Painting Wooden Kitchen Cabinets & Cupboards that have previously been Varnished
1. Using a cotton cloth, clean the surfaces that you want to paint with methylated spirits. Make sure you wear protective gloves such as washing up gloves. You want to remove as much grease as possible so that t does not clog up the sandpaper.
2. Thoroughly rub down the varnished surfaces with a fine sandpaper (either p120 or P180 grade). Dust off the surfaces with a brush. (Be sure to wear a dust mask while carrying out any sanding – preferably a P3 grade dustmask). The aim is not to completely remove the old varnish but to provide a ‘key’ for the primer to adhere to.
3. Rub down the surfaces a second time, but this time wet the surfaces and use wet and dry sandpaper (use either p180 or p280 grade). This method is know as ‘wet flatting’ and it help to remove most of the sheen from the varnish.
4. Dust off the surfaces and then clean again with methylated spirits.
5. If there are any knots present then I would recommend dabbing some knotting solution over them in order to prevent any stains from bleeding through the paint. You can see an example of this kind of stain in my guide to painting bare wood (see the link above).
6. Now you are ready to apply your first coat of paint. Ideally you want to use an adhesion primer, and I’d recommend using Zinsser BIN. It’s shellac based so it will help to hide any stains that could be produced by knots or resinous areas, it can be applied to glossy surfaces and you can paint over it with either water-based or oil-based paint. It also dries very quickly so can be painted approximately an hour later. I’d recommend applying two coats of Zinsser BIN.
7. After the primer has dried you can apply whatever type of paint you like. But make sure that it is a washable finish like eggshell, satin or gloss. You can use either a water-based or oil-based finish.
Follow the same steps as above, but leave out the Step 2 and when following Step 3 use a scourer or Scotchbrite pad to rub down. Remember that it’s really important to wear a facemark when rubbing down any surfaces.
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