Some types of wood have grain that is so open even a good paint job will do little to hide it.
Oak is just such a wood species, which is why if you do not fill the holes within the grain first, you will have a difficult time making the results look smooth and desirable.
You will need to fill in the holes found in the grain first with a good primer before you can add a layer of paint.
If you do the job right, all you will need is one coat of primer followed by two coats of paint.
It helps if the primer you choose is the same color as your paint for a better-looking finish.
Even a single coat of primer can help make the final paint job look better.
So, the first step should be to find the right primer that is best suited for wood with large grain patterns such as oak.
However, keep in mind that the right type of primer and paint is only part of the process.
You will need to do more if you expect the final product to have the appearance that you want.
And that’s where finding a good grain filler for oak wood come into play, especially when you want to paint your oak cabinets super smooth.
What’s the Best Grain Filler for Oak Cabinets?
Unfortunately, there are only a relatively few grain filler products that work well on oak cabinets.
This is because the product not only needs to fill in the grains, but also to be easy to sand.
Because sanding is important to get that smooth finish once you apply the paint itself. You will need to account for the following considerations.
- Long shelf life
- Fast dry time
If you have lots of wood to paint, then you want a product that has a long shelf life.
Plus, a fast-dry time will speed up the process. Now you are ready to choose between the best primers for the job.
1- Aqua Coat
It doesn’t have the best smell, but that is usually not a big issue when you apply Aqua Coat to the wood.
Unlike other primers, this is a clear gel that will sink into the grains and fill up the holes.
You can use a taping knife to apply the product or an old, outdated credit card works well also.
What makes Aqua Coat a good product is that it is thin enough to smoothly apply, but thick enough to get the job done.
The downside of Aqua Coat is that it can be difficult to sand smooth if you apply too much.
Worse, it may leave behind globs along the edges which are even more difficult to smooth out.
However, it does dry harder than DryDex Spackle which is another recommended product in our list. Although Aqua Coat is more expensive.
Another issue with Aqua Coat is that because the gel is clear, if you missed a spot or two you will have difficulty noticing it.
That’s why you might want to use a primer that has a color such as white to ensure that all areas are properly covered.
This is a spackle and not a wood grain filler.
And while the difference may seem minor in some regards, it’s actually pretty important depending on how the wood will be used.
The spackle itself is easy to apply, can be sanded thoroughly with little difficulty.
Especially if you use 220-grit sandpaper which leaves behind a smooth finish.
Another advantage is that DryDex Spackle will last for several months when sealed properly in the can.
This means that you can use it today and weeks from now and get the same results.
All you need is a sanding sponge, putty knife, a damp rag, and a little elbow grease to remove the excesses of the product from edges or other surfaces.
Although the spackle is not quite as hard compared to Aqua Coat once it has dried, it does offer other advantages that you may find desirable when painting your oak cabinets.
3- Famowood Wood Filler
Famowood has established quite the name in wood filler products and for good reason.
But it is not perfect as the end result is a hardened wood filler that may be difficult to properly sand. But there are advantages as well.
The natural color of the filler makes it easy to blend into the wood.
That makes painting the final product easier because you do not have to cover filler that has an unnatural or unusual color.
However, the downside is that you may miss some spots in the grain because of the natural coloring.
Another benefit is that the odor is considerably less obnoxious compared to many other filler products which makes working with Famowood easier.
However, you should always apply any filler product in a well-ventilated area.
And while the price is not outrageous, Famowood does not last very long once you break open the seal.
All things considered, DryDex Speackling is arguably the best compared to Aqua Coat or Famowood.
However, there may be certain situations in which either of the other products may produce better results.
How to Paint Oak Cabinets to Hide the Wood Grains?
To level out the wood material, grain fillers offer an easy to apply product that professionals use frequently to get the job done.
Since fillers are between putties and paint in terms of consistency, they are fairly simple to apply.
It is recommended that you use a water-based filler instead of oil because it dries a lot quicker.
Here are the steps you need to take to properly apply the filler and paint the wood.
Step 1. Sand
Use 150-grit sandpaper to prepare the wood for the filler product.
Sand by hand along the grain of the wood for the smoothest results and wipe off the wood when completed.
Step 2. Prime
Add the wood primer. Be sure to match the primer with the filler, so if you use an oil-based primer, an oil-based filler is best.
The primer allows the filler to stick better so you can paint with more confidence.
Step 3. Dry & Fill
Let the primer dry first before adding the filler. Use a paint brush, scraper, or putty knife to spread the filler in a circular motion.
This will allow the product to fill in the holes in the grain.
Step 4. Scrape
Use fine steel wool or a paint scraper to scrape away the excess filler.
The more excess you remove now, the less you will have to sand off later.
Step 5. Sand
Use 120-grit sandpaper and remove any excess along with sanding the filler smooth.
Once completed, wipe away the dust with an old rag and if you see any swirl marks left by the sandpaper, use 150-grit sandpaper to remove them.
Now you can prime the surface and start painting assuming the wood is dry and clean.
The better job you have done with the filler, the smoother the surface will be.
One nifty tip when using your best oak wood filler is to spray the paint instead of using a brush, so you do not leave behind brush marks on the wood.
That will result in a better-looking final product.
Plus, while some wood-grain fillers can be kept around for future jobs, they should not be confused with wood putty as they are two different things.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls. He had worked as a painter for more than a decade to serve the customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques that are being implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.