Re-Finishing Factory Cabinet Doors

Advice on cleaning, sanding, and refinishing factory-finished cabinet doors. October 19, 2013

I really don't do re-finishing normally, but a good client who I'm doing several other projects for has asked me to do a half kitchenís worth of Kraft Maid doors. They're currently an evergreen color paint Ė Iím guessing a simple post cat finish? The faces and edges are easy enough to sand down to pretty much bare wood. It's the panels that are going to be tough. The primer must be tinted to match as it goes from green to bare wood. How much finish do I need to remove to insure a good bond? I'll be priming with MLC's Clawlock and then topcoating with two coats of Resistant. If I get a good scratch pattern in the previous finish is that enough? Or do I really need to try and get all the topcoat off?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor U:
Personally I would just scuff the existing finish, prime white, and scuff and topcoat with Resistance. I would try it on the back of a drawer front first to make sure the finishes are compatible with each other.

From Contributor S:
Depending on how old the finish is it may well be a CV. The first step is to thoroughly clean. I typically use denatured alcohol and a rag, no need to buy exotic this or that. Change the rag frequently especially if you pick up a lot of residue/grease, etc. Then a thorough scuff - 220 should suffice. Clean off and then a quick wipe with denatured alcohol again and clean rags. You do not need to saturate the rag or surface.

Now, as there may still be contaminates lurking here or there lay down a relatively thin (reduce maybe 75-100%) coat of Clawlock. A covering coat is ok, just don't bury it as you may get fisheyes which tells one of the presence of silicones, grease, etc. If no fisheyes are present scuff 320 and re-coat until white - normal reduction if you like but no excessive mils as the surface has already been prepped by Kraft Maid, yes? If fisheyes, cut the area clean to the wood, redo with a damp rag with denatured alcohol and lightly spot prime again until white. If fish eyes persist it's time for fisheye remover. Repeat the above and when you spot re-prime add the fisheye remover. Throughout the rest of the finishing process keep on using the fisheye remover. Afterwards, thoroughly clean your system to remove any fisheye residue as it in itself is a silicone based product. Be clean and thorough and you shouldn't have a contamination issue. I've done it enough times - using cup guns as well as pressure pots and have had no contaminant issues. Remember to keep your overall mils to a minimum!

From Contributor G:
Clean with DNA, scuff with a mirlon pad, and shoot with a vinyl sealer. Then shoot with your topcoat.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the advice you've saved me a lot of work! I thought I would have to be more aggressive but sounds like a good cleaning and scuffing will suffice. As for the age I don't think they're all that old. Not sure when they were put in as my clients are new owners, but the building was put up in 01' so that's the limit, though they're likely much more recent than that. As for cleaning, I did a test drawer front with lacquer thinner as these appear to be pretty filthy. After sanding with 120 grit I applied a coat of Clawlock and it seems fine, at least I can't scratch anything off. I'll do then next one with 220 or so and try again.

From Contributor G:
I was going to say 120 seems a bit aggressive - 220 is much better.