Home>Discussions>KITCHENS>Old flat panel kitchen cabinets with uneven layers of paint - help!
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Diamond Minx
Old flat panel kitchen cabinets with uneven layers of paint - help!

I'd like to paint our kitchen cabinets, but am concerned about how the finish will turn out as they have an uneven surface as a result of poor painting in the past, on top of a damaged original surface that someone had glued ceramic fruit to.

I'd REALLY prefer not to have to try to strip them, as they are just old particle board (they're the old fashioned slab board cabinets you saw a lot in the 60's - like this - http://uglyhousephotos.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/100720a.jpg) and I have no idea what type of finish is underneath the most recent coat of melamine paint.

I'm anticipating having to give them a decent sanding, but I don't think that will fully even out the surface.

I've eyed the Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations kits, but I prefer really clean, modern kitchens so the glazing doesn't appeal to me - and without the glazing, they're just a bunch of flat colors - which i'm worried will have issues because of the surface imperfections.

I'm kind of thinking it might be cool to use one of the Beauti-Tone roll on granite countertop finishes on the cabinet. Perhaps a grey granite on the cabinets, and a black granite on the countertop. I know it's irregular to have stone finished cabinets, but the visual texture might hide imperfections.

So. I am looking for suggestions/options for paints that have self-leveling properties and will help minimize surface irregularities - or any other bright ideas! Sprayed on surfaces are kind of out of the question as my fiance has lung issues.

Re: Old flat panel kitchen cabinets with uneven layers of paint - help!

Are the imperfections on the doors, or frame/end?

You can build new doors (easy, or take local woodworking class), or order them already built. You can glue a thin wood laminate panel over the end of a cabinet carcass.

Frames are normally done in solid wood, so they can be sanded.

Diamond Minx
Re: Old flat panel kitchen cabinets with uneven layers of paint - help!

We live in a condo with no access to woodworking facilities. Buying the paint is a budget stretch as it is, so we are not in a position to replace the doors at all. Paint finish suggestions only please!

Re: Old flat panel kitchen cabinets with uneven layers of paint - help!

A flat painted surface can be restored to beautiful with enough sweat-equity. Power-sanding will do most of the work for you in removing the worst parts, but only a solid sanding block will get a surface totally flat. No matter what finish you use it will only look as good as what's underneath it. There is no magic in paint, only hard work on preparing the surface for it. Harbor Freight has a cheap random-orbit sander that will do a lot of the work for you and it will last through this job and more. It's all a casual homeowner needs for most sanding work, pros use better stuff because it lasts longer. Catch it on sale (if you can wait) for around $20-25. You'll be glad you spent the money with all the work it will save you.

My suggestion:

Do what can easily be done for sanding any molded surfaces, and concentrate your efforts on the flat parts. Once you're most of the way there, sometimes it's easier to fill voids than to sand down to them. MH spackle does pretty good with this kind of thing, get it at any big-box store. It will dry out quickly with the lid off, so take out in small portions you will use right away and push the lid on tight enough to create an air-seal. Tap it fully closed when done for the day. Apply with a putty knife and block-sand when dry.

You're going to go through a lot of sandpaper but don't use the cheap stuff- look for 'open-coat' types. Slap the block on a hard surface to clean the paper before any debris clogs it while you're sanding. Start with 80 girt, then 100, then 120. At this point paint one door and see if you're happy with the finish. If not go down to 150 grit. With each grit-change it takes longer and longer to erase the scratches from the coarser grit before. If you're a perfectionist you'll get down to 220 grit (and you'll have my applause for being so dedicated).

I like a brushed alkyd oil-based finish, but they're not the easiest to use. You may need to thin it or use Penetrol, and you'll need a good quality brush, not a cheapo. Benjamin Moore Impervo is great for this. Be ready to choke on the price tag. Oil based paints will need a primer or multiple coats.

You can also get some very nice results with a good latex enamel and a foam roller. That will look almost like a sprayed finish. If you don't have great painting skills, go with the latter route. Brush or roll, I now use only Olympic Interior/Exterior gloss or semi-gloss for this kind of finish. It gives a better gloss that anything else I've found, almost rivaling an alkyd oil-based enamel. Primer is a good idea, but I usually get good results with just two coats of this, spot-sanding and scuff-sanding where needed between coats. Lowes has it cheap too!

If any surface is plastic in nature, and not paint on wood, an appropriate primer will be necessary and not optional.

While you're at it, consider updating the hardware. You can do this later, but no matter how nice the cabinet, the wrong hardware can ruin the look. Just be sure that whatever you want to use there will cover the same area that the old hardware does because a shiny finish does not touch-up well and you don't want to have to paint the whole thing again.

You will get out of this only what you're willing to put into it. Put enough work into it and your friends will be asking when you had the new cabinets installed, and it's hard to beat the feeling of pride in telling them that they aren't new- and you did it all yourself at little cost. :cool:


Re: Old flat panel kitchen cabinets with uneven layers of paint - help!

for the mositure?which is often cause

Re: Old flat panel kitchen cabinets with uneven layers of paint - help!

I doubt I could sand the paint off without also wearing depressions into the particle board, but maybe you are far more patient and careful than I. Spackle sounds like a good idea.

Note that these doors are from the lead paint age. You do not want lead dust all over your house. Consider buying a test kit, or maybe wet sand with gloves on.

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