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Maple Plywood Cabinet doors - how to finish & paint??



I've got all new maple plywood slab-front cabinet doors with maple edge banding to boot.  My questions are regarding how to prep the plywood panels for painting, in terms of sanding grit level and pre-conditioning prior to paint?   When it comes to painting, I've always imagined that spraying them would be the smoothest way to do so as the flat slab-front doors would not look good with brush or roll strokes.  What type of paint should I use and what type of sprayer should I use?  Do I need to finish with a sprayed coat of polyurethane or should I just use an eggshell or semi-gloss paint and be done?   Any pointers of where to go for additional research?  Thanks, in advance, for any guidance & advice.  Thank you.



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Posted 2012-06-18T17:59:14+0000  by Izmichael Izmichael

WOW Mike!


What a great project!


Your cabinets appear to be Maple veneer over a plywood base, with Maple veneer "banding."


Because you're working over plywood, which consists of layers of wood pressed and glued together, the first thing I want to do is warn against using water-based products directly on the wood. Water-based products may re-wet the adhesive between the layers and cause the "ply" to swell and break apart.


Other than that one caution, your opportunities are almost limitless!


Here is a post in which a member asked for help preparing stained wood cabinets for paint. Although you did not mention stain or clear coat on your cabinets, the same prep could be used to "seal" the cabinets with an oil primer and then use a water-based paint as your topcoat.


In another post, Cabinet Refinishing Doesn't Have To Be That Difficult, a member complained about cabinet refinishing being a "pain in the paint." In this thread, we discuss preparing her cabinets and then using oil-based paint to obtain a high-gloss or a semi-gloss factory finish ... in fewer steps.


If I were to recommend any one thread to read, it would be this one. It covers numerous steps in a project very similar to yours. This process also eliminates water-based paints or primers, and thus eliminates the problem I cautioned about in the second paragraph (above).


Finally, if you want to add a bit more flair, you might consider faux finishing your cabinets after you paint.




If you stick with oil-based products, you should have no difficultly spraying ... use a HVLP gun and compressor. Before beginning the full project, test your setting and spray technique on several sample pieces. Personally, I like the gravity-feed cup gun as opposed to the siphon gun ... gravity-feed makes setup easy while siphon guns requires adjusting airflow to properly pull the paint up from the container below the gun.


Since the oil-based products are durable, semi-gloss or high-gloss finishes, you will not need a polyurethane clear coat.


Oil-based paints are self-leveling ... after either spraying or brushing, leave the finish alone for at least six-hours and the surface will level into a perfectly smooth factory-like finish. If an imperfection is noticed on the surface, resist the urge to reach in and "fix" it. Once dry, use 220-grit sandpaper to smooth off the imperfection and then touch up the sanded spot.


Wood conditioner is most often used prior to staining softer woods. They help fill deep pockets in the grain to "even out" stain absorption, preventing darker and lighter spots in the finish. Since you're painting, you should not need a conditioner. Oil paints and/or primers will "fill and seal" the wood grain so the next coat builds upon the first.


If your cabinets require sanding, discard your high-speed sander and consider sanding by hand or with a mouse sander. Start with a 150-grit if the surface is slightly rough or a 220-grit if the surface is almost smooth. The best tester to determine if the surface is smooth or slightly rough is simply the palm of your hand. You will feel imperfections much more easily than you will see them. If you're not satisfied with the surface after 220-grit sandpaper, go progressively into higher number papers until the surface is smooth to your satisfaction.

Posted 2012-06-19T18:29:40+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL
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