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Old 10-08-2019, 01:53 PM   #1
WDE46
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Cabinet Painting

I'm thinking about doing a basic log about my cabinet finishing project I want to tackle this fall/winter. If some people are interested, I'll post progress pics and info about my process/equipment/paints.

Background note: Why DIY my cabinets? Why not have a pro come in and use pro products to get my desired results? I was quoted $7000 for professional refinishing. **** that. End of background.

I've been doing research for weeks and I think I'm settled on a process and my desires:

First of all, I want to paint the boxes completely. I hate the stain/varnish that is on the wood now and I don't like the grain patterns. They're kinda cheap cabinets, but I have a ton of cabinet space and replacing them is way too much be putting into this house. If it was a nice light wood with a good grain, then I'd not paint the insides.

Second, I want to use an HVLP sprayer for that factory smooth finish look.

Third, the products used need to result in a highly durable surface.

Fourth, I do not want to use solvent based paints. This project will take me several weeks and we can't be breathing in poisonous fumes all the time and I can't vent all the air out of my house during colder days if we reach winter.

These things lead you in a pretty specific direction but there are still choices to make.

PRODUCTS

Given the four requirements, I think I've settled on products to use.

PRIMER

Zinsser BIN Advanced Synthetic shellac.

This is as close to BIN Shellac as you can get. The regular shellac is alcohol based. It is known to stick to anything (universal primer) and hide/seal anything, but I cannot deal with the fumes unfortunately especially with spraying (who knows if that could be explosive). Advanced is water borne shellac and is supposed to be quite good. I've read that wet sanding it is preferable to dry sanding due to gumming. I need this sort of universal primer because I do not want to strip/sand to bare wood. The BIN will stick to the sanded varnish and also bond with the waterbased topcoat!





The EM6500 below has it's own custom surfacer/primer that you can use called HSF5000 but I don't think it's intended to bond with anything but bare wood/mdf. I've emailed Target coatings to ask.

TOP COAT/COLOR

Target Coatings EM6500 tinted

This meets all my requirements from my research while also being decently priced and readily available tinted online.




Other products I looked at:
  1. Sherwin Williams Khem Aqua Plus (only supplied at pro stores or finishes locations)
    This is entirely comparable to the Target Coatings product but I just can't be bothered to source it. The stores cater to pros and I won't be taken seriously there buying 5 gallons once. This stuff is the read deal OEM waterborne coating.
  2. Behr Urethane Alkyd (decent and cheap, but not hard or durable enough. also requires thinning)
    I'm actually doing the trim in the whole house with this. I think that's a perfect use for it.
  3. Benjamin Moore Advanced (probably requires thinning, better than the Behr but still not hard enough from my research)
    This is also quite expensive for the results you get ($75/gal)


HVLP Sprayer

Earlex HV5500 (~$300)

A good sprayer is key to having a nice pattern and smooth finish. There are lots of cheaper options, but I figure I can resell this for $200 after it's all done, or I have a tool for life. I'm settled on this.



PROCESS

My process is not fully developed but I will try this first on the bathroom cabinets (same wood/varnish).

1. Wash surfaces with TSP (Trisodium phosphate)
2. Sand all surfaces with 150 grit
3. Sand down any imperfections for level surface (the old handles left imprints int he varnish) and wipe everything clean
4. Spray BIN Advanced first coat
5. Wet sand with 220 grit
6. Spray BIN Advanced second coat
7. Wet sand lightly with 220 grit
8. Spray TC EM6500 First coat
9. Light 220 sanding of imperfections
10. Spray TC EM6500 second and final coat

That's all I've got for now, but I think I'm ready to buy everything and get going.

Oh one more thing. Where do you put all your **** while you're painting a section of cabinets? My genius answer is HDX storage cabinets. I'll put them in the kitchen and when I'm all done, I'll gain a couple new cabinets for the garage. I already have two units stacked in the garage so for $120 total per pair they are pretty nice.

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Old 10-08-2019, 02:04 PM   #2
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You've obviously done a ton of pre-work but I will say that alcohol based shellac is not explosive and it doesn't have any more fumes than a bottle of vodka does. Denatured alcohol that it's mixed with will evaporate so fast that the dry time of normal shellac is minutes long and you don't have to (and actually shouldn't) spray it. Just dip a rag in, wipe it on, wait for it to dry and move on. The rags for shellac don't have to be properly disposed of because the alcohol evaporates so fast anyway. You can even buy shellac flakes (which is an organic substance you can actually eat) on Amazon and a jug of denatured alcohol at HD and make your own stuff for a lot less too.

FWIW, I use shellac on a lot of my woodworking projects because it's fast, easy, and doesn't stink up my garage.
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Old 10-08-2019, 02:11 PM   #3
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You've obviously done a ton of pre-work but I will say that alcohol based shellac is not explosive and it doesn't have any more fumes than a bottle of vodka does. Denatured alcohol that it's mixed with will evaporate so fast that the dry time of normal shellac is minutes long and you don't have to (and actually shouldn't) spray it. Just dip a rag in, wipe it on, wait for it to dry and move on. The rags for shellac don't have to be properly disposed of because the alcohol evaporates so fast anyway. You can even buy shellac flakes (which is an organic substance you can actually eat) on Amazon and a jug of denatured alcohol at HD and make your own stuff for a lot less too.

FWIW, I use shellac on a lot of my woodworking projects because it's fast, easy, and doesn't stink up my garage.
I will keep looking at it and maybe try it on the first bathroom cabinets. The alcohol based stuff is supposed to be so good, like you say, that I guess I need to try it. If the fumes are too bad, I'lll switch. If not, it'll be superior to the Advanced. So if I put it on with a rag instead of a brush or roller? I rolled it on a spot in the kitchen (a recently patched/mudded hole in the wall) and it came out kind of bubbly. Nothing a quite sand won't fix. Will the rag keep that from happening?
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Old 10-08-2019, 02:20 PM   #4
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Also keep us posted with progress pics, these type of threads are awesome.
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Old 10-08-2019, 02:23 PM   #5
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Give it a go. I'd just use a rag and wipe it on, it goes really fast. I hate using rollers on any finish because they leave a crappy end result that's rough. Rollers are great for paint or other self wetting finishes like epoxy but they suck for any varnish or film style finishes.

The best part of shellac is that it can be fixed with a rag dipped in denatured alcohol. So if you got some bubbly bits, just wipe it with alcohol and it'll smooth itself out. No need to sand. Even if you are sanding, shellac will go back into solution so you don't need to wipe off the dust, just wipe on another coat.

Please note that I'm using just straight shellac, not anything mixed with pigments. It works the same in that it seals a surface and works as a primer but it won't add a color. I even use it on my MDF workbench top every spring to protect and seal the surface from paint, glue, etc anything that can fall on it and soak in.
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Old 10-08-2019, 02:32 PM   #6
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So can I apply the white tinted stuff with a rag too?
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Old 10-08-2019, 02:43 PM   #7
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So can I apply the white tinted stuff with a rag too?
I think we're talking about different things. I'm referring to this stuff:



Which I don't think is what you're talking about.
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Old 10-08-2019, 02:45 PM   #8
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Oh. I'm talking about this. Needs to be white primer to help the topcoat cover nicely.

Apparently it sands so easily that if it does come out a bit rough with a brush or roller it's not a big deal. I'm gonna try it on the bathroom.

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Old 10-08-2019, 02:53 PM   #9
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Oh then I have no idea. I thought you were talking about just basic shellac which is what I use. I make my own so it has nothing but shellac flakes and denatured alcohol in it mixed at a 1:1 ratio. I'm not sure what fun cocktail of chemicals is in that jar or how it smells.
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Old 10-08-2019, 02:57 PM   #10
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I have one quart for testing. It smells like whiskey or other high proof spirit. I mean it's literally shellac, ethanol, and some pigments so that makes sense. There's probably more to it that makes it so noteworthy, but seems basic. It's also closer in viscosity to water than typical paints.

The coolest part about it you've already noted. If the VOCs are a problem at least cleanup will not be. You can just let the brushes dry out and revive them with the product. Anything else can be easily rinsed with denatured alcohol and then ammonia and water.
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:34 PM   #11
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I also just realized that I've been referring to my cabinet finish as a varnish but I'm not sure what it is really. The BIN will bond to anything, but I should probably test if it's shellac, varnish, poly, or lacquer. Gonna rub some denatured alcohol on it tonight to eliminate shellac. If that doesn't dissolve it but it does affect the surface some then it's varnish. If it dissolves then it's shellac. If it does nothing, it's a lacquer or poly. Then Acetone can be used to determine if it's lacquer or poly.
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:35 PM   #12
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I did this once, it was a nightmare, mostly because wife decided to change color in the middle from a pure white to an off white. This entire thing sucked ass, I started using a spray gun to lay it down so perfect and that eventually backfired and they all ended up getting hand painted.

Sanding is key, even zinnser won't stick to a poorly prepped surface, and like with anything else all your work here is in the prep. Remove all cabinet hardware and doors and do doors separately somewhere that you're not going to make a lot of dust or get contaminants on them once they are with wet paint. If you don't have a paint booth, no matter what you do, something will land in there and piss you off. Painting the insides far easier with sprayer, whole job far easier with sprayer, but I cannot tell you the distance the sprayed paint particles travel, they literally go EVERYWHERE, so seal your kitchen off tight and cover the entire rest of it with plastic.

In the end, mine have lasted about 11 years now. And that's about it, I hate them, I want to rip them out and replace now, but then I'd have to do my whole kitchen too as I detest my floor tile, and well, that's not happening any time soon.

Might need Sammy to craft me up a custom set of cabinets! God how much would that cost HA>
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:39 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by trizzuth View Post
I did this once, it was a nightmare, mostly because wife decided to change color in the middle from a pure white to an off white. This entire thing sucked ass, I started using a spray gun to lay it down so perfect and that eventually backfired and they all ended up getting hand painted.

Sanding is key, even zinnser won't stick to a poorly prepped surface, and like with anything else all your work here is in the prep. Remove all cabinet hardware and doors and do doors separately somewhere that you're not going to make a lot of dust or get contaminants on them once they are with wet paint. If you don't have a paint booth, no matter what you do, something will land in there and piss you off. Painting the insides far easier with sprayer, whole job far easier with sprayer, but I cannot tell you the distance the sprayed paint particles travel, they literally go EVERYWHERE, so seal your kitchen off tight and cover the entire rest of it with plastic.

In the end, mine have lasted about 11 years now. And that's about it, I hate them, I want to rip them out and replace now, but then I'd have to do my whole kitchen too as I detest my floor tile, and well, that's not happening any time soon.

Might need Sammy to craft me up a custom set of cabinets! God how much would that cost HA>


Also, I don't do cabinets.

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Old 10-08-2019, 03:40 PM   #14
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I have one quart for testing. It smells like whiskey or other high proof spirit. I mean it's literally shellac, ethanol, and some pigments so that makes sense. There's probably more to it that makes it so noteworthy, but seems basic. It's also closer in viscosity to water than typical paints.

The coolest part about it you've already noted. If the VOCs are a problem at least cleanup will not be. You can just let the brushes dry out and revive them with the product. Anything else can be easily rinsed with denatured alcohol and then ammonia and water.
If that's the case then I'd just use a foam brush and go to town. They key is to avoid going back over spots that dry faster than others. Lay down one coat then then come back for another. Should be easy to do given it's pigmented and you can see where you've already gone.
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Old 10-08-2019, 04:00 PM   #15
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OP... check your PMs.
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Old 10-08-2019, 04:45 PM   #16
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Although I'm going to spend a lot, I'm happy I'm doing a full on kitchen remodel rather than painting. This sounds like it will completely suck, but you will have an updated look at a small fraction of the price. I like DIY on some things, but on this one, I'm picking up the checkbook and paying to have it all done, haha.
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Old 10-08-2019, 05:22 PM   #17
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Cabinet Painting

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Originally Posted by SLVR JDM View Post
Although I'm going to spend a lot, I'm happy I'm doing a full on kitchen remodel rather than painting. This sounds like it will completely suck, but you will have an updated look at a small fraction of the price. I like DIY on some things, but on this one, I'm picking up the checkbook and paying to have it all done, haha.


In a more expensive house Iíd do a remodel but itíll never pay off here. This house is for equity building so if something isnít going to break me even Iím not doing it outside a few essentials (like a fence or needed maintenance).

I will probably do countertops sometime in the future since what I have is pretty shite. That will be professionally done. And a backsplash + appliances.

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Old 10-09-2019, 09:37 AM   #18
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In a more expensive house Iíd do a remodel but itíll never pay off here. This house is for equity building so if something isnít going to break me even Iím not doing it outside a few essentials (like a fence or needed maintenance).

I will probably do countertops sometime in the future since what I have is pretty shite. That will be professionally done. And a backsplash + appliances.

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I told my wife I could have a pretty decent 911 if we didn't do this kitchen. She didn't quite understand that if I was a bachelor, I would not be doing this kitchen, I'd have another car in the garage, lol
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Old 10-09-2019, 09:50 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by SLVR JDM View Post
Although I'm going to spend a lot, I'm happy I'm doing a full on kitchen remodel rather than painting. This sounds like it will completely suck, but you will have an updated look at a small fraction of the price. I like DIY on some things, but on this one, I'm picking up the checkbook and paying to have it all done, haha.
Same. This is what I did, replaced all the cabinets with some nicer ones...and paid someone to do it. Not that I couldn't, just didn't want to.

Quote:
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I told my wife I could have a pretty decent 911 if we didn't do this kitchen. She didn't quite understand that if I was a bachelor, I would not be doing this kitchen, I'd have another car in the garage, lol
...and same again. Whenever the kid conversation comes up, I convert the costs into Ferraris. She doesn't appreciate it.
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Old 10-09-2019, 11:33 AM   #20
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So here's the current condition of the cabinets. You can see the outdated backsplash that I'll have to wait until new countertops to redo. Anyone have any recommendations on making that look at little better until then or do I just leave it for a while? Cabinets will be Dover White (Sherwin Williams color).

There is a big gap at the moding because I scraped the popcorn ceiling out last year. I have to repaint the ceiling due to shitty paint product in the kitchen this year again and I'll fill that gap with some caulk. Ideally I take all the molding down and redo it in the future. I want to put crown molding in the whole house. The "public" spaces and master room have it but nothing else and it's a cheap touch if I can DIY it.




Quote:
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I told my wife I could have a pretty decent 911 if we didn't do this kitchen. She didn't quite understand that if I was a bachelor, I would not be doing this kitchen, I'd have another car in the garage, lol
Quote:
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Same. This is what I did, replaced all the cabinets with some nicer ones...and paid someone to do it. Not that I couldn't, just didn't want to.



...and same again. Whenever the kid conversation comes up, I convert the costs into Ferraris. She doesn't appreciate it.
There's a lot to balance. We have a trip to Key West to pay for over Thanksgiving. We want to go to Europe next year. I may need a new HVAC installation (furnace and AC components). I want to put in Low-e windows inserts to replace the shitty glass in the house. I want to insulate the attic to like R-30 or so (whatever is double my current). I want to redo the master bath shower situation.

Lots to consider.
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