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Roy S. Koki General Contracting, Inc.

This article was very helpful and I wish I had read it before naively trusting the vendor who sold me my cabinets.

I thought that if you bought cabinets that are painted, that the makers would automatically use the type of paint that would not chip or absorb water easily...my bad. I learned a major lesson when doing my own kitchen. Ask many questions to make sure you are not buying something that will be damaged within a few years.

In just a few years, less than 5, my paint started chipping and allowed water to swell the MDF doors and drawer faces. It will cost a lot to replace the doors as these were custom sizes and cannot simply be ordered out of a catalogue.

Paint is beautiful but be sure you get the right kind of paint and the right amount of coats to withstand water. In a busy kitchen, the cabinets will encounter a lot of splashing, not just from water but from cooking liquids as well.

Specify the type of paint you want on your cabinets and don't settle for less.


   
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detailaddict

@Roy S Koki...I believe MDF cabinets come coated with thermofoil rather than paint. Our last home had these cabinets, which we never upgraded after 18 years; and even though I did a lot of cooking/splattering the thermofoil never peeled. MDF is not generally considered high quality even though it can be economical, but yours still should have lasted more than 5 years. Did they come with a warranty? I doubt after-the-fact information is helpful but a lot of cabinetmakers seem to be pushing the MDF as "better" than solid wood, and customers find out the hard way that they aren't. I would find out if the manufacturer will help you, or otherwise find an entity (e.g., the BBB) to report it to.

   
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PRO
Davis Creative Painting, LLC

Custom cabinet makers should be using a combination of MDF and poplar. It's a great combination for the frames to be wood and panels MDF as the shrinkage is minimized with condition changes in your home. That being said the process I use when finishing painted cabinets for cabinet makers is one coat of BIN shellac primer, sand, then a coat of Zinsser Smart prime, sand, and 2 coats of high quality (Pittsburgh Manor Hall) paint. Then finish with 2 to three coats of clear Varathane.

   

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