Notes on Painting Oak Cabinets

We often receive requests to quote the refinishing of oak kitchen cabinets to a solid pigmented finish such as white, off-white or mid tone colour.

Spray painting finished oak cabinet doors to white or lighter colours in general can be a real challenge. The presentation of the grain is always an issue.  We find that customers can sometimes not be happy with the results so we do not provide refinishing of oak cabinet doors as a commercial service.

oakwoodOak is a very porous type of wood – the gain has deep crevices that cannot be penetrated by the light spray finished created by spray painting equipment – what happens is that spray usually dries prior to seeping down into the gain.  On finishes done in white, lighter and mid tone colours the grain can appear darker and pimple like after the spray finish is applied.  When the boards are painted darker colours (darker browns and grays) the effect is not so dramatic.

Using a brush and roller is the best way to start painting a set of oak cabinet doors – especially if you are going to paint them white.    The brush and roller are the best methods to penetrate the deep crevices of the grain within the oak.  If you spray the primer it will dry on the surface before it makes into the grain – you’ll end-up with a pimpled finish. 

Grain Fillers:  You can apply products known as grain fillers but I have two general issues with grain fillers.

  1. cost – the time required to apply the gain filling material plus all the other costs of refinishing usually make the project cost prohibitive
  2. filling the grain and building a consistent presentation across 30 to 50 cupboard doors will also be a significant challenge and contribute to costs.

Here are few pictures of oak cabinets doors painted in white to highlight what I mean:

Photos of Oak Kitchen Cabinets Spray Painted White:

This picture is a larger presentation – some customers will say well that’s no so bad – honestly I don’t think this picture gives credit to just how bad it could look.

whitepaintedoak

Here is a close up picture of where the paint wasn’t able to seep down far enough into the grain.  These cabients where spray painted.

 

As an alternative:  if we use dark colours (not mid tones) a very nice visual presentation can be created.  The darker colour creates less contrast within the presentations of the grain.  A number of examples are provided below but typically we are talking about using a darker brown or a very dark gray.   Such as:

espresso

Ben Moore – Espresso Bean – CSP 30

2124-10

Ben Moore – Wrought Iron – 2124-10

2121-10-gray

Ben Moore – Grey – 2121-10

Oak Kitchen Finished in Grey:

Here are some photos we did of oak kitchen finished in gray – the colour is Steel Wool by Ben Moore.

Oak Cabinets Finished in Dark Brown (Espresso Bean):

Oak Kitchen Spray Painted Dark Grey – Wrought Iron

Oak Kitchen Spray Painted Dark Grey

Other articles on painting oak cabinet doors white: