How to Use Automotive Paint on Wood Cabinetry

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Things You'll Need

  • Palm sander

  • 200-grit sandpaper

  • Tack cloth

  • Plastic drop cloths

  • Heavy-duty fabric drop cloths

  • Blue painter's tape

  • 2-gallon painter's pot

  • 2- to 4-inch latex paintbrush

  • Acrylic latex bonding primer

  • 5-gallon bucket

  • Automotive paint


Do not attempt to cover the wood cabinetry with one or two heavy coats of automotive paint, or you will end up with runs and sagging in the final finish.


Because automotive paint is thin and runny, it may soak thorough fabric drop cloths. It will also pool on plastic drop cloths, which can lead to unforeseen messes. Use both types of drop cloths together for thorough protection from paint mishaps.

Do not work from the container of automotive paint or a two-gallon painter's pot. Because automotive paint is so thin, it may splash from these containers. Use a five-gallon bucket to help prevent unintentional messes.

Automotive paint may soak through fabric drop cloths.

If you would like to use automotive paint on wood cabinetry, there are a pair of important factors you will need to consider. First, regardless of what type of paint you choose to coat wood cabinetry, you must condition the surface to accept adhesion by coating it with an acrylic latex primer, or the finish will peel soon after application. In addition, because automotive paint is relatively thin and runny, you must use a specific application strategy, or you will see runs and sagging in the final finish.

Step 1

Remove the shiny varnish topcoat from the wood cabinetry by sanding it with sandpaper. Skip this step if the wood is unvarnished.

Step 2

Wipe down the wood cabinetry with a tack cloth.

Step 3

Cover portions of the wood cabinetry you want left unpainted with painter's tape. Protect flooring below and adjacent to the wood cabinetry by covering it with plastic drop cloths. Lay fabric drop cloths on top of the plastic ones.

Step 4

Pour one gallon of acrylic latex bonding primer into the two-gallon painter's pot. Apply a coat of primer to the wood cabinetry using a two- to four-inch latex paintbrush. Allow the primer to dry for three hours.

Step 5

Wash the brush with water.

Step 6

Pour one gallon of automotive paint into a five-gallon bucket.

Step 7

Apply three light coats of automotive paint using the two- to four-inch latex paintbrush. Do not over-apply. Smooth any runs with the paintbrush as you apply. Allow two hours of dry time between coats.


Ryan Lawrence

Ryan Lawrence is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado. He has been writing professionally since 1999. He has 10 years of experience as a professional painting contractor. Lawrence writes for High Class Blogs and Yodle. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and public relations with a minor in history from the University of Oklahoma.