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How Do You Paint Oak Cabinets To Hide The Grain?

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Oak grain is absolutely beautiful, when you are staining. But when its time to paint oak, they have to go. Here's how.
fill in oak wood grain before painting

How Wood Grain Works

Wood grain, at first may seem like something that you can simply sand away. Until you begin sanding, and sanding and sanding. Eventually , all you have done is raised the wood grain, making it even harder to hide. 

You see, wood grain, IS THE WOOD. It is ‘ingrained’ in the wood. It doesnt just go away. You will basically just sand everything around the wood grain, making it more pronounced. There is only 1 way to hide oak wood grain. 

Fill it in.

Prep Oak Cabinets Before Grain Fill

The first thing you want to do, is sand your oak cabinets. Using a 120 grit sand paper will be more than enough. This is because you are gonna want to prime your oak cabinets BEFORE you fill the wood grain. 

After sanding, vacuum, or wipe or blow off the dust. Make the surface 100% clean. We want the best possible bond between the primer and the oak cabinets. Now you’re ready for primer. We use extreme bond primer. It dries fast, it dries hard and paint bonds to this primer better than any other primer. 

smoothest cabinets possible

Filling in the Oak Wood Grain

‘There is always more than 1 way to skin a cat.’ My first painting boss said that more than once. And it’s true, even for filling grain. But , in my opinion, there is only 1 professional way to fill oak grain. And that is to use ‘Aqua Fill’ It will take about 3 good passes, but it wont shrink once the grain is filled. And when it dries, and has been painted and primed, it is the only filler that look’s 100% natural.

Using a plastic 3 inch mud knife or even a credit card, smooth the Aqua Coat over the wood grain. Start from one end of the cabinet door, and skim the Aqua Fill over the entire door. GO WITH THE GRAIN. Do not try to go across the grain to try and fill in missing or unfilled areas. It is gonna take a few coats. But it is worth it. 

Between each coat, let it dry, and give a light sanding with some 220 grit sand paper. Sand by hand, no palm sanders. We want to leave as much aqua fill behind as possible. 

After the grain is completely filled, add another coat of primer. Let dry, snd and move on to your top coat.



My name is Joshua , and I have been a painter ever since I got out of the Army, back in 1999. Painted residential and commercial until I was about 32, when I wanted something different. So I went on the road for about a decade playing rhythm guitar for the Grateful Dead. Just kidding, I ended up painting bridges and dams across the U.S. Now I own my own painting company, Liberty Painting , in St. Louis. Not only does my website discuss our procedures and our values as a company, but I take pride in sharing my knowledge of home maintenance and home improvements.

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About Me

Joshua Mintz owns Liberty Painting , in St. Louis, MO. He has been a painter for 23 years, starting in the residential field, then spending a decade painting bridges across the U.S., and finally returning to residential as a small business owner.

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