Q: We are redoing our kitchen. I like our cabinets, so I don’t want to replace them. I’ve heard of repainting them. What is the best way to do this?
A: Typically, you want to use the same kind of paint that’s already on there – oil, polyurethane or latex. The process to prepare the surface and subsequently apply paint is similar to that of any painting project. I reached out to a trusted contractor and friend, Mark O’Lalor, to confirm this. O’Lalor said he always gives the surface a light etch with 220-grit sandpaper and a thorough washing with a strong cleanser like TSP.
“Of course, most kitchen cabinets have a highly durable, perfect factory finish, so the preparation needs to be extra thorough,” he said. “Kitchen cabinets get a lot of wear and tear and are constantly being subjected to airborne oils and hand oil, so making sure every square inch of surface gets a thorough etching and cleaning is essential.”
After that, O’Lalor advised, you can apply paint with a spray gun or roller and smooth it with a brush. If the homeowner wants to change his or her cabinets from, say, a wood-grain polyurethane to an opaque white or colored finish, however, the steps may include a primer coat to bridge the different surface types.
There are hybrid paints that combine polyurethane and latex with incredible leveling action that can be applied by brush. So a wood-grain-finished surface that has a polyurethane finish can be painted white or some other color by simply etching and cleaning and then applying this hybrid paint directly to the cabinet surface. This avoids the primer step and takes advantage of an already factory-smooth surface. The leveling action on these hybrid paints is amazing.
‘Fan in a can’
Q: When I had my boiler replaced, I was told that I need a “fan in a can” to provide combustion air for the system, which is in the garage. So they installed the “can,” but wind blew out the system. Now what can I do to provide combustion air without blowing out the system?
A: Have the installers put the “can” in a spot that will provide enough combustion air without the system blowing out.