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Others are going to give you suggestions for specific finishes. I’ll avoid that because my experience (and I have some) has led me to believe most are fine.
Buy a primer and paint for painted cabinets, have the primer tinted near the color of the final coat. Sand with an random orbit electric sander like: https://www.amazon.com/PORTER-CABLE...TF8&qid=1497798084&sr=8-12&keywords=DA+sander with a fine paper perhaps 120 or 150. Get the edges smooth. Apply a coat of primer, sand lightly again to remove the high spots and roughness produced by wood swelling etc. Use a decent brush but there is no need to go crazy. I often buy china “chip” brushes because latex paints ruin brushes and I am willing to extract the bristles from the finish as I apply it. YMMV. Apply a finish coat and let it cure. You may be done depending on how much solids are in the brand of paint you chose. If not lightly sand and do over.
Buy a polyurethane for clear finish. Chip brush is fine here too. Have mineral spirits to clean the brush and it will last a long time. Gloss has the most solids and is most durable. Semi-gloss is next best and cuts down on the too glossy look. I don’t use satin any longer. Sand, paying special attention to any place glue got on the wood. If not removed it will show. If your cabinets are good hardwood plywood they will take the poly well. Sand again (i do this by hand with the sandpaper folded in my hand so I can feel the surface). then second coat. Eureka.
 

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I think you have already primed? I'm assuming water-based? Don't skimp on the quality of your paint. I use SW ProClassic; there are other similar ones. It's easy to have it color-matched to your van color if you so choose. For example, the white of my ceiling is the same as the white of my van. I regularly use Satin.

If you have any bare wood left, I highly recommend General Finishes Enduro-Var Satin. It is expensive (~$30/qt) but worth every penny and you don't need much. I cannot adequately express how good this stuff is, both for applying and wearing. Water-based but amber like oil. Dries to the touch in about 10 minutes. Bubbles are never an issue. If I had known sooner, my van would have more natural wood--Enduro-Var cannot be applied over stain or even shellac. After the first coat, lightly run a single-edge razor blade held vertically across the surface. This gently removes the nibs. For some surfaces, this could even replace sanding.

I would not use any oil-based finish in the van simply because it will stink for so long in that enclosed space and would not be good for the lungs.

I would not use cheap brushes. For no more money, you can use foam brushes which give a better result and can be easily rinsed and reused. Actually, I've contemplated a post about the hero of my build--one foam brush that has applied every drop of white and green paint used in my build and is ready for more. The foam brush also makes edges easier.

Sanding is critical before and during. After sanding (or the razor blade), wipe with a slightly damp paper towel.

Speaking of edges, stroke from the inside to the edge and lift as you approach the edge (think airplane lift-off). Never start a stroke at the edge. Don't heavily load your brush. You want thin coats, not blobs. Check your edges before you walk away, just in case. Also be careful of holes, like for your handles.

I tried a new-to-me technique in my van and am very pleased with the result. Because the luan had such a crappy surface, I knew that the normal feathering technique for a smooth finish just wasn't going to work, so I painted like a 4-year-old with short strokes totally random. Two layers of paint plus several layers of clear varnish, every stroke different. The result is a surface that prompts people to ask what material it is because the brush strokes make a subtle pattern.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I think you have already primed? I'm assuming water-based? Don't skimp on the quality of your paint. I use SW ProClassic; there are other similar ones. It's easy to have it color-matched to your van color if you so choose. For example, the white of my ceiling is the same as the white of my van. I regularly use Satin.

If you have any bare wood left, I highly recommend General Finishes Enduro-Var Satin. It is expensive (~$30/qt) but worth every penny and you don't need much. I cannot adequately express how good this stuff is, both for applying and wearing. Water-based but amber like oil. Dries to the touch in about 10 minutes. Bubbles are never an issue. If I had known sooner, my van would have more natural wood--Enduro-Var cannot be applied over stain or even shellac. After the first coat, lightly run a single-edge razor blade held vertically across the surface. This gently removes the nibs. For some surfaces, this could even replace sanding.

I would not use any oil-based finish in the van simply because it will stink for so long in that enclosed space and would not be good for the lungs.

I would not use cheap brushes. For no more money, you can use foam brushes which give a better result and can be easily rinsed and reused. Actually, I've contemplated a post about the hero of my build--one foam brush that has applied every drop of white and green paint used in my build and is ready for more. The foam brush also makes edges easier.

Sanding is critical before and during. After sanding (or the razor blade), wipe with a slightly damp paper towel.

Speaking of edges, stroke from the inside to the edge and lift as you approach the edge (think airplane lift-off). Never start a stroke at the edge. Don't heavily load your brush. You want thin coats, not blobs. Check your edges before you walk away, just in case. Also be careful of holes, like for your handles.

I tried a new-to-me technique in my van and am very pleased with the result. Because the luan had such a crappy surface, I knew that the normal feathering technique for a smooth finish just wasn't going to work, so I painted like a 4-year-old with short strokes totally random. Two layers of paint plus several layers of clear varnish, every stroke different. The result is a surface that prompts people to ask what material it is because the brush strokes make a subtle pattern.
So you do a coat of clear varnish last to protect the paint? I'm painting with a white paint (white dove). I'm guessing this will be necessary to keep it clean?

I've already bought the oil based poly. I've dreading using it. My paint is also oil based. I hate oil based stuff but my paint store said they wouldn't use anything different. I'll check on the poly you suggested.

Thanks for the info y'all. So pretty much sand between each coat and we should be good?

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Varnish over paint is an individual choice debated endlessly by those who paint. In your case, I wouldn't because the oil-based varnish will yellow the white even more than it will yellow by itself because it is oil-based.

What primer did you use? If it is compatible with acrylic, you'd be better served by switching.
 

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There are many durable latex cabinet paints, I like to use BM Advance which I like much better than SW ProClassic ( note there are 2 SW ProClassics ). They take hours to really dry and weeks to harden but no clear is needed, they can be handled in just a few hours

Use a good brush never cheap brushes

Don't use high sheen
 

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I didn't know there were two ProClassics. What's the difference? I use SW mainly because it's the best I can get locally. Never used BM.

I like the depth that the poly gives to the painted surface. I cannot attest that it adds endurance.
 

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Chip brushes will shed bristles like crazy. Just buy a good brush and clean it afterwards.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Varnish over paint is an individual choice debated endlessly by those who paint. In your case, I wouldn't because the oil-based varnish will yellow the white even more than it will yellow by itself because it is oil-based.

What primer did you use? If it is compatible with acrylic, you'd be better served by switching.
Honestly I don't know what primer I got. I just got whatever the guys at the paint store gave me. I do a lot of business with these guys because I manage rental property so I do quite a bit of painting (walls not cabinets). They know what they're doing so I trust what they gave me.

I only use good brushes. They don't have to be China bristles but still good brushes. Chip brushes do suck. Wooster makes a silver brush I like.

I've painted with oil based before but I'm always in a hurry and have never liked it because of dry time and cleanup. Honestly after painting with it today I kind of think I like it better than latex. But I also put 10oz of paint thinner in the gallon. I almost got 1 thin coat on everything today. Hopefully I'll get the other done tomorrow and then a light sanding with 400 grit on the stuff that I painting today.

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Discussion Starter #10
Just a few tips from my first time painting raw cabinets.

1. Next time I'd start with small 4" foam rollers instead of brushes. Much faster and a finish that looks as much like a sprayed cabinet as you'll get without spaying.
2. Very thin coats. Especially for primer if you're brushing on. I used a water based primer and added 8 ounces of Floetrol to thin it out and help with brush strokes. It was so hot and humid I should have added an additional 8 oz.
3. Sand out any brush strokes left from the primer or they will only get more visable as you add more paint. I used a random orbital sander with 220 on the first couple of coats. Hand sanded the faces with 220grit after that.
4. I'm using an oil based paint. I added 10oz of paint thinner and it goes on nicely.
5. A spray can of primer will let you hit those edges that get exposed by sand paper.

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