Primers are the most important coating when painting a new or “problem” surface and when we hand paint new kitchens and refurbish custom-made wooden kitchens, we take great care to specify the best primer for kitchen cabinets.
Primer for bare timber
Most custom-made wooden kitchens that are to be painted are constructed from poplar and MDF. These are good surfaces from a painter’s point of view as they are smooth and take paint well. Some companies supply kitchens ready primed in the factory, but where they come bare, there are a couple of primers that we know work particularly well.
Zinsser Coverstain is an oil-based primer and stain blocker. It dries in 30 minutes and in good conditions (and if time permits), can be sanded down and re-coated in the same day. It raises the grain of poplar, but sands back very easily to produce a dense glass smooth finish. Two coats ensures a very solid base for oil or water-based topcoats.
On the downside, it is a high VOC paint, and does have a strong aroma, so we have to take that into consideration when assessing if it is suitable for your home.
Zinsser BIN is the shellac based alternative to Coverstain. It is the industry standard for blocking all stains and knots from bleeding through. It provides a rock hard surface for oil and water-based paints, but is quite tricky to apply by brush, and destroys foam rollers. And it is very strong smelling.
Water based primers such as Mythic Universal primer, or Blackfriars problem Solving primer or Zinsser Bullseye 1-2-3 offer similar properties to the more traditional primers, with none of their usability or odour issues. If using Zinsser 1-2-3 it is best to seal knots first with Zinsser BIN.
Primer for clear lacquer
Most oak and pine kitchens are clear lacquered in the factory. The lacquers are hard wearing, and usually contain a stain blocker to hold back any knots or resin in the wood. So if we are painting a clear lacquer, the main criterion for the primer is its high adhesion properties.
Dulux Supergrip is a reliable tried-and-tested water-based bonder coat. It is very quick drying and when it is cured, is well and truly stuck. Supergrip can only be over-painted with oil paints though.
Zinsser BIN is another of our painter’s favourite problem-solving primers, and can be over-painted with oil or water based paints.
Tikkurila is a Finnish speciality paint company and they do a high adhesion solvent-based primer called Otex that also takes an oil or water-based finish. It has a “certain” smell.
Primer for laminate
Most kitchens tend to have laminate end panels. The surface is impervious but with correct preparation, we can use the above high adhesion primers to ensure a durable base that can be painted to blend in with the rest of the units.
Are primers necessary?
When painting or updating your kitchen, we are confident that the vital primer coat will perform a good job and provide a sound base for the top coats. We sometimes find our competitors saying that you don’t need a primer, as topcoats are sticky enough. History says that is more luck than judgement and there is more to consider than “stickability”. We prefer to follow best trade practice and will not skimp on the specification just to win a job.
From protecting kitchens for painting, to priming to dustless sanding to cleaning up… hand-painted kitchens reflect a lot of thought and attention to detail.
We have provided more information about how we go about hand-painted kitchens in Essex and London.
If you have a kitchen painting project in mind, please contact Greg for a no obligation quote. The simplest way forward is to email us some photos by email and we can give you an accurate price for budgeting purposes.