Painted doors and Birch plywood table

by Greg Zimmerman

We (and by “we” I mean Delicia) didn’t like the oak-look laminate doors in our Casita so it was time for a makeover.  We also had a new dinette table and bulkhead made since the originals were water damaged.  I found a marine wood shop that recommended birch plywood.  1/2″ for the bulkhead, and we beefed up the table and filler piece to 5/8″.

Tip:  Get a #2 square drive screwdriver.  Nearly all the hardware in a Casita uses square drive screws

“MDF” is glorified cardboard. It doesn’t like water.

Before starting I did a bunch of research on painting laminate and acquired the proper safety equipment.  The chemicals used are pretty harsh so I use a quality 3M respirator with filters made for spray paint and nitrile rubber gloves.

For surface preparation, start with a light sanding, then “de-glosser” which dissolves any grease or other substances that could interfere with the paint sticking.  After that dries, a coat of oil based BIN primer by Zinsser was followed up with several coats of Rustoleum 2X ultra cover paint.  We chose “Heirloom White” which is an antique white.

Tip: If using spray cans, use a spray grip handle for the cans to save your fingers.

The results were amazing.  If some coats came out a little rough, I lightly sanded with 220 grit before coating again.  The wood strip above the microwave cabinet came off after drilling out 2 rivets.  We also replaced all the hinges with new ones.  Lowe’s carries the same style for about a dollar a hinge.

We upgraded a few of the latches to heavier-dutier versions and bought new bezels which are the rings around the push buttons that are deeper than the Casita ones.  The new bezels keep the push buttons centered instead of wobbling around and sticking out too far.  Beetlefreak.com is the place to go for new latches and bezels.

Our furnace grate was rusty so I repainted it as well.

We’re really happy with how it turned out!  It really brightened the interior.  Let us know what you think in the comments.

8 comments

Levi August 14, 2018 - 1:57 pm

The cabinets look great my question is did you use the new birch wood are did you paint over the Casita laminated doors ? Reason I asked is you showed photos of the bad laminate door that water messed up.And you bought stuff to paint laminate .Somdid you just replace some of the original with the Burch and repainted the originals ? The new bezels look sharp. Guess I’m going to have to break down and get a few at a time. Love the post thanks for sharing.

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Greg Zimmerman August 14, 2018 - 6:21 pm

Good question. The table top and panel that go next to it to make up the “bed”, plus the bulkhead were all made of new wood. The remaining doors are the original laminate that we painted to match.

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Jen October 5, 2020 - 10:29 pm

Hi! Would you happen to remember how many cans of primer and paint, respectively, it took to do all the doors and table? I know it s been a couple years, so just a shot in the dark!
Thanks!

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Greg Zimmerman October 6, 2020 - 1:53 am

I want to say it was close to a case of 12 each. If I were to do it again, I would get a couple of quarts or even a gallon of the BIN primer and roll or brush it on. With the Rustoleum top coat, I would brush one door to see how it looks. The spray, while giving a uniform finish makes a mess and overspray goes everywhere. Brushing would also give a thicker coat and you won’t need a respirator.

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Tom August 15, 2018 - 12:10 am

To reduce overall weight and lighten up the interior, I replaced all my faux panels with 1/2″ birch plywood, edge banded with birch veneer and spray varnished. I probably reduced weight over 50%. Nothing wrong with painting, it looks real nice. I am a woodchuck and wanted the wood look. I think yours looks “slicker”. And more in line with the Casita look.

Bravo, maestro.

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Greg Zimmerman August 15, 2018 - 12:12 am

Very nice. Someday I’d love to do all birch plywood, but at the time I didn’t have a table saw (I do now!). It’s on the someday list though.

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Tom August 16, 2018 - 9:21 pm

Correction. I used maple veneer 1/2″ plywood and edge banding. Lighter look, similar to birch.

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Dan Casey June 27, 2019 - 6:02 pm

I like the look !👍…I’m a professional painter of 45 years and was glad to see you used a very good primer instead of using a water born primer….good job…..
Dan

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