Wednesday, November 2, 2011

MakerMonkey Battles the OC

'OC' as in Orange Cabinets, that is.

For some strange reason, five years ago, when the makers of our new Monkey Cave built the place, they chose to install cabinets of surprisingly good quality, but tinted the most hideous shade of orange known to man (or monkey).  Even worse, I didn't think it possible, but for some strange reason, the finish they used to coat the things is strangely water soluble(!) to the extent that stains from water droplets from the previous owner had discolored the cabinets throughout the house.  Yikes!

Of course, we decided to refinish these cabinets, which consist of some 111 doors and drawer fronts spread throughout the house.  The plan was to paint them, since sanding all the nooks and crannies would be next to impossible.  We choose a semi-gloss black/brown, figuring that a color this dark would be nearly indistinguishable from stain, especially if topped with a satin wipe-on poly clearcoat.

Surprisingly, a very, very, dark brown paint is impossible to find.  The closest I could find is Sherwin Williams "Bittersweet Chocolate", which has the right tone but is still many shades too light.  In the end, I ended up mixing my own color from a black and two browns and having a local Ace Hardware color-match the result.  I'm very happy with the results.

If you are curious, here is the formula, which fills the paint can to the very very top with pigment:
Base: Neutral 340 (Quart)

B:  3Y 14.500/48
C:  0Y 2.000/48
F:  0Y 20.000/48
KX: 0Y 8.000/48
L:  0Y 2.500/48
V:  0Y 6.000/48
I:  0Y 22.000/48

And the result before:

and after:

Incidentally, I learned two important lessons in doing all this.

First, tintable oil-based paints are really hard to find, and getting them in California in a gallon-sized can or in semigloss is nearly impossible.  Fortunately, a few manufacturers have recently come out with new "hybrid" paints that have the durable Alkyd tints used in oil-based paints, but suspend them in water instead of oil.  I used this, and got the best of both worlds!

Second, I found that when using a spray gun to apply paint on the doors (I rolled the cabinets frames), it's critical to be really disciplined with:
  • spraying straight lines across the entire surface without stopping or changing direction
  • overlapping neighboring passes perfectly by 50%
  • angling the spray head and progressing in the forward direction so that any over-spray is directed towards the unpainted part of the door instead of the part you've already painted.   
Otherwise, any over-spray or pauses in spraying will be visible as uneven streaks in the gloss after the paint dries.  Then, you'll have to paint those doors all over again (like I did).

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