Finishing question

I'm having custom cabinets build for my kitchen. Doing so is really stretching my budget, so I'm hoping to take on finishing them myself. The guy building them is reluctantly ok with me doing so.
I realize finishing is definitely an art and I haven't done a whole lot of it, nevertheless I believe I can achieve the look I'm going for.
What I'm trying for is a tan "whitewash" effect. I bought a small sample of Cabots Custom Tint interior, but found it to be WAY too transparent. I asked the guy at the Blue Big Orange Box store about adding additional pigment to it to make it more opaque and he looked at me like I had two heads. I guess since something like that was not a code for the computer, he couldn't fathom doing something like that, but I digress.
My new thought is to get latex paint in the color I'm looking for and thin it way down with water so just a little of the grain show through. I believe this will give the right look. I would finish it off with a coat (or coats) of polyurethane. I assume I should use water based? Any other ideas on how to get the look I'm going for?
I don't want a standard stained wood look since the rest of the house has wood floors, ceilings and walls. I want the kitchen to be something other than more wood.
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On 7/16/2012 4:56 PM, ewb4arch wrote:

my budget, so I'm hoping to take on finishing them myself. The guy building them is reluctantly ok with me doing so.

Cabots Custom Tint interior, but found it to be WAY too transparent. I asked the guy at the Blue Big Orange Box store about adding additional pigment to it to make it more opaque and he looked at me like I had two heads. I guess since something like that was not a code for the computer, he couldn't fathom doing something like that, but I digress.

way down with water so just a little of the grain show through. I believe this will give the right look. I would finish it off with a coat (or coats) of polyurethane. I assume I should use water based? Any other ideas on how to get the look I'm going for?

floors, ceilings and walls. I want the kitchen to be something other than more wood.
Finishing a custom kitchen is not something to take lightly, but if you're dead set on doing it, and it is certainly possible, be sure to save a lot of the cabinet scraps, and practice on those scraps until you achieve the desired effect.
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On Monday, July 16, 2012 4:56:51 PM UTC-5, ewb4arch wrote:
If I were you I would try to find somewhere else to cut cost and let the pro do the finishing. Reasons:
1) Getting a consistent finish on several sections of Kitchen cabinetry will be a challenge especially since.....
2) It sounds like you want a rather unique custom look that might be difficult to accomplish on one section, let alone the entire kitchen.
Our son built a new home about seven years ago and we assisted with a lot of the trim and finishing. Bear in mind that:
- I am a 30+ woodworker with a fair amount of finishing experience
- He is a professional construction superintendent who manages 10M to $40M+ jobs on a routine basis.
We managed to get the job done and it came out looking pretty good. But it cost us AT LEAST 1-1/2 full weeks of schedule with four of us working the kitchen and two baths pretty much full time. When we were done with the cabinets, closets, staircase, trim and other work he (the pro) looked back and said "I should have bellied up and paid to have the cabinets finished". The finish we applied was an out-of-the-can MinWax stain plus poly.
RonB
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ewb4arch wrote:

What you want - or, what I think you want - is generaly accomplished with a toner.
A toner is a clear finish, often but not necessarily lacquer, with color added. To make it semi-transparent as opposed to transparent, one adds opaque material such as finely ground limestone or titanium dioxide; the more you add, the more opaque it becomes until at some point it becomes paint; that said, I see no reason you can't make your own by adding some oil paint of the appropriate color to oil based varnish. Another way to accomplish a similar effect is to wipe on paint, wipe off, let dry and then clearcoat. Oil paint works well, water base does not.
I've never done the first but have frequently done the second. What the paint does is seal the wood so that the clear coat will not "color" it by penetrating. I generally use white poly paint (porch & floor) and top coat with lacquer, sometimes water base poly if I want only a thin, wiped on top coating. The color of the paint, in my case at least, is immaterial as I leave very little on, just enough to seal.
I generally thin the paint about 50/50 with thinner and wipe on with a rag or paper towel; I then immediately wipe off all I can (it is important that ALL the wood gets covered else the clear coat will color missed spots). Doing it this way gives you a wood color similar to the color of the raw wood (which is what I want) but it will darken a bit over time due to the normal action of light on wood.
One could make the grain of the wood less obvious by leaving on more paint or - better because it is more controllable - applying multipe thin coats after the first has dried. Multiple coats of white on some woods makes it look ghostly...better in this case to use a color more akin to what you want.
The effect of the paint on the final look also depends upon how finely the wood is sanded and the type of wood; in both cases the difference is because of the roughness - porosity - of the wood which affects how much paint is caught in the wood. __________________
More on toners... http://www.woodweb.com/knowledge_base/Tinting_Toner_Tips.html http://www.mohawk-finishing.com/catalog_browse.asp?ictNbr 0
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I'm having custom cabinets build for my kitchen. Doing so is really stretching my budget, so I'm hoping to take on finishing them myself. The guy building them is reluctantly ok with me doing so.
I realize finishing is definitely an art and I haven't done a whole lot of it, nevertheless I believe I can achieve the look I'm going for.
What I'm trying for is a tan "whitewash" effect. I bought a small sample of Cabots Custom Tint interior, but found it to be WAY too transparent. I asked the guy at the Blue Big Orange Box store about adding additional pigment to it to make it more opaque and he looked at me like I had two heads. I guess since something like that was not a code for the computer, he couldn't fathom doing something like that, but I digress.
My new thought is to get latex paint in the color I'm looking for and thin it way down with water so just a little of the grain show through. I believe this will give the right look. I would finish it off with a coat (or coats) of polyurethane. I assume I should use water based? Any other ideas on how to get the look I'm going for?
I don't want a standard stained wood look since the rest of the house has wood floors, ceilings and walls. I want the kitchen to be something other than more wood.
Don't forget that in addition to the visual appearance, the top coats of the cabinets will have to stand up to a kitchen environment. I have seen many DIY finishes fail and start to come off after just a few years. Most kitchen cabinet topcoats are not commonly available to the DIYer.
Good Luck.
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OP back: I appreciate everyone taking the time to reply. Seems most of you have "don't try this at home" for advice. Not that it matters, but my initial plan was to do everything myself. I've done enough other projects to know doing so would mean giving up my evenings and weekends for months and months. I know I COULD have done so and built them well, but at the expense of a lot of time. Hiring someone to do the carpentry work made more sense.
The guy I found checks out and does quality work, but generally stains his work. His "painted finish" as he called it was a MANY step process (8-10?) with so much labor cost I couldn't see having him do it, not to mention in the end I don't think the look is quite what I want anyway. I'm not convinced he could get the look I'm hoping for without a lot of trial and error and material costs. He's done a LOT for free already working out the rather unique design for my kitchen so I can't expect him to spend a ton of time playing around with finishes without at least charging labor.
The main reason I posted was to see if thinned latex under poly is a viable finish option for duty on kitchen cabinets. The answer to that seems to be no.
Thinning oil based paint/wiping off then clear coating with compatible lacquer seems to be an option. I'm also very intrigued with the Toner finish mentioned. I'll have to check that out as well. I'm all ears to other options.
Also if it matters, we have no plans on ever leaving this house/kitchen, so I want it to be what we want and to hold up over time.
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On Tuesday, July 17, 2012 11:28:36 AM UTC-5, Baron wrote: of

What kind of finishes are you talking about? I am guessing that a very large percentage of cabinet production shops use pretty standard, commercially available finishes.
We have friends here who have owned both an industrial high-rate production business building office furniture; and now a custom cabinet shop. The current shop builds cabinets normal homes and some very high end houses. He is also a graduate of the Pitt State (KS) Wood Technology Program (IOW - He knows his stuff). His standard finishing products are MinWax.
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On Tuesday, July 17, 2012 11:28:36 AM UTC-5, Baron wrote: of

What kind of finishes are you talking about? I am guessing that a very large percentage of cabinet production shops use pretty standard, commercially available finishes.
We have friends here who have owned both an industrial high-rate production business building office furniture; and now a custom cabinet shop. The current shop builds cabinets normal homes and some very high end houses. He is also a graduate of the Pitt State (KS) Wood Technology Program (IOW - He knows his stuff). His standard finishing products are MinWax.
Things like post or precatalyzed lacquers, 2 pack polyurethanes, UV cured finishes, etc. They are available if you make it a point to find them, just not commonly. Ideally, a finish that will conform to the KCMA finish tests is desired. The lacquers that are found in home centers will not pass these tests . Eventually, the grease, oil, and general dirt found in a kitchen will cause NC lacquer to fail. Even home center polyurethane will start to go after a few years. That is not to say that there is no anecdotal evidence that these finishes will last but in general, kitchen cabinet finishes are tougher than the usual finish.
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On 7/18/2012 2:59 AM, Baron wrote:

I have friends who flew to the moon who "really know their stuff", but that does not qualify me to expound on the practice.
So what exactly is _your_ finishing expertise based on? (Google does not count).

Hard to tell who is slinging more bullshit, you or the KCMA.
The KCMA is a manufacturer's trade organization, known for using glittering generalities, pleasing platitudes and glossy brochures to describe a cabinet made to barely minimum standards in a desperate hope of assuaging their guilt for cutting manufacturing corners and convincing the gullible that their product is a "cut above the rest".
There is more bullshit with every adjective in every sentence of their propaganda than in a herd of buffalo ... you're in good company in that regard.
The standard here aren't very high, but you'll have to do better than the above. If you really don't know, say so or don't bother, instead of 'say nothing' crap like the above.
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On Wednesday, July 18, 2012 7:36:06 AM UTC-5, Swingman wrote:

Yeah but we have built two homes in the past 14 years. The cabinets in the first included "custom cabinets" that were built by a "well recommended" northern Oklahoma shop and shipped to Andover, KS. They were OK.
The current house, that we did a fair amount of the finish on ourselves, has kitchen and two baths done by the folks I mentioned. The only comparison between the previous cabinets and what these folks did is they are made of Oak. Everything else including construction, finish and installation is head-and-shoulders about the previous set. Again, MinWax was good enough for them.
RonB
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Things like post or precatalyzed lacquers, 2 pack polyurethanes, UV cured finishes, etc. They are available if you make it a point to find them, just not commonly.
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