Ok guys, first of all I need to thank you all SO much for all of the love on the kitchen makeover post. I truly appreciate each and every one of you who have commented, shared, and emailed me! I just love it so much. :) And I have already had several of you ask me about the paint on our cabinets, like how my painter got this amazing finish on our very heavily grained oak cabinets. I am going to do my best to share his professional secrets with you all today!
One of the main concerns I had when I was thinking of painting my cabinets white was the oak grain. I did not want it to show through. Remember that first sample I had made a few years ago from a different painter that did not look good?
That first sample actually had deterred me from painting them for a while. Then I found Adel from Wood Finisher Pro & Repair, Inc. (who I’d highly recommend to any Houston area locals) and his sample he made was perfection.
I will say it again, you get what you pay for. I already said in my makeover post that I hired this job out for many different reasons and listed them there. But I know some of you can’t do that right now and can’t hire Adel if you don’t live in the Houston area, so I am at least going to share what he did. And it will mostly be written, not photos, so you have to read the tips. :)
I know several DIY bloggers who have painted their cabinets and had great results. Please remember everyone’s kitchens are different, and everyone’s cabinets are different. And what works for some, might not work for you. I personally do not think our kitchen cabinets would have been a DIY project after seeing what Adel went through to achieve this look. And I am so glad I went with the professionals on this project. It is a ton of work. A ton. And this has to look amazing. It can’t be one of those “okay” looking projects.
But for you that are up for a challenge, here you go.
I guess the #1 question is OIL or LATEX paint?
This is a biggie. And I went back and forth several times with him on this. He insisted on oil paint. It’s what he knows, what he’s familiar with, knows it gives a beautiful finish and flat out said that latex paint would not hold up well. Thinking to myself “man this guy is very old school in his ways,” he just doesn’t know the new paints Sherwin Williams has now are, like their water-based enamel paints which are supposed to harden and finish like an alkyd paint. He said the latex will chip off much more easily and when you wipe the cabinets down, the water wouldn’t do well or hold up well with multiple cleanings. Now I have no idea if that is true or not. I have several friends who have used that water-based paint on cabinets and love it. And they love that it’s non-yellowing and no smell like oil based paint. My main concern was the yellowing factor in oil paint. I didn’t want my pretty white cabinets to turn yellow. But I finally came to the conclusion that by the time my cabinets might turn slightly yellow, I will want a different color on them anyway so who cares? Plus I wanted Adel to be comfortable using the product he is familiar with and will be proud of his end result.
So oil it was!
Of course we used Sherwin Williams’ top of the line, ProClassic oil based paint in Alabaster. And I have to say (again), that the finish is gorgeous.
So here are some of Adel’s secret tips and tricks for achieving that perfectly smooth finish and not showing any grain in the wood:
- Clean the surface really well with an all-purpose cleaner or degreaser.
- Scuff up everything with some sandpaper to give the paint something to stick to. If you have a heavy varnish topcoat on, you might need to do a little more sanding.
- Since I had molding trim on my cabinet doors, he went around and caulked everything so paint would not get in the cracks and crevices (that was a nice, perfectionist touch!). He also filled in any other obvious holes or cracks with some wood putty, then lightly sanded that down again.
- For the cabinet bases, he used Kilz primer and did that by hand with a brush and a small foam roller. For the cabinet doors and drawers (which were sprayed), he used a product from Sherwin Williams called lacquer undercoat. (I will have to find the right link and update this).
- He sprayed several light coats of the undercoat and sanded well in between each one. That’s very important especially if you’re working with grainy oak.
- Once the undercoat/primer cured well and was fully dry, he was ready to start painting. He sprayed VERY light coats. And several coats. And you guessed it…sanded in between EACH one. Sanding is the only way you are going to achieve the flawless look.
- Once the paint was starting to really adhere to the cabinet doors (meaning not just sinking down into the grain), he sprayed HEAVY coats of paint. Like really laid it on a good 2 or 3 times. But again, he’s the professional, has done this several times, and knows when spraying heavy coats is acceptable and necessary. I would be terrified to do this on my own with no experience so do that at your own risk.
- Of course he let that dry many days and cure. THEN he took some 320 grit sandpaper and sanded AGAIN! I thought he would have been done by now. But he gave it another sanding and then another heavy coat of paint.
And then this of course was the result.
I know it was a lot of work. There is a reason a good painter isn’t what you and I would call cheap. Also, a lot of these steps would vary if your cabinets were not oak like mine were. It takes a lot more preparation to get the grain out. And the grain is pretty much completely out. If you look up at the cabinets from an odd angle you can slightly, and oh so very slightly see some movement, but nothing that you would even think twice about. And I hate to even say that because truly it’s so tiny and not noticeable. Believe me, I’m picky. Very picky.
When you rub your hand on the cabinet door faces, they are SO smooth and silky feeling. They are amazing. Have I said that already?
Here’s a before and after again if you missed it.
So what do you think? Are you ready to tackle this yourself? Or do you want to save up and hire a professional? Ha!
The oil base paint really did give a beautiful finish. I can’t say if the latex version would have or not. But the clean up is SO easy on them and the finish is rock solid. I really don’t think chipping will be an issue (especially since I put felt pads on everything) but I will definitely keep you posted. I’ll also keep you posted if I notice any yellowing or anything too.
So there ya have it. How to paint your cabinets like the pros…if you dare!
Let me know what you think! I’d also love to hear what you think about the oil vs. latex battle too.
Sharing this post at Sarah’s Before and After Party.