Should You Paint Over Oak Cabinets?

Oak cabinets can look absolutely amazing wherever you place them in the house, and they add an appealing rustic vibe that is also elegant. Many people will swear by oak furniture, and to some, it is also almost a sacrilege to even think about painting over the beautiful wood.

But those are the opinions of snobs. At the end of the day, it is your cabinet, and although oak wood is indeed beautiful, there are many reasons why you might prefer to paint over it! But can you? And more importantly, should you? Let’s discuss!

Painting oak cabinets is indeed completely possible, and it isn’t actually that complicated. So that’s a green light in that regard. As for whether you should paint over oak cabinets or not, there are many different pros and cons to argue over.

Here are some of the main points:

PROS for painting over oak cabinets:

  • Matching the aesthetic of the rest of your home:

Oak cabinets are beautiful, but the home is more about coordinating an overall appearance, not about filling it with individually beautiful and different pieces (although you can also do that). It’s more worth it to have the cabinets match the aesthetic, rather than having them as they are.

  • Reducing the amount of visual wood:

If you have a lot of wooden items and furniture, it can get a bit overwhelming. Unless you’re going for a rustic forest cottage, it might not be the best idea. So you can disguise your oak cabinets by painting them!

  • To coordinate with other items:

A good reason for painting your oak cabinets is to match them to the floorboards or to have them coordinate with surrounding items. You want them to look good in their placement, and paint can help with that.

  • It will provide the room with a makeover:

Sometimes you just need a change, and painting your oak cabinets can be an easy and simple makeover for the entire room, as it could make quite a visual difference!

  • It lets you get creative:

Do you need to justify painting your oak cabinets? No, you don’t. If you’re in the mood for painting and you want to get creative, just go ahead! Oak cabinets aren’t sacred, they’re a piece of furniture like anything else, so there’s nothing wrong with giving them a new look!

CONS for painting over oak cabinets:

  • Oakwood is beautiful:

Oak cabinets are beautiful, with an authentically rustic appearance, that gives an elegant and cozy aesthetic to wherever they are placed. So before you choose to paint them, consider if you really want them to look different. You’d be missing out on the natural beauty of oak!

  • It would cover the authentic wooden grain:

If you’re going for a rustic style, oak cabinets are ideal, as the wood will have that imperfect vibe that is elegant and authentic. Covering it up with paint will hide the grain, and that could be a huge shame. So think twice before you paint!

  • It might ruin the wood:

If you paint over the oak cabinets properly, with the right type of paint and the right process, no harm should come to the wood. Nevertheless, altering and playing around with the appearance of the oak cabinets comes with the risk of damaging and ruining them, so beware.

Ultimately, the decision is down to you. What do you want your oak cabinets to look like? Can you achieve that by painting them? Then go ahead!

Is it hard to paint oak cabinets white?

Painting oak cabinets white is completely possible, but it will be slightly harder to achieve a completely professional and smooth end result than it would be with using other colors.

This is because oak has very prominent wood grain, much more prominent than most other woods. (This prominent wood grain is also one of the main traits that set oak apart as a beautiful option for cabinets and furniture).

The problem is, that with white paint, it is very hard to cover the wood grain texture, so often you will paint the oak white but you will still be able to see the textured wood grain through the paint. Darker colors, like black paint, would be able to hide the texture easier. But with white, every shadow and texture is visible, and the wood grain will almost definitely be noticeable. And that is what makes it harder to paint oak cabinets white.

A solution to this added hardship would be to deal with the wood grain before you apply the white paint so that you make sure that it won’t be as noticeable. To do this, you could smooth out the wood grain texture by adding spackle onto the wood, then sanding it down, ultimately creating a smooth surface with no texture. That way, once you paint over it with white, it will look completely smooth and professional.

(The problem, of course, is that you’ve gotten rid of the grain completely, which might ruin the oak if you ever wanted to strip the paint away).

How do you paint oak cabinets to hide the grain?

When painting oak cabinets, it is important to take into account that the wood grain might still be visible, as the texture will be quite prominent, even from underneath the paint. Especially if you’re painting with lighter colors, or with white.

So, how do you paint the oak cabinets so that the grain is hidden?

There are a few steps you can take:

  1. Start by taking the cabinet apart, so that you can work with it better. Don’t worry, you can put it back together at the end!
  2. Sand the wood surface down, this will get rid of some of the bulk of the grain patterns. Then thoroughly clean the surface.
  3. Next, you need to get rid of the rest of the wood grain, by producing a completely smooth surface. There are many different products you can use for this, such as spackle, which will fill in the gaps of the wood grain, to make the surface even.
  4. After you have applied your chosen product to get rid of the wood grain, sand the surface down again to ensure it is smooth and even.
  5. Make sure everything is clean and dry, then add a base of primer! (This will guarantee that the paint can properly adhere to the surface).
  6. Finally, you paint the cabinet! If you’ve done everything right, the wood grain should be completely hidden, and the paint will appear smooth and professional.

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