Advice needed on painting kitchen cabinets

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Old 03-16-15, 04:38 PM
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Advice needed on painting kitchen cabinets

I'm an avid do-it-yourselfer and have been coming to this site for accurate and helpful information for over 5 years and I'm back for some more.

Specifically, I'm looking for advice regarding painting kitchen cabinets. I've searched the archives regarding the subject and found much of what I'm looking for (particularly in the recent thread started on 2/25/15 by Nevra) but have a few basic questions not already found.

First, let me try to provide a summary of what I wish to do.

My Daughter and her husband just bought a first house that has the original solid wood birch cabinets with a natural finish that are in very good condition. Since there are a limited number of cabinets but room for more they purchased some new wood cabinets finished in a dark merlot color (with virtually no wood grain showing) and satin finish to install in the available space to expand available storage. Their plan is to ultimately replace all the existing cabinets to match the new ones.

Since I'm retired and pretty handy my thought is for me to remove and repaint the existing cabinets to match the color and sheen of the new ones as closely as possible doing a section of cabinets at a time. I live close enough that I could remove the cabinets, bring them to my home shop and do the work here and when done bring them back and reinstall them.

I'm seriously considering this approach because:

- Existing Cabinets are in excellent shape with nicely finished birch interiors that I would leave as is
- The new cabinets, unless you look very close, have no obvious grain so the paint on the existing cabinets would really only need to match the color and sheen of the new cabinets
- Although the style of the new and existing cabinets would be different, matching the color and having uniform countertops and hardware would go a long way in tying things together and the overall appearance of the kitchen
- Would add value without the high cost of new cabinets
- I have the time and space at home to do the work

Here are the questions I have:

1. Does my idea and plan make sense?

2. I'm willing and able to use the best products for completing the cabinet painting but want a finish without brush marks or a orange-peel surface.

Can I achieve this without spraying?

I have a large air compressor but only have a automotive pressurized bottom feed spray gun. I'm willing to purchase a reasonably priced HVLP conversion gun or turbine system if that's what it will take to achieve the finish I'm looking for.

I need some expert input on my plan, thoughts and the questions I raised before proceeding with a few more questions or actually starting any work on the cabinets.

I would appreciate your comments, suggestions or questions.

Thank you
 
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Old 03-16-15, 04:41 PM
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I'm not sure I'm getting the idea - you want to strip the new cabinets and then paint them with a color that closely matches the existing birch cabinets?
 
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Old 03-16-15, 04:46 PM
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How fine is the tip on your cup gun? It should be able to spray thinned down oil base enamel although the ones with the real fine tip would be a lot slower than one with a bigger tip. I have several pressure cup guns including a few HVLP conversion guns that run off of an air compressor. I don't like the way any air powered spray gun sprays latex coatings.

That said, a decent job can be done with a brush. Thinning the coating appropriately, using a good brush and decent brushing skills will give a decent finish. Sanding between coats helps to eliminate or reduce any brush marks.

Mitch, I think you have it backwards
 
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Old 03-16-15, 04:49 PM
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Yeah, thanks Mark - I can see that now.
 
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Old 03-16-15, 05:09 PM
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How fine is the tip on your cup gun?
It has been a while since I used the gun so I'll have to check to see what size the tip is.

Mark, if I go forward with this, I definitely would not use latex coatings. In another thread on painting cabinets I believe you mentioned your preference is either oil enamel or waterborne enamel. Is that correct? If so, how finicky is waterborne enamel to spray?
 
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Old 03-17-15, 04:28 AM
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Oil base enamels dry to the hardest film which means they also wear the best, waterborne enamels are a close second. While I've sprayed a lot of waterborne with an airless, I've never sprayed any with a cup gun. I suspect it would have some of the same issues as latex when sprayed with an air powered gun.

The nice things about waterborne are the whites don't yellow, it dries fast and less odor. Since you'll be using a dark color the yellowing won't be an issue. With what you have to work with, I'd use oil base. You can add japan drier to speed the drying process up some but you have to make sure you don't add too much or it will suck the gloss out of the enamel!

I wouldn't know the tip sizes of any of my cup guns either without looking but I have multiple guns and I know which ones put out a finer [but slower] spray and which ones apply paint faster. The only downside to using a fine tip on cabinets is it will take longer and you might have to thin the coating a little more to get it to atomize properly.
 
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Old 03-17-15, 09:45 AM
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I guess I'm rethinking using my cup gun to spray the cabinets.

Instead, I'm wondering whether the lower priced electric Wagoner and Graco handheld or smaller airless sprayers in the $200-$300 range might make more sense?

There are a number of models that have very good ratings but because I have no experience with them, I'm wondering whether they would be a good choice for spraying the cabinets in either oil enamel or waterbourne enamel?

Anyone have any experience with them or have an opinion on whether they would produce a nice smooth finish? And if they are reliable?
 
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Old 03-17-15, 10:23 AM
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The only Graco handheld airless I ever used was over 30 yrs ago. It sprayed well but was heavy and noisy. I don't know a lot about the Wagner airless guns other than they are homeowner quality although some have a fan tip [preferred] and others shoot the paint out in a round pattern [poor control]

IMO the only advantage to spraying oil base on cabinets with an airless is speed. An airless is better if you are spraying latex or waterborne. Laying down a smooth finish when spraying is more about having the right tip, technique and proper thinning when needed.
 
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Old 03-17-15, 02:59 PM
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Since I have the time and there are not a lot of cabinets to paint, speed is not a big concern for me.

My objective is to obtain the best quality finish using the most user friendly tools or equipment at a reasonable cost.

Mark, do you think I would be better off spraying oil enamel trying to use my cup gun verses investing in a well rated modern Graco or Wagner handheld or smaller airless sprayer?
 
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Old 03-17-15, 03:37 PM
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You'll probably have better control with your cup gun [that you are used to] spraying an oil base coating than you would using an airless [assuming you don't have experience with them] An airless will spray a thicker coating [generally no thinning of oil base paint] and puts it out a lot faster .... may take a learning curve.
 
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Old 03-17-15, 05:56 PM
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My experience so far with the Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo has been that it levels extremely well. Even if rolled on it smooths out; I am using the Benjamin Moore recommended 1/4" rollers. I sanded the finish (100 grit and 80 grit) then used Zinsser BIN. There's no color bleed through, but even with two coats of BM Impervo you can tell it's wood. The grain itself isn't showing per se, but you know its not 100% smooth surface like melamine.
 
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Old 03-18-15, 05:42 AM
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Between fillers, primer and paint along with a LOT of sanding - you can get an ultra slick finish that resembles metal or melamine. Generally it's not worth the effort Oil base enamels do a suburb job of leveling especially when the correct brush and technique is used.
 
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Old 03-18-15, 07:59 AM
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I plan on changing the door pulls and hinges on the old cabinets. Would using Minwax's High Performance Wood Filler be a good product to use to fill in the existing holes before painting? If not, what would be recommended?
 
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Old 03-18-15, 08:30 AM
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I don't think I've used that particular filler but it should do fine. I normally just use painter's putty and when that doesn't make a seamless fill I'll add a little joint compound [spackling will also work] over the dried putty and sand off the excess when dry.
 
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Old 03-18-15, 08:37 AM
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If you're painting, you have all kinds of options for fill including bondo.
 
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Old 03-18-15, 11:15 AM
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Actually, Minwax High Performance Wood Filler is very much like bondo where you add a cream hardener when you mix it and it dries fast, very hard and sands perfectly smooth.

It's probably automotive bondo packaged in small cans and priced 10-20 times higher. I've used it a lot and it works very well.
 
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Old 05-26-15, 12:48 PM
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I'm still trying to decide which way to try and closely match the merlot/bordeaux color of the new kitchen cabinets on the old existing cabinets which brings me back with a few more questions.

I've been working with a long standing local BM dealer whose advice is to blend two Zar oil based stains to get the color as close as possible and then after cleaning the old cabinets, lightly sanding them then apply the stain. They said paint cannot be mixed to look like the color I'm after. So, I've been experimenting with Zar's Dark Mahogany and their Merlot stains.

Although Zar's instructions for applying their stain over painted or previously stained wood states to apply with a lint free cloth, the BM dealer says to use a 4 1/2" wide roller with a 1/4" mohair roller cover for the larger areas and a good brush for the others.

Can anyone with experience staining over previously painted or stained surfaces comment on this approach.
 
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Old 05-26-15, 01:39 PM
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I'm a little comfused, I thought you were painting the cabinets ??

It's fairly common to intermix different color stains to get the desired color but I don't know about applying stain over wood that has been sealed. Stain is formulated to be applied to bare wood! It dries more by absorption than chemically. Often when too much stain is applied [failure to remove excess] or it's applied over sealed wood it fails to dry completely.

I've used 9" 1/4" mohair roller covers to roll varnish before but never have used a roller for stain, I have used the lambswool pads to apply stain.
 
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Old 05-26-15, 02:00 PM
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I'm a little comfused, I thought you were painting the cabinets ??
That was my plan until I was told by both the local BM and SW dealers that they couldn't match the Merlot/Bordeaux color of the new cabinets.

I even had a professional painter stop over to give me an estimate to paint the existing cabinets to closely match the new ones and they said they couldn't do it and weren't interested in trying.

In all honesty, I'd rather paint them than deal with stain.

Are the BM and SW dealers correct that the merlot/Bordeaux color can't be made by mixing?
 
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Old 05-26-15, 02:37 PM
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Did they say why they can't match the color? What kind of finish does the merlot/bordeaux cabinets have? Is it paint or a colored poly type finish?
 
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Old 05-26-15, 04:49 PM
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Did they say why they can't match the color?
They did not specify why they couldn't. Though the owner of the BM store did say the computer would not be able to read the color of the sample I brought with me correctly. These are probably the two best paint stores in Central New York so I assume they know what they are doing.

Is it paint or a colored poly type finish?
It's stain with a satin poly finish.

I told them I realize it will not be a perfect match and that I'm just looking for it to be close. Especially since the new cabinets and existing cabinets are not next to each other.

I really need some suggestions and ideas.

Thanks
 
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Old 05-27-15, 04:10 AM
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You might be able to mix an oil base poly with an oil base paint and get close to the correct finish, it would probably take some trial and error to get it right. Most anything can be matched [or close] although sometimes it may not be worth the effort. The paint store's computer match wouldn't work because it's not a solid color.

If you post a pic of both cabinets we can better understand what you have to deal with.
 
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Old 05-27-15, 03:40 PM
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I'm planning to go to my daughters house tomorrow and will take pictures of both the new and old cabinets and will then post them on this site for you to see.
 
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Old 05-28-15, 02:44 PM
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Here are some photos I took today of the new kitchen cabinets and the existing kitchen cabinets so you can see the colors I'm dealing with. The first photo is some of the new cabinets in a merlot/Bordeaux color and the second photo the existing birch cabinets in a natural finish.

As stated previously, the existing cabinets are solid birch and in good shape so I'd like to paint or stain them in a color close to the new ones but I'm obviously having trouble zeroing in on a product, color and stepped approach to accomplishing this. Again, I'm not looking for a perfect match, just something close since the new and old are not next to each other.

Any suggestions or ideas are welcome.

Thank you
 
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Old 05-28-15, 03:41 PM
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It won't be easy but you should be able to get a close match. You'll need to tint the poly/varnish to get that look. You'll need to experiment with the colors you need to tint the poly. It will take multiple coats. If you don't have any sealed scrap birch to test on you could use the back side of the doors. You might could use Polyshades to get the desired color although I'd personally would tint the poly [a little heavier than minwax does] to make it go faster. I wouldn't try this with a brush, a spray gun would give better control of the color.
 
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Old 05-28-15, 04:46 PM
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marksr,

Interesting approach and obviously one I'm not familiar with so I need some additional information.

Here are a few questions that immediately come to mind:

1. What poly do you suggest or can it be any quality brand oil based in a satin sheen?

2. What product/brand do I use for tinting the poly?

3. I can and will remove the upper cabinets and all doors and drawers for refinishing and can spray them but two lower cabinet face frames and sides will have to be done in place in the kitchen and probably cannot be sprayed.

So can those areas be brushed on or wiped on? Or will the type of poly determine that?

If you don't have any sealed scrap birch to test on you could use the back side of the doors
Actually, what I've been doing to experiment is sanding and putting 2-3 coats of satin oil based poly on AC grade plywood scraps to simulate a close representation of the existing cabinet doors. This seems to work pretty well.
 
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Old 05-29-15, 04:04 AM
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Most any oil base poly or varnish can be tinted with most oil base paints. Minwax Polyshades is a poly that is already tinted. The only downside to using PolyShades is it doesn't have as much tint as you might add yourself = would take more coats. Both PolyShades and custom tinted poly can be had in any of the 3 sheens.

Tinted polys can be brushed but the color is harder to control. Any lap marks, runs, drips, etc. will have more color than the surrounding poly and be unsightly. Any thin or missed spots will be lighter. It's not a coating that can be overbrushed or easily touched up! Many don't like tinted polys because it takes more skill/care to apply it correctly. Tinted polys apply just like regular poly [or varnish] - brush or spray. It is always a good idea to apply a coat of clear [untinted] poly after you are done with the color coats to protect the color from wear.
 
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Old 05-29-15, 02:27 PM
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Since the existing cabinets have a clear finish and were made in the 1960's how do I determine if the topcoat is lacquer, shellac, varnish or poly?

It occurred to me that knowing the answer is important to how I proceed.
 
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Old 05-29-15, 02:36 PM
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Shellac will dissolve if you wipe/scrub it with denatured alcohol. While lacquer thinner will dissolve dry lacquer it will also melt other paints so that is harder to determine. Usually poly will be ok to apply over all 4 types of finishes but it's always a good idea to test a hidden area first.
 
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Old 05-31-15, 11:06 AM
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I plan to test the finish on the existing cabinets but if there's ultimately an adhesion problem with the new poly how soon does it show up and what will it look like?
 
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Old 06-01-15, 04:33 AM
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If the poly lays down nice [doesn't crawl or bubble] and dries correctly there shouldn't be any issues.
 
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Old 06-02-15, 03:31 PM
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I tested the inside of one of the existing cabinet doors to see if I could determine what the finish might be.

Using a clean new cloth each time, I rubbed the door surface with a cloth saturated with denatured alcohol, acetone, lacquer thinner and xylol and there was no reaction to any of them.

I know the cabinets were built in the early 1960's so is it now reasonable to conclude that the finish is probably a varnish?
 
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Old 06-02-15, 04:00 PM
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If the cabinets were site built the odds are they used varnish, many shop built cabinets of that era had a lacquer finish. Lacquer thin will dissolve most finishes including varnish. Most important is how the new poly [or whatever you use] reacts when applied over the old finish. I wouldn't expect any issues.
 
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Old 06-02-15, 04:24 PM
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Actually, I discovered these cabinets were built by Scheirich Kitchens out of Louisville, Kentucky which as I understand, were pretty good quality in there day from the research I have done.
 
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Old 06-02-15, 05:07 PM
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Most any oil base poly or varnish can be tinted with most oil base paints
mark, I need some guidance with this.

Specifically:

1. Am I looking for a Universal type of tinting or pigment kit containing multiple basic colors or a paint based product? In the above statement you refer to
can be tinted with most oil base paints
So is it a paint product I need?

2. If so, where do I find them? What I've found so far on the web mention tints or pigments that work with oil or water based products and are referred to as universal.

Do paint stores carry and sell them?

3. How do I start to get close to the color I'm after? Are there color charts or guidelines to follow that direct you to certain shades or colors?

I was able to get a very close match with the color I'm after using Zar's oil based Dark Mahogany and Merlot stains so do I look for tints in those colors to add to clear poly?

Any help with this would be much appreciated.

Thank you
 
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Old 06-03-15, 04:48 AM
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I normally use oil base paints to tint oil base poly or varnish. The paint store would use the universal tints, painters used to carry a tray with bottles of tint but I haven't seen that done since I was an apprentice back in the early 70's - I wished I had learned more about using colorants IMO paint will give the poly more tint than just using colorant/tint.

If you can duplicate the color you came up with the stain and get some paint tinted that color it should get you close. I always have different paints on hand so it isn't a big deal for me to grab a different color to alter the mix as needed. Using a paint chart/chips should also work to get you in the neighborhood of the right color. The main thing is to make sure the paint has the same base [oil with oil] and to start out slow.
 
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Old 06-03-15, 05:51 AM
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If you can duplicate the color you came up with the stain and get some paint tinted that color it should get you close
With reference to your above statement, is the following logic correct?

Since I know that mixing 2 parts of Zar oil based dark mahogany stain with one part Zar oil based merlot stain gets me close enough to the color I'm after;

1. will having oil based paint made to match each of those colors then added to poly in the same 2 to 1 proportion give me a similar color?

2. Can I assume that the clear poly that the paint colors are added to does not effect the ultimate color of the mixture? Or does it?
 
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Old 06-03-15, 05:56 AM
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#1 - most likely but start out small to make sure, you can always add more or mix up a larger amount but you can't really back up
#2 - for the most part it doesn't change the color although it can alter it a little.
 
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Old 06-03-15, 06:40 AM
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One additional question for now.

Assuming I can arrive at an acceptable color match, would it be better to apply the poly/paint mixture to the cabinets or simply apply a mixture of the two paint colors in a satin oil such as BM impervo?

I think I'm getting closer to a satisfactory solution.

Mark thanks for your expert help.
 
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Old 06-03-15, 07:08 AM
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Not sure I totally understand what you are asking if you just mix 2 paint colors together you will have solid paint which won't match the other cabinets. Adding paint/colorant to poly gives it color but still allows you to somewhat see thru it. The latter is what you need to match the cabinet finish.

Does that help? or am I answering the wrong question
 
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