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Wooden cabinet restoration

Hey everyone. I've undertaken a project to paint kitchen and bathroom cabinets in the house. Some will be bare wood, others will already be painted and most likely will not intend on removing any paint that's still adhering well. The doors will be sprayed outside, the frames inside the house ( I will mask off the whole room).

I've quite a bit of research and it seems like a pigmented lacquer is a viable option. It lays down easy and dries fast. I was hoping to get some feedback from those more knowledgeable on this board about using lacquer. Hasn't lacquer been around a long time? Are there better/newer alternatives out there? Maybe it's still a good candidate from a cost perspective (haven't priced it yet). Also, would epoxy primer still be a good primer choice before applying the lacquer. Can i apply the epoxy primer right to bare wood, or latex paint. If epoxy isn't a good options, can you recommend something else? Complete newb here as you can see looking for a any sort of brain dump. Thanks
ok, #1 you need to identify the paint that is already on the cabinets. has someone painted them before with something like latex or is it a original factory coating. if its latex you need to get that crap off. once everything prepped it can be primed and painted. lacquer is ok but it has no real durability. if it gets wet for any length of time it will ruin it. if i was doing it, i would get spi intercoat clear, spray any parts with bare wood. just one coat is fine. dries in about 10-15 min. lightly sand with 320 and then paint with a conversion varnish. its available in clear or mixed to any color want. dry in about 30 min. useable in a few hrs but would wait overnight. no primer is really necessary but you can substitute the intercoat for a conversion primer as well. there is no need to use automotive for any of this unless you want to spend way more money. i use valspar for all my wood finish stuff. you have to find a professional paint supplier to get professional wood finishes. no box stores or you local mab will have this kind of stuff. valguard is valspar's conversion varnish.
Hey Jim. Thanks for the info. Did a bunch of googling and it's obvious you know your stuff. I have a concern about conversion varnish though. I've heard it's not terribly easy to spray like lacquer is. True? Also, if I have to do touch ups in the future, would one over the other be better? I found a Sherwin Williams commercial store in the area, but having a hard time finding anything else. Would it be wise to find someone locally that carries Valspar?

Also, what would you use to shoot conversion varnish?

conversion varnish is about the easiest thing in the world to spray. it will make someone that never touched a spraygun look like a pro. most companies conversion varnishes are all very similar. if you find shermin has it then im sure thats fine. i am just used to the valspar system. as far as reparability, since lacquer is terrible for durability, you are sure to have to do repairs on that. conv varnish you could wipe down with acetone and it wont touch it. repair it same as if you were doing a repair with an automotive finish.
exactly the same stuff as automotive. i use my 1.4 sata 3000rp for clear or opaque varnish. conversion primer is mega thick so that needs to be shot through my polyprimer gun with a 2.5 or reduced and shot with a 1.9.
Thanks for the help Jim! I think i'm sold on the conversion varnish. I was reading your thread on intercoat and wood. I'm still a little bit confused on the primer. Why intercoat over epoxy for primer? cost? I thought epoxy sanded down pretty good too? I sprayed a stool in the shop w/ epoxy and it appeared to have adhered great.

Some of the cabinets I'm re-finishing are absolutely awful. Oak, stained, clear coat of some sort, then probably 4-6 coats of latex paint over the top. I'm borrowing an IR light stripper, i'm going to try and remove most of which and then sand down to bare wood. At that point I'll still have oak cabinets to deal with. I'm trying to get to a color painted finish that doesn't show the grain. Looks like you still recommend to use some sort of spreadable filler instead of epoxy or 2k, etc? Assuming this is again mostly because of cost.

I also have some cabinets that were painted white. I honestly don't know if they used some sort of acrylic enamel or acrylic latex or what. It appears pretty thin and has adhered well. If i choose to not go through the extra effort of sanding down to bare wood, would one primer over the other be recommend (cost not an option) to attempt to seal in the existing paint and provide a good base for the conversion varnish?

i use intercoat when im doing a clear or tinted/stain finish. i use it as a sanding sealer as well as a binder for adding tints and dyes to. just spray one coat, let dry 10 min and knock off the raised grain with some 320 and your ready for topcoat. epoxy will work with wood as well as 2k urethane or conversion primer which would be available in the same line as the conversion varnish you choose. i would only bother with epoxy if the wood was going outside. inside cabinets its prob a waste and its just going to slow you down. 2k urethane and conv primer are going to be the fastest. conv primer will be cheaper than 2k. if you have latex and a bunch of other unknown bits of finish left on the wood then i would say conv primer would prob be your best bet since the solvents are maybe a little less harsh and will have a better chance of not wrinkling that stuff up. if the cabinet wood is something really grainy like oak then filling that grain is a pia and you should prob use a spreadable grain filler. you could use an automotive glaze if you want or you can get grain filler right from home depot. your choice. i personally try to not build up a finish to where you cant see any grain when i paint an opaque color. in the end the wood looks like a piece of plastic and not wood. just my 2 cents but i realize old finishes on the cabinets may make that hard.
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I typed in some info when you first posted & I guess forgot to hit post. Some was info direct from Jim anyways.
Lacquer can be more forgiving than some products for recoating unknown surfaces & sprays easy, but durability (or lack of ) is fine for crown molding or furniture not likely to be abused, but not the greatest for cabinets.
Some cabinets may previously have lacquer finish on them. A brush & a large pan of lacquer thinner can sometimes be the best way to strip a lacquer finished product. If it softens with lacquer thinner on a rag, it may be lacquer. Dad's easy spray is one of the easiest & least nasty to handle strippers I've ever used. Sprays on with a hand spray bottle & then thickens up. Haven't used in years, but found locally at some ace hardware & wal mart stores.
The original finish will still be in the oak grain unless you heavily sand & will take out the heaviest grain as opposed to new wood. I agree with Jim that you want some grain to show. May have to prime & sand uncoated parts a little more than old parts to get a similar enough grain amount left showing.
One word of caution to the amature with conversion varnish is the butyl acetate solvents are much harsher than more conventional consumer finishes & requires better ventilation & mask. It is tough stuff when dry & like automotive paint just needs enough sanding/ scuffing to get a mechanical bite if later recoating.
x2 on that. i forgot to mention the fumes. same rules apply as with automotive paint. once the cabinets are done, let them sit out of the house somewhere for a few days or more otherwise you'll stink up the house.
i have never really looked to see if the conv var is for floor use. i somehow doubt it but maybe. i have never looked because i dont really like the coatings that build up and go on a floor. for floors i like a oil finish. rubiomonocoat, waterlox, bona
Conversion varnish isn't for floor use. All your typical oil/ urethane/ fast dry urethane stuff rated for floors is all fine & pretty tough against spills. Have yet to try any of the waterbourne stuff.
Thank you. I've always seen the urethanes on floors. I've never really thought of an oil finish like Jim mentioned. Kinda interesting I'll have to research both more before I finally decide what to do. I do like how the oil finish would hide scratches better but it is a little more frequent maintenance.
Conversion varnish is what most mfg's use for prefinished flooring.
There is nothing tougher or better, urethanes don't even come close.
Just like cars-a 1K product like wood urethane can't compete against a 2K product like conversion varnish.
I spray it on all my cabinet jobs. It's tough.
(I've even wiped it off with lacquer thinner without hurting it)
No comparison.
oil finishes for floors have been getting more and more popular. your floor will look like a wood floor. when you touch it it will feel like wood not a plastic coating over it. waterlox is what i have on my floor in my own house. that one is kind of an in between finish. its a tung oil finish but it does have a resin in it so it will seal the wood and build up a layer on top. my floor was finished 12 years ago and i havent done anything with it since. nice thing is if you get scratches with an oil finish you simply wipe some more right over it. other coatings you will always see the color difference in a repair.
Some brand of conversion varnish I used years ago did say not recommended for floors on it. Their reasoning could be because of adhesion issues with certain types of wood where the wood itself moves too much, causing the issue.
Just used SPI matte on some red oak doors that had a huge amount of airspaces in the wood & mull covers for the frames made a much larger white spot where installers shot nails in them than I,ve ever seen before. I blame it on the substrate material, not the finish.
what i had thought about cv on floors is that cv need to be kept thin. under 4mils so typically it would wear through easily. polys and others build up much thicker. thats just the first thing that came to mind. i have zero proof to support that...just sayin lol.