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Questions about painting kitchens, Shaker colours, knotting…

Listed under Blog, hand-painted kitchen, Painting Posted Jul 19 2010

These are some of my answers to regular questions from the general public.

Paint hand painted kitchen doors and drawer fronts

There are a couple of scenarios where I would not advise employing a painter like me, to paint your kitchen units.

1- If the kitchen has to bear the brunt of boisterous teens or heavy handed cooks who slam and kick and knock their way through preparing meals – go for a lacquered natural timber finish, or go laminate.

2 If the kitchen has a heavy duty high gloss laminate finish, don’t paint it

There is a difference between laminates – if there is any sort of texture, I would happily paint it. If it is a high gloss glass finish, I wouldn’t advise painting, because of long term adhesion issues.

The reason for doing myself out of a job would be this: I use primers that will adhere to even glass, but you have to account for the expected wear and tear on the finished surface. If there is zero human contact on say a painted glass panel, the cornice around the top of your wall units, or a light fitting, I would have no hesitation painting those. However a kitchen drawer can expect daily human contact, and if I am not confident about the durability of a paint system I can apply by hand, I will advise against employing my services.

The alternatives would be replacement wooden doors which I could paint, or a factory applied 2-pack spray finish.

How durable is a hand-painted finish

Traditional oil-based eggshell is the hand-painter’s finish of choice, and it is tough. I also view hand-painted finishes as an investment. Painted correctly, wooden kitchens can be revamped completely every 5-7 years with new paint, at a very reasonable cost.

However, it is horses for courses. If you want an idea of what your kitchen will look like in even a couple of years’ time, take a look at the door frame leading into your kitchen. If it is in good condition, hand-painted units could well be a good choice – and it is feasible to “invest” in a hand-painted finish. If the door frame is beaten to a pulp, chipped, marked, covered in grease, failing, please consider an alternative.

And a tip. It should only take a wipe over with a very soft damp cloth periodically to keep the paintwork in pristine condition. If you are hard on your kitchen, but you think you would be able to keep paintwork looking showroom new by employing a cleaner to scrub it daily, again, think about an alternative finish. Paint eventually wears off, and eventually could come sooner rather than later in harsh hands.

There are many other FAQ this week, so, in short:

Painted furniture?

Yes, you can paint furniture.

Hand painted chairs farrow and ball?

Yes, I have successfully painted chairs with Farrow and Ball oil eggshell. The paint is designed for high traffic areas like your doors and frames and skirtings, so once it has hardened off, there is no need to sit on a painted chair and feel you cannot move for fear of ruining the paintwork. But be kind on the legs. Paint isn’t unmarkable or unchippable at the end of a hefty size 12 boot or a heavy-handed vacuum cleaner.

What colour to paint shaker kitchen unit?

According to paint historian, Patrick Baty, paint it any colour you like, because there is no such thing as a Shaker colour.

Door plinths?

Not sure what that means. In my mind, a plinth is the equivalent of the skirting that runs below the base units to hide the feet and provide a stop. I have painted plinths, but the best durable and good-looking deal is natural stone, heavy lacquered wood, or a Langlow patina finish over natural timber.

the little greene paint company?

Brilliant, genuinely traditional paint manufacturer based near Manchester. Fabulous customer service, great colour range, English heritage … all good.

knotting white painted wood?

Many new build homes are painted by guys working to a barebones budget. To make ends meet, they tend to forget certain stages in the painting process. Applying a shellac-based knotting solution over resinous knots in new timber is an easy oversight to make – not. The tactic when it is time for you to pick up the pieces and redecorate over the ugly brown stained door frames is:

1 – sand the paintwork thoroughly
2 – clean off all dust,
3 – apply a coat of white Zinsser BIN to the knots – either by brush or aerosol.
4 – Wait 45 minutes, then undercoat and gloss as normal.


Hand-painted kitchens are my speciality, preparation is my co-speciality. Knots, colour changes, and difficult surfaces are not a problem for me. Painted finishes are durable if prepared correctly. I can show you a kitchen I painted in the late 90’s, and I even know of a Smallbones kitchen painted in the 70’s, still as good as the day they were painted. However, there is a time and a place.

If you have any more questions, keep on googling and hopefully you are sent through to Traditional Painter. Otherwise, you are welcome to email me and I will do my best to help.

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3 comments to “Questions about painting kitchens, Shaker colours, knotting…”

  1. Dawn Revell

    Just wanted to say what a great website you have, full of very useful advice. i am re-furbing my kitchen and planning to re-paint my wooden cabinets. Thanks for all the helpful tips!

  2. laura

    What is the difference between a solvent eggshell and an oil-based eggshell? Can I paint over solvent eggshell with an oil-based eggshell?

  3. Andy Crichton

    I think you are probably referring to the same product. For some reason “solvent” in relation to paint has become synonymous with oil based paint. (We use citrus based solvents for degreasing surfaces and deep cleaning, for example, so not all solvents have to contain large amounts of VOCs.)

    Oil eggshell is usually a safe bet. As with all decorating, and taking advice, though, it always pays to double check with a sample area out of sight before jumping in.

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