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Special-effect finishes add a custom look to old kitchen cabinets at a fraction of the cost of new cabinets. Many special-effect techniques rely on the application of two coats of paint, a base coat of one color and a second coat of a contrasting color. Sanding the second coat lightly or splotching it when wet with plastic wrap, sponges, or rags lets the base coat show through in random areas, achieving an aged and used look. A crackling technique simulates old paint that has cracked and peeled. The technique relies on a latex-vinyl second coat that separates when applied over a crackle emulsion.
If you are using any of these techniques on unfinished surfaces kitchen cabinets, be sure to sand them smooth and fill dents or scratches before starting.
Paint will not hide milling marks or other imperfections. Paint will only magnify them. Start with 80-grit sandpaper and proceed through 120-grit to 180-grit finish sanding. Round the corners of the work pieces slightly to enhance the look that they have been used. This will also help the paint adhere.
On unfinished kitchen cabinets, apply an oil-base stain-sealing primer coat under the base coat. The sealer keeps resins and oils in the wood from bleeding through the paint. Latex primers may work on individual pieces, but they tend to let resins around knots bleed through and mar the final finish.
Your choice of colors can be as wide ranging as your imagination. Colors of the same hue such as a dark green over a lighter green, for example can produce a classic look on kitchen cabinets. Paint the first coat; if it looks rich and the primer doesn't show through, you may not need a second base coat. Otherwise, scuff it lightly with thin sandpaper or 000 steel wool, pick up the dust with a tack rag, apply another color coat, and let dry.
Creating a crackle finish
Paint one coat of the base color and let it dry completely on the kitchen cabinets. Depending on your design, paint the crackle medium on either the entire surface or portions of it. Let this coat dry thoroughly also. Apply the second coat of different-colored paint and let the crackling dry. Protect the surface with two coats of spray varnish.
Distressing a painted surface for faux antique finish
Old is in style and you don’t have to wait 100 years to get that wonderful antique look on unfinished kitchen cabinets. Distressing the wood will create the worn look you want for your kitchen cabinets.
Remove doors from he kitchen cabinets before distressing the basic case. Apply the base coat and when dry, apply a second coat of paint or a wax/pigment mixture. Let this coat dry, then scuff it with sandpaper using varied pressure until the base coat shows through. If using a wax/pigment mixture, polish it with a soft cloth and distress the wax sparingly. Rub with dark wax for an aged patina effect.
Distress the unfinished surface on the kitchen cabinets or apply base coat and distress it in a random pattern with a combination of old keys-both large and small-fastened to a key ring. Bounce the keys randomly across the surface. Apply a second coat of contrasting paint and distress the finish.