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Cabinets, Furniture, Woodworks/Painting oak Merillat cabinets

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Question
We've researched this project and checked with several folks (Home Depot, Pittsburgh Paints, remodelers) but we're not getting consistent replies.  

Here's the basics:
Our home was built in 1986 and still has the original Merillat (oak)cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms.  Although they may have been shinier before, most of the sheen (veneer) has faded with age and wear.  We want to paint them white, but so far our experiments with an exra door haven't turned out so well.  Paint goes on gloppy and wood grain still comes through (note: primer + paint as one product was used).

I've read that a light coat of Durabond (applied, dried and sanded to a thin layer) will help hide the wood grain while providing a good painting surface.  What is your opinion?

Do you have any suggestions and/or ideas on how to approach this project?  We want to start with the bathrooms first, then - if successful - move to the more onerous kitchen cabinets.  We've had cabinet experts in and they want to charge $11K (which was reduced to $8K when I balked).  It's too much for us to pay either way, and we're looking for a better alternative.  

I can always add a photo (or detailed photos) if needed. Thanks.

Answer
Hi Len, Oak cabinets are notoriously grainy and deep pored...it takes a lot of work to minimize, let a lone make them disappear completely. A thin coat over the already open pores will not help, aggressive sanding down to the wood can be of more help, followed by one ore more primer/sealer coats, that may also be sanded back....but a more important issue is the quality and durability of a paint coat, after all that prep work. Todays factory finished cabinets can guarantee 25- lifetime durability on the finishes, due to the catalyzed finish technology and application techniques, and even a well prepped and applied paint finish will start to break down in as little as a few years. I would direct you towards the Rustoleum cabinet transformation system, as it is a multi layer system that's comprised of high tech, durable coatings designed to work together and produce a much more durable finish, yet still be handled by the typical DYI'er.There is a great video that explains all the steps, and gives a very realistic view of the work involved and how to achieve high quality results...very informative and well done, and many different finish choices. The cost is probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-3x that of a paint job, but durability, washability, and usable life could easily also be 2-3x that of paint.
rustoleumtransformatioms.com
I hope that helps a little, go and see the site, watch the video, and also understand you could ad a more aggressive sanding prep stage to further minimize the open grain if desired...post back if need be, I am a little slow replying as of late due to a new battle with cancer, I am undergoing treatment and the prognosis is good...but it is a battle none the less, so please, if my answer was in any way helpful,on your way out consider the tip jar as well....best regards-Greg

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Greg Scholl

Expertise

Questions on Woodworking, wood finishing and refinishing of all kinds, repairing furniture and wooden objects, Architectural details, Woodturning, carving, tool usage, product usage, some chemistry as it applies to woodworking and related interests,cabinet making and furniture construction/design, etc. I have experience with all manners of colorants, finishes, paints, stains, dyes, glazes, and coatings, wood species recognition and usage,tool recommendations, blade types and recommendation,techniques and methods for many Woodworking related issues, etc.

Experience

Fine furniture restorer and cabinet maker for over 30 years,serving high end Antique dealers, Interior designers, Collectors in the CT area. Consulting for area Painting/Decorating and Building contractors on non painting issues..(staining, wood prep.,clear finishing, floor restoration and architectural detail restoration and repair, etc.) Sold, built, serviced, setup Home, Industrial, and Commercial stationary woodworking tools for a major tool retailer in CT. for three years, sold hand and power tools , provided knowledge, parts replacement, service, and on site service, Trade show Demo, and training as well.

Publications
Published in Fine Woodworking Magazine (12/97), included on Fine Woodworkings first "Best of Fine Woodworking" CD-ROM (2002) ...("27 year compilation of expert know-how")

Education/Credentials
Art School at Silvermine Guild in Norwalk, CT., 9 year apprenticeship in a European run Cabinet and Restoration shop in CT., various classes on subjects having to do with the field. Seminars from major Tool manufacturers, Skil/Bosch, Delta, Powermatic, Ritter, Porter cable, Milwaukee, Dewalt/B&Decker, Performax.

Past/Present Clients
Many varied clients including work on Martha Stewarts' Westport, CT. show house, many fine Antique dealers and private collectors in and around Fairfield County and in Woodbury, CT. (the Antiques capital of CT.), Golden Age of Trucking Museum,Consulting for area Painting/Decorating and Building contractors on non painting issues..(staining, wood prep.,clear finishing, floor restoration and architectural detail restoration and repair, etc.), local Museums and Historical Societies. For the last two years I have been employed with Schwenke Auctioneers Inc.- Woodbury Auction LLC., as a staff photographer,IT tech,and doing restoration and repair work as well.

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