Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cabinet Painting Worst Case Scenario Survival Guide

Sometimes we need reminders from the universe to do things right the first time, instead of cutting corners. And occasionally, those reminders aren't fun. And maybe those reminders may trigger a panic attack as we imagine our cabinet doors still spread around our dining room floor when our kids graduate high school. This is all purely hypothetical, of course.

On Saturday I took my cabinet doors down, believing that the long weekend would help me get them taken care of quickly. I painted the fronts of them with some porch and floor paint that I had seen someone recommending for cabinets because of the self-leveling characteristics (it was oil based) and its super hard finish.

Problem #1: The porch and floor paint dried glossy. Crazy, crazy glossy. I still can't explain how I missed that on the paint can... I think school may be affecting my decision making abilities. Solution? Grab some clear satin spray and tone those babies down...

At first it looked like I was a brilliant problem solver... but then?

Problem #2: The clear spray made the white paint buckle and crack in places. I checked the temperature, I checked ingredients... the only explanation I can think of is that I didn't allow the oil-based paint to properly cure before applying another product on top of it, which made it go Britney-Spears-shaving-her-head crazy on me. I waited over 24 hours, people... I don't have time for high maintenance paint issues.

Problem #3: At the same time the crackling paint disaster of 2013 was happening, our contractor buddy came over to put a cabinet box above my range to mount the microwave to, and when he got here we realized the cabinet next to it was too deep for the microwave to open... so he had to rip out yet another cabinet, cut it in half and replace it before he was able to even get started.
Problem #3 1/2: This doesn't really pertain to the story, but it's a problem nonetheless. Take a look at my ridiculous cabinets:
Anyway, this was the point where I started to panic and thought I was having a heart attack for a good 30 minutes before I realized that I was just freaked out of my gourd. I knew I should have chosen my paint more carefully, so I started doing research to try to fix my mistake.

 (admit it, if your kitchen looked like that and you realized that you were going to have to repaint... you might have a panic attack too!)

While searching I discovered a really interesting newer product -- a water based (acrylic) oil (alkyd) paint. This is fancy stuff, y'all... it's non yellowing, lower VOC and cleans up with water... but it's self leveling and super hard like a traditional oil paint. It's pretty much the paint gods' gift to furniture, trim and cabinetry. Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore both make one, and so I decided to go pick up a gallon while I kicked myself for not doing it in the first place.

On Monday I bought my new fancy paint and started painting my cabinet frames, since I still couldn't look at my messed up doors without my eyeballs starting to twitch; I needed to make some actual progress before I would be emotionally ready to tackle those again!

Problem #4: After two coats on my cabinet frames, I looked at the paint can for the first time.


The paint guy gave me the wrong paint.  Aaaahhhhh!!! This was regular acrylic latex (albeit a bit fancier and harder because it's in their ProClassic line). The chipped stuff all over my cabinets was acrylic latex... I wasn't going down that road again, even if this paint was 10 times nicer than the stuff I had sprayed 3 years ago.

I called the store, they apologized and replaced the wrong paint with the stuff I had asked for:

And that's where I am now. I've decided to leave my frames as is, since the ProClassic Acrylic Latex I received in error is still harder and smoother than a traditional wall paint, and the frames receive less wear than the doors. Plus if I had to repaint the doors and the frames I might literally never paint another thing again.
So today I start painting the doors. Cross your fingers that the can doesn't spontaneously combust? At this point I wouldn't be surprised!

Moral of today's worst case scenario survival story: Cutting corners is not always a good thing! And, you know... maybe look at products salespeople hand you.

Update: See them painted!


  1. Totally feel for you!! We are getting ready to paint our cabinets so I'm really appreciating this post. Might check out the paint you suggested...wonder if it can be sprayed on?

  2. Awww - what a bummer. The downside of DIY, I guess. I really hope the new and improved paint works out for you.

  3. I always panic when painting cabinets so reading this made me panic for you! I hope everything finishes up beautifully and smoothly!

  4. I'm feeling very guilty because I saw the word "gloss" on the can on your previous post and I was wondering why you bought that.....but I thought you had something up your sleeve!! Sorry I didn't say anything! Just think how pretty it will all look when you're done! Focus on the finished product.....but I can't say I don't know how you feel!! Been there....done that.

  5. Oh my! Poor thing. How frustrating for you! I hope you are overjoyed with the end result making all of this worth it! And if that doesn't work there is always red wine ;)

  6. I've used Pro Classic before, but I think it's the acrylic latex. I love it. I hope the acrylic alkyd works well for you. SW should really make those cans a different color!

  7. At least you still have your sense of humor!!! ;) sending positive paint thoughts your way!

  8. Oh my goodness, and I already pretty much hate to paint so i would be definitely having an anxiety attack. Good luck with the rest of the project - looking forward to the beautiful end result!

  9. I just did the same thing! I have one coat of the Proclassic interior acrylic latex on my cabinets and I was about to head to the store to get another can to do a second coat. Should I just get another can of latex and hope for the best or do you think I should do the second coat in alkyd? Will it stick okay?

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