Enamel on Kitchen Cabinets

Oil-based or water-based, enamel paints are a time-tested and still valued trim and cabinet finish. Here, finishers discuss experiences and techniques. May 24, 2006

I have used Satin Impervo over enamel underbody on several applications but not on kitchen cabinets. I have recently looked at a job to build kitchen cabinets for an older house with an authentic painted finish. There is just Impervo over enamel underbody. It is not tinted lacquer, and there are no clear coats - just enamel. This holds up well on trim but how well on cabinets? Does anyone do this as standard practice on all their painted cabinets?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor R:
I have used this enamel on more than one kitchen and it holds up very well. Prior to the "kitchen craze" kitchens were painted with either a latex or an enamel and the wood kitchens were done with a lacquer or a varnish.

One thing I did notice while using this enamel is that it does like to be applied in a warm environment and the environment should remain warm while the enamel dries. This product brushes well and also sprays well and I wouldn’t think twice about using it again if asked to.

From contributor C:
I just completed an addition and the kitchen cabinets were coated with satin Impevo (thinned out) and they look unreal. This is a great product.

From contributor B:
To contributor C: How was the product applied?

From contributor R:
It can be brushed on or it can be sprayed on via a pressure pot or an airless or an AAA. I like a pressure pot setup with the material thinned with Naptha about 10-20% and a HVLP spray gun. I also used a Binks.

From contributor C:
It can be brushed or sprayed. I like short bristle brushes to really pull the paint. Also thin with either Penetrol or a bit of thinner. You have all the working time you would ever need. I have sprayed with both an airless and also and HVLP system, again thinning a bit.

From contributor P:
The Satin Impervo I've used is waterborne and it sprays well too. I top with WB poly for durability. Is everyone on this thread talking oil-based Impervo?

From contributor A:
The oil based BM Satin Impervo is still the standard in our neck of the woods for built-ins. We typically supply pre-primed casework and the onsite painters slather on a couple of coats. This is one of the best looking brushed paints due to its oil base and long dry times.

As for a kitchen, the major drawbacks are that this finish takes well over one month to achieve any real hardness or durability. The white alkyd oil paints will yellow. This is a “when”, not an “if”. Otherwise it is a decent paint. If you are looking for a brushed finish consider Muralo's waterborne Ultra. It is harder, non-yellowing, and dries faster than the Impervo.

From contributor D:
I just finished all of the doors and architectural trim in a 5400 sq ft house last year with Impervo and the stuff is wonderful. I brought the doors to my shop and sprayed them. Everything else was brushed. I used a HVLP gun with a 1.7 tip and thinned the material out to about 30-35 seconds (Ford #4). I started at about 45 seconds, but seemed to lay on the best thinned out more.

I would use the stuff again any day. And, yes that was oil. I used the WB, but wasn't too happy with it. I think it's just finickier and needs a little more TLC and experience. Otherwise, I'm sure it's a great coating as well.

From contributor S:
A cabinet maker friend of mine does a fare share of kitchens along the ocean up here in the Northeast and he strongly believes this is a better paint system (flexibility) than his becker CV system he would normally use, for ocean type of environment. He does use the Becker primer but then goes with B/M Impervo over. It looks fantastic and he uses a Titan Airless and thins with Naptha 10%. I'm a solvent type of guy, but it is hard to tell the two apart. Dry time is a bit of an issue, but he gets paid well offering this type of finish.