Asked on Aug 23, 2015

Painting knotty pine cabinets

by Kay2083346
My kitchen has knotty pine cabinets and walls. The walls are good but the cabinets are stained from many hands opening them over the years. I would like to paint them but looking through many web pages of "painting cabinets" I find very litle advice when it comes to knotty pine other than refinishing. Any ideas or experience with types of paint that works well on these ??
  18 answers
  • Denise Denise on Aug 24, 2015
    I just read a post about redoing a knotty pine nightstand, so it cant be that much harder. Remove the doors and hardware, sand inside and outside of doors, and the strips between the cabinets and the strips where the hinges go. Once youve sanded everything you want to paint, wipe down to remove dust and sanded shavings. Use a small roller so you dont have brushstrokes showing. Depending on your paint (regular, latex, chalk, etc., you should wax or polyurethane to preserve the paint, and make it easier to wipe down cabinets. Put your hinges and hardware back on, hang your cabinets. Post pics before and after, so we can all see!. Good luck. Readers, if I missed anything, please jump in.
  • Ramona Lundrigan Sturge Ramona Lundrigan Sturge on Aug 24, 2015
    just clean cupboards well and paint with inser or bin primer it covers knots and then you can paint or restain
  • Paultess Paultess on Aug 24, 2015
    oh my goodness....I love knotty pine.............don't do anything with them...they are at the top of "handmadeness"....I grew up with a kitchen in knotty pine...cupboards, walls and blue pretty...can't believe you want to not just let them be ..
  • Kay2083346 Kay2083346 on Aug 24, 2015
    I would like to keep them but concerned they won't clean. Selling home soon. Maybe I'll leave them for next person to decide. Thanks for your encouragement
  • Mary-Ann Mary-Ann on Aug 24, 2015
    I would leave them as is, or reface. Knotty pine, like cedar, is full of natural resin and the knots will bleed through unless you shellac them first. Your cabinets have a grooved profile which makes it even harder to paint. Embrace rustic!
  • Taffetal Taffetal on Aug 24, 2015
    I had the same problem. For me, it was the orangey color and the shine from the varnish coating. Soooo, I used paint remover that ate away at the varnish. The attributes of the wood became more apparent. Then, I sanded them with a hand-held block. This took off more of the dark hues from the surface and the wood was more sand colored than that awful orange. Then, I put a light coat of bees wax around the handles to block grease and grime. Then, I took my Maybelline foundation make-up with the sponge applicator ("Instant age-rewind eraser") in one of the darkest hues, and sponged the black knots to near invisibility. I had to apply this about 3 times, drying it out each time. Now, the cupboards are acceptable to me. Oh, I changed those old country-look handles to sleek, modern ones (black). You could also apply a thin layer of stain or chalk paint after surfacing the raw wood to lighten your kitchen area letting the grain of the pine show through. I might do that in the future.
  • Barbara Barbara on Aug 24, 2015
    I would leave them! A good cleaning, perhaps strip the old varnish (which turns orangey with age) off and revarnish, but leave the rustic handcrafted goodness free of paint.
  • Gini Gini on Aug 24, 2015
    I would leave them also. I am just amazed at how many people want to paint beautiful wood. I look at my kitchen and think of people that have looked at the house which I do have for sale and they want something different. My cabinets are birch and I love them, the next owner will have to decide what they want to do. It's like oak. Such beautiful wood if not destroyed. I just can't see painting it. Funny thing, in a few years it will be back In style. It just goes in circles.
  • Ellen Ellen on Aug 24, 2015
    I would give them a good cleaning. But if you are determined to paint, Kilz is a good primer product to cover the the pine knots. I'd lightly sand first, for good adhesion.
  • LD LD on Aug 24, 2015
    First, use Dutch Glow ( and see if you have fallen in love with your cabinets again. If you feel that there is to much wood tone in the room, then you would need to deglaze the cabinets, lightly sand with a sponge sander to give good adhesion for the paint, seal the knots for they will draw in the paint keeping you from getting a uniform finish, then put two coats of primer and then 1-2 coats of color. Remember that you can have the primer tinted with the color of the paint, which can reduce the number of coats of paint you need. It is not necessary to empty your cabinets, unless you want to paint the inside as well, just be sure to remove all hardware and hinges before starting to work.
  • Melissa Edwards Rebry Melissa Edwards Rebry on Aug 24, 2015
    We bought a house to renovate and it had the same cabinets and even the walls were knotty pine..but ALOT nastier than yours.....due to a short time frame of completion..I decided to paint...first I used TSP on the walls and the cabinets to remove the years of grime. Then we had a my dad ( a cabinetmaker) make some additional cabinetry to update the kitchen and added a moulding and beadboard to the existing cabinet doors....then painted the cabinetry a creamy white and the walls tan, I contemplated doing a antique glaze on the cabinets...but chickened out after trying it on 1 door and it didnt look like I wish you the best! :o)
  • Joan Joan on Aug 26, 2015
    You're selling the house? The new owners may love the knotty pine. (not me, but to each his own) If it were my kitchen, getting ready to sell, I'd just clean it up really well with TSP. If you want rustic, don't change out the door pulls. If you decide to paint, new door handles would be a good thing!
  • Angela Roberts Angela Roberts on Aug 29, 2015
    I would also leave them and figure out how to clean them really well. For a new look you could change out the hardware.
  • CK CK on Aug 29, 2015
    Just heard about a primer that sounds like it would be for you. Glidden's synthetic shellac primer. It's water based. They also have an oil based shellac primer. Both are said to keep wood tannins from bleeding through when you paint. Of course a super cleaning with TSP is recommended no matter what you use for priming/painting.
  • Louise Louise on Aug 29, 2015
    painted a bedroom was pine. u can just touch it and the paint comes off.i hate it. but room was very dark.and my daughter washed it down with whatever u r supposed 2 use, did not help at all.
  • Sandra Whittier Sandra Whittier on Sep 26, 2015
    My family always told me I cleaned too, often. My lord doesn't everyone wipe up after they cook? Especially after frying? I put my hand above the stove after a year and if it doesn't glide, Murphy's oil soap, and if that isn't good enough I do oil spray with a touch of baking soda. This kitchen just needs a good cleaning.
  • Follow your H Follow your H on Sep 26, 2015
    Do not just sand and paint. Do not just use a primer. You must use Shellac. The easiest is BIN Bullseye Shellac in a tin, just paint it on. Dries quickly and hides knots. Believe me, if you don't do this, the knots will show through, maybe not right away, but within a year. They have a newer shellac based primer, I have not tried it, so can't say. I just use the Shellac.
  • Chr62242121 Chr62242121 on Apr 15, 2022

    Use Murphy’s oil soap