Alright you guys, I am going to be completely honest with you. I learned this one the hard way. I recommend you watch my 2-minute video and also read this blog post so you can learn and understand the whole story. Thank goodness this mistake was on my own kitchen cabinets and not someone else’s. A few (plus) years ago when I was thinking about getting into the world of painting kitchen cabinets, I decided to give ours a shot first. Side note, I intentionally practice on my own furniture/cabinets when I am trying something new. Don’t worry! Again, this was years ago! Like I’ve stated in the past, I am self-taught, therefore I have spent countless hours and money experimenting over the years to figure out what works well and what doesn’t. That does not even include the long hours I have spent reading articles, information pamphlets and DIY books….and yes, this was before social media really took off, so I really had to learn the hard way. Lucky for you though, you don’t have to do that! You can tune in each week and learn something new without having to do all the things I did to get to where I am today!
So here’s the situation. We have nice solid oak kitchen cabinets, but they are original to the house and very dated. We couldn’t afford to buy new ones, so I decided to paint the ones we have. I live in Southwest Virginia and the humidity doesn’t get too bad until July, or so I thought. Anyway, I decided to paint the cabinets during the month of June because I knew it was going to be nice out and I could use the extra space in the garage since it was warm. I didn’t work on them consistently because I had a baby in the house and life was extra crazy, so it took me a couple of weeks to complete them. When I was all done though, they looked awesome! The kitchen was light, airy and beautiful and it looked so much better….until the fall months rolled around.
It was October, I was standing in my kitchen and I was looking at my cabinets and I noticed a huge crack going down ALL of the sides of the doors. I remember feeling sick to my stomach because I worked so hard on them and they now looked awful. I kept thinking to myself, what did I do wrong? Why did they all of a sudden split? Did I prep them wrong? Was the paint old? Was there too much paint in the corners...maybe? Then I talked to my brother-in-law about the the situation. Thankfully, he is super intelligent when it comes to lumber and wood work. He said that, “wood is a living source until it is burned and because of the humidity/moisture during the summer months, it caused the cabinets to swell,” which of course, was when I painted them. Then when the fall season rolled around and the humidity/moisture went away, the wood shrunk causing the splits and/or separation in the molding from the edge of the cabinets to occur. As much as I hated to hear that, It totally made sense.
I knew I wanted to start a blog one day, so I kept one of the original doors that I painted because I wanted you to see the difference from the summer months to the winter months. I thought my mistake would be a great learning opportunity for anyone interested in painting cabinets so they could avoid making the mistake too. I feel like part of my job is to give you the best information possible, so over the years I have talked to other cabinet maker’s and painter’s and I have learned some great information about this situation. One of the things that really struck me was that professional cabinet makers intentionally leave a gap around the inside of the molding that is attached to cabinet door. They do not glue this area down, allowing the wood room to shrink and expand without splitting. Also, when a cabinet maker crafts the doors, they spray or stain the door BEFORE he or she attaches the molding so when the door does move, you can’t tell.
Now that people are painting cabinets more often, this visible separation in the molding from the cabinet door is becoming more of a factor. In my experience this is only geared toward solid wood cabinets. I think it’s important to note while engineered woods such as MDF, particle board and plywood are not nearly as nice as real wood, they typically aren’t affected by the humidity like an authentic piece of wood is. Man, I wish I would have known this before I spent hours-upon-hours painting my cabinets! To fix the problem, I had to scrape, sand down, repaint and reseal all of the sides where the molding meets the door. To prevent me from having to go through that process, I thought about adding a strip of caulk along the edges and then paint over it, but honestly, I knew that was the lazy way out. I knew that it too could move with the wood and it would probably cause even more cracking/peeling down the road, so it wasn’t worth it. I just has to suck it up and redo them the correct way (during the non-humid months)! However, I waited about a year to do this because I wanted to see if the doors would swell again during the summer months, causing the split to disappear, and sure enough they did! The paint on the doors was not perfect like it once was, but the gap was gone when June/July rolled around. I was mind blown. Haha.
If you’re thinking about painting your solid wood cabinets, how do you avoid this from happening? Either paint your solid wood cabinets in the late fall, winter or early spring months when the wood doors do not have any moisture and/or swelling in them. That way when the humid months come-and-go you won’t be able to tell because you painted them when they were at their smallest point. If you are unable to do this, it’s okay! I have painted plenty of cabinets during the summer months. You will just need to keep a dehumidifier going to help prevent any potential moisture from getting in them. I always close off a room and keep a dehumidifier going about 95% of the time. I also believe there is a tool on the market that can test the moisture in wood, if you want to look into that.
As I stated in the video, this does not apply as much to furniture as it does solid wood kitchen cabinets. Furniture is not at eye-level like 20 to 30 kitchen cabinets are. If I had to give you advice on one thing as far as furniture goes though, it would be to make sure you do not paint your edges too thick when your painting doors/moldings. The Zibra Square Brush is a great option to prevent that from happening if you’re brushing the paint on.
Thank you so much for stopping by for #TuesdayTipsWithFallon! Make sure you tune in every other week for a new tip! If you want to save this blog post, just pin it to your Pinterest page and/or feel free to share it elsewhere. Thanks again! Happy painting!!