Paint oak cabinets white?
Shannon Pavey
April 9, 2013 in Design Dilemma
I'd like some feedback from the Houzz community. I am installing new countertops soon and need to decide what I'm doing with the cabinets.

Should I leave the cabinets alone since they're in good condition... or paint them white?

I'm a handy gal and can probably figure out how to paint them. I have enough patience to go through all the right steps too. But... do they look fine as is?

This decision affects my countertop selection. Walls will be repainted too. The paint is too shiny.

Thanks!!
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starbella
I vote paint them white I do not like oak cabinets..... I hqve them too. You are lucky that the top cupboards are straight mine have an arch on top but are straight on bottom cupboards. Seems weird to me.... Guess that's what they did in the late 80's early 90's. I am currently deciding between painting white or staining dark. Good luck to you.
4 Likes   April 9, 2013 at 7:42PM
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Shannon Pavey
Thanks starbella, it's a tough decision. The interior of the cabinets are not melamine lined so they would also have to be painted. It's a ton of work and I'm not sure what the final product will look like. I know they won't be super smooth since oak has natural grain. But... at least they'll be white and not orange oak.

Anyone have a preferred method for painting cabinets? Spray the doors and roll the boxes? Is there a trick to getting a smooth look?

So many questions...
0 Likes   April 9, 2013 at 9:34PM
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Ed
Shannon, I vote for keeping the natural wood look, especially since they're in good condition. :) Good luck.
4 Likes   April 9, 2013 at 9:47PM
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Shannon Pavey
Thanks Ed! Here's a perfect example of what I'm afraid of. This picture shows painted cabinets. See the grain? Not sure how I feel about that. It might show even more painted white.
3 Likes   April 9, 2013 at 9:56PM
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robin89
How would you feel about using a darker varnish on them to change the wood tone? Dark wood is really popular right now and looks really nice. I had painted cabinets in my first house and did not like them. They get dirty very easy. I have wood toned cabinets now and like them much better.
1 Like   April 9, 2013 at 10:02PM
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Blue Desert Interiors
I would just a top glaze to the cabinets. It will give you a richer finish, while still seeing the wood grain. This gives a warm updated look that doesn't lock you into an particular color countertop.
1 Like   April 9, 2013 at 10:05PM
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Ironwood Builders
Shannon, minimizing oak grain is possible...if you are willing to go there. The furniture industry uses grain filler to smooth out the grain on pieces made with oak..where a high sheen is desired. You can purchase grain filler from www.rockler.com. Here is a link to a project description:
http://www.rockler.com/how-to/using-wood-grain-filler/

I don't care for radial sliced oak panels or flat sawn oak in general...go ahead and paint them1
2 Likes   April 9, 2013 at 10:08PM
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Shannon Pavey
I'm not sure how a darker stain would look on these cabinets. It's hard for me to picture. All I can think of is 1970s dark oak cabinets, doors, trim, paneling. Eek! Does anyone have a photo of what that could look like?
2 Likes   April 9, 2013 at 10:10PM
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Shannon Pavey
Ironwood Builders, so you're saying there's a chance? These cabinets could look good painted? I'll look into the filler. Thanks!!
0 Likes   April 9, 2013 at 10:13PM
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Blue Desert Interiors
Here's a before and after of cabinet glazing. Your look would be slighlty darker since you're closer to the after color, but you wouldn't need as dark of a glaze. You can see in the after shot that the wood grain is visible, but the glazing hangs up in the details. You can determine how much you want left in there by how much is wiped off in the process. Very flexible to get the exact color you want.
1 Like   April 9, 2013 at 10:31PM
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Blue Desert Interiors
Any solid color paint on top of the oak, even with filler will end up looking more modern. The solid colors will also reveal the texture of the wood, which seems to be what you're concerned about by the pic you posted. The glazing highlights your edges and trim taking the focus off the texture of the grain.
0 Likes   April 9, 2013 at 10:34PM
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Chroma Natrix
I love a light kitchen, so that's my vote :-). I've done three kitchens.... two kitchens to look like new.
What worked best for me was hiring a really good painter to take the cabinet doors and drawers to a dust-free place to sand them, apply a high quality appropriate primer, then spray them. They can also mask off the rest of the room and spray the cabinet boxes in your kitchen. in order to change from the oak finish, sanding and the right primer are key. More thin coats of paint are better than one thick. A couple of thin coats sprayed on evenly over a smooth primer will look really professional. I used a semi-gloss acrylic enamel by Coronado called Rustscat that wore really well. I'm attaching a pic of your kitchen that I doctored up to give you an idea of what white might look like. Your kitchen might look great with white cabinets and black counters for contrast. Love the wall color.
7 Likes   April 9, 2013 at 10:38PM
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Shannon Pavey
Thanks Blue Desert Interiors. I really like the after photo. Would a glaze get rid of the orange tone in my cabinets? Painting is more modern which I do like. But, I also like the look of wood. Just not orange wood. :/
0 Likes   April 9, 2013 at 10:40PM
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Chroma Natrix
FYI.... The limitations of computer "painting"... I didn't get rid of the grain or the super gloss. Just did enough to give you an idea of the color.
2 Likes   April 9, 2013 at 10:42PM
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Ironwood Builders
Shannon...more than a chance. I read the article so I would be informed if you asked...it's not easy..but it isn't all that hard either. Adds a step, maybe two. But they are talking about smooth as a grand piano (probably more than you need). Now think about color? I know you like wood in general but not this stuff...so what in paint is better? Not white it sounds like. What is going on with the living room fireplace? Is there a tie in there?
0 Likes   April 9, 2013 at 10:47PM
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Shannon Pavey
Chroma Natrix... Wow, I think you just sold me on white cabinets. That looks great for a mock up of what it could look like. I was thinking maybe a painter could do a better job... like you said, dust free and away from the mess.

Black counters would be awesome. Just have to sell the hubby on dark ctops. He thinks they'll show every speck of dirt. True, but at least I'll know it's there to clean it up. I'd rather keep it clean than choose something that "hides dirt."
1 Like   April 9, 2013 at 10:48PM
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Chroma Natrix
There are some dark quartzes and granite counter materials that have specks and might not show every crumb. Good luck!
4 Likes   April 9, 2013 at 10:52PM
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Ironwood Builders
Shannon...for the dark counter tops go with a honed or leathered texture. No finger prints!
1 Like   April 9, 2013 at 10:54PM
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Chroma Natrix
side by side
4 Likes   April 9, 2013 at 10:54PM
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Blue Desert Interiors
You can definitely tone the orange out. Not an issue there. If you really want to go with a more modern color in a paint out, then I would do gray cabinets. That would be a very fresh look. You even have a gray one in your ideabook under "Cabinetry". I would avoid dark counters as they will show absolutely everything. Hubby wins on that one. They also act as mirrors to the undercabinet lighting.
1 Like   April 9, 2013 at 10:56PM
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Shannon Pavey
The fireplace is staying the same for now but I will eventually change the layout. Add ledge stone and maybe move the TV.

The kitchen is definitely getting worked on before the fireplace wall. That proved to be more complicated than I originally thought.

I attached a photo of my family room. I have two pieces of white furniture so white cabinets could work. I'm having a tough time figuring out where to draw inspiration from for our kitchen.

I love the Brizo Solna faucet with the touch feature. My husband wants a stainless sink, Kohler Vault. Both are pretty contemporary. We just installed the rustic pendant lights from Pottery Barn. I feel like we want contemporary but end up with rustic/transitional style.

I'm visiting a slab yard on Friday to hopefully find countertops for the kitchen. Maybe I should let the countertop dictate the cabinets?
0 Likes   April 9, 2013 at 11:06PM
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Shannon Pavey
Photos of faucet and sinks we are considering. Sink would be undermount.
1 Like   April 9, 2013 at 11:22PM
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Shannon Pavey
I also like the Kohler Executive Chef sink. More traditional but doesn't go with the faucet I'm pretty much set on.
0 Likes   April 9, 2013 at 11:24PM
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Shannon Pavey
Blue Desert, you're absolutely right. I love the color of these cabinets...
3 Likes   April 9, 2013 at 11:27PM
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Mariah Perez
Shannon I had the same problem and I decided to stain my cabinets... Here are some pictures of during and after, I hope that helps.
8 Likes   April 9, 2013 at 11:43PM
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Mariah Perez
I still need to pick my floor and countertops
3 Likes   April 9, 2013 at 11:44PM
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Mariah Perez
Ironwood, how do you do that with the pictures??
0 Likes   April 9, 2013 at 11:46PM
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Ironwood Builders
Hunh? I think that was Chroma Natrix! I'm so computer challenged it takes me five minutes to write a post like this one!
2 Likes   April 10, 2013 at 12:02AM
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Shannon Pavey
Mariah, that looks amazing! I love the stain you picked. Can you show an up close image of one of your doors? I love the rich color of the stain. Just beautiful.

Oh, and I must comment on your pantry. It's so organized and pretty! Another project for me as I put the kitchen back together.

Thank you for sharing!
1 Like   April 10, 2013 at 3:44AM
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Mariah Perez
I have to take a picture when it's daylight so you can see it better.. The person that stain my cabinets gave me samples of how dark I wanted them.. I liked this one but you can get it lighter or darker... But it really made a difference in my kitchen.. And thanks about what you said of my pantry... That's one of the things I keep organized 100% of the time. I didn't think anyone would notice.. Lol. Thanks
3 Likes   April 10, 2013 at 4:09AM
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jmp80816
What color stain is this? Beautiful! And what is the type of granite of your ct? Love it!
1 Like   April 10, 2013 at 6:00AM
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Shannon Pavey
Houzzers... I might have the option of replacing the cabinets. I really like espresso but who knew dark brown could come in so many shades!

One sample has more red in it, the java is a nice color but has a painted look and the last one has a black/ashy tint to it. All look great under my new lighting. Who knew lighting alone transforms a space! :)

Any input? The reason I'd like to replace vs. paint is because they'll hold up longer. The current cabinets look fine on the outside (besides being oak) but are not melamine lined. The new cabinets would be Beech and melamine lined.

Question remains... paint, stain or replace?
1 Like   April 17, 2013 at 11:13AM
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redesign-gallery
Great kitchen. This is what I tell people......get the counter top you want without one single thought to your cabinets. Forget you have them. Get the counter tops in for a month or so then begin to discover what would appeal to you for the cab color. I don't like the idea of making an eyesore drive your counter top decision.......since you are willing paint them anyway. You might decide to put frosted glass in the doors or do some other treatment but I seriously know you won't know what you want to do with the cabinets until you get the counter top selected. Nice spot....keep up the great work.
4 Likes   April 17, 2013 at 11:24AM
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Shannon Pavey
I think I found a solution that won't break the bank! I came across a wonderful blog that provided a tutorial on how to restain oak cabinets. I'm testing it out on my master bath cabinets. So far, so good! Still need to apply a polyacrylic top coat in 5 days. Add some hardware and viola! New cabinets!

Thanks for advising me not to choose the countertop based on the current ugly orange oak. Now I need to pick something that goes with espresso! If the experiment goes well.. the orange oak in the kitchen will be gone! :)
4 Likes   April 24, 2013 at 11:09PM
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ahaberman
Shannon, can you provide the link to the tutorial? How did it turn out? Decided whether or not to go through this same processor not? Worst case, we end up refacing in a few years, right?
1 Like   September 23, 2013 at 5:35PM
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Eagledzines
A light brown/gray with white countertops would look fabulous. The white countertops and accented island would tie into your white livingroom furniture and the brown/gray would tie into the current kitchen wall color (is that going to stay?). Since the walls are dark I think that white would be too stark.
Custom Home-Atlanta
In the second photo, notice the color of the floor. It's very similar to your wall color. The brownish/gray cabinets look fabulous.
Georgian Revival
0 Likes   September 23, 2013 at 8:10PM
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Lola McIntyre
Google Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Kitchen Cabinets. Follow with coat of AS wax. No prep required as results are amazing!
0 Likes   September 25, 2013 at 10:25AM
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leelee
We painted our oak cabinets white and have never looked back. The grain does show but we like that. Chose not to paint the inside of the cabs--just the faces and fronts and backs of the doors. It's a great opportunity to change your pulls too. Just putty old holes and redrill. That makes so much difference.

Your kitchen is small so go with knobs on all doors and drawers for a consistent look. See the pic of Custom Home-Altanta from eagledzine just above.
0 Likes   September 25, 2013 at 12:12PM
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abbycovarrubias
Girl pink room
0 Likes   December 21, 2013 at 2:26PM
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Joan
Paint them a bright colour. Oak is very dated. You'll need to sand down first, then prime. Benjamin Moore has an excellent furniture cabinet paint that looks like glass if you use a spray gun. The cabinet fronts in this photo were unfinished wood and I used a Wagner spray painter using Benjamin Moore Aura paint.
6 Likes   December 21, 2013 at 7:55PM
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Vinyasa Stones
Wow @joan....your blue cabinets look great....could you please share color and tile color
Thank you
1 Like   December 21, 2013 at 8:36PM
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auntiebuzzybee
I DOOOOO love that colour. WOW! What a beautiful shade of blue(on my monitor, at least) Gorgeous. I'd do the stainless steel counter tops with that colour, if it were MINE in MY house. I have white counter tops that are in such good shape that is hard to justify changing them...yikes! It's nervewracking isn't it? I have to tell myself it's not the end of the world, just the end of my pocketbook!!!! LOL!
0 Likes   December 21, 2013 at 9:46PM
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auntiebuzzybee
Shannon, what have you done to your kitchen in the last few months? Did you keep yours and stain or paint them or did you change them out to the espresso? COME ON! LET US SEE!
1 Like   December 21, 2013 at 9:52PM
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bubbasgma
Joan-Beautiful!! Which Wagner sprayer did you use? We have 6 bookcases we are hoping to paint.
0 Likes   December 21, 2013 at 10:05PM
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johnhannahstevenson
Maybe instead of white you chose a dark chocolate brown.
Whatever the colour I don't think gloss is the way to go as it won't make the room as warm
0 Likes   December 21, 2013 at 10:27PM
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mlosc
Get the cabinets professionally sprayed. It's not very expensive
0 Likes   December 21, 2013 at 10:28PM
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dlamilza2519
I was thrilled to come across this discussion & pics! The layout is EXACTLY what my husband & I envision for our kitchen. Nice to see pictures with different colors as well. We thought we might like white cabinets but I kind of like the mid-toned wood color better.
0 Likes   December 22, 2013 at 4:45AM
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bkabelow
Hey Shannon!
We just painted an old oak bureau and topped it with a granite piece to make an island in our kitchen. It required us to prime the shinny oak surfaces with 2 coats Valspar Bonding Primer (for glossy surfaces, Home Depot) before painting it a milky white. Be sure to use a foam roller to apply (small). Bev
0 Likes   December 22, 2013 at 6:13AM
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bkabelow
!!!! wrong photo Shannon…sorry!
2 Likes   December 22, 2013 at 6:13AM
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Dawn Cook Design
We paint them white all the time and it looks fabulous! Get a good primer and a good painter! If you can get the doors sprayed that will ensure an even better look!
1 Like   December 22, 2013 at 6:18AM
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eightpondfarm
i'd paint and use my money elsewhere....like on countertops. i also maybe like the idea of removing and replacing the cabinet doors (do NOT throw away old doors!) with glass. if you want to be on-trend that's the direction to go. and no granite countertops....that's dated already.
0 Likes   December 22, 2013 at 6:28AM
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decoenthusiaste
A handy gal with some time and elbow grease might appreciate the results you can get with products from www.rustoleumtransformations.com.
1 Like   December 22, 2013 at 7:06AM
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decoratinglady5
I think you should stain them instead of going with white..a bit darker..
0 Likes   December 22, 2013 at 7:19AM
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Dawn Cook Design
If you are looking to sell or do a true kitchen update, I would get rid of the look of oak cabinets, the look is dated and everyday, people call me to replace or update. Yes, everyone wants white, but there are other cool finishes you can you. Oak is a nice hardwood, it accepts paint well, and has good longevity so the actual cabinet construction is worth keeping if you are wanting to not install new cabinets as well.
0 Likes   December 22, 2013 at 8:52AM
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diyher
mlosc, having someone do the spray painting IS very expensive. I've had people tell me over $5,000. I just bought a $410 including the $75 rebate of a Graco TrueCoat II Pro airless sprayer. I hand painted the styles and rails, took all the doors off and sprayed them outside on a nice non breezy day on wood horses. Took them inside on a same setup once it was ok to move them and let them dry 24 hours before sanding and doing a 2nd coat. You can do either 2 coats of primer by hand, or 1 coat if you are using a sprayer, because it seems to go on thicker. I did 2 coats of top coat, on some doors did a 3rd. No oak shows through. Still have to replace the rest of the hinges so we have all hidden Blum soft close. I bought the frame only on 2 of the cabinets and bought and installed the glass a week or so ago. [houzz=
]
1 Like   December 22, 2013 at 10:57AM
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diyher
[houzz=Kitchen updates 2012-2014 1] and the center island. A lot of this is still in progress and won't be done completely until probably end of next year. [houzz=Kitchen updates 2012-2014 2]
1 Like   December 22, 2013 at 11:00AM
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ohkimba68
What about staining them a very dark ebony to make them look like wenge? The stainless hardware you have would look great with the dark stain, too!
3 Likes   December 22, 2013 at 11:30AM
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Shakúff
I'm a bit torn as I do love the white (I agree with Joan - sand and prime is a must!) and white really brightens the kitchen up! The darker wood looks very nice too, especially with stainless steel appliances. I'd love to see the transformation!
0 Likes   December 22, 2013 at 12:39PM
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sunnydrew
I took out some of the raised panels and added frosted glass to my oak cabinets. (actually I paid someone to do it) I did not want to hassle with trying to paint them. I really like how they look. A nice change after 10 years.
0 Likes   December 22, 2013 at 12:48PM
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pheebers
Sunny, I love your countertop :)
0 Likes   December 22, 2013 at 1:07PM
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tjshah
Shannon loved the color in your kitchen. The side by side photo that chroma natrix posted sold me. Can you tell me the name of the color
0 Likes   December 22, 2013 at 1:11PM
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laurienordin
Hi Shannon could you please tell me the name of the blog? Thank you.
0 Likes   December 22, 2013 at 1:21PM
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lbartos
Are u updating the counter top? Definetly oak needs to go. White is safe....deep dark grayish black is another color I like for painting cabinets. Do they make the door style anymore? Consider doing another layer of cabinets separated by a thick piece of trim. If you can't fine the exact....maybe do glass inserts (which any glass company can make). Paint it all at the same time...will made it look dramatic. Puck lighting is another cabinet trick. Go with new handles.
0 Likes   December 22, 2013 at 1:23PM
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laurienordin
Here is a photo of our laundry room cupboards painted off white with Advance benjamin Moore. K729-1x paint color. A little less stark than white. I have included the caulking I used to fill in the space between the outside trim pieces and the face of the cupboards. Has made a huge difference to the look of the cupboards. I find it so easy to use compared to a caulking gun. Have fun with your project. Looking forward to seeing the finished product.
0 Likes   December 22, 2013 at 1:32PM
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laurienordin
Forgot to mention that these cupboards are also oak. You do see the grain but it looks good.
0 Likes   December 22, 2013 at 1:36PM
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Joan
The paint I used is Benjamin Moore Advance (not Aura as I mentioned in previous post) The colour is called Schoener. A teal colour. The Wagner Sprayer I bought at Home Depot for about $100 Can. It's designed for home use, but it did a great job! The most important thing with painting cabinets/furniture is to let them cure for about 2 weeks after painting to ensure they don't peel/chip.
2 Likes   December 22, 2013 at 2:16PM
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laurienordin
Joan, what a great idea to find a home sprayer. Had a quote of 2500 Canadian to professionally spray my kitchen cupboards. I paid over 400 at a spray paint place near my home for my laundry room cupboards. It was so awful that I did 2 more coats with a roller. I thought I would experiment with my laundry room cupboards before I tried my kitchen cupboards.
0 Likes   December 22, 2013 at 2:23PM
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Joan
I was lucky that I had a space in the basement to store/cure all the cabinet fronts for two weeks after painting them. I installed them about 6 months ago, and no chips yet. And the BM Advance paint goes on like butter! I used a roller with it on the pantry (not in this photo) as it was too heavy to move and it looks great as well.
1 Like   December 22, 2013 at 2:26PM
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bubbasgma
Thanks, Joan! I have an old Wagner sprayer that I used many, many years ago with BM exterior paint. Don't think that sprayer would work for interior work. I'll check out a new one at HD. Your kitchen looks great! Thanks, again.
0 Likes   December 22, 2013 at 6:51PM
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quatorze
White paint will reveal the grain and, unfortunately, will look like a quick fix, rather than a purposeful design statement. May I suggest a semi-sheer white glaze? It would give the look of pickled oak, lightening the wood without looking like you are trying to hide the wood or are ashamed of it. As for the interiors, leave them as is, paint would get marked up by use.
0 Likes   December 22, 2013 at 7:02PM
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bobbygnun
Dark is in and oak grain showing through looks great. Expresso . And increase the crown molding size or do layers of 1x trim as top detail. Bottom layer showing 2" and top outer layer showing. 3-3/4".
0 Likes   December 22, 2013 at 7:09PM
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