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Opinions on Material Selection for Painted Cabinets, Please

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Blog entry by PPK posted 06-29-2017 04:57 PM 3736 reads 1 time favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Backstory:
I’ve got a couple who wants some built-ins. They originally had me quote their work, decided to go with another cheaper contractor, ended up with a disaster, and now are turning to me to re-do it (the right way). They want white painted cabinets. I hatepainted cabinets… but the customer wants what they want. THey also don’t really like any grain showing through the paint.

So, my question is: what wood(s) should I use? In the past, I’ve used birch plywood, and poplar for the face frames & doors. This is economical, easy to work with, readily available in my part of the world, and paints well. However, I do know that Birch is a little bit open grained as compared to Maple or solid MDF panels or something.

Any recommendations on wood selection? On finish methods? I figured I’d spray on 2 coats of paint, and then top coat that with pre cat conversion lacquer. (Sherwin Williams)

-- Pete



19 comments so far

View edapp's profile

edapp

245 posts in 1757 days


#1 posted 06-29-2017 05:20 PM

I am about to do a similar project in my own home. The plan is to use MDF Panels with paint grade maple frames, though poplar should work equally well for this. Mine will just be a flat panel in a narrow door so i am using 1/4 MDF.

And I agree with you, would rather be using solid wood but you win some and you lose some…

View StumpyNubs's profile

StumpyNubs

7707 posts in 3128 days


#2 posted 06-29-2017 05:37 PM

Birch plywood paints very well. The grain won’t show through. If you are overly concerned about birch, as compared to maple, most Home Depot’s and other box stores sell maple plywood for the same price as birch. (If it’s not on the rack, order it.) MDF is less expensive, but if it’s in the budget, go with plywood. Use maple for the face frames if you can. Poplar will work, and is less expensive, but softer and more prone to dents and chips over time.

That’s my 2-cents.

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications: http://www.stumpynubs.com/

View DS's profile

DS

3112 posts in 2747 days


#3 posted 06-29-2017 05:44 PM

Any of those woods should work for what you want to do.

Just a thought… Whatever the wood you use, I would use a primer/sanding sealer (2 coats) and have Sherwin-Williams mix the pre-cat lacquer in your paint color. 1 coat and done.

I’ve had issues with SW pre-cat topcoat peeling off from painted under layers – even with proper surface prep.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

5898 posts in 3140 days


#4 posted 06-29-2017 05:52 PM

I sprayed some birch plywood with Miller Acrylic and it layed down flawlessly. Two or three coats, no primer needed.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View 000's profile

000

2859 posts in 1226 days


#5 posted 06-29-2017 05:56 PM

If your going to use pre-cat for the top coat then this is the bomb for the sealer
Sherwood Precat primmer surfacer (from Sherwin Williams)
https://www.paintdocs.com/docs/webPDF.jsp?SITEID=SWOEM&lang=E&doctype=PDS&prodno=E63W30
I spray a lot of pre cat and use this product exclusively for sealing. It sands to a powder and feels baby butt smooth. It is also the best filler for mdf end grain that I have used.
It will make for a completely compatible system,
(trust me you will be thanking me,) lol

View PPK's profile

PPK

1347 posts in 1137 days


#6 posted 06-29-2017 06:13 PM

I can get maple for reasonable price. Probably just go with maple paint grade ply and soft maple lumber.

DS,
My Sherwin Williams won’t mix color into the lacquer…. I just asked.

Jbay, I’ll have to give the primer a try – that’s my biggest beef, is when the end grain/any grain isn’t sealed and it makes the finish look goofy in spots. Can you clarify – what do you use after that? A paint, and then a clear lacqer top coat?

Thanks for the replies, all. Keep them coming – I need to do this right!

-- Pete

View DS's profile

DS

3112 posts in 2747 days


#7 posted 06-29-2017 06:29 PM

I just checked their website. They no longer offer pre-cat lacquer as a pigmented finish.
They have other pigmented products like KEM Aqua Enamel something… Maybe they will color one of those?

My preference is for ML Campbell products. Both clear and pigmented pre-cat lacquers are available.
Not sure if you have anything like that where you are. (Wurth, ADCO, to name a few vendors)

+1 to jbay. That primer will hide/fill your wood grain pretty well.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View 000's profile

000

2859 posts in 1226 days


#8 posted 06-29-2017 06:32 PM

”Can you clarify – what do you use after that?”

My SW will tint the lacquer, (normally only on lighter colors though.)
In fact, Today I just picked up a gallon of light brown called “sand dollar”.

For darker colors I use Vinyl paint and then topcoat with the clear precat lacquer.

View BurlyBob's profile

BurlyBob

6136 posts in 2593 days


#9 posted 06-29-2017 08:09 PM

A god friend with a cabinet shop is doing a lot of orders for painted cabinets. He’s using beech, mdf and spraying a white latex. The end results looks smooth as glass.

View PPK's profile

PPK

1347 posts in 1137 days


#10 posted 06-29-2017 08:39 PM

Well, this is frustrating. I’d really like to use precat lacquer, and I find white colored lacquer right on their (Sherwin William’s) website. I guess I’ll just have to stop on and talk to them. I’ve called around town to the different paint stores and nobody seems to know what I’m talking about.

Client wants white color.

-- Pete

View DS's profile

DS

3112 posts in 2747 days


#11 posted 06-29-2017 08:43 PM

This has never steered me wrong. Tinted to any custom color I need.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View 000's profile

000

2859 posts in 1226 days


#12 posted 06-29-2017 09:39 PM



This has never steered me wrong. Tinted to any custom color I need.

- DS


You won’t go wrong with this either, It’s a good product. Not sure about an undercoat for it though.
The primer surfacer I mentioned above should still be good, but I don’t like mixing brands if I can help it.

View DS's profile

DS

3112 posts in 2747 days


#13 posted 06-29-2017 11:36 PM

jbay: ML Campbell has a suitable matching primer. I agree – don’t mix brands if you can help it.

It sounds like Pete is having difficulty locating a suitable vendor in his neck of the woods, though.

I used to buy Sherwin Williams commercial products back in the early 2000’s, but it’s been more than a decade since the last time I used that brand.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View Madmark2's profile

Madmark2

444 posts in 915 days


#14 posted 06-30-2017 12:13 AM

Use maple or holly as white and clearcoat it. Make a test door & see if the cust likes it.
M

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

8623 posts in 2904 days


#15 posted 06-30-2017 01:42 AM

MDO paints up well.

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