Friday, December 19, 2014

How-To: Glazing Cabinets

Is this a busy time of year or what?!?!
 I feel like the two weeks before the kids get out of school, seems to be the craziest time. Your running around Christmas shopping, there are tons of school parties, and events. wrapping presents, cookie baking...the list goes on and on. I do love the hustle and bustle of it, though I wish it were a bit colder here, so it felt like the holidays. 
72 degrees is a little warm for December! But that's Texas for ya.

Today I wanted to share with you a How-To for glazing cabinets. I've talked about posting this for some time, just hadn't gotten around to getting the pictures taken. It takes twice as long to do a job like this, with a camera in your hand the whole time. 
So I hope this is helpful. 
And hey, what better season to give it a try...when the whole family is in town, all the kids are home tearing up the house, your baking cookies and giant meals!! 
Well, maybe not...Pin it and save it for later instead :)

If you don't already know me, or follow my blog....I am a Faux Painter, I paint murals, faux finishes, and cabinets...lots of cabinets! 
So the work I show you on here, isn't something I just tried out and show you the steps...
this is how I do it on a daily basis!

Here are a few before and afters, so you can see what a difference it makes. These cabinets were already painted before I came in. They were just a stark basic white, and the walls around were a glazed stucco plaster look. The cabinets just stuck out like a sore thumb. This glazing technique, helps tone them down, and warm up the space. 

This process doesn't take a long time (even though it looks like it), and doesn't look super heavy, so it's good in  most spaces. 
You can start with any color of base painted cabinets really. Just tweak the glaze to go with your space. 
Most pre-painted white cabinets are sprayed on, and that works well with the technique. But if you looking to start from scratch with yours, you can check out these blog posts on How-To Paint Cabinets Like A Pro, or How-To: Painting Laminated Cabinets

So to start, lets talk about what kind of glaze to use. 
If your cabinets are an oil base paint, you have to use and oil based glaze. Latex will not adhere to an oil based surface.  If your unsure, always use an oil based glaze.  
Oil sticks to latex, but latex does not stick to oil!!
If your cabinets are a builder grade laminate material, you can still do this technique just stick to the oil based glaze. 
I know alot of you up north unfortunately, can not get oil based paints...or you may just hate the smell of oil products, and turpentine. 
You can use latex here, but make sure you are putting it over a latex surface, if you are unsure, a fresh coat of oil primer, and a new coat of latex white will prep the surface for you. 

 I use Sherwin Williams Oil-Based Faux Finish Glazing Liquid. They did stop carrying this for awhile, and it was very hard to come by, ( I bought a stock pile) but you should be able to find it in at least a quart size now. The material is pretty thick, so some paint thinner, or turpentine will help the flow of this glaze. As far as color goes, I just buy tint by the ounce from Sherwin Williams. If you are using the oil based glaze, make SURE you ask for the tints that work with oil. They carry two kinds. For this color I used some raw umber, and a hint of yellow and red. A TINY drop goes a long way. So start slow, and keep trying your color on a sample piece.

For my brush, I used the cheapy $1 chip brushes. You don't want to have to go to the hassle of cleaning this out later. Chucking it the trash is much easier!!

I work with one door at a time. Start at the top, so you don't brush up against wet cabinets. Try picking your smallest door to start with.
 I cover the whole front of the surface, don't worry or mess with the edges yet. The product can dry fast depending on the type of glaze, and your rooms conditions. So you will want to work fast here.

Next I take a dry rag, and follow the pattern below, wiping most of the product back off. 
The more you wipe, the lighter the glaze will be. 
I start on the inside edges (1), and go all the way around. I usually take off more in this area, to give the appearance, that the crevasses is a deeper looking color.
Next I wipe the center (2), of the door. 
Then, the top and bottom pieces (3), in the direction of the grain.
And lastly, the sides (4), going all the way from top to bottom.
Afterwards I run my rag all the way around the edges of the door, to clean of any heavy goop.

It should look similar to the last picture when done. 
This pattern stays with the natural grain of how the cabinet is built, and will make your faux, look not so faux. 

Next, I take a very soft brush, (a Purdy is what I used here) and brush it softly out, in the same patterned you just wiped in. Don't worry about the unpainted cabinets next to you, they will wipe down easily later. 

Once the product starts to dry, you don't want to touch it again with the brush, it will pull off the paint. So make sure each area is as you want it before moving on the the next portion. 
The softer you press here, the less streaks you will have. You are going for a sort of grain direction in the pattern. If you are looking for a very light glaze, taking off most of the paint, and softening afterward should give you no streaks. Be sure when your getting the sides, you also run the brush around the outside edges as well.

Once the door is done, clean up any areas that may have gotten painted in the process. 

The door on the left, is the only one painted here. You can see the difference in color.

After each door is done, I prop it open, so not to get paint on it from a nearby door. If you are doing the back as well, this is the time to do it. Just remember to hold the door from the top (for upper cabinets), or from the bottom (on lower cabinets) when painting.
I cant tell you how many times Iv'e made a whole painted hand-print on the front of a door I just painted by grabbing it.

When working on the lower cabinets, I start with the doors, and the finish up with the drawers. I like to take them out completely when working on them, though it isn't always possible, like around sinks.
The pattern here is similar. I start with the top and bottom (1), then the sides (2), then the front (3).

The doors, and drawer on the left are finished. The ones on the right have not been painted yet.

We were going for a bit of a heavier look here. But again, the more you take off, the lighter it will be.

Here is how I prop the doors when finished. 
There is no need to remove doors for this process. It is actually much easier to work with them hanging. If you dont plan on painting the backs, it is much easier to wipe down the back side as well..

The next step I do, is darkening the creases. Not all doors or drawers will have these spaces. But If yours does, this is a super important step. It just accentuates the shape of the door. 
Make sure when you do this the door is dry, at least 24 hours. 
I've tried to rush it, and it isnt a pretty site...the words that  come out of your mouth will not be pretty either! So just be patient!

I just deepen the glaze I have already used, with a hint more brown, and a TINY bit of black.
With a small brush, I run along the inside crease with a good amount of paint. 
Be liberal.

Then with a dry rag, around one finger....and at a slight angle, I follow the raised edges, touching the flat surface with my nail. You don't need to press really hard, you just don't want to pull your finger to close to the inside crease, as this will take away too much of the paint. 

You will end up with a faded line, that is heavier on the inside, and fades out.

The last part of the glazing technique is lining the edges. This may not seem like it is necessary, but this really makes the shape of the cabinet pop. Why go to all the trouble, and still loose the cabinet into the next.
I use the same color from the crevasses. Coating both sides of the smaller chip brush, I scrap it all back off. You don't want any excess globbed on the brush. Just some of the color covering the base of the brush.

Then I lightly, run it along the high edges of the each door. Use the middle, to the base of the brush here. The tip of the brush tends to fan out, and can leave little brush streaks on the door.

I do the same thing to the outside of the door as well.

Here, the door on the left has the edging in the middle only, and the door on the right has no edging. You can see what a difference it makes to the shape of each door, 

And here is the area complete.

On any open shelving, or trim pieces...I follow the same steps, making any deep corners or crevasses darker with glaze.

The final coat here is the sealer. 
Make sure that you have let the base glaze sit at least 24-48 hours before applying this. Do a test spot somewhere inconspicuous, as it can wipe off all of your hard work if it isn't dry enough. 
I usually do this step on the same day as the glazing of corners, and edging. It usually is dry enough, but try it out first. If you have the time....wait another day!!

I use an oil base satin sealer when using oil based glaze, Minwax Wipe-On Poly. You can use this same brand but the latex version in satin if you are using a latex glaze (comes in a silver can just like this one). It's only about $10, and it goes pretty far. depending on what finish, and how many coats you want. I have tried TONS, of sealers. And this really is all I use. Now it can tend to yellow a bit over time, but on a glazed cabinet you should notice it. On top of a white based cabinet, you will see the yellowing! Don't brush this product on, infact don't use any kind of brushed sealer. It leaves streaks, and drips, and is always shinier than when you wipe it on. 
It's also loads easier to wipe on. I dump a good bit into a bucket, wad up a rag, and dip it in. You want it wet, just not dripping. 

The blue nitrile gloves are the only kind you can use with this sealer!!!!
Regular latex gloves will disintegrate in about 1 minute
I've used them, when it was all I had on hand, and the finger tips always fall off and get stuck to the door. This stuff is terrible to get of your hands, once it dries.  

With the saturated rag, you will basically just wipe it on. Make sure you follow the direction of the grain, or the same direction you brushed the glaze in. If you look at the piece your sealing from an angle, you will see the sheen, and will be able to see any areas you missed....they will look dry still.

Two coats of this is really best, but you can do 3 for more durability. With the first coat, it can tend to look a bit spotty, or dryer in areas. With two coats you are sure to get an even looking surface.  This will give you a nice satin, furniture looking finish

So there you have it, just a few steps to beautifully glazed cabinets. I know it seems like alot, but after a door or two, you get the hang of it, and will blow right through the rest.

Don't forget to Pin it, and save it for later!

And as always, I'm happy to answer any questions!


  1. Your work is so beautiful! I am researching in order to paint my cabinets and your information is invaluable. I have done it the wrong way and taken shortcuts in the past and am ready to use oil based products this time. (Thank God I live in the south!)

    1. Thanks! Well now you will have all the tools, I'd love to see pictures when your done. Good luck!

  2. I love the glazed cabinets but my door fronts that I want to refinish are completely flat. Will I get as much distressed character without all of the edges?

    1. No, unfortunately with flat front cabinets you won't get as much of the distressed finish. If you glaze the whole front you can still see the distressed. The other option is to add trim on the door fronts. You can also edge the cabinets with the darker brown glaze to show some of the shape.

  3. I want the to do black bottom cabinets in my kitchen but also want the distressed look. Will glazing work on such a dark color or will I have to do some wax/sanding in between coats of paint?

    1. Glazing won't really work over a dark color like black. You could do a lighter color wash, or do a distressed finish instead. Waxing and sanding is the finish I do with black paints on cabinets. Try using it just on an island, and bringing in another color for the rest of the cabinets.

  4. I love love love your cabinets!!! You've made me not afraid to do mine, so I will attempt this over the weekend! Wish me luck:) Thanks for the awesome tutorial. I hope mine look as half as good as yours.

  5. I am going to paint a desk for my sister-in-law and she wants it to be bright red and distressed. Do you think this technique would work using red as a base color? I really like the distressed look but am not sure how to go about doing it!

    1. Red is a great base color to start with, to get the distressed look you will need to go pretty dark with the glaze color. What is the finish of the desk now??There are several other finish options, to make it look distressed.

  6. Would this technique work on thermofoil cabinets?

    1. Yes! This would work as long as they are prepped eight. Check out this post on painting laminate cabinets....

    2. No way to do it on top of the thermofoil without removing it?

    3. You can, just make sure to use oil primer and oil base paint. Seal it at least twice as well!

  7. If I use the latex sealer can I still wipe it on like the oil or will I have to use a brush?

    1. You can still wipe it on, but you Have to make sure what's underneath is all latex as well. You can can't put played over oil based paints. It won't stick.

  8. Hi Alyson - Can I give an antique look after priming white vinyl cabinets? - Unfortunately I have this style cabinet and would like to give the look of the cabinets you did here - I can't get the oil based Faux Finish Glazing Liquid - What do you recommend? THANK you so MUCH for any info or help you can give
    Laura in PA

  9. I have been searching "How to glaze cabinets" for days, Google, YouTube, all available sources! There are different ways they show us with 2 minutes videos. Your explanation is TOTAL value. I haven't done yet, but after I read your post there is NO question to ask. I am going to buy material NOW!!! I can do it with your help, THANK YOU, THANK YOU !!! You are an amazing artist!

  10. Hi, Please bear with me...I have builder grade, solid wood, golden oak cabinets both upper and lower. I have a med ivory travertine backsplash, dark brown/black granite counters, copper sink with black appliances and a light travertine floor. Our home is Spanish/Mediterranean, and the ceiling in the kitchen is about 12/14 ft high. I would love to redo my cabinets but for the life of me, I can't come up with a good color or glaze. Everything is new except the cabinets, so they need to go with the rest of the existing kitchen. HELP ME PLEASE!!! By the way, I'm Karen!

  11. Hello, I was wondering for the step where you darken the creases, you said you add a little bit of brown and black to the glaze. Do you mean just regular black and brown paint? Sorry if this is a stupid question. This is my first time doing this!

  12. What finish is the paint that you use as the base coat? Is it a flat or semi-gloss for example? Your work is gorgeous by the way!

    1. I used satin on these cabinets. I never use semi gloss on cabinets. Only for trim work. If you want more shine, change the sealer to a semi gloss.

  13. I was wondering what the finish on the paint is that you use as your base coat. I have used flat based on the recommendation at the paint store, but I have problems with the glaze dragging and sticking to the base coat.

    1. Oh gosh, ya never use flat on anything but walls. Cabinets should always be at least satin. If not semigloss. Anything that a glaze goes on, including wall shold be satin. Otherwise the glaze sucks in and won't move.

  14. your work is awesome!!! This is what I'm trying to do, but was told the wrong thing . Now I have to start over and sand down my new cabinets. I wish I found you sooner. Now that I know what kind of glaze to use I can start over. The only thing I was wondering is what did you mix together to get the color for the crevasses?

    1. Oh no! Well sometimes you can't strip the paint easier than sanding it down. I don't have a specifc color for the tiny as I custom mixed it. You can buy tint by the ounce at most big brand paint stores, not the hardware stores. Try a couple tiny samples with a few drops of tiny to see what colors you can get.


  16. You want to let it dry for at least 24 hours after applying. As long you haven't mixed oil and latex materials, it should come off. You can wipe lightly with a rag in the first coat. Apply it heavier with the second. Make sure to wait until first layer dry, 12-25 hours to reapply sealer. It tends to stay tacky and then you pull the sealer and it will leave marks.

  17. Lovely! You are truly an inspiration. What colors did you use for the blue cabinets?

  18. Thank you so much for the tutorial. I have white painted cabinets that are 24 years old. About 10-15 years ago, I distressed them. I sanded the edges. Then I used Minwax stain. I rubbed it on in circular fashion. Then using a clean rag I wiped it off in the manner you showed. I have a few more chips and wanted to touch up. I've found that's not so easy. Any recommendations? I tried using stain like I did the first time. But it seems like the cabinets just soak in the stain. When I wipe off they are darker than I would like. Should I abandon stain and do the gel? Will I have to sand my old stain off? Thanking you in advance.

  19. I have researched, watched youtube videos for weeks on paint,antique waxing...etc. Your tutorial is so easy for me to understand. my question is...did you use the same faux color on both the cabinets and bookcase? If not, what is the color you have on the bookcase?

  20. Thank you. I followed your tutorial and glazed my entire kitchen. It turned out great. I was really scared, but I followed your directions. Thank you for all the great tips. Including what paints to use.

  21. And I couldn't have done it without you! Thank you!

  22. Hi there! I have exactly the same amount of cabinets you do. I'm Jen from CA btw!
    I want to make my gold cabinets (super gold) and make it a stained or aged darkened color almost black but not quite. How much do you think it will cost me and also what color would you recommend to get this finish? Thanks so much btw. I wished I could send you a photo but idk how. Thanks so much for this guide. You're AMAZING!!!

  23. Hello, I have ugly oak looking cabinets that I am having painted a cream color. Initially I wanted them done in lacquer, but my painter informed me that the flat center square of the cabinet door is not real wood (only the border is real wood)--the center is actually paper or laminate (or something really cheap) so he can't sand it nor can he use lacquer, so he has to paint with acrylic. Obviously I can't glaze on top of the acrylic as he said it won't stick. The question I have is that --I would like to have a chocolate pin stripe added to the creases of the border of the cabinets. What should I use to outline these creases that will stick to acrylic and have that nice finished look?

  24. hi i really love this look. My cabinets are bleachwood, can I just put a glaze on them or do I have to sand and paint them white first.

  25. Thanks so much for all the detail wording explaining your techniques! The pictures helped to encourage me to go for it and do this to my 9 year old kitchen cabinets. THANKS!

  26. Hi Alyson! I too, have the ugly builder grade solid wood, golden oak cabinets & hate them! My better half won't allow me to paint them, so I'm wondering if you could help me out with the steps to use a glaze on them so that I can make them look a bit more brown like a mahogany. Thank you so much (in advance)!

  27. I am so excited that I found your blog. I have oil-based painted cabinets in (barely) off-white. They are starting to look a little worn and since I love the glazed look, I was wondering if I could use the glaze to just give them a new look. No chipping paint or anything, just tired looking. My kitchen walls are a very light gray- can I gaze my cabinets with a gray tinted glaze - have you done that color and how does it turn out? Thank you so much for being willing to help all of us! LaVonda in Texas

  28. I am wanting to give my new kitchen a face lift and am wanting to paint the cabinets white and use a pewter glaze for them. I am a little lost on how to go about getting the pewter glaze. Any info?

  29. Did you glaze the cabinet frames/skeleton as well?

    As you can tell I can't think of the professional carpenter word. ..

  30. Can this be applied to a gloss finish paint that is already on the cabinets?

  31. I am reading your tutorial and wanting to update the look of my kitchen. However, I have soooo many cabinets. My kitchen is very large with a butler's pantry attached and also cabinets in my keeping room so I'm kind of overwhelmed with the whole process. My cabinets are dark walnut now, so I'd have to paint them first. Just the thought of painting all that gives me a sick feeling.... what if I mess them up? I'm just wondering if the task I'm trying to undertake is too much for me to handle. Should I just hire it out? I'd hate to ruin my cabinets.

  32. Can you apply the oil based glaze over water based paint and primmer?

  33. Can you apply black glaze on white cabinets? I have black counters.