Glazing New Wood Cabinets: Finding the Right Formula
Those of us who know our way around the paint store really well will invariably make a pit stop in the glazing liquid aisle. I know I'm not alone in this as I've consulted a legion of glazing liquid aficionados on the subject. We all agree--one can never have enough, so we buy it often whether we need it or not. As I edge closer to the thirty years of professional painting mile marker, I've started to wonder how many gallons of glazing liquid I've gone through. Accused of being obsessed with this factoid, I've settled on a best guess and believe I've made my way through around 1,080 gallons of glaze. What I can't figure out is how many times this single product has bailed me out of a color or paint durability jam.
Glazing liquid is the equivalent of alchemy in a can. It can be made or manipulated into a painted finish so unusual or rare or perfect it's sometimes hard to figure out how, what happened, happened. This is why you need to follow one rule when working with glazing liquid--keep good notes. Yes, it is like baking--just as any measuring deviation will affect how high your cupcakes rise, the proportions of any glaze/paint/water combination will affect the color and finish of your glaze.
To adjust or "kill" the vibrance of my freshly painted Wild Pink 2080-40 painted wood cabinet I experimented with four separate glaze colors. I mixed one part glaze into one part latex paint and thinned that combination with water by half.
I ran each potential glaze mixture over a primed and Wild Pink-painted piece of oak tag. Separating each glaze into it's own section on the board with a piece of tape, I forced myself to make a note of exactly what color I used and if it was a thin glaze or a thick glaze. I wrote down which brush I dragged through the glaze, which rag I ran over it, and so on. I'm not kidding--thirty years and I'm finally writing it down, not because I can't remember or hope for the same result, but because sometimes, something unexpectedly spectacular happens. And when it does, it's maddening if you can't figure out how to make it happen again.
My careful sample making made it a breeze for me to get the soft and dusty appearance I was after, which mellowed out the Wild Pink just enough, and made the entire piece look old and just a tiny bit dirty.
If you experiment with mixing glaze, you'll discover it can be difficult to predict how the transparency of the glaze color will affect the base coat color underneath. When using two glazes simultaneously, which color you apply first matters, the condition of the tool you use will matter, how weak or how strong you're feeling that day will matter. It's a technique that involves a special blend of random predictability. To help ensure you apply the same amount of glaze evenly over a base coat and take it off or manipulate it in the same way everywhere, it's helpful to tape the surface into small sections, allowing each to dry before you tape and blend the adjoining area. It's a little by little, everything’s the same, but not, kind of operation!
As a substitute for polyurethane over painted furniture, glazing liquid has no equal. It can be applied clear and in layers, or patted off with well wrung out cheesecloth to obliterate the brush stokes. It can be thinned or applied directly from the can. Each result will vary. Take notes. In multiple layers it can be wet-sanded once dry to a soft and lustrous finish. I've mentioned repeatedly my penchant for waxing painted furniture. Painted and glazed and waxed furniture has the same soft glow you'd expect in a fine furniture piece, so it's unlikely anyone will figure out that my hand-rubbed, glazed and waxed cabinet was constructed of birch plywood. The cabinet feels as old and solid as it looks. The salvaged porcelain doorknobs and wire doors add some age as well, suggesting an era when glass was costly, and carpenters were not.
My love for glazing liquid is as strong as ever, and made it possible for me to transform a modestly constructed built-in into a functional and furniture-grade storage system for the dining area. Where a completely impossible-to-furnish corner once languished, I've made a place to store china, silverware, tablecloths, and all my ditzy salt and pepper shakers, too. Next time, I'll show you what's been happening on the other side of my long narrow living room, where things keep getting better, gallon by gallon.