Painting Stained Wood Cabinets – Tips from a Pro

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Last updated on July 1, 2021

Painting your kitchen cabinets can instantly update your kitchen. It’s also one of the more economical options but before you run to your hardware store and grab a bucket of paint, we have a few tips. Perry Holloway, one of our paint experts, of Schloegel’s Painting Services team shares his tips for painting your cabinets with a beautiful, durable, long-term finish. He also shows us how to update your cabinets for changing out the hardware and hinges. Your dream for beautiful painted, slow-closing cabinet doors can be a reality!

Painting Golden Oak Cabinets

1. Clean Em Up!

Remove the dirt, grime, and any of the waxy surface. It’s important to do this before you start to sand or you’ll just gum up your sanding pad and it will prolong the sanding process. Our team uses a high strength cleaner and degreaser and prefer the brand, Krud Kutter. Put it on heavy and work it into every crevice. Let it soak and do its thing, it will evaporate.

2. Time to Sand

Once the wood is dry. You’ll sand all the wood ensuring you get all the corners, the sharp edges, and profiles. Once it’s fully sanded, use a brush to get rid of the dust on the surface.

3. Ready to skimcoat

Skim coating fills all the grain pores you see on oak. If you don’t fill them all they’ll show through the paint and be an uneven surface. We use wood filler to skimcoat. Perry is using Elmer’s, Wood Filler. Know whatever you put on you’re going to sand through and it’s easier to sand if you go lightly. It may take several steps. Our primary focus is filling in the grain, it’s going to look a little rough. Make sure you also get the profiles and curves filled in but leave the outside crevice where the panel meets the framework. That allows the wood to expand and contract with temperature changes.

4. Sand Again

Sand the wood filler down. Perry uses a 220-grit sanding sponge for the flat surfaces and 2020-grit sandpaper for the profiles and crevices. You’re just trying to remove the filler from the surface without removing it completely. Skim coat. Sand. Repeat as necessary

5. Prime Time

After you have the cabinet graining filled and sanded. Brush it to make sure all the debris is removed and it’s time to prime. We use a catalyzed primer, which is used for new cabinets. This product has to be sprayed and can not be brushed. Be sure to follow the directions of the manufacturer closely when using catalyzed primer and enamel. The catalyzed primer and paint contain a hardener that allows it to cure and dry more quickly.

6. Sand Once again

Once the primer is dry, it’s time to sand again.

7. Add Some Color

Finally, it’s time for two coats of catalyzed enamel.

If your cabinets are a different wood species without heavy graining you may be able to skip the skim coating steps in your refinishing. You’ll still need to prep the wood and prime it before painting.

Update your Hardware or Hinges

If you hate the look of your exposed hinges and wish there was a way to add soft close hinges Perry offers a great solution! He shows a cabinet that was originally installed with a pull with two mounting holes. Perry wanted to get the cabinet updated to have just a knob. He filled the holes with epoxy to accommodate the new hardware.

You can also update the hinges on existing cabinets. In this case, we’re prepping the cabinets for a hidden hinge system vs. visible hinges. Again, Perry filled the holes with an epoxy giving us a blank board that we can install and update the hardware and hinges.

The Finished Product

As you can see the results are dramatically different when you don’t skim coat oak cabinets vs. when you do. If the process seems overwhelming, it may be worth having a professional do the work. Schloegel’s Paint Services team are experts at cabinet refinishing. Not only will your cabinets look and feel brand new but they’ll last for years to come. You won’t chip the paint every time you bang a pan or have to worry about touching up paint through the years.

Give us a call to speak to a Schloegel expert today!

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