Painting Metal Cabinets - Part 2

We've had such gorgeous fall weather this week. I should be out and about enjoying it more but I'm also trying to take advantage of these last warm days to do a few projects that involve sanding and spray painting. As a result I haven't gotten much further than my back yard this week. I'm also continuing to work on the kitchen cabinets. It seems to take FOREVER, with two coats of paint on each door, front and back, with about 24 hours of drying time in between. It doesn't help that I marred up the primer on one of the doors and had to sand it down and start over.

You can view my first post about painting cabinets by clicking over to Painting Metal Cabinets - Part 1.

I've learned a few things along my journey with this project. I'm passing them on to you in case you decide to tackle some metal kitchen cabinets or some other metal furniture, and I think the same tips could apply to many other paint projects too.

  • Use a high quality primer. I ran out of the Rustoleum I started with and only had one door left to go. I had a can of Valspar metal primer on hand and decided to use that rather buy a new can. I'm not saying that it's an inferior product. However it is different. It has a lot grittier texture than the Rustoleum, which went on nice and smooth. I suppose that may help with adhesion but I noticed after my first coat of paint that I could still feel the primer's texture underneath once the paint dried. Luckily that was the inside of the door. Before painting the front I used a very fine sanding pad to smooth it out first, followed by a tack cloth to remove any dust. I also think the Rustoleum did a better job of coverage. 
  • I decided to skip using a roller altogether. I was definitely not satisfied with how the paint went on or with the texture and lint it left behind. As mentioned in a previous post, after rolling it on I decided to go back and brush over it to get rid of that orange peel texture.
  • I added a bit of Flood Penetrol to the paint. I paid about $8.50 for a quart and used just a  
    tablespoon or so for about a cup of paint. It's an additive for oil based paints that helps smooth out brush and roller marks and extends the time you have to work with the paint before it starts getting tacky. It does make the paint a bit more runny and prone to drips so a little extra attention needs to be paid to that.
  • Try to work in as dust free an environment as possible. I thoroughly dusted and vacuumed the room I was going to be working in before starting my project. Keep vent covers in the room closed if you have forced air heat or AC. Same goes for windows. I have to work in my dining room. I do have some windows open in other rooms for air. I also avoid walking through the room to avoid stirring up any dust until the paint dries. Be sure to lightly sand between primer and paint coats and always use that tack cloth. 
  • I am using a Tiny Trim 2" angled brush. The Tiny Trim has a short handle, which I find to be much more manageable than a longer handled brush. I also like that the bristles hold a lot of paint and hold it well. I can do one pass, top to bottom,
    on a door without having to reload the brush. The brush is suitable for latex or oil paints. I tried a China bristle brush, which was recommended for the Satin Impervo oil paint, but I didn't like it. I didn't think it left quite as smooth a finish. It may just be my personal preference and that I'm used to the Tiny Trim. 
  • Let's face it. Cleaning up brushes after using oil based paints is a chore. I would recommend doing it outside if you can so your whole house doesn't end up stinking like mineral spirits. I know some people avoid it by wrapping their brushes and rollers in plastic wrap or ziploc bags between coats. I tried that and it didn't work out very well. I made sure the brush was sealed up tight but even so it seemed rather gummy the whole time I was using it afterwards. So back to cleaning after each use for me. I use mineral spirits and then warm water and dishsoap. It does a thorough job of getting all the paint out. I've used that brush in the photo many times and it still looks good and stays soft. 
  • I try to work fairly quickly when putting on the paint. I load my brush up well and then lay down the paint in a vertical strip the width of the brush, brushing from a dry area into wet, going back and evening it out so everything is covered and not too thick in any one place. Then I do another strip next to it. At this point I go back and very, very lightly drag my brush in one smooth straight stroke over the paint I've laid down, from top to bottom, before the paint starts to set up and get tacky. I don't really put much pressure on the brush. I find this leaves the fewest bristle marks. Always do this step in the same direction. In my case I'm brushing top to bottom. The first door I painted I didn't really pay attention to that. Sometimes I brushed up and sometimes down. Don't do that! It looked too stripey when I was done. Luckily it was the first coat so no harm done. 
  • Do a final check for drips or sags and resist the urge to go back and touch things up if it's not perfect. You'll probably just make a bigger mess of things. Remember to lightly sand between coats and use the tack cloth. I find the second coat goes on much easier and smoother. 
So that's about it. The finish won't be as smooth as a sprayed on finish but it's as close as you can get. With a little practice you should be able to get a fairly smooth look. The paint will take at least a week to cure before you'll want to start using your cabinets and it can take up to a month to fully cure. By then you should have a good, durable surface. Time will tell, but I'm really hoping all my careful prep work will pay off in the end.

My dining room workshop.
After the first coat. 

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