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Troubleshooting - painting plywood cabinets

My husband and I started the great endeavor of painting our plywood cabinets. We have run into a couple issues and would like your advice...

1. Cracks are appearing - We used Sherwin Williams ProClassic paint which is a water-based paint. We have plywood cabinets and are now learning that water-based products can produce this effect. Now that we are three coats in, is there any fix besides starting over?

2. Ongoing patching - our cabinets are fairly old and it seems like after every coat there is still patching to be done. Is this normal? Is it ok?

3. Smooth finish - we are going for a "glass like" finish. And we are using a professional sprayer to apply the paint and sanding with 220 grit paper in between coats. But it still seems like we are having issues getting a completely smooth finish. We are light sanding in between coats, should we be using a orbital hand sander instead?

Thank you for your help.
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Posted 2015-04-23T02:07:21+0000  by schelly schelly
Hello schelly,

Painting your plywood cabinets really is a great endeavor!

And, water-based paints can produce outstanding results if you use this technique:

1) Sand the surface with 150-grit until smooth;
2) Fill any imperfections with Elmer's Wood Filler and allow to dry;
3) Sand in the direction of the wood grain with 220-grit until very smooth;
4) Prime with an oil-based primer, like Zinsser Cover Stain and allow to dry;
5) Blend eight-ounces of Floetrol into one-gallon of your water-based paint;
6) Using the best brush your budget will allow, smooth on the first coat of paint and allow to dry for six-hours;
7) Sand very lightly with 220-grit to remove any visible imperfections; and
8) Smooth on the final coat of paint and allow to dry for six-hours.

This technique should produce an outstanding final coat ... even over a surface like plywood.

When done, please take time to post photos and share your success with The Community.
Posted 2015-04-23T13:55:20+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL
There's a few versions of ProClassic - acrylic latex, acrylic alkyd, and oil.

I'm sure Ordjen will be chiming in soon but in the interim, what was the original finish of the cabinets and what steps did you take to prepare the surface for painting?  Did you use a primer?  If so which one.  I'm assuming these are kitchen cabinets?

When you say you have "ongoing patching" what exactly do you mean?  Typically surface imperfections would be filled, the filler allowed to dry, sanded smooth, primed, and then painted.  What are you using to patch?  How long before applying your patching material and painting?

How long are you waiting between coats of paint.

Any chance you can post some pictures?
Posted 2015-04-24T02:09:25+0000  by Adam444
 I am not totally knowledgeable about the Sherwin-Williams water based alkyd product. I will assume that it is similar to our Behr WB Alkyd Enamel. 

I will address the "cracking" problem: Alkyds dry  differently than acrylic / latex paints. Latex paints dry by coalescence, that is, the water evaporates and the remaining ingredients just bond together. Alkyds cure by  polymerization. The molecules are bonding together in a chemical reaction, a  process that takes several hours. Even though the surface looks like it is dry and no longer leveling out, internally the process is continuing. The import of this is that re-coat times should not be rushed. If the coats of paint are drying and shrinking at different rates, the coat layers may pull apart with cracks appearing. These cracks are somewhat random in appearance and are often referred to as "aligatoring". Re-coat times are normally around 8 hours, given a warm, non-humid environment.

OOne great advantage of alkyds over acrylics is that alkyds dry hard and can be sanded out smooth. Whereas acrylics merely gum up your sandpaper, alkyds dust up and allow a blemish to be feathered out.

As to preparation, Adam444 is correct. The majority of sanding and blemish filling is done before the priming begins. Once the primer blanks out the surface with an even color, some additional  minor blemishes may be seen. These can be filled, sanded and spot primed before the painting begins.

No additional sanding should be necessary between coats, unless dust or crud has gotten into the finish.

Are you sanding because of an "orange peel" finish is resulting? What type of spray equipment are you using? A traditional
air powered siphon gun would require the alkyd to be significantly thinned with water to give a finely atomized spray. Airless spray equipment with the proper tip could give a nice spray without thinning. Alkyds, when applied properly in a flowing coat, should provide a really fine finish with a minimum of care between coats.

Posted 2015-04-25T04:03:00+0000  by ordjen
Personally, I prefer oil paint for the durability.

It can be cleaned with standard household products.

Product comparisons have consistently ranked Behr paints as the best in a large field of competitors.

So, I would recommend Behr Oil-based Semi-Gloss.

Follow the step outlined below and add this oil-based coating after the primer.
Posted 2015-10-01T21:25:12+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL
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