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Cabinet Painting #5383061 03/22/20 03:47 PM
Joined: Dec 2006
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MrHorspwer Offline OP
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I mentioned in one of the "what projects are you doing while stuck at home" threads that I'd be painting cabinets. A few expressed interest in seeing the process and how it turned out so I figured I'd start a thread.

So, this is where I'm starting from:
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

The home was built in 2005. We arrived in 2013. The cabinets are Merillat Classic. They're not the best cabinet in the world, but they are a step above builder-grade. Oak, solid face frames with particle boxes, dovetail joinery on the drawers. Given that they're not all that old, they are in pretty good shape and certainly not in a condition that I feel they need to be replaced. Unfortunately, the finish is terrible. The photo may not fully show it, but they are a light oak with a pinkish glaze. It's a style that went out in 1995.

Being reluctant to replace them, I figured I'd give refinishing them a go. As I refinish the cabinets, I'll be replacing the appliances with stainless units. Once complete and society returns to work, counters will be replaced and I'll be doing a tile backsplash. The counters throughout the house are terrible as well. Whoever spec'd this house had horrible taste.

For the boxes, I'll be using a brush and roller (Purdy White Dove 1/4" nap on a 4.5" mini roller)

For the doors and drawers, I'm spraying with a Graco Magnum Project Painter airless sprayer
[Linked Image from mobileimages.lowes.com]

An HVLP is really the sprayer of choice for a job like this, but I'm not a cabinet builder or a professional painter, nor is an HVLP sprayer in my budget. With a little modification, the airless seems to be getting the job done.

For a primer, I'm using Sherwin Williams Extreme Bond Primer.

For paint, Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel in semi-gloss. Alabaster White is the color I'm using.

Prep for all surfaces is a good cleaning with TSP, light sanding with 220, and a wipe down with cheese cloth.

I built a 10x10x8 spray booth in the basement out of 2x4. I have "doors" on two sides that allow me to move in and out 4x8 sheets, doubling the number of items I can paint once I have the sprayer set up
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

I did a bathroom vanity cabinet last month as a sort of trial. Boy, did I learn some things:

Disregard Graco's recommendation on tip size. Going by their recommendation for latex-base paint, I started with a 315 TrueAirless spray tip. 315 = 6" spray pattern, .015 orifice. This tip DUMPED paint on the project. Painting relatively small items, I couldn't move the gun fast enough. After some internet research, I picked up a Graco 310 FFLP (fine finish low pressure). This is much smaller than recommended for latex, but internet man was right. It creates more overspray, but the amount of paint going on the items is so much more controllable. I did have to run a bit more pressure (so much for the "low pressure" part of FFLP) to prevent tailing on the spray pattern, but that is probably due to my DIY-grade sprayer. I was so disappointed with the recommended tip, but switching to the FFLP totally changed things. It is a must have if you're doing cabs with an airless. The switch also required purchasing a RAC X spray guard for the spray gun.
[Linked Image from images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com]

The sprayer uses a lot of paint. I swear, just filling the pump and lines uses a quart of paint. Yes, some of it is reclaimed at the end when cleaning, but not all of it. At $80-100/gallon, it hurts.

Setup and cleanup is a time suck. Doing a full setup, spraying, and cleanup is 30 minutes. About 5 of that is spraying.

The more you can spray once you have everything set up, the better. Less wasted paint and less wasted time. This is why I made two doors on my spray booth so I can quickly swap out 4x8 in the booth.

Semi-gloss is the way to go for cabinets. I did the bathroom cab in satin. The finish is beautiful, but it needs more shine.

Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel is very sensitive to overworking. Once you have the paint laid down with a brush, don't touch it again. Maintain a good wet edge with a roller. Follow those two rules and it flows out and flattens beautifully.

Here is where I'm at right now:
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

The island is ready for a second coat. There are a couple visible brush strokes. We'll see how they look after the next coat.

Primer and top coat each require two days to spray. Two coats of primer on day 1, flip, two coats of primer on day 2, light sanding with 220, two coats of finish on day 3, flip, two coats of finish on day 3. Let dry 48 hours.

Here is the bathroom cab (Mindful Gray):
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

One more thing and you can see a bit of it on the bathroom cab. Oak has a very discernible grain. Typically, painted cabinets use wood with a much tighter grain, like maple. I chose not to attempt filling the grain and just painted as it is. Is this a good idea or bad idea? We'll see.

Once the booth is open again, I'll work on the base cabinets opposite the island. The new dishwasher arrived, so it will be ready to install once the finish coat is dry. I will post an update once the doors and drawers are on the island again.

Re: Cabinet Painting [Re: MrHorspwer] #5383083 03/22/20 04:28 PM
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skyactiv Offline
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I would sand and stain those cabinets instead of painting them.


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Re: Cabinet Painting [Re: MrHorspwer] #5383177 03/22/20 06:19 PM
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ecotourist Offline
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The colour of the "before" cabinets is becoming popular in a very big way. We had custom cabinets done in a similar appearance 3 or 4 years ago and we're annoyed to see it in all the style magazines now, because in 5 years it'll be "gone" again.


2000 BMW 528i 5MT M Sport
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Re: Cabinet Painting [Re: MrHorspwer] #5383199 03/22/20 06:53 PM
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Dave9 Offline
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That looks nice, but I've always felt that painting stained wood cabinets was a silly, even destructive thing to do. This doesn't even consider that a light solid color will show more grime, be worn away more from the inherent washing to make them clean, or else a dark color will make the whole kitchen darker.

Then again, it makes as much sense as replacing good cabinets with different ones just to change the color if you're dead set on a color change just to feel like it's refreshed. I do not subscribe to the idea that anything is "dated" if it is functionally the same either way, as long as the colors and styles very roughly match.

The only benefit to me would be the lighter color reflects more of the limited, recessed lighting. For that reason I would sooner put light strips under the cabinets to illuminate the counter areas if you haven't already.

That's just me, but if I were buying new cabinets, I'd sooner get the color you painted them, than that stain color which I don't care much for. I prefer dark or light stain with no trace of orange in it... and of course part of that is the wood itself, but either way, the only redeeming factor I see with orange tinted wood is it can bring back a little warmth from the use of LED lighting that is too high a color temperature so it's too cold and sterile looking for a kitchen.

Last edited by Dave9; 03/22/20 07:00 PM.
Re: Cabinet Painting [Re: Dave9] #5383209 03/22/20 07:12 PM
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BHopkins Offline
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Originally Posted by Dave9
That looks nice, but I've always felt that painting stained wood cabinets was a silly, even destructive thing to do. This doesn't even consider that a light solid color will show more grime, be worn away more from the inherent washing to make them clean, or else a dark color will make the whole kitchen darker.

Then again, it makes as much sense as replacing good cabinets with different ones just to change the color if you're dead set on a color change just to feel like it's refreshed. I do not subscribe to the idea that anything is "dated" if it is functionally the same either way, as long as the colors and styles very roughly match.

The only benefit to me would be the lighter color reflects more of the limited, recessed lighting. For that reason I would sooner put light strips under the cabinets to illuminate the counter areas if you haven't already.

That's just me, but if I were buying new cabinets, I'd sooner get the color you painted them, than that stain color which I don't care much for. I prefer dark or light stain with no trace of orange in it... and of course part of that is the wood itself, but either way, the only redeeming factor I see with orange tinted wood is it can bring back a little warmth from the use of LED lighting that is too high a color temperature so it's too cold and sterile looking for a kitchen.


Agreed. Very nice job. I admire all the hard work you must have put into the project. White painted kitchen cabinets sure give a fresh new look to a kitchen. And it brightens up the kitchen too.

But in my mind, it's just wrong to paint over solid wood. Personally, I could never do it.

Also, I'm a little curious. Home decorating/remodeling articles that I've read say that 2020 will be the year that painted kitchen cabinets will start falling out of popularity. As long as you are doing it for yourself and not for resale, that won't matter.


In God we trust. All others bring data.

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Re: Cabinet Painting [Re: BHopkins] #5383218 03/22/20 07:26 PM
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MrHorspwer Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Dave9
For that reason I would sooner put light strips under the cabinets to illuminate the counter areas if you haven't already.


This is in the plan, probably when I do the backsplash as that'll be a good time to move around the electrical as needed.

Re: Cabinet Painting [Re: MrHorspwer] #5383245 03/22/20 07:57 PM
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Marco620 Offline
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I went with Sherwin Williams Emerald on my cabinets/trim. Sanded,prep,prime and boom! 70.00 gallon but only needed two gallons. Its was like ProClassic but without the drag and ropiness feeling. Completely happy.


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Re: Cabinet Painting [Re: skyactiv] #5383248 03/22/20 08:01 PM
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pandus13 Offline
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Originally Posted by skyactiv
I would sand and stain those cabinets instead of painting them.

...With gel stain used as a paint, please.
And 2 (two) layers of clear on top. Also hides all cracks and wood defects/divots/etc.

OP, for grain, there is a clear putty that you can fill the grain. Check "The Idaho Painter"/"Painter TV" 'tube channel.

Also, there are paint levelers/delayers for latex. Necessary for brush work.

I hope you filled the creases with thin elastic caulk. Yuo are in Michigan so your wood will move because of humidity seasonal variation.


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Re: Cabinet Painting [Re: skyactiv] #5383408 03/23/20 05:40 AM
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gfh77665 Offline
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Originally Posted by skyactiv
I would sand and stain those cabinets instead of painting them.


I would too, if they were mine. They are not, so I support Mr.HP to do what he wants with his cabinets.

They look great Mr.HP. Better than what I have seen from some "pros". Thanks for your write up and pics. Well done!

Re: Cabinet Painting [Re: MrHorspwer] #5383416 03/23/20 06:14 AM
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diyjake Offline
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So good so far!

Re: Cabinet Painting [Re: MrHorspwer] #5388630 03/29/20 12:33 PM
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MrHorspwer Offline OP
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Update: Island is finished

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

I'm happy with the results. The prominent oak grain is a non-issue, it looks fine.

I've already started on the lower cabinets opposite the island and the dishwasher is ready to go in as soon as the boxes are dry, probably Monday evening. Other appliances will arrive Wednesday.

Funny thing, for those who say they couldn't paint wood cabinets, as I was sanding some of the original wood from under the glaze was exposed. It actually looked really good and made me a little sad. That feeling passed though and I started spraying paint.

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