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Cabinet refinishing by the pros

To some, it's a 3-coat job

Q: A couple of weeks ago you wrote about your brother Bryan redoing his kitchen. You said he spent the better part of four days priming and painting the cabinets and painting the walls and the ceiling — all stark white.

My question is: Did Bryan try to fill in oak grain texture before priming and painting his cabinets? Are there any painting tips you could pass along? Did he finish in oil or latex? Did he glaze edges or just leave color as is?

A: Mom had three boys — "my three sons" she still calls us. Kevin’s the oldest, Bill’s the next and Bryan’s the baby — if you can call someone in his early 50s a baby. We all tackle home improvement projects differently.

Bryan wants to get it done fast. He sets a schedule, and come hell or high water the schedule is met, sometimes at the expense of some of the details. Bryan did not try to fill in the grain, opting instead for a paint-wipe look.

He did a three-coat job: a primer coat, a split coat and a finish coat. The finish coat is acrylic, a bit soft for a kitchen. He did the job with a brush, which is OK if the grain is going to show. He did not glaze the edges. All in all, the inspectors (Bill and Kevin) think the job looks pretty decent.

Bill, the artist among us, recently finished remodeling his kitchen. His home is also 1970s vintage, but the cabinets are painted and the surface is smooth. He decided to replace the door and drawer fronts for a new look. He replaced the old cabinet hinges with European-style hidden hinges. The flat door and drawer panels now sport a bead-board motif that fits right in with the soapstone countertops and chrome and contemporary glass appliances.

Bill’s cabinets are sprayed. This application produces a smooth finish. He used an acrylic epoxy as a finish. He considered using an oil-based finish for its durability, but oil-based finishes tend to yellow over time. …CONTINUED