DIY Distress: Repurposing a Cabinet Set-back

DIY Distress: Repurposing a Cabinet Set-back

Okay, we’ve hit a road bump 🙁 Kaleigh and I have been working away on repurposing her TV cabinet, but I haven’t posted any pics yet because we really want to finish it first. And so far it’s been coming along really well.

That is until we put the high gloss clear coat over top of the newly finished paint job. This is where the road bump part comes in.

The cabinet is old – the story behind how we acquired it will come in another post. Let’s just say its history is a mystery to us. So we started off by doing all the right things. You know, removing all the hardware and taking it all apart…

Then we washed it down with TSP…

Kaleigh hard at work!

And I can tell you, the water was gross! So we’re glad we did this.

There was some brute force required to scrape off years of adhesive left behind from a strip of some kind of tape.

You can see the lumps of glue where we haven’t quite finished scraping, and also the mound of glue that’s been lifted. Ick.

We filled all the holes where we’re not replacing the hardware…

…and where there were small chips in the wood.

After the wood filler was dry we sanded every surface like crazy. We even bought a little Black & Decker Mouse sander to help us out.

Kaleigh liked using the mouse. I used the sandpaper and elbow grease 😉

Then we wiped the sanded surfaces down again. And started the priming. We used this Kilz primer.

And I think this is where we made a mistake. But I’ll get back to that.

This is where we stopped for the day.

The next day a light sanding and then the first coat of latex based, eggshell finish paint.

This is just a little sneak peek.

A second coat was applied and another day’s work was complete. We wanted the paint to dry really well so we could apply a final high gloss finish.

And so…

Flying solo because Kaleigh was in school, I tackled the clear coat with a brush and this acrylic polyurethane.

I am not the most patient person in the world, and let me tell you, this was cause for alarm. I hated this part! And apparently it wasn’t feeling much love either. The coat went on too thick, and started to dry too fast. I couldn’t keep up 😐 But when I saw a dark stain start to bleed through the paint along a few seams, I knew this was definitely not a match made in heaven.

And then a small spot on one of the door backs started to show through.

This isn’t a great shot, but just so you get the idea. Thankfully I followed the rule to start with areas that didn’t matter as much, so I hadn’t glossed everything!

Hubby came to my rescue and tried to help out. But we could both see that the only thing left to do was let the gloss dry, and then sand it all off. So that’s where we’re at. The gloss has dried, the brown stain is quite present, and I will be sanding today.

My solution is to sand all this mess off, and then apply a different primer to these areas. I have bought this primer for the job.

It’s an oil based primer this time instead of a latex, and this one is supposed to be the miracle worker. The skull and crossbones is just a suggestion that it might be… and they’re aimed at you brown stain!

I’m crossing my fingers that it works!

But I won’t be applying the high gloss varnish on this cabinet again. Instead I’ve bought a semi-gloss paint in the same colour that we’ve already applied. And that’s where we’re going to leave it.

So stay tuned… once the cabinet is finished I’ll be showing you the ‘befores’ and ‘afters’, and sharing the story of how it came into our life. The story alone is so much fun!

Do you have any DIY dramas that you were able to fix? Any tips to share?

Related Posts You Might Like To Read

DIY: Sewing Up A Sea of Turquoise

DIY: Turquoise Throw Pillows Revealed

DIY Project: Recovering Lid of Pine Chest

DIY Project: Pine Chest Revealed!

It’s about coming home… If you want a remarkable space that tells your story, contact me to see how we can help!

Did you enjoy this post? By subscribing to my RSS Feed you’ll receive each new post without missing a beat! And you can find more posts hereIf a thought comes to mind, comments are always appreciated and I read them all. I’d love to hear from you…


8 thoughts on “DIY Distress: Repurposing a Cabinet Set-back”

    • Thanks Kristie! I guess this project has the old adage at play… if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again! And so I am heading out to apply the new primer and get the wheels in motion A-GAIN!

  • Oh, my! Sheila! So much work. I hope it works also. I wish I had some tips for you, but I’m not handy at all!!! 🙂 I admire you guys doing this. If anything, I’m learning a lot with you!

    Have a great day.


    Luciane at

    • Thank you Luciane! I’m praying that this second round with the new primer does the trick. It will be such a fun, fantastic piece once it’s all done, and Kaleigh is so excited for it to become part of her bedroom décor. It just has to come together… my fingers are SO crossed!

  • I’ve been there, you’re not alone!

    OK, so you might not have good luck painting the oil based primer over the latex paint, but that’s only what I’ve heard. I’ve used that same primer and it’s quite bumpy but that’s OK, it gives the next coat something to grip to.

    I think you might have gone wrong with the type of clear coat you used. That looks like it’s for floors and trim, although one would assume furniture would be fine to use it on. I’ve used the Mixwax poly on furniture, but only DARK colors, not white.

    Don’t worry, it will come out great!

    • Thank you SO much for your feedback Jessica. I’m hoping the oil primer goes on without a hitch – the gentleman that helped me at Home Depot recommended this one after I ran him through what I had already done. I’m SO hoping this works! I’m glad you mentioned how bumpy this primer is – I had no idea, and at this point I’m just about ready to run for the hills 😉

      I also wondered about the clear coat, but it too was recommended by the person who helped me at Benjamin Moore. I definitely can see why it’s for floors and trim. It’s strong stuff once it’s dry – I had a tough time sanding it off, and I’m not so sure I ever want to work with it again. We did not bond, let’s just say, but boy oh boy did it ever bond with the cabinet! I’ll keep the Mixwax poly in mind – does it dry with a yellow tinge? Is that why you don’t use it on white?

      Thank you again so much for your feedback. It’s been super helpful! And now… I’m heading out to get started once again… and feeling just a little scared to exhale 🙂

  • Sigh! What a mess!! My painter actually just told me that the latex Killz does nothing and that you have to use oil. I have knots on my hardwood doors that have come through repeatedly … and he says it is because I’ve never used oil Killz. And I do like the spray poly and the wipe-on poly, so maybe that is an option for the gloss?

    Good luck! I repainted six IKEA cabinets after the color didn’t work, so I feel your pain!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *