Onsite with Waterborne Cabinet Finishes – Brushed

Some Realities of Onsite Waterborne Cabinet Finishes

When the onsite elements conspire against, it is the craft of the finisher to use all weapons in the product arsenal to overcome – and waterborne cabinet finishes are a great solution. Here are some situational obstacles and product solutions gleaned from our field notes on recent custom built in project:


Large wall unit integrated into trim package.


1. Window inside panelization creates funky natural light tunnel effect

2. Unit is a mix of maple, poplar, mdf and cabinet grade sheet goods

3. Work to be done in closer than ideal proximity to carpentry in rest of house

4. Just for kicks…lets brush it

This is a custom built full wall unit that includes a trimmed window in the center from which a top and side panelization system connects to the two side cabinet units which contain shelving, doors and drawers, and are connected at the bottom center by a large window seat with drawers underneath at floor level. So, the unit integrates with the window trim pack internally, and connects to the rest of the room with the crown, base and shoe running through externally. Trim package and cabinet elements need to receive a consistent finish that is cabinet grade.


Natural light is the ultimate test for angular sheen.


1. Prep and finish sanding have to be spot on.

2. Primer has to be capable on mixed species.

3. Primer and paint have to be fast driers.

4. Brushes have to be capable of cleanly moving material fast.

[Related: Fine Finish Production Tips]

We used ugl wood filler and finish sanded with dustless power sanding gear. Benjamin Moore Fresh Start Superior (046) was the primer, and was paired with the house trim paint, Benjamin Moore Waterborne Satin Impervo (314). Brushes were Picasso and Purdy. Results, pleasing. Another example of brushed waterborne cabinet finishes that integrate well with the trim package and finish.

Here is what our readers have to say about waterbornes. We are an interactive, as opposed to a prescriptive, site. As always, jump on in the comment section and share your own product experiences, or questions you may have on these products.



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11 Reader Comments

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  1. Mike Toth says:

    I’ll never use advance again on cabinets. Looked good but hasn’t hardened (three weeks) like oil.

  2. Bob Johanski says:

    Scott, I have a cabinet that I’m going to spray with the New Graco 360DS and wondering about what “System” you would recommend. I’m thinking Kilz Max, lightly sand, then topcoat with which of the following.
    1- Benjamin Moore Advance
    2 – Insulx Cabinet Coat
    3 – Fine Paints of Europe – Holandlac

    Let me know your thoughts.

  3. Glad you are showing some process to your finishes.You liking superior huh.

    • Scott Burt says:

      Thanks Tommy. Context is everything. I have seen odd product raves lately where paint gets spread heavy over a 12″ trim sample and declared a leveling novelty. Pretty much anything will level in 12 horizontal images! I need to put primer and paint on complex real world apps, especially verticals, before making any claims. Yes, 046 is good. It has strengths and weaknesses, like most primers and paints, but so far the strengths far outweigh the weaknesses.

      • MAK says:

        I have never had good results with 046 with advance coming out not sure why they even make it anymore. I agree though on the comment about laying a thick coat on horizontal surface most products would look good in that instance, real world applications are the true test.

        • Scott Burt says:


          Hope you are doing well. I think the difference, in BM’s eyes, would that one is a modified and the other wb. Thereby justifying two lines based on technology. We used to use the old 333, which was awful. When we switched to 314, it was heavenly. I think that was how we got hooked on it. For building a finish from scratch, its great. I dont love it on repaints though, for coverage and lack of deep base reasons. We have found Cashmere to be a very suitable alternative in times when 314 was not specified or not available. I havent used Advance enough yet to have definitive comments. How are you liking it overall?

  4. Tim Johnson says:

    Looks great Scott. That was all brushed?

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