musty smell in kitchen drawers/cupboards

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Old 07-24-16, 09:56 AM
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musty smell in kitchen drawers/cupboards

My house is 60+ years old. The cupboards and cabinets smell horrible inside: old and musty. I have tried cleaning them with TSP, etc. I am thinking about painting the interiors to see if I can block the odors. Would it be safe to use Kilz inside of cupboards/drawers? Are there other alternatives? Thanks.
 
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Old 07-24-16, 10:18 AM
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You'll need to make sure the TSP is well rinsed as leftover residue can hinder any primer's/paint's adhesion!

If the odor is in the wood applying a solvent based primer should seal that odor in. The primer would need to be top coated with finish paint.
 
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Old 07-25-16, 07:43 AM
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Thank you! Any recommendations on type of finish paint to best withstand daily wear of plates and glasses being moved about?
 
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Old 07-25-16, 07:56 AM
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Waterborne enamel but oil based enamel would be ok if you're using something other than white, as oil based paint tends to yellow a bit with time.
 
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Old 07-25-16, 08:01 AM
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Check the relative humidity (RH) inside the home to see if this is contributing to the problem. Often times outside RH is way too high for that air to be brought inside, where a cooler environment will actually raise the RH level.

Do you run air conditioning?

Just checked your location and WA anywhere near the coast is probably very humid.

Bud
 
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Old 07-25-16, 08:53 AM
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I'd also recommend an oil base enamel and not using white as most any color will stay cleaner looking. Old folks in the south always said if you painted the inside of the cabinets red that bugs would stay away ..... I never was convinced that was true.
 
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Old 07-25-16, 09:06 AM
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I'm about 62 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. No air conditioning. Average annual relative humidity is about 70%. The rooms in the house do not smell musty at all. Just the interiors of cupboards, cabinets and drawers. I think they are the originals built into the house in 1955.
 
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Old 07-25-16, 09:09 AM
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What kind of finish [if any] was originally applied to the interior of the cabinets?
 
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Old 07-25-16, 09:17 AM
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I'm not sure. The wood is dark (unpainted), but that could just be because of age.
 
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Old 07-25-16, 11:02 AM
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It would be shellac, paint or nothing at all. Sometimes you can clean up the shellac finish and apply a fresh coat of poly but it doesn't sound like that is much of an option ..... but you can see the cabinets, I'm just guessing off of what has already been stated.
 
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Old 07-26-16, 10:12 AM
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I don't think there was any finish applied. I'll go ahead with the Kilz and a cover of enamel paint. Maybe just start with a couple of drawers and see if I get the results I'm looking for. Thanks for all the good information.
 
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Old 07-26-16, 10:45 AM
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Figured I better mention that latex enamel is not a good choice as they are prone to blocking - where heavy objects that set on it for a while will stick and often peel the paint when removed. The cheaper latex enamels are the worst. There is no such worry with oil base or waterborne enamels once they've cured.
 
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Old 07-26-16, 01:29 PM
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Thank you! I didn't realize that latex was different than waterborne. What is the general cure time for waterborne?
 
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Old 07-26-16, 03:13 PM
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Waterborne cures pretty fast but I don't know the specs oil base enamel while it dries in a day takes 72 hrs to cure. Temp and humidity can alter the drying and curing time some.

An over simplification but waterborne coatings are a cross between oil base and latex and cleans up with water.
 
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Old 07-26-16, 05:47 PM
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I usually tear out old kitchens and replace the cabinets, not repair them. The exception is when a customer wants a new counter top only, the old cabinets must be saved.
When tearing out old cabinets or counters with a musty smell, my first thought is water damage.

If you have a tile counter top, especially with an old tiled-in undermount sink, I wouldn't be surprised to see significant water damage to the underlayment around the sink.
After many years of caulk failure and the water eating away at the wood, the smell can be worse than you might think and will saturate everything around it. Clear out everything from under the sink and inspect for any water damage. Inspect all plumbing connections and the counter deck where the sink sits.
Old growth wood can be smelly, but water damage would be my first guess.
 
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Old 06-21-18, 07:38 PM
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My question is....WHY do cabinets get musty? Do they necessarily have to be musty just because they're old? I'm dealing with the same thing myself.

Interestingly, all of the cabinets and drawers have that musty smell except the ones above the refrigerator.

We're going to Kilz and paint one as suggested here to see if that takes care of the odor problem.

Thanks in advance for any info you have on the cause.
 
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