Should I Fill the Grain on My Oak Cabinets Before Painting?

If you’re sitting in a home with 90’s Golden Oak cabinets, chances are you’ve at least toyed with the idea of painting them. However, it’s also likely that if you’ve debated a paint project, you’ve also wondered about filling the grain so you have doors that look smooth.

But is it necessary? 

In most situations, we would say it’s just not worth all the extra work. And there’s a LOT of extra work! There are a variety of options for filling the grain, but all of them are going to require a tremendous amount of sanding. It’s time consuming, labor intensive, and messy. And usually, the end results aren’t worth it.

  1. When you apply 1 coat of primer and 2 coats of finish paint to your cabinet doors, you’re going to find that the graining in the oak is dramatically minimized. The paint and primer don’t fill the grain, but they do minimize all but the most open and porous.
  2. Much of the “look” of the open grain is due to the color variations. The open grain stains much darker than the surrounding wood, creating a deep contrast. However, when the surface is painted a solid color, all of that visual contrast disappears. And along with it, much of the visual representation of the grain.
  3. Finally, painted oak is actually trending! A growing number of cabinet companies are releasing lines of “painted oak” cabinets. The solid paint color is always popular, but the addition of the grain texture adds a modern appeal. (Who’d have thought!)

In most situations, when you paint your oak cabinets, you will see some of the physical texture of the grain when you look at the doors closely and at angles. However, when you stand in your kitchen and look at the room, the only thing you’re usually going to notice is the new, lighter, cleaner, updated cabinets! So don’t let the worries about seeing too much grain prevent you from updating your space!

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