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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi. Another new guy here. I've talked my wife into letting me build our bathroom vanity with a raised panel design, but she wants the cabinets painted rather than stained. So I have three basic questions.

1. What are the best woods to use for painting? I've used Poplar before and it seems to work well. Any others?

2. What kind of paint do I use? I prefer the cleanup of latex and since I have to paint it in my heated garage, I don't want to fill the house with the oil smell. But what kind of latex?

3. My plan is to put an oil modified water based polyurethane to finish after painting. Is this a good idea/bad idea?

Thanks for any help!
 

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Maple paints just as well as poplar and is almost as cheap. It's much harder, so it resists dents and dings (maybe) a little better. I've used both, and like both. Pick what's easiest to get/cheapest or whatever criteria matters. As for the paint, DO NOT use latex. A good acrylic (sometimes labeled latex acrylic) is just as easy to clean up, looks much nicer, and is more durable to clean up stuff. A particular brand might be Sherwin Williams Pro Classic. The polyurethane idea is a bad one, the paint will be plenty durable, and the poly is just introducing extra work/cost, and possibly yellowing of the coat. Be aware that painted projects are actually more work than stain/clear coat ones. The wood has to be perfect, any imperfections telegraph through the paint. You didn't mention what the material for the panels will be. If it's a man made material (like MDF) the machined edges will have to be sealed to be as smooth as the rest of the panel. Just my opinions.....
 
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1. I don't build cabinets, so I can't provide too much input here. Sorry.

2. Here I can be of help - I use to work at Sherwin-Williams. Firstly, I would only go to Sherwin as if you go your local hardware store they will just suggest you use their "paint and primer in one" product which is NOT formulated for this purpose. Secondly: What are you looking for in your finished product? If you want a smooooooth finish with no evidence of what kind of substrate was used, you may want to ask what primer product they suggest (been a while since I worked there and their products have likely changed some by now so I won't recommend a name for that one). It will likely be something formulate specifically to be easy to sand smooth to give a smooth top coat finish. Lastly, the product I can recommend by name is "Proclassic." Comes in water or oil formulas. It's been Sherwin's cabinet and trim paint for years and it's around $54/gal. The other option is their "water-based enamel" product (there is an oil version as well). These paints are made for this purpose because unlike wall paint, it will not remain tacky and soft. If you have ever put a glass down on a table someone painted with wall paint and it stuck to it - this won't do that.

As I said, you can get it in water, but I suggest using some Floetrol or similar product as it's fairly thick. Depending on the color you use, you may want satin or semi. I prefer semi-gloss for 2 reasons: 1) MUCH better durability, resists hand oils better, and easier to clean. 2) it actually applies better and smooths out better. Flatten agents increase the surface tension of the product (e.g. satin anything) so the higher the gloss, the less flatteners.

3. I would recommend against a clear top coat for 3 reasons: 1) The product is already made to be durable, more clear coats might be just extra work. 2) If something does get damaged or chipped, it will probably easier to repair/conceal with a little touch up paint. Otherwise you would need to sand a repair, accidentally sand through the paint/primer, try to touch that up without compromising the poly, dry time + cure time, then top coat, sand a little, and second top coat. 3) If you decide you want to change colors later, you can just paint over it or if you want to stain them later, paint strips easier generally. Oh and if you DO decide you simply MUST top coat the paint - look at minwax's "polycrylic" product. It's strictly water-based and from what I hear it goes on clear, unlike traditional poly which has that amber tone.

Hope that helps! Make sure to ask someone at Sherwin about if they suggest a specific primer for cabinets that will sand smooth, and about the Proclassic and/or water-based enamel (green label, generally out on the shelves not behind the counter).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks to both of you for the helpful information. I should have said that I prefer water based instead of using "Latex". I had actually looked up and found the Sherwin Pro-Classic online. Thanks for reaffirming that.

Fred, I know the wood has to be perfect. That's why I tried to talk her out of painting.

So I won't use a clear topcoat...unless she wants me to distress the paint. Then it's a different ballgame.
 
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