Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

February, 2004

Painting Wood Kitchen Cabinets

Q. Someone mentioned to us that painting kitchen cabinets with automobile paint is much more durable and longer lasting. Is this true? And if so ...

1. How do I go about finding someone who is able to do this?

2. How do I get the paint?

3. If we were to do this on our own, what is the prep needed?

4. Any other suggestions?

Thank you so much.

A. An automotive finish would be great if you had metal cabinets, then the finish would be able to withstand severe weather conditions too.

However I will assume that we are speaking about wooden cabinets, and that these cabinet would be found in the home, and not out in the yard.

Yes, automotive finishes are very durable, yet can be very impractical for use on kitchen cabinets. I suggest that you look in to a conversion varnish (catalyzed varnish) or even a catalyzed lacquer product for the cabinets you wish to refinish. (You may even look in to a brushable polyurethane type coating)

These finishes are specifically designed for application on wood, and are widely used by kitchen cabinet makers from around the world. They have been designed to be very durable and long lasting in this type of application.

I recommend that you contact a quality "custom wood finisher" in your area to perform the work required to produce a high quality job. Be certain that whom ever you choose has had experience with these kinds of coatings, and that they have the proper equipment required necessary for spray application.

Painting contractors are not always experienced in this area of coatings application. This type of work is not recommended for the do it yourselfer as a first time project. To do the job correctly takes many hours of prep, and the knowledge and the ability to spray apply the coating materials.

If however you wish to do the work on your own, I highly recommend that you take a wood finishing or refinishing class that may be offered in your area to help give you some guidance.

Please be aware that coatings and solvents are chemicals and therefore you should always pay attention to proper handling procedures and be prepared to wear protective clothing, such as respirators, gloves, coveralls, etc. For further information on the health and safety requirements for the coatings and solvents you wish to use we strongly advised you to contact your local coating supplier. If possible, go the extra step and look for this information on the website of the product vendor.

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