The Cabinet Project
This project started from a new condo a family member purchased and the cabinets had stains that just couldn’t be removed. I didn’t want to just paint them and have brush marks or paint chipping off later so I started doing a little research. I know it’s just painting but my attempts in the past didn’t look as good as I had hoped and looked like I painted them instead of just looking like cabinets.
Based on my online research I came up with a way that seemed to do a very professional looking job which restored the cabinet to like new condition. The most important component to the project was a very specific brand of paint. The reviews for Benjamin Moore’s “Advance” Waterbourne Interior Alkyd Paint all seemed to indicate excellent levelling and adhesion. You can see the specs on the manufacture’s site
Below you can see a few examples of the stains that would not come off the Melamine finish cabinets. Not sure what they are but the place was all covered in the leftovers of years of heavy smoking in the place.
Here’s basically the tools for the task below. The Advance paint and Fresh Start primer both from Benjamin Moore. They do make an advance primer but the store recommended the Fresh Start for better adhesion. A good polyester brush, a mini mohair roller, small paint tray, a reusable sanding block or sand paper , a tack cloth, TSP to clean and a large table or area to setup the doors for refinishing. I also found that instead of a tack cloth a swifter sheet works quite well to clean off all dust between coats.
To get started I removed the doors, drawer fronts and taped where the cabinet met the walls and/or floor.
Next I used tsp to clean all surfaces to be painted. Then rinsed everything with clear water several times to be sure that all residual TSP is removed. Then I lightly sanded everything real quickly with a sanding block and then wiped all the dust off.
Then I set up all the doors on a table in the garage so they would lie flat while drying. I figured lying flat would help the paint level out best for a consistent finish.
After that all I had to do was start with the painting. I put on 2 coats of the Fresh Start primer and 2 finish coats of the Advance paint. I sanded lightly between each coat (12 hours minimum between coats) and removed the dust with the tack cloths and swifter pads. I used a brush to ensure the primer and paint go into the routed grooves on the edges and the pattern on the doors but the mohair roller was used on all other surfaces to ensure even coverage and no brush marks. The cabinet itself was painted the same way. 2 coats of primer and finish primarily put on with the mini mohair roller. I did find that at the start of each session I would get bubbles in the paint from the roller if I didn’t load up the roller and then squeeze out the extra on pan a few times to squeeze out the air. I waited 4 days before reinstalling the drawer fronts and doors to be sure that they wouldn’t stick at all. I also replaced the rubber door stops on them all.
Cabinet looks like new again for a minimum cost and effort. I used the pearl finish advance paint which has slightly less shine then normal semi gloss paint but has a little more shine then the original melamine finish. Over all the look is good. The finish is very consistent and absolutely no brush strokes.
Now that the bathroom cabinets came out so good its time to do the kitchen cabinets.
The kitchen cabinets are very similar except that they have more stains on them and the vinyl edges are lifting on all the doors. See the photo below to illustrate how the vinyl wrap covering is all loose on the edges and you can hear and feel it catch every time you open a door.
To remedy that I took my trusty bottle of woodworkers glue and held the gap open as above with one hand and then squirting the glue behind the vinyl with the other hand. I just slide my way around the whole outside of each door getting glue behind the edge all the way around. Next I ran a wood block around the outside to be sure we had good adhesion and then cleaned up the excess with a damp cloth. The wordworkers glue gets tacky fast so I waited another 5 minutes and ran the block around the outside edge again to ensure good contact and then cleaned up any excess again. I did this for all the doors and let each one sit until the next day to ensure the glue was fully dry. Then I ran around the back edge with sand paper to be sure that the tape edge was not sticking up past the back of the door to be sure it would get caught and lift up again.
Now you are ready to paint the doors the same as the bathroom cabinet shown above. Below you will see examples of the finished kitchen cabinets. Project complete!
Okay so now that the white went well. I looked at my own old oak cabinets where the finish was wearing off and looking pretty dated. So why not try going with a darker colour. Below you can see how the same process looks with brown paint.
You can’t really see in these pictures but the advance finish actually levels out so well that you can still see the wood grain of the oak through the paint. The brown colour looks every bit as good as the white ones