Making Paint Stick to Paneling and Cabinets

Factory-finished wood cabinets and paneling require special preparation for painting. Getting rid of dark paneling is complicated by the fact that when you pull it off, you find the adhesive has ruined the drywall underneath. For this reason, many folks turn to paint instead. To ensure that the paint adheres properly to factory-finished panels or to waxed or varnished board paneling, follow these steps:

  1. Clean the wood especially well to remove dirt, grease, and wax.

    For paneling, use a solution made of equal parts of household ammonia and water. For cabinets and paneling that are beyond cleaning with a mild detergent solution, try a solvent, such as mineral spirits.

  2. Take the shine off the surface by sanding lightly or with a chemical deglosser, especially on irregular or molded surfaces.

    If you sand the wood, put an exhaust fan in the window of the work area and open a nearby window outside the room. The fan prevents sanding dust from going anywhere but outdoors.

    If you use a chemical deglosser, remember to apply paint within a half-hour or the deglosser loses its effectiveness. Apply a thorough coat of deglosser on varnish or polyurethane finishes.

  3. Wipe the surface well with a tack cloth.

    The oil in a store-bought tack cloth may interfere with the proper adhesion of latex finishes. If you plan to use latex, just use a cloth dampened with mineral spirits or water.

  4. Prime the wood.

    Mix a bonding additive with your primer or use an alcohol-based primer-sealer or other special bonding primer tinted to the approximate color of the topcoat.

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