Asked on Jun 25, 2014

Advice needed on how to 'prep' cupboard doors for painting or varnish

by Valerie
I recently found two cupboard doors at our local dumpster. They are beautifully hand-carved, and I really would like to retain as much detail of the carving as possible. The doors themselves are made out of teak, and they have been painted (front only) in a water-based paint.
I have now had a cupboard made to fit the doors. I have the doors 'clamped' to the cupboard as it seems that they had been left out in the rain and had warped. Hopefully by clamping I will take care of the warping problem.
Any advice on the best method to prepare them for painting would be gratefully received.
I would also consider varnishing them, except that I was unable to match the original wood, so some solutions on how to deal with the different woods would also be appreciated.
q advice needed on how to prep cupboard doors for painting or varnish, painted furniture
q advice needed on how to prep cupboard doors for painting or varnish, painted furniture
q advice needed on how to prep cupboard doors for painting or varnish, painted furniture
  16 answers
  • Carol Richardson Carol Richardson on Jun 26, 2014

    • See 4 previous
    • Valerie Valerie on Jun 27, 2014
      @P.j. C I realise that I must keep away from sandpaper - I like the idea of using an old tooth brush, as well as highlighting the higher areas with antiquing glaze so thanks for both suggestions.

  • Adrianne C Adrianne C on Jun 26, 2014
    What a find! Awesome!

    • Valerie Valerie on Jun 26, 2014
      @Adrianne C I agree! I was thrilled to bits - at the moment I am just enjoying looking at it! I can just imagine someone, many, many years ago, spending hours carefully carving it. The two sides are slightly different so it is clear that it was hand-carved - I am so impressed with the level of talent that has gone into this piece!

  • Carol Richardson Carol Richardson on Jun 26, 2014

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    • Valerie Valerie on Jun 26, 2014
      @Connie Carroll This is also new to me, so again, something more to explore. Thanks for drawing my attention to it.

  • Dora F Dora F on Jun 26, 2014
    For some spaces a Dremel works well around detail.

    • See 2 previous
    • Valerie Valerie on Jun 27, 2014
      @P.j. C Thanks for this information - I appreciate it.

  • Diane Sterling Diane Sterling on Jun 26, 2014
    Who would throw those away?!!!! Great find!

    • Valerie Valerie on Jun 26, 2014
      @Diane Sterling I must admit that I am pleased somebody did - at least I now get to treasure them!

  • Anna Erishkigal Anna Erishkigal on Jun 26, 2014
    Use stripper, and then immediately after you gently scrape away the worst of the paint layers, use rubbing alcohol and a rag to get a bit more of the paint out of the cracks. This is a tedious, time-consuming process. The last few layers you'll want to follow up using a xacto blade with the alcohol to get paint out of the cracks (gently so you don't gouge your wood). I've done it on a similarly carved cabinet with good results.

    • See 2 previous
    • Valerie Valerie on Jun 26, 2014
      @Anna Erishkigal Thanks for the extra information, I appreciate it.

  • Susan Susan on Jun 26, 2014
    I would use stripper to remove the paint and forget trying to sand it off because of the detail. Franmar Soy Gel is very good, as well as, Citristrip gel. Use a toothbrush for the detail work. You could forget stripping it and use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint if you plan to paint it anyway.

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    • Valerie Valerie on Jun 26, 2014
      @Cheryl HD I am hoping that I will be able to find a local substitute for Citri-strip in this country - it sounds like an excellent product.

  • Ltp196740 Ltp196740 on Jun 26, 2014
    I'd use citrus gel, a non toxic paint stripper (use a toothbrush for the intricate parts) and then wipe down with denatured alcohol...good luck!

    • Valerie Valerie on Jun 26, 2014
      @Ltp5 Thanks for this suggestion - I am going to see if I can find a local equivalent.

  • Meena M Meena M on Jun 26, 2014
    Are you going to paint over them or stain? If you are going to paint, especially with a slightly darker color, all this work mentioned is unnecessary. Just lightly sand, especially where paint may be chipping or peeling. Then paint the color you want. There is no need to strip. I've done this multiple times with out problem.

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    • P.j. C P.j. C on Jun 26, 2014
      If you decide to repaint over the white, use a liquid deglosser instead of sanding. Try Zinsser's Paint Deglosser, which helps the new paint bond with the existing coat.

  • Pajunka Pajunka on Jun 26, 2014
    Isn't there a liquid sandpaper out there that lets you skip the sanding completely? I'd talk to the Home Depot, etc guys. They'll help.. Also, there's lots of help on Pinterest too. Love those crafty girls!

  • Peggy Rickard Peggy Rickard on Jun 26, 2014
    Use chalk paint. Hardly any prep work needed.

  • Ruth Nichols Ruth Nichols on Jun 30, 2014
    For an old look, just paint over the white with a darker paiint and wipe off the excess. It iwll look worn and beautiful. I would ldo a gray paint on top then wipe off some of it so the white shows through.

    • Valerie Valerie on Jun 30, 2014
      @Ruth Nichols This is an excellent suggestion - thank you!

  • Diana Hollowell Diana Hollowell on Jul 05, 2014
    I would paint and distress to give those awesome doors a fresh look

    • Valerie Valerie on Jul 06, 2014
      @Diana Hollowell That is a great suggestion - thank you!

  • Kathy Meyer Kathy Meyer on Aug 16, 2014
    Whatever you decide to do, please share the end result with us.... those are amazing doors...

    • Valerie Valerie on Aug 16, 2014
      @Kathy Meyer Hi Kathy - What a lovely surprise to find your comment! Eventually I only did a little 'cleaning up', mainly because I was afraid of losing the detail. The 'clean-up' consisted of washing them down with an abrasive cleaner, then putting additional primer on the 'bad' spots. I then had a carpenter make a cupboard for them. I now use it to store my little 'treasures'! It is still warped, but somehow I think that adds to the charm. I have attached two photographs. The second one is a close-up of the handles. I am thinking of using the hanging ones, but at the moment it is still the little blue flowers. The knobs presented a bit of a problem, as I was keen to use something from approximately the same period, and they have not been easy to find. The hanging ones are actually ear rings, which I think are quite charming, although not terribly practical! Thanks again for remembering!

  • Jean Myles Jean Myles on Apr 12, 2016
    The earing is lovely Cupboard looks great

  • Valerie Valerie on Apr 13, 2016
    Thank you!