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Apprentice Contributor
B1Trash
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎10-21-2012
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Accepted Solution

Kitchen Cabinet Steam Damage, Repair & Recolor

Hello-

 

Bottom line up front:  My wife and I want to repair and darken our cabinets with a finish that will stand up to the steam from the stove.

 

Our kitchen cabinets are about 7 years old.  The finish has held up well throughout the kitchen except by our stove.  Above the stove, they finish is showing signs of steam damage (highlighted in red below).  The worst of it is on the cabinet to the left of the microwave, with the finish coming off of the door's rail & stile as well as the face frame.

IMG_1472 telestrated.JPG

 

Here's the worst of it:
IMG_1474.JPG

 

Am I looking at a wholesail do-over on the entire kitchen, or can I localize the repair and then glaze over the enire kitchen with a gel stain?  I'm thinking of doing something along the lines of this thread.  I keep seeing people recommend water-based top coats for the kitchen, but that doesn't make sense to me with the steam floating around.  Am I missing something?

 

Thanks so much.

 

-jon

Honored Advisor
ynoT
Posts: 10,474
Registered: ‎10-23-2009

Re: Kitchen Cabinet Steam Damage, Repair & Recolor

Jon,

 

Have you tried cleaning the surface first with warm water and some dawn? Or Mineral Spirits?

 

After that many years just simple hand oil grime can do this. Especial;ly if the finish wasn't too heavy or badly applied.

 

Do you use microwave fan while cooking? It helps to take most of the cooking steam away from surfaces.

After cooking do you wipe dry the surfaces?

 

Tony

"Why worry about things you can't control when you can keep yourself busy controlling the things that depend on you."
Esteemed Advisor
hankm
Posts: 2,006
Registered: ‎11-07-2010
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Re: Kitchen Cabinet Steam Damage, Repair & Recolor

Welcome to the forums of Woodmagazine.com, Jon. Tony has given you sound advice that will apply no matter what you do with your cabinets, the only thing I can add is a coat of paste wax will also run interference on hand contamination of the surface finish.

 I'd like to invite you to explore the video channels as well.

WOOD Online has a very respectable library of free videos for your education and enjoyment in the pursuit of learning more about the craft of woodworking.

There are two channels you can look at for specific subjects:

The first is WOODCuts.
http://www.woodmagazine.com/woodvision/
This is the site to go for “house” videos that WOOD magazine has produced for its site visitors. Although these may have commercials in them, and thus have a bit of a loading wait, they are still solid blocks of good to know information professionally shot and edited, with clear and concise demonstrations.

The second resource for videos is WOODTube.
http://woodtube.ning.com/
These are user submitted videos usually shot by woodworkers who wish to visually share tips, tricks, and techniques they feel are worth passing on. This site has a search engine so you can get more specific in your need to know area.

And finally, don't forget you can use the site search function to bring up past articles of interest too!

Politicians like to panic. It's their substitute for achievement. - Sir Humphrey Appleby




- Beachside Hank, WOOD Online Video Host

Honored Advisor
stick48668
Posts: 10,135
Registered: ‎01-15-2010
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Re: Kitchen Cabinet Steam Damage, Repair & Recolor

Oh the "coomentary that can be said...

I love it...

Soooooo....

Welcome to the forums Trash.....

(the gladiators and lions will be along shortly without warning and under separate cover)...

 

There is a tremendous amount of information, help and technique contained in these following links...

Whatever your likes that may be, they are/will be generously covered there...

So explore to your heart's content...

 

http://www.woodmagazine.com/woodworking-plans/

http://www.woodmagazine.com/woodworking-tips/

http://www.woodstore.net/

http://www.woodmagazine.com/promotions/free-production-information/

http://www.woodmagazine.com/materials-guide/

http://www.woodmagazine.com/photos/



Need inspiration and even more ideas???

Have a look see...



The PHOTO GALLERY pages.



this would have been the week that I'd have finished chewing thru the restraints...
if only new layers hadn't been added....

Stick....
Honored Advisor
Steve Mickley
Posts: 1,567
Registered: ‎10-21-2009
0

It is a near certainty …

[ Edited ]

Jon;

 

… that the finish on your cabinets is nitrocellulose lacquer.  The photos show damage that is rather typical on what I will call “builder grade” cabinets; finish film sufficient to be sold and installed, not sufficient to last more than a few years.  I made a nice living for over 15-years replacing them with custom cabinets.  NC lacquer exhibits very poor resistance to moisture in the form of water-vapor.  Add heat (steam) to the equation, stir in a five or ten years of exposure and the finish failure pictured is common.  In the case of the cabinets in the linked thread the finish was intact so all that was necessary was for the person posting that question was to apply the glaze and a protective topcoat.  Unfortunately, in your case the finish has begun to come off.  A glaze cannot be successfully applied over no finish (or a spotty and failing finish) so that problem will need to be addressed first.

 

While the cleaning suggested by Tony will do nothing to solve your problem, it is the first step you must take.  You must clean the kitchen gunk from your cabinets before you can accurately assess the extent of the damage.  Begin with a thorough washing with a mild detergent followed by a wipe-down with mineral spirits/paint thinner.  When clean and dry, carefully inspect for cracked, flaking and missing finish.  I suspect you will find a similar condition around your dishwasher and quite possibly on cabinet sides adjacent to windows.  Lightly sand (with the grain) these areas to remove damaged and failing finish with 180P open-coat sandpaper supported by a backer block.  Now, before you go any further, another evaluation is in order; is the task at hand: 1) to repair the finish; or, 2) replace the cabinets? 

 

If the decision is to continue, your next task is to restore the lacquer finish to the areas where it is worn away.  Since your intention is to later apply a darker glaze, this step will not be all that demanding.  Pick up an aerosol can or two of NC Lacquer and apply multiple light coats to the damaged areas.  Start by applying the lacquer only to areas where there is no finish and then blend these into the surrounding areas where the finish is intact.  Conclude this step by lightly sanding with a 320P to 380P open-coat sandpaper to uniformly smooth the surface.

 

Now, return to the fifth paragraph in my first reply to Kjsab in the thread to which you linked.  This is the point at which you apply the glaze to your cabinets.  Follow the glaze with a quality varnish.  In the earlier thread I suggested P&L #38; but, given the known moisture issue in your kitchen you may be better served with Waterlox Original.

 

Finally, you wrote:

 

I keep seeing people recommend water-based top coats for the kitchen, but that doesn't make sense to me with the steam floating around.  Am I missing something?

 

You’re not missing anything.  If you want to apply a finish that is at least as lacking in resistance to moisture (and quite possibly more lacking) than use one of the typical water-borne acrylic finished.  The very nature of the chemistry of water-borne finishes makes them susceptible to moisture damage.  They are also far more easily damaged by common household cleaners frequently used in kitchen and bathroom environments…

 

Steve       

 

 

 

Finishing & Refinishing Forum Host
Apprentice Contributor
B1Trash
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎10-21-2012
0

Thanks for the warm welcome...

I was suprised to see the the number of repiles I got in just the afternoon.  Thank you all for your suggestions.  Hank and Stick, thanks for the welcome links.  Tony, I started cleaning with dish detergent and water and after drying, the thing looks the same.  I'm waiting for the kiddos to go down before wiping these guys down with the MS.  I was encouraged that when I was cleaning, the damaged areas blended right in with everything else.  Does this mean that the clear spray lacquer should get me back on track? 

 

I looked at Lowes' website and they have Valspar 12 oz Clear Gloss Spray Lacquer for about $5.  Is that what I need?  Neither Lowes' nor Valspar's websites are exactly screaming NC or anything else, just Lacquer.  Valspar's website has the following: CONTAINS DIMETHYL KETONE, ISOBUTYL ACETATE, ETHYL ACETATE, METHYL ETHYL KETONE, DIBUTYL PHTHALATE, XYLENE, ETHYLBENZENE.

 

Lowes also carries Deft 12.25 oz Gloss Lacquer, for $7 which a reviewer claims to be nc... will either one of these work?  I'm not married to Lowes necessarily, but they are on my way home from work, which means I could get to work on this tomorrow evening.

 

Steve, you said to pick up at paragraph 5 (glaze) after the lacquer.  Are you suggesting to skip the shellac? 

 

So far I have:

1.  Clean w/ dishwashing detergent complete!

2.  Wipe down w/ MS

3.  Sand damaged areas (180P)

4.  Spray NC lacquer

5.  Sand to blend (320-380P)

5a. (Shellac?  Yes or no?)

6.  Gel stain glaze (is this stuff (GF) good after 3 years if I put the lid back on tight?)

7.  Waterlox top coat

 

Thanks all for the replies again.

 

-Trash

Veteran Advisor
grandpabear
Posts: 2,442
Registered: ‎10-23-2009
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Re: Thanks for the warm welcome...

 

 well, as you have seen we call ourselves the friendliest forum on the net. good people, good intentions and good answers


Whittier CA
THE MOST DANGEROUS TOOL IS THE ONE YOU ARE USING
Honored Advisor
Steve Mickley
Posts: 1,567
Registered: ‎10-21-2009

Woops; my mistake …

[ Edited ]

Trash;

 

… and, on second thought, you can actually skip the lacquer and simply apply the shellac in its place.  If fact, on further review of the previous thread (which goes back a couple of years) I will make the following modifications:

 

1.  Clean w/ dishwashing detergent complete!  (Done)

2.  Wipe down w/ MS

3 Expanded.  Inspect all surfaces and sand damaged areas to remove failed/failing finish (180P)

4.  Spray NC lacquer (Delete)

4 Revised.  Apply Zinsser SealCoat® to all exposed surfaces

5 Revised.  Lightly sand all surfaces to smooth and blend (320-380P)

6.  Gel stain glaze (is this stuff (GF) good after 3 years if I put the lid back on tight?)

7.  Waterlox top coat

 

Explanation:

 

Zinsser SealCoat® is clear, de-waxed shellac.  Its purpose is to serve as a barrier coat to prevent any remaining contaminants from creating adhesion issues.  Shellac will also improve the moisture resistance of the finish.  Apply with a soft, natural bristle brush.  Work quickly with no back brushing and a little overlap at the wet edge as possible.  The alcohol solvent evaporates very quickly so too much manipulation will produce a rough surface that will require more sanding.

 

If the gel stain is not skinned over it is probably OK.  But, after three years it most definitely is not fresh.  Given the small cost involved relative to the time you are about to invest in this project, is OK an acceptable trade-off against fresh

 

You also asked:

 

I was encouraged that when I was cleaning, the damaged areas blended right in with everything else.  Does this mean that the clear spray lacquer should get me back on track?

 

Almost any liquid that wets the surface will provide a good approximation of how the surface will look beneath the clear finish.  Typically we would use paint thinner/mineral spirits to “preview” the finish and look for missed sanding scratches and glue squeeze-out.  But, the water you applied while cleaning the cabinets had the same effect.  So, yes, the SealCoat® shellac (which replaces the lacquer in the above revision) gets you back on track …

 

Steve

 

 

Finishing & Refinishing Forum Host
Apprentice Contributor
B1Trash
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎10-21-2012
0

Re: Woops; my mistake …

Steve, thanks again for the advice.  Of course, more answers beget more questions... This weekend I bought a can of spray shellac (per the instructions in the previous thread).  Should I take it back in favor of the brush-on kind?  In the previous thread, I thought you said to hit the entire set of cabinets with the spray shellac.  Would it be advisable to put it in the schedule after the repair and before the gel glaze?  I only have about a cup of the gel stain remaining (GF Georgian Cherry)... no where near enough to finish the kitchen.  I was hoping to use it on my test piece to see if I like the color.  Would I get results representative of a fresh product with it?

 

Thanks to everyone for your ideas and patience.

 

-Trash

Honored Advisor
Steve Mickley
Posts: 1,567
Registered: ‎10-21-2009
0

You can use the Zinsser aerosol shellac …

Trash;

 

… the SealCoat® will just be a bit less expensive by the time you have applied the barrier coat to all of your cabinets.  Also, the shellac is the repair as well as the barrier coat ahead of the gel stain glaze.  Since you will immediately be darkening the finish on the cabinets with the gel stain there is no need to repair the worn areas with lacquer.  After the glaze is applied the Waterlox will be your new finish making the original lacquer finish irrelevant.

 

The older gel stain may certainly be used for testing.  The color will be fine.  My concern only has to do with the quality of the binder (the varnish that holds the pigment in place).  Varnish, even when used as a binder, is a reactive finish; it cures by reacting with oxygen in the air.  The air that has been tightly sealed in the 1/3 filled gel varnish can for the last three years has been quietly reacting with the molecules of varnish (the binder) rendering them incapable of properly curing when applied.  While you can probably get by with the old stain, your kitchen cabinets would be no place to discover that the weakened binder holding the glaze in place was soft and thus created adhesion problems…

 

Steve

 

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