Refinishing Kitchen Cabinets


Hi,
I'm planning to renovate my kitchen this Fall, and in an effort to save money, I want to paint the existing cabinet frames, and purchase and paint new cabinet doors. The existing cabinets are custom-built Oak, with a honey-stain and satin(?) clear finish, which I assume is polyurethane.
To prep the frames for painting, I see several options: (1) strip off the clear finish chemically, (2) sand the clear coat finish, (3) take my chances and try to prime directly to the finish, or (4) etch the finish. Options 1 and 2 will make a big mess, but I don't really trust 3, and don't know much about 4. Anyone have experience "etching" a finish to make it primer-ready? What products would you recommend?
To get a good paint job, I plan to prime with BIN (2 coats), paint with water-based flat paint (2 coats), then finish with Minwax Polycrylic water-based semi-gloss clear finish (1 coat). I've experimented with this combination and it looks nice, and seems to be much more durable than paint alone. If anyone has comments or suggestions about this plan, let me know.
Finally, can anyone recommend a good source for the new doors? I know there are many out there, just looking for a recommendation.
Thanks, EC
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About 1.5 years ago I refinished our kitchen cabinets - face frames and doors. We elected to keep the same basic color - stained oak. What I did was to remove all the doors/hardware and then clean all surfaces with #0000 steel wool dipped in mineral spirits - several times. Then I went over everything with a matching stain and finally 2-3 coats of wipe-on poly. They look like new cabinets - especially since we upgraded the hardware too.
I think stripping would be a mess. I think that you would be fine using fine sandpaper and/or steel wool (us sandpaper if using water based paint to avoid any rust staining).
As far as buying doors, I referred a neighbor of mine to Rockler for some raised panel oak doors. They were about 12x24 and ran close to $50 each (unfinished). I helped him with the installation so I was happy to see that the doors were first rate - nicely sanded and solid. They also sell paint grade for less $.
Lou
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Tri-sodium phosphate (TSP) ___________________

Well, flat latex is certainly better than a gloss or semi-gloss since it is semi-sandable due to all the talc in it but basically I can't see how anybody expects to get a good finish on wood with *any* latex paint.
To me, a "good paint job" (on wood) is one that is smooth and uniform regardless of the sheen. To get same, one starts with a smooth, primed surface (sanded baby ass smooth), paints with something that self levels well, smooths again, paints, etc. Latex is basically unsandable and doesn't level well (always shows brush marks).
I understand why you want to clear topcoat with something harder but why not just use a more suitable paint in the first place? An alkyd or urethane paint...
-- dadiOH ____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.06... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico
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dadiOH, Regarding paint choice... just ignorance on my part. I've worked with Latex paints many times, but never with Alkyd or Urethane paints. Are these the same as oil-base paints? Would the primary advantage of these be better leveling, better hardness? Can I find these products in HD / Lowes or should I go to a specialty paint store? Thanks for your responses. -EC
dadiOH wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Yes, both are oil based paints, just different resins. My preferance is for alkyd because it generally seems to flow better. A lot depends on the brand though, I've used poly that was fine and alkyd that wasn't.
As you surmised, their advantages are better leveling and hardness. Durability/washability too. You should be able to find them at any place that sells paint.
One applies them a bit differently though...
1. Use a good, natural bristle brush (next best after a sprayer).
2. With latex, you kinda have to push a semi-gelatinous mass around with a brush. With oil paint, flow the paint on....keep the brush at a rather low angle and move it slowly. Your goal is to have an even thickness everywhere....don't apply so much that it wants to run or drip...keep a wet edge, blend lightly (brush tips only) perpendicular to each stroke so the edges feather out thinner one over its neighbor, then tip off again lightly and fairly rapidly in the original direction.
3. It is very helpful (with latex too) to work toward a window or artificial light so that the reflection of same in the wet paint shows you missed areas.
4. Best results will be achieved if what you are painting can be horizontal.
5. The finished job can only be no better than the surface being painted. If it is not smooth or has brush marks (in the primer) they will still be there after the paint has dried and shrunk skin tight.
6. If, after painting and your best efforts and sufficient coats (2-3), the finished surface isn't as smooth as you like or if there are dust spots, you can rub it down with #0000 steel wool after it is thourghly dry (a week or so); that will give a low luster surface which can be brought up to a greater shine with wax or finer polishing compounds (like auto rubbing compound et al).
A truly *good* paint job is both rare and a thing of beauty. Last time I saw the painted kitchen cabinets in the house where I grew up they were still in good-excellent condition...they had been painted only once about 50 years previously.
-- dadiOH ____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.06... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico
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Thanks for the great information! I'll pick up some of the paints you suggested this weekend for experimentation. One other question: the wood grain of the cabinet frames has typical Oak features, meaning it is porous / loose grain. I expect that when I paint over this, I will still see the grain surface irregularities through the paint. I thought it might be wise to use some kind of filler to fill in these imperfections. What do you think? Again, thanks for the great info. EC
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Depends...
I thought it might be wise to use some kind of filler to fill in these

A heavy bodied, *sanding* primer should fill the grain, might take two coats. It is easy to tell...if the grain still shows after getting the primer smooth you need another coat. Note that you want a *sandable* primer for that...many/most primers don't sand very well even sanding wet. One that does is made by Interlux - it was especially formulated for priming Philippine mahogany on boats. It dries fast, sands wonderfully and is horribly expensive (last I checked around $80/gallon). I am sure there are others.
One easy way to tell if the surface is smooth is to prime and sand then prime again (spray can works well) with a different color primer. Sand again...if you can remove all of the colored primer without cutting through to wood the surface is good.
An alternative filler is "grain filler". It is made for open grain woods, usually is silex in naptha. Wipe it on like stain, wipe off. Often used for filling open grain woods under a clear finish but AFAIK you could use paint instead of a clear coat.
Note too that some people like seeing the wood texture under paint. Not me.
-- dadiOH ____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.06... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote in

One of the better visits you can make, at this stage of your project, is to find a good 'painters' paint store', and make friend of a couple of the counter staff who have been at this for a while. They may give you a 'decorator's card', entitling you to some discount from regular prices, but they will also be able to steer you to the products which work most reliably for your applications, and perhaps recommend pros who can help you with work that may be beyond your capabilities, whether equipment, time or physical strength.
I've excellent results with Kelly Moore and ICI-Dulux. There are others, and they tend to be regional.
There's reasonably good paint to be had at the Borg, and even at WalMart, but the quality & quantity of the information is sometimes sketchy.
Good luck with the project.
Patriarch
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