I'm in the midst of a kitchen update and plan to repaint my cabinets. I have this intricate rope molding that is currently bugging me. I wanted to paint it white to match the new color scheme, but I'm unsure if the detail would stand out as well against a lighter color. What are your thoughts on white versus a darker color for rope molding?

Also, I need some advice on prepping the molding for painting. The top coat needs to be sanded off, but given the detailed nature of rope molding, I'm not sure if regular sandpaper (flat paper) would be the best choice. Has anyone had experience with this and found a good method? Would a sanding sponge work better for getting into all the nooks and crannies?

Lastly, when it comes to the actual painting, what would you recommend between using a brush or going with air spray painting? I'm looking for a finish that's smooth and professional-looking.

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  • Are you trying to paint only the rope molding while leaving the molding above it wood/stain? Commented Feb 2 at 3:09
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    No, I intended to paint the entire cabinet white, including the entire molding.
    – Chris
    Commented Feb 2 at 3:13
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    I don’t have personal experience with liquid deglosser, but I expect someone can weigh in. Beyond that, if you commit to spraying, be sure to practice a lot. Commented Feb 2 at 3:28
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    Are you sure the top coat has to be sanded off? A shellac primer will stick to most finishes, and mist finishes will then stick to shellac. You might lose some fine detail, but this piece doesn't seem to have a lot of fine detail. WARNING: Refinishing frame-and-panel doors requires care to avoid sticking the panel to the frame and having it crack as humidity changes, unless the panel is an engineered material like plywood; read up on that before applying anything to them. For cabinets, it might be easier to just buy new paint-grade doors and save these for reuse/ReStore .
    – keshlam
    Commented Feb 2 at 3:42
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    Many parts of this are opinion/decorating advice and it's far too many questions in one. Please take the tour to see how things work a bit differently here. Also, a look at how to ask a good question, and what is on-topic and what is off-topic would help.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Feb 2 at 13:30

1 Answer 1


There is no substitute for hard work and elbow grease. However I have had good results with using a deglosser on detailed parts.

First give everything a good cleaning with TSP. Allow all to dry well.

Then scuff with a Scotch Brite pad or equivalent. Paying attention to the detailed areas. Start with a medium abrasive and finish with fine. ( I do not like using sandpaper, as it cuts the high areas and reduces the detail.) Vacuum off the cabinets to get all the dust off. A soft brush and vacuum work great together.

Then I paint on the deglosser where I can still see glossy areas. Sometimes the pads do a good job and deglosser is not needed.

The only way to get a good result is to spray the cabinets. Remove the doors and drawer fronts. Mask everything that you don't want painted. I spray 2 thinner coats, sometimes 3. Follow the instructions from the paint manufacturer regarding any thinning for spraying. ( Sometimes I prime other times I don't depending on the color and paint being used. Both have given great results.)

The path to a good job is through the prep work. Take your time with the cleaning, scuffing, deglosser and masking. The spraying is easy.

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