What kind of primer/sealer do I need for mdf cupboards? and help with colours


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Old 09-03-14, 08:31 AM
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What kind of primer/sealer do I need for mdf cupboards? and help with colours

Hi folks. We want to do some work in my mom's kitchen soon. It's too far out of our budget to replace the cupboards but we all hate what's there. We're hoping to be able to give them an inexpensive facelift instead.

they doors are just mdf I think but with a nice bevelled edge and middle if you know what I mean. they have this ugly, tacky, cheap veneer heat-sealed to the fronts, and it's all starting to fall off. We're thinking of just taking the veneer off and painting the doors. But the wood seems very porous to me and not incredibly smooth, so I know they need to be sealed properly before painting or they'll just soak up the paint and look awful. I'm just not sure if primer is all we need or if we need something else?

For anyone good with colour, we're also a little torn about what colour to paint them. This is in a basement apartment so there's not a lot of natural light. Mom really wants to keep the kitchen light and bright as much as possible but doesn't want it to be all white. She's got a very light flooring to put down and she picked up these glass mosaic backsplash tiles, the lightest colour in them matches the flooring perfectly but it's not a true white. Her original idea was to do the top cupboards white and the bottom black or charcoal. Since the floor and backsplash aren't a true white she's worried now that white cupboards will make the rest look dingy. any suggestions?
 
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Old 09-03-14, 09:00 AM
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I've used B-I-N shellac-based white primer in the past to paint bare particle board cabinets and they came out smooth and hard like they were covered in melamine. You could have the store tint it to a near-white like eggshell or ecru and you might be satisfied without going further.
 
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Old 09-03-14, 09:16 AM
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I agree with using a pigmented shellac like Zinser's BIN for a primer but it needs a top coat or two of enamel! Oil base enamels dry to a harder film than latex enamels although there is a big difference between the quality latex enamels and their bargain basement cousin. Waterborne enamels generally give the best finish as they dry almost as hard as oil base but don't yellow.

I'd remove the cheap veneer, sand and apply the BIN, then sand again before applying the enamel.
 
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Old 09-03-14, 09:45 AM
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Primer doesn't have the durability to be a top coat - BIN is a good primer but enamel paint over the top is a better long term solution, as Mark said.
 
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Old 09-03-14, 12:18 PM
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Durability of shellac is somewhere between latex and enamel. It's tougher than you're giving it credit for and museums and homes are full of examples that have lasted hundreds of years. Would I use it on a picnic table or shed--nope. OK on interior cabinets.
 
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Old 09-03-14, 12:20 PM
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The thing is, all primers are softer than most top coats which means they won't wear all that well. With cabinets you need a coating that will resist dirt and clean up well, primers [including BIN] will do neither.
 
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Old 09-03-14, 12:37 PM
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We're not talking about shellac here, we're talking about shellac based primer.
 
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Old 09-03-14, 02:49 PM
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thanks for the replies. I was hoping it would be that easy (primer + enamel) but was worried about the texture causing issues. So I'm much relieved and excited to get at it (and yes we'll definitely sand first and between coats)
it seems like more often than not zinsser b-i-n is the answer lol
 
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Old 09-03-14, 02:56 PM
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Sounds like you haven't used B-I-N Pigmented Shellac by itself. Forget the marketing word "primer" in the name -- it's not like any other primer you've used.
This is not a paid endorsement :-)
 
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Old 09-03-14, 07:45 PM
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Wow I'm doing this exact same project. We have a kitchen full of yellowing thermofoil cabinets and I plan to heat gun all the thermofoil off and paint the underlying MDF. Thanks for the tip on using BIN shellac to prime it.

Do you have to give the surface a sanding before applying BIN shellac and in between coats?

What type of topcoat would you guys recommend? Would Ben Moore's ADVANCE paint work well?

Thanks!
 
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Old 09-04-14, 03:58 AM
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blau808 - you should always sand between coats of paint as it promotes good adhesion and helps to eliminate/reduce brush marks or any other defects in the finish. I only use BM coatings occasionally so I'm not very familiar with their coating line up

guy48065 - I've probably only applied a few gallons of BIN but I've applied a 100 gallons or more of pigmented shellac over the years. BIN is Zinnser's version of pigmented shellac. Pigmented shellacs are the ultimate adhesion and stain hiding primer but it is still a primer and needs a top coat!
 
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Old 09-04-14, 09:49 AM
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I used to use BM paints until I moved and SWP had the closer store. That said, Advance is not one of their products with which I'm familiar. In general, I would think it's fine as long as it's not a bottom of the line paint - if it's mid-grade or better I think it should work well for you.
 
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Old 09-09-14, 04:55 PM
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Ive run into an issue when trying to prime my post-thermafoil cabinets, mainly the sticky residue that the thermafoil left on the mdf, did you run into this issue? The primer will not adhere to it. Does anyone know if this residue can be removed? It seems pretty soaked into the wood
 
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Old 09-10-14, 03:39 AM
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What prep have you done and what primer are you using?
 
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Old 09-10-14, 01:41 PM
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I attempted to remove the sticky adhesive with denatured alcohol, but with limited results. It almost seems as if the adhesive has soaked into the mdf itself, not good news. Then I tried to cover it with a coat of BIN shellac. When I went to try and sand the shellac after drying, spots began to peel off because it did not form a good bond due to the adhesive residue.
 
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Old 09-10-14, 01:44 PM
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Ugh. When BIN doesn't stick, there's not much that will.

I'd look to some stronger removers, maybe mineral spirits next on the list.
 
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Old 09-10-14, 01:59 PM
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I'd try lacquer thinner or maybe MEK. It's hard to find a primer that will adhere better than pigmented shellac so it must be the fact that the adhesive residue is sticky.
 
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Old 09-12-14, 04:40 PM
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Update to my previous posts: The BIN Shellac did end up working, it just needed a much longer drying time than the 45 minutes it says on the pail. I let it dry for over 24 hours and when I came back to sand it I have a nice smooth finish for my topcoat. So thanks for the BIN suggestion!
 
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Old 09-13-14, 04:38 AM
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I suspect that the denatured alcohol hadn't evaporated enough and prevented the pigmented shellac from drying as quick as it normally does. Glad everything worked out
 
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Old 10-18-14, 02:01 PM
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we're finally underway on this project. the primer works great. I'm just wondering if there's anything I can do to reduce brush strokes in the final coat? I've sanded the primer and applied the first coat of enamel, plan on sanding and applying a second coat. this is for my mom's kitchen, she worked in a paint store for years and she's very particular when it comes to things like brush strokes. she can't do all this herself anymore though so we're surprising her with a kitchen makeover while she's away on vacation would hate to put in all this work (drywall, flooring, tiling, painting all in 10 days) and have her nitpick over little things like brush strokes =_=

the top cupboards are a very light (almost white) grey and bottom are a dark grey similar to slate. the paint we're using is CIL melamine/waterborne. I'm worried that brush strokes will be really noticeable in the dark grey

bonus points if you can tell me how to clean BIN off my brushes, grrr. denatured alcohol or ammonia are usually recommended apparently but hubby couldn't find either at home depot or lowes. I'm going to go see if i can find it but is there anything else that works that i might have on hand?
 
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Old 10-18-14, 02:44 PM
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I've always used denatured alcohol to clean up shellac based coatings. Our local lowes sells it in both qts and gallons. It would be on the same isle as all the other paint thinners and solvents. While I've always heard ammonia will also clean up shellac - I've never used it.

You can thin the paint a little so it will flow better and even out the brush marks. Adding Flood's Floetrol or XIM's extendz will slow down the drying time which also helps the paint to flow together better. Sanding between coats will further minimize brush marks.
 
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Old 10-18-14, 04:40 PM
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easy enough! I'll look for one of those products before I put on the second coat, thanks for the advice

I could have sworn I'd seen ammonia at Lowe's but hubby couldn't find it. he asked there and at home depot for either ammonia or the alcohol and was told at both that they don't carry anything like that. one staffer did tell him he could get the alcohol at a drug store, it might even be cheaper there anyways so we'll try that tomorrow. we just went ahead and got new brushes for the painting but I have a few more doors and the boxes to prime and don't want to ruin a brand new brush if I didn't have to
 
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Old 10-19-14, 03:28 AM
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Did he explain to the salesman that he wanted denatured alcohol? it's different than rubbing alcohol. I doubt a drug store would sell it. Ammonia should be available at most any grocery store.

here is a link that shows the denatured alcohol sold at my local lowes - http://www.lowes.com/pd_206566-34228...hol&facetInfo=
 
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Old 10-19-14, 05:45 AM
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thanks, i'll try looking for it again. they may have misunderstood him. staff are hit or miss at the lowes and home depot here, you maybe get one in three that actually know their stuff
 
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Old 10-19-14, 05:59 AM
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In the paint section of lowes you'll find shelves in one of the isles that has gallon and quart cans of paint thinner, lacquer thinner, MEK, denatured alcohol, etc. That is where you need to look. The salesperson in the paint section should be able to help.
 
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Old 10-19-14, 05:00 PM
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don't forget I'm in Canada so our locations won't necessarily be set up or stocked the same. also products aren't always called the same thing. did a search online for the denatured alcohol and apparently it's just sold as ethanol here. but when i looked on HD and Lowes websites they don't list either except as a fuel but it only comes in big cans. I went back to HD today and got some paint thinner though and found a product that should work since it's mostly alcohol. forget what it's called. the cashier said it was great stuff, I asked her about using it for cleaning up after shellac based primer and she said it'll work. fingers crossed that it does but not the end of the world if it doesn't. picked up a few more cheap paint brushes so I don't ruin any more good ones when I prime the boxes
 
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Old 10-20-14, 03:47 AM
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Denatured alcohol is the only thing I've ever used to clean up shellac, hopefully what you bought will work - let us know I detest cheap paint brushes but I have occasionally used an old brush in pigmented shellac and tossed it when done
 
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Old 10-21-14, 08:31 PM
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the product is called Goof Off, I suspect it would work but I think it would take so much of it and so much time that it's not worth it. I tried a little bit and it was loosening up some of the dried on primer. it got some of it out of the pail I use for cutting and small jobs but not all. wasn't willing to waste the whole container trying since I'll probably need it to get some of the paint splatters off the floor (dropsheet shifted on me lol)
I'm not finding much difference with the paint thinner but I do find that using a small roller and then light strokes with a brush gives me a nicer finish. we'll see tomorrow if it really makes a difference once everything's dry. these doors are a pain =_= in the time it's taken me to get all the doors and drawer fronts painted my husband has pulled off tiles, torn down drywall, put up new drywall, mudded, primed and painted it, put up new tiles. and i still need another coat on some of them
 
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Old 10-22-14, 04:00 AM
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Products like 'goof off' and 'oops' are formulated to remove dried latex paint. I've never used it on shellac but since denatured alcohol also dissolves latex - it may work.

Sometimes taking your fingernail to 'scrape' off the dried paint splatters is the best method. Wrapping a rag around the tip of a putty knife can also work.
 
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Old 10-22-14, 09:12 AM
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The only solvent appropriate for shellac is the same one it's blended with--denatured alcohol. The fact that regular paint and varnish thinners don't work on shellac is why it's still popular as a sealer--the solvents in the topcoats won't melt the shellac.
The can says ammonia or Fantastic can be used--in my experience it only makes a gooey mess and ends up costing way more than alcohol. Personally I always use throw-away brushes and rollers when applying BIN.

Didja know shellac is a bug secretion? Organic and natural--dry shellac flakes + alcohol is all there is in clear finish. Still popular with purists and in furniture restoration work, and as a sealer between incompatible modern finishes.
 
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Old 11-01-14, 02:40 PM
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we just ended up getting new brushes anyway. I haven't tackled the floor yet, need a new blade in our scraper. hopefully that plus the goof off will work on the splatters all over the ceramic tile in the laundry room. woops :P if not it's only the laundry room, no biggy.
speaking of ceramic tiles, we're now using the BIN to prime the ceramic wall tiles in the hall and stairwell leading into the kitchen. we weighed our options on how to deal with those fugly tiles and all agreed that for now we'll take the easy way out and just paint them. from what I've seen online the BIN will do the job. Mom's got her paint colours picked out. Meanwhile some of the cabinets and kickplates need a touch up, we're still working on grouting the backsplash, and need to paint the ceiling yet and then the flooring will be done. I'll try to remember to post a pic after everything's done but it might be a while. the countertop will also get a facelift at some point, probably just new veneer. but here's where we're at so far, I like the colours she picked
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here's the before pic with the pink-ish veneer on the cabinets, bleh
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Last edited by sandra03; 11-01-14 at 03:24 PM.
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Old 11-01-14, 03:33 PM
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Looks good

While I'm not crazy about painting tiles, the BIN will adhere about as good or better than anything else you could use. Since the tiles are on the wall in a non wet location the paint job should do ok.

btw - you usually paint the ceiling first
 
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Old 11-01-14, 04:10 PM
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yeah I know the ceiling should be done first. we're going to do it before the topcoat goes on the walls, but since hubby and I were working on the tiles and mom wanted to jump in and start some painting... she couldn't really do the ceiling without us getting in her way and vice versa. so primer went on first. it'll probably want 2 coats so by the time it's done and set the grout will be done and we can get the ceiling done. only reason we didn't do it before the tiling was that we wanted the tough/messy stuff done before she came back from her trip and just didn't have time to squeeze it in. plus we had piled everything from the kitchen and hallway into the livingroom and then realized that the ceiling continues through to the livingroom. once we start it we have to do the whole thing or it'll look crummy wherever we stop, so we'll have to be more strategic about where we put everything lol
 
 

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