Painting Cabinets

Often a stain on older cabinets can start to look dirty and grungy. In an attempt to freshen older cabinetry, customers often ask me what it would take to paint over the existing surface. Here is a step by step explanation of the process O’Connor’s Painting Service uses to paint cabinetry.

  1. Remove old hardware. Note: if customer wants to replace the old hardware with new, be sure to choose hardware that matches the existing screw holes to avoid a lot of putty work to fill existing holes.

    Painting Cabinets for a Fresh Look
  2. Sand cabinets well with very sandpaper to remove old varnish or polyurethane.
  3. Wipe the surface with mineral spirits then follow by also wiping the cabinets down with a cleaning solution such as 50% water and 50% ammonia.
  4. Apply one coat primer of Zinsser Cover Stain Oil. We normally paint the exterior of the cabinetry then both sides any doors.
  5. Apply two top coats of latex or oil semi-gloss paint, whichever color a homeowner picks. We suggest picking a Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore product that has a oil base finish for a harder surface.

The real key to success in painting cabinets is in the preparation. Sand extremely well with sandpaper and clean all surfaces using a clean cloth saturated with mineral spirits in order to remove all surface dirt, greasy spots and contamination. If the surface is excessively dirty, you may have to go over the areas multiple times with the mineral spirits and the 50/50 ammonia water mixture.

Switching from an Oil-Based Interior House Paint System to a Latex System

Over the past several years due to government regulation in the Mid-Atlantic region, paint manufacturing companies have slowly phased out oil-based paints. Back in 2005 when the new regulations were starting to be phased in, you could even find painters and homeowner trying to stockpile oil-based products. Today when you go to any paint store and ask for oil-based paint they will only sell you quart sized cans. The only oil-based paint available in gallon sized cans is formulated for use on metal surfaces, not wood. The main problem with oil-based paint products is that they emit volatile organic compounds (VOC’s)  which have a strong odor and  when dry interact with sun and heat to create ozone pollution.

When I talk to people who have an old oil-based interior system, I get a lot of questions from concerned homeowners who are wary of switching to a latex system but know that it must be done. Below are some tips O’Connor’s Painting Service uses when working with oil to latex on wood trim such as crown moulding, doors, baseboard, chair rails, interior windows, etc.

Preparation Tips

  • Lightly sand trim with 100 grit sand paper.
  • Clean trim with vacuum or dust with old paint brush.

Painting Using Oil Primer and Latex Top Coat

  • Apply one coat of oil primer like Zinsser cover stain which is a quick drying primer. If you are looking for a low odor oil primer, Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore carry low odor products that also dry quickly.
  • Apply two top coats of acrylic latex paint like Sherwin Williams, Duron, Benjamin Moore or McCormick.

Painting Using Latex Primer and Latex Top Coat

  • Apply one coat Zinsser 1-2-3 Primer Sealer. This product will bond to slick surfaces like oil.
  • Apply two top coats of acrylic latex paint.