TP Home | About | Newsletter | Blogs |

All the beginners questions in one

Apart from a thread in the welcome section this is my first post here - it may be a bit long and rambling…
I was recently asked to paint a kitchen, but having never tried I suggested to my client that she think of having it sprayed or even better she went to an expert, such as Andy here.
Seems that for some reason my client wants me to do the job, despite me telling her just how little I knew. We have a long history - she has seen my work on her bosses house for the last 20 years and recently I painted their offices - one of the nicest jobs I have ever done. I quoted and was told to add a grand to my price, I was told to take a taxi home at the company’s expense if I worked late and the fridge was filled with all sorts of drinks - even my favourite milk was got in for me (skimmed - that tells you I am advancing in years and girth…)

So, here I am, at the beginning of a learning curve and in need of help.
I have been in the building trade for 30-odd years, never made any money as I tend to spend way too long trying to do things right and keep my customers happy. I used to have a team of guys working for me but for the last 15 years or so have worked alone, slowly heading more towards the painting and maintenance side of things. Doing a job well has always been a priority but being self taught means I may do a lot of bad things well for all I know !

The units are MDF and the reason for the repaint is that 4 of the doors need replacing due to water damage and the replacements are slightly different in colour.
I am proposing to clean the whole thing down with Krud Kutter having removed the handles then sand down with a fine wet and dry paper, then hoover and go over with a tack cloth. Does that sounds about right so far ?
I do not have a dust-free system but may buy the Mirka dust-free pro starter kit to help keep the room somewhat clean.
Then I will mask up as best possible - again, any tips ?
Is there some sort of tool to help apply masking tape ?

The clients are very keen on my using water based paints so I am proposing to prime with Zinsser Bullseye 123. Another sand down to flatten off then on with 2 coats of (I expect) Little Green Intelligent eggshell. I have used floetrol when painting trim and assume it would be a great help when skills and technique may need all the assistance possible.

I guess I’ll be using a few small brushes, but so far only have a couple of tiny and cheap fitch brushes, a Purdy 1" angled brush then on to my usual Purdy’s or a 2" Corona Knight (my favourite brush )

Any suggestions as to what brush sizes it might be worth thinking about getting, and who makes and sells them - I don’t want to be starting a ‘Who makes the best brushes’ battle but am do like to buy a good tool as then it is clearly down to me when things go wrong…!

So, if anyone has a few hours spare and wants to write the definitive ‘How to paint a kitchen for beginners’ guide or of you feel like offering a few tips or pearls of hard-earned wisdom then please help me on my way. You may just want to see how badly I can do the job, so I will try to take a few pictures and make a work in progress thread if I am not too ashamed of how it goes !

Finally, I would like to thank both Andy and Martin Guest who have both already been of great help and assistance, and to all who have posted on this forum already - I have already learned that I know next to nothing and am hoping to improve on that between now and mid January when the job starts…!

Hi Steve, it is a long intro! but personally, hats off to you for being so honest about your skill level and limitations.

Kitchen painting is not just a natural branch of decorating that any good painter can shine at. And it doesnt take a couple of hours or one kitchen under your belt, to work it all out either! There is plenty to read on hand painted kitchens

It requires a mindset change from normal decorating. I know that will go down like a ton of the proverbial with many good decorators who aren’t kitchen painters per se - how hard can it be to prep and paint 20 doors?.. but all the TP guys have seen and compete with non specialists, and the errors you see does make you think that many decorators don’t know the ins and outs of kitchen painting and don’t have the attention to detail or the concentration required to do your best work all day every day. But forewarned is forearmed, or whatever the saying is. So in no particular order…

The kitchen is the most involved installation in the home. The kitchen needs to be dismantled to a certain degree and put back as you found it. So get a good screwdriver and hex keys and especially learn how to take off and replace integrated doors - each kitchen company seems to invent a fiddlier option than the next one.

You need to be ready for a LOT of work, to be very thorough, and to concentrate from start to finish.

Cleanliness is an absolute fundamental requirement for a beautiful finish.

Masking up precious items and surfaces properly isn’t just a matter of respecting the clients’ property, it will ensure you keep within a realistic budget.

Masking kit

Same with keeping dust to a minimum. If you create dust, you have to spend time cleaning it up. The guys with Mirka dust extraction or Festools, by and large, will be faster and therefore more cost effective than painters without.

Krudkutter Original is becoming the cleaner of choice. Eco, rinses with water and very effective.

Vacuum and tack rags or slightly moist Mirka rag will leave a surface ready for painting.

For a water based finish on new timber, an oil based primer is generally recognised as the best base eg Zinsser Coverstain. Water based primers, I would say that Blackfriars Problem Solving Primer has a lot of body compared to most primers. If body isn’t an issue, take your pick… I dont wish to sound down on Bullseye 123 but it isn’t one I would consider for wood priming. Thats just me having seen it not work.

If you use F&B eggshell, stick with their undercoat too. I like to know what to expect, and for peace of mind, just bow to their somewhat mickey-taking extra coat spec. You will see what I mean if you have the best primed surface known to man using hi spec primers, and for peace of mind you still need to re-primer/undercoat it with F&B’s product. Not impressed with that inflexible approach, personally.

Best paint brush doesn’t exist, it depends greatly on the paint you choose. If you roll and tip, you need either a very dense foam (Wooster, Fat Hog) or the Axus Lime roller sleeves seem to have won the day too. Tip off where necessary with a brush - sizes, anything from an artist brush to 1.5’ through to 3" will help.

These are FAQ to help you realise what clients are interested in.

For the work to last, you need to maintain your best technique throughout the job. Refurbing a 25 or 30 door kitchen, that is easier said than done.

Work with a specialist is the best way to learn, and the fairest on the client. As you have gone to great lengths to be fair to your client, I’d suggest you charge an hourly rate for what you do, rather than you being the one taking a financial hit.

1 Like

Thank you very much for that Andy.
Having spent a lot of time reading up on the whole site I am starting to get closer to having some idea of what and how…
I have found where to get Krud Kutter, Matt from Mythic is sending me a sample of their water based eggshell to try out, and I am in touch with Axus for some roller covers. Tony who distributes Corona brushes has been helping me out and I hope to get hold of a few more (the 2" Knight has to be the nicest brush I have ever used)
I am starting to look at something like a Festool delta sander which seems like it might be a good idea, but the Mirka hand sander may be more affordable while keeping dust at bay.
Heeding your (and Baz’s) advice, I shall suggest that we use Coverstain oil based primer.

On to the serious part of the job - I am not used to having to knuckle down and focus as so much of my recent work has been less exacting - that said I do like a challenge and the idea of getting absorbed into it appeals. I will do my best, and am showing my client all that I am writing here.
Again, many thanks for all the help.

Hi Steve

I would go with Andy’s recommendation and use Zinsser Cover Stain as the primer.
There are loads of water based alternatives, including dedicated water based primers for MDF, but they will all raise any cut edges giving you more hassle than you need.
Water is totally incompatible with MDF in it’s raw state for me. Water based finish coats are fine, but for priming it would always be oil.

For masking tape I usually always use 3M Scotch Blue Painter’s tape. It’s reliable, available and gives few problems. However, I did used Frogtape on my last job, the yellow version as it’s lower tack, and I got zero paint creep under the tape. I think this will be my prefered tape from now on.

You mention finishing in Little Greene Intelligent Eggshell, is this product hardwaring enough? If the customer is very careful it should be, but if it’s a busy household with children/dogs etc it may mark easily.
I’m almost 100% water based but I’m wary of pure acrylic eggshells on kitchen cabinests because the duller nature of the finish will attract marking if people are not careful around it.

I usually use higher sheens on kitchens to get round this issue. Have you considered Mythic Semi-Gloss or their Black Label Satin? Both are easy to apply and stand up well to everyday use. Especially the semi-gloss, which is my kitchen paint of choice. Mythic also do a Gloss, but be careful of this as it’s harder to apply smoothly via brush. I’ve completed a kitchen with it but this was sprayed. Not saying it can’t be done, but you’ll need a soft brush (Corona Cody or Proform Contractor/Ergonomic) and a lot of care. Floetrol or Zamix Latex Extender is a must for applying acrylic latex paints, especially to kitchens.

Hmm - more to think about.
I have been sent a sample tin of the eggshell and agree that it does have less of a sheen than oil based eggshell, so maybe semi-gloss is the way to go.I do use Floetrol and if I can find some Zamiz will get some - finding anywhere that stocks all the bits I need doesn’t seem easy !

Many thanks for your advice about masking tape and primers too - Cover Stain has been decided on and I have some 3M blue plus some tesa low tack, but will get some Frogtape yellow.
My clients are a couple with a 13 year old son (no pets) - all are fairly gentle and peaceful people so I doubt there will be much abuse for the units to put up with but given that this will be my first kitchen I would rather follow any advice as you guys know and I don’t…
So, many thanks for taking the time to reply and help a beginner. It is much appreciated !

Floetrol and Owatrol are very popular conditioners and been recommended by TP for a long while now. These products are easy to find - see Owatrol on TP Trade Corner for their web store

1 Like

I am Steve, never painted a kitchen but am about to so will be doing a lot of reading here over the next few days…
I fear my level of skill is such that there is little I can offer here but will be very grateful for any help and will try to make my posts vaguely interesting !

Hi Steve

There’s plenty to learn from the pros on here, it’s a great resource. I’m still finding useful nuggets.

Good luck with the kitchen