30 PM

Hi Charles, thanks for your input. I’ve never used naptha as a cleaning agent. Do you just put some on a rag and wipe it down or use a sponge and bucket approach? Obviously it is very volatile so care needs to be taken with it. Does the room need to be ventilated? I was planning to clean and sand the doors and drawers in the basement; is that a problem or should I try to do as much as I can outside? It’s Michigan winter here and will be a high temperature of mid teens for the next week. Thanks again for your input (again)—- you helped me finish a cherry TV console using your Charles Neil pre stain conditioner!
Best Regards,

View CharlesNeil's profile


2468 posts in 4105 days

#6 posted 02-05-2014 03:09 PM


your correct , all of the above, safety first. Naphtha is basically charcoal lighter , while flammable its not as volatile as many solvents , but care should be taken. The reason You want a solvent is it will dissolve the grease and cooking oils that accumulate , irrespective of how well you have maintained them. I have not tried something like Dawn detergent and it may well work, Mineral spirits would work as well . One issue is that scrubbing them can actually seem to embed contaminates .
In as much as how to do it, I like to wipe it on wet then off, with a separate cloth, paper towels do well , they absorb quick, just be careful with disposal , lay them out to dry then discard , do not bunch them up , spontaneous combustion is possible . Then repeat .

While all this sounds quite involved it goes pretty quick . Just be sure to clean them prior to any scrubbing or sanding .

View Michigander's profile


220 posts in 2654 days

#7 posted 02-05-2014 03:50 PM

Thanks Charles, will try naphtha with paper towels. Appreciate your help!

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


5824 posts in 2643 days

#8 posted 02-06-2014 03:15 AM

Vent the room, I looked this up for you but the full version of the MSDS can be found here: (material safety data sheet) for free:

Potential Health Effects
High vapor concentration or contact may cause irrit
ation and discomfort.
Brief contact may cause slight irritation. Skin irritation leading to dermatitis may
occur upon prolonged or repeated contact. Can be absorbed through skin.
Aspiration hazard if liquid is inhaled into lungs,
particularly from vomiting after
ingestion. Aspiration may result in chemical pneumonia, severe lung damage,
respiratory failure and even death.
Vapors or mists from this material can irritate the
nose, throat, and lungs, and
can cause signs and symptoms of central nervous system depression,
depending on the concentration and duration of exposure. Inhalation of high
concentrations may cause central nervous system depression such as dizziness,

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

View April Wilkerson's profile

April Wilkerson

117 posts in 1812 days

#9 posted 02-06-2014 04:03 AM

Hello, it sounds like you have a direction to go in already for your cabinets, but I wanted to throw my recent experience into the mix in case you wanted another option.

I had oak cabinets in my kitchen that were the typical dark stain they used in the late 70s. I didn’t have the money to replace them, but also wasn’t looking forward to going through the process of sanding them down (I have 23 cabinets and 12 drawers) while I was researching on the process I stumbled upon this stuff called Chalk Paint, and there is a ton of information out on the internet about it but a summery is: it requires no sanding or priming. It goes on just about anything (metal, wood, plastic, porcelain). It dries to the touch in about 15 mins. It is typically sealed with wax but there are alternatives. You can buy real chalk paint, but it’s expensive and the color selection is limited, but you can also make your own chalk paint by mixing plaster of paris in with any latex paint (a 1:3 ratio).

Anyways…I researched for almost three weeks then decided to try it out and redo my kitchen cabinets. I made my own chalk paint and ended up painting all of my cabinets for around $15. (One pint of latex paint covered all of my cabinets. This stuff goes a lot farther than regular paint)

I made a detailed post about all my research, experience, and also posted before and afters on my personal blog if you care to read it before you start on your project.

-- Wilkerson

View Michigander's profile


220 posts in 2654 days

#10 posted 02-06-2014 03:12 PM

Thanks for the heads up Gunny, I think I will clean the doors and drawers in the garage, rather than the basement. Then I need only to do the frames indoors with limited exposure to fumes etc.
Wilker, Yes I am committed to using the Impervo due to color match. However your recipe sounds very interesting, I may try it out on another project.
Thanks guys,

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