I don't know if this will work in your situation, but check out a product called Kiltz. We have used it to cover things before painting them. You will find it in the paint dept. at Home Depot or Lowe's and you would paint it on the cabinets as a primer. Ask someone working in the paint dept. about using it for your cabinets. (06/29/2004)
No need to use Kiltz, it isn't designed to adhere to slick surfaces. Zinsser makes a primer called Cover Stain. Valspar makes one called Glossy Surface Primer. They should both work on the varnish and the laminate. With either of these, it is still best to slightly rough up the surface with 60 or 100 grit sandpaper (wear a dust mask). There is also a product called Liquid Sandpaper that claims you don't have to use sand paper, but save your money and time and just use sandpaper.
Once the primer is dry, top coat with a quality high gloss or cabinet paint. High gloss paint will last longer and be more chip resistant than other sheen levels. You can top coat oil based primers with latex or acrylic paint. Always make sure that the primer is totally dry before applying the top coat. Use a low nap or foam roller to avoid brush marks where possible (high gloss paint is very thick and may leave brush marks if it dries too quickly).
If you strip the cabinets, you will still need to sand, clean and prime them before you can paint, and the chemicals in the stripper may cause the plywood to de-laminate (it may dissolve the glue holding the layers together). You could use a hand stripper or a sander (palm, orbital, or belt) to remove the layers of varnish, but that will take a lot of time and is really only recommended for slab doors (doors without any decoration). If the doors have decoration or detail, you will need something like a Dremel to remove the varnish from the decoration. Or use a product called Peel Away 7 (check your local hardware store, Ace stores in some areas of the US can get it).
My suggestion is to go to the paint store, where you can get a professional opinion, and ask what should be done. I don't think you can beat a professional opinion! (06/29/2004)
Does it make a difference if you use an oil base or water base Kiltz primer to paint oil, or water base paint over it? Can you use any kind of Kiltz primer to use water base or waster base paint over it? Please help. Thank you, Harry. (01/12/2005)
Just for your info- I painted wood dressers, that had been previously varnished, after sanding them and putting a coat of Kiltz primer on- the varnish still bled through. (05/19/2005)
We bought Bullseye 123 primer at Wal-mart. It is water based and you just clean the varnished surfaces with ammonia and water and make sure you clean them well. Put on the Bullseye Primer and wait about one hour. Then paint. Have had great success. (05/24/2005)
I would think that after you paint it, as long as you put on a sealant it should be all right. The sealants work for wood that is left outside in the rain and snow. Vicki in SC. (07/05/2005)
All of my bedroom furniture was varnished wood but I wanted white! I just cleaned it really good with an ammonia & water solution. Then painted with Wal-Mart white enamel paint. No bleeding, no chipping. That was 5 years ago and it still looks great. (07/06/2005)
I paint over varnish, you may have to do it twice if you use an inexpensive paint. (07/06/2005)
Kilz is usually water and methanol based, which may mobilize softer varnishes, rather than coating them. I've had good luck with TSP, light sandpapering, wipe, and then a good primer layer. Get something for high wear surfaces.
I am putting my house on the market shortly and all the doors to the bedrooms, bathrooms and closet doors look worn. I got a few quotes to replace them and it was much too expensive. How could I paint them so that they look good. I was thinking of either white or off white paint. (04/09/2006)
Behr (can be purchased at any Home Depot) has a primer that works over laminates, glass, and any other slick surface. It's in a purple can. Just apply this, then your paint color. Depending on the surface you are painting, you may want to finish with a few coats of poly (water based poly will not change the color painted, while oil based will change color to look amber-if using a white finish coat). (04/20/2006)
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