Troubleshooting Unknown Painter’s Work

Hi Jody,

It was nice talking to you last Tuesday.  Thank you for giving us your professional opinion on what to do with our cabinets that were painted and then just 1 month after cracked.

I have attached some pictures of our cabinets that were painted in July.  The first picture is the way the original cabinets looked before the painter said he could paint them and they would look perfect without cracking or peeling.

The second picture is after he painted them.

The next picture shows the cracking that took place shortly after on all of the cabinets.  Even the cabinet pieces that don’t move cracked.

Finally, the last picture shows the cracking after the painter attempted to fix the cabinets.  This happened just two weeks after his attempt to fix them.

1.       What are your professional suggestions for fixing these (i.e. what would you best recommend we do to fix these cabinets, how would you fix them)?

2.       Would you recommend that we need to reface them?

Please reply at your earliest convenience.

Thank you,


My Reply:


It appears that your painter caulked the cabinets

prior to painting them. Caulking is not compatible

with nitrocellulose lacquer. The solvents in the

lacquer heat-up and eat into the surface of the

caulking. This causes the lacquer to not adhere

to the caulking, thus, you get the cracking and


For confirmation you can call this #. It’s the Help Line

for Dap- the #1 manufacturer of caulking in the U.S.

Ask the Expert

If you need assistance, please call the DAP TIPS Help Line at 1-888-327-8477 Monday-Friday, 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM EST and Saturday-Sunday, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM EST.

Refacing with new doors will work if you go with plywood veneer or hardwood strips

over the cabinet stiles and rails (door frames ). Avoid the pre-glued paper thin

veneer strips- they look second rate and have the potential to peel.

Refinishing solution:

1.- strip off the existing finish.

2.- prep and sand.

3.- apply vinyl undercoater.

4.- sand.

5.-  fill any cracks with Famowood wood filler

and sand.

6.- apply 2nd coat of vinyl undercoater.

7.- sand.

8.- apply 3 coats of conversion varnish paint

sanding between each coat.

Conversion Varnish is applied the same as lacquer,

looks the same as lacquer, is as smooth as lacquer

but is almost almost indestructble and longer lasting.

Jody Toole


About jody toole

Jody Toole began his career in the painting and finishing industry in the early 1970's. In 1978 he was issued Contractor's License # 357067 (Class C33 Painting & Decorating) by the state of California. At this time he and a partner ran a painting & finishing business. In 1986 Mr. Toole, along with his partner, co-authored a book for painting contractors- Paint Contractor's Manual. As of this writing Paint Contractors Manual is still in print and to date has sold almost 40,000 copies. Today Mr. Toole runs Jody Toole's Professional Finishes as the sole owner. When asked to describe what his company does this is what he had to say- " We put color on wood. We hand mix stains and glazes. We do color matching, distressing, antiquing, refinishing, painted finishes and paint & glaze finishes. Some of the 'looks' we create are Tuscany, French Country, Italian Classic, Rustic, and traditional paint & glaze finishes." And his guiding philosophy- " Get the color right. Above all else, get the color right. And then get the "look." And when these two are right and your customer is beaming then give them a long-lasting durable finish."
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