Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing: Before Or After The New Counter Tops?August 20, 2021
Guide to Hiring the Best Local PainterSeptember 8, 2021
Whether attempting to complete your kitchen makeover project yourself or hiring a local painting company, you need to do your research on whatever route you choose for your kitchen cabinets. Should your seams or panels be caulked during your project?
We do not use any caulk on doors or drawers at The Picky Painters, but we sometimes use caulking where the cabinets meet very minimally. We also normally caulk scribe and shoe molding but never to walls or flooring. We have completed a few hundred cabinet refinishing projects in Cleveland, Ohio. I have been a painter for over 25 years, so I can give excellent advice.
What do the pros say?
Whether you should use caulk when cabinet refinishing is a hot topic in painter forums and social media groups. Like most debates, there is no easy answer; it depends on where you are caulking and what coating would be on top of the caulk. The short answer would be No, but there are some exceptions if you know what you are doing.
What are the Cabinet Makers standards?
We will start with the standards of what cabinet-makers follow as they would never use caulk on any cabinets. When we talk about cabinet doors, most are made to have a floating panel in the middle to move with the wood’s natural expansion and contraction. Wood is constantly moving and shifting, and its climate or environment affects its movement substantially.
What can Happen from Caulking Kitchen Cabinets?
Movement makes the cabinet doors the worst to caulk as they may shift and make the caulk line crack and wrinkle up. Wrinkling is not an attractive look and may haunt you in the future. At the same time, this may not affect your cabinet if they have regular paint to flex and move with the wood.
But I don’t recommend regular paint for cabinets unless you want to keep repainting them like your woodwork. It could be a rental property, or maybe they have been painted a few times. It depends on how vital your cabinets are to you. We will tell you this is one of the most expensive items in any home to replace.
Where on Kitchen Cabinets Can You Caulk?
When you talk about caulking to the wall or where the cabinet boxes meet, this is a more likely place where you will not have any problems. You want to ensure a clean line and only use enough caulk to fill the gap. Do not leave caulk on the wood surfaces.
Your cabinets should fit together well if properly installed. Sometimes the walls are not level or as straight as the edge of the cabinets, so you can’t have a small gap. Small to medium openings are what scribe molding is typically used to hide. It is just a tiny piece of wood matching your cabinets to clean lines where the drywall or framing may have issues.
Between kitchen cabinets, where the cabinets meet each other, is also where you can wind up with more significant gaps that may benefit from using caulk. Although the more influential the opening, the more issues you can have down the road. Using a very flexible product can help with these issues. But this can cause problems if your coating is harsh drying, which works best for non-cabinet-grade products.
When and Where Should you Caulk your Kitchen Cabinets?
- Where the cabinet meets the wall or each other? Yes, Acceptable but not recommended for more significant gaps. The more extensive the hole, over 1/16th on an inch, the more likely it will crack or have issues later.
- Around the middle floating panel? No, it needs to contract and expand with temperature and humidity changes, which is why it’s a floating panel.
- On the corners? Yes, Acceptable but not recommended. Down the road, it could bulge out one day from excessive movement.
- Shoe or Crown Molding? Small gaps – Yes, Acceptable, but with fine finishes, make sure it’s only left in the crevice, or you may see the finger markers
- Scribe molding is the same as other moldings but ensures the gaps are not more than 1/16 inch.
Here at The Picky Painters, we aim to provide homeowners in Cleveland and the surrounding areas with high-quality painting and kitchen cabinet refinishing services. If you’re interested in starting a new painting project in your home, give us a call or fill out our contact form to get started with us today!