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Seeking advice on chipped paint (hand-painted kitchen)


I’m a keen DIYer and long been reading posts regarding traditional painting methods. I decided to give it a go with our own kitchen when we moved into our new house a year ago. The original doors were shaker style, cherry stained and lacquered wood (probably around 15 years old) and we added a large kitchen island using new B&Q solid oak shaker doors. Following the advice I gained from this site I did the following;

Cleaned thoroughly using Fluxaf Proclean
Sanded with 180 Mirka Abranet (used the Roundy sanding kit - love it and have used it all over the house)
Hoovered and tack-clothed
Applied primer (1 coat) - Pegaprim isofix
Filled nicks and dents - spot priming with the pegaprim
Lightly sanded using Abranet 340
Hoovered and tack-clothed
Applied undercoat (1 coat) - Tikkurila Helmi
Lightly sanded using Abranet 340
Hoovered and tack-clothed
Applied topcoat - Tikkurila Helmi 10 (3 coats) (sanding between coats using Mirka gold 400 pads)

I applied paint with mini-rollers and then layed-off using Wooster silver brushes. I also thinned the Helmi with a little floetrol as the weather was still quite warm.

I’ve used two different colours in the kitchen; a light grey and a deep navy. I used three coats of the navy as it became clear that two wouldn’t be anywhere near enough to achieve a good depth of colour. The primer and undercoat for the navy colour were tinted to a dark grey as this was the darkest possible tint (paint purchased from Holmans).

I finished painting the doors back in September and didn’t hang them straight away as we had other work to complete in the kitchen. They have been back on approximately 5 months now. Many of the doors have little chips in the paint or it’s failing a bit on some of the edges. A couple of these are back to the wood, however many are back to the primer. We’re quite careful but it seems that they chip with even the lightest use. What would be the best way to remedy them? The thought of sanding all of the doors right back makes my heart sink :frowning: not to mention the expense. Looking at my approach did I miss something? Should I have used a lacquer coat? A different paint system?

In general I am happy with my work, I couldn’t have done it without all the advice available on here and YouTube videos (particularly those of Mr Mark Nash).

Thanks in advance for any guidance.


Hi Sarah

thanks for your post. Sorry it is a bit unhappy, even though it looks like you did it pretty much by the book!

The Helmi 10 had a reputation for not being super tough, but still very suitable for careful kitchens, which it sounds like yours is.

If it is chipping back to bare, that obviously means the primer didn’t take. If it is chipping back to the primer, the basecoat didn’t adhere to the primer.

Going through the logical steps and not being critical, just asking.

  • Did you clean off all the residue from cleaning? Might there have been bits in grooves? Or even wax on there? The Pegaprim Isofix is shellac based so it is very high adhesion to timber, but it wouldn’t be able to adhere so well if not clean.
  • Did you give the primer a scratch test to make sure it had adhered before overpainting it? When you were filling did the primer scratch with the edge of the filling knife, or sand off a bit too easily?
  • What filler did you use? Does that coincide with where the paint is chipping now?
  • You say you put on 4 coats over the primer. Could chipping be related to paint accumulating on edges, making fatty edges, leading to the doors sticking or rubbing against the frames?
  • Do you ever see it chipping off? What does it take to get it off?

Do you have a picture? Just click the up arrow in the top bar of the reply box.

One thing I wouldn’t have done is added floetrol. It is tempting when it is hot and with many paints there are no negatives, but we have been told time and again, especially by Holmans, don’t dilute Tikkurila Helmi with anything except water. However I don’t think that would explain why the primer is coming off.

And I am often asked to walk readers through how to paint their kitchen or solve a problem and I do say, try what I suggest on one door first, to make sure it all works before jumping into a whole kitchen.

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Hi Andy, thank you so much for replying and for asking further questions!! I’ll try and answer as best I can!

I’m pretty sure that I did, I’m pretty thorough and had decent light but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was good enough.

I did the masking-tape test, on both types of door and the tape came away clean after both. I did notice that if I wasn’t careful when I was sanding the primer it rubbed right back but it definitely didn’t scratch with the filler knife.

I used Ronseal two-part wood filler for the old handle holes, I can’t remember what I used for fine filling - think it was Toupret (blue lid?) - the paint seems to be fine in those areas (I didn’t do masses of filling).

I don’t think so, I was really, really careful so there’s no obvious thickness to my (or my hubby’s) eye but a professional might disagree :blush:

Only once and that was an obvious ding and probably would have taken anything off…the air turned blue!!! I’ve attached a photo for that one! The rest I’ve no idea! There’s a little scratching around handles. The older doors do seem to be faring worse that the new ones. I’ve attached a few different pics which hopefully illustrates the issues (sorry has to be separate posts).

My husband thinks it looks great and can’t really see the problem but I think if it’s an issue for me now, then another year down the line the doors will look terrible (he’s threatened divorce if I sand them back though :rofl:). That said, I am a perfectionist!


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Top rail of one of the older doors

The one I actually did ding! I can’t remember what with!

A random scratch!

Bottom right rail of one of the older doors…I haven’t included any pics of the newer doors…there are less marks but a couple of random scratches down to the primer or dark grey undercoat.

With hindsight, I really wish I had done one of each door first as you suggest…so if anyone reads and is thinking of having a go…definitely do this!!

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As usual Andy’s been generous with his knowledge.Did you ever use a polish with silicones,or
airfesher,in the kitchen or on units? Silicones can be a real problem, many can withstand
many many washs,and require surgical cleaning to remove.I told a sprayer once one of
the polish’s I use can withstand 200 washs so if theres a problem later on with damage
the surface would need to be surgically cleaned.The trouble is it dosent always show
immediately.I had a bathroom where the customer used airfreshner with silicones,
it took 4 days to dry, that’s the paint.Looks like you have taken pride in your work
I would try and touch in and blend in and play the wait and see approach then
decide what to do.

You could do as darlic suggests and touch up the damage with primer and Helmi 10.

You could increase the surface durability by giving it a light sand, touch in the chips with Helmi primer and then recoat with Helmi 30. It is sheenier and does resist knocks better.

What is concerning is where it chips for no apparent reason back to the bare timber, because this assumes a failure of the primer. As my colleague @MartinGuest says, 20 coats of paint isn’t going to make too much difference if the first coat isn’t adhering.

If you want to consider the Helmi 30 recoat, please do a sample door and monitor what happens before jumping in. It could just add that extra initial protection. If it doesn’t you can always recoat that sample with Helmi 10 and enjoy the kitchen while it ages.

Does that help at all?

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Thank you so much both of you for your advice, I really appreciate the time it takes to reply!

darlic, I didn’t polish the old doors after moving in, however I can imagine they were by the previous owner for viewings etc. That may explain a bit of a difference between doors? When you say surgical cleaning, does that mean using a solvent based cleaning product?

For touching-in chips back to lacquered wood, would you suggest using the pegaprim primer or the helmi? Sorry if I’m being a bit slow…I remember being a bit confused about primers when I was researching how to approach painting. I’m really hoping that it’s just the odd spot failing but I guess only time will tell! I suspect we may replace the older part of the kitchen at some point in the future.

I may well recoat with the Helmi 30 - I think I went for the 10 because I wanted a flatter colour and hadn’t understood that there’s a difference in durability. Whatever I do, I will definitely do just the one door to begin with! And maybe I’ll wait until lockdown ends before inflicting more disruption on my family :laughing:

Thank you so much for your help with this. As a general point, the guides and forum advice are amazing; the skills I’ve started to develop whilst painting the kitchen have meant that the finish I’m able to achieve in the rest of the house is a hundred times better than before!

For touching up, lightly sand the edges of the chip, remove dust and use an artist brush to apply the Pegaprim. This is the adhesion primer to act as a bridge for the rest of the coatings to come. Next touch in with the Helmi primer, which is a base colour. Then touch in top coats.

If the touch up is too noticeable or fiddly, consider painting a whole panel or a door rail/stile.

The big gash on that door, you would probably want to prime then fill flush, before continuing with the Helmi primer and topcoat.

It does look a smart kitchen colour and design. As a DIY woodworker, I recognise we sometimes have to let go of perfect and accept the very good!

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Thank you so much Andy for the additional advice, I would have replied sooner…but… life :rofl: Perfectionism is definitely a thing of mine!

I’m going to jump in on this with a question related to this.

I am just about to price up a large (for me) decorating job, 2 rooms and a kitchen.
The kitchen is all painted cabinets, I have to gloss insides and the fronts already painted (old) will need all the work prep to finish.

I have seen chipping on hand painted cabinet fronts several times.

Is finishing with a lacquer or varnish a good idea for a durable finish?

I ask because I’m just pricing time - we have yet to discuss paint.

Hi, we have been advised not to lacquer over “finishes”. For extra durability without running any adhesion or compatibility issues, apply an extra coat of the finish.

good luck with it

Thanks Andy, I recall reading that somewhere before… maybe on this forum.