The paint on this Wood-Mode kitchen cabinet has worn away. (Reader photo)

Q: The paint on our beautiful Wood-Mode kitchen cabinets has worn away around the knobs. The company has given us a can of paint matched to the cabinets, but finding someone to do this work in a way that does not show the repair has been difficult. I do not think we have the talent to do this work. How do we find someone skilled enough to do this task successfully?


A: From your letter, it’s not clear what kind of paint you have. If it’s in a container similar to one for fingernail polish, complete with a little applicator, it’s for small touch-ups only. The Wood-Mode care kit, which the company sends to homeowners on request, includes this paint, a marker that’s the same color — useful for touching up worn edges — and a putty stick to cover nail holes.

Or do you have matching paint, which Wood-Mode sells primarily to professionals? In that case, you should have two containers: one with paint and a smaller vial filled with a catalyst. These two parts must be mixed just before application, or the paint won’t harden.

Whichever type of paint you have, you’re looking at a job that’s probably more complex than you had hoped, assuming the door shown in the picture you sent is typical of how your other cabinets look. The paint is gone by the knob.

A reader replaced a bar shelf on this kitchen island with a piece of wood but isn't happy with how it looks. (Reader photo)

“If the paint has worn off down to bare wood, the home care kit is not good enough,” said Mark Troup, a customer service representative for Wood-Mode ( “They actually need paint for that, and they need to use primer first where it’s down to bare wood.”

And if you have the two-part paint? There’s a complication with that, too: It needs to be sprayed on. So even if you wanted to do it yourself, you would need access to spray equipment and a place to do the spraying. One company with a spray booth and experience in repainting kitchen cabinets is Fresco & Faux in Reston (571-306-0880; Owner Shelly A. Martin said the cost to paint cabinets in a typical kitchen, with 25 to 30 cabinet doors, would start at $3,500.

If you do repaint, Martin suggested also replacing the small knobs with handles, which attach at two points and give hands more surface to grip, which helps protect the nearby paint. “If customers chose to select a single smaller knob, this is the chance they take. They must be very cognizant that even their jewelry could be continuing to rub in the same continuous spot.”

Troup said that when the touch-up kit is appropriate, such as when there are just a few nicks to cover, homeowners should make sure the paint is still fluid. If it’s old, he suggested phoning — he’s at 570-374-2711, Ext. 838 — and asking for a fresh bottle of touch-up paint, which he said he would mail at no cost.

He gets calls from homeowners who need more than the touch-up kit yet want to do the painting themselves, with a brush or roller. In this case, he suggests going to a paint store with a drawer or door and asking to have paint custom-mixed to match the color of the paint and its sheen. To ensure the right amount of reflection, ask for “30-degree gloss,” the technical term for the satin sheen that Wood-Mode uses.

If it were his kitchen, Troup said, this is the approach he would take.

Q: I had a bar shelf removed from a kitchen island. I thought putting a piece of wood across the top would finish it, but it looks terrible. I am thinking of removing the wood and having that edge polished, but that end of the island won’t match the other edges of the island, which have a lip of granite. Is there any other solution? And if I just polish the stone, how should I finish the top edge of the wood that would be flush with the granite?

One solution could be to make the vertical trim pieces shorter and the top horizontal one longer so that it spans the full width of the island. (Reader photo)


A: Can you just reinstall the shelf or one similar to what you used to have? That probably would look the least awkward.

If that’s not possible or something you want to do, consider redoing the trim pieces around the end of the island to create room at the top for a shelf or narrow cutting board resting on the top edges of the trim pieces. Make the addition flush with the top of the granite or stepped down from it, in line with the bottom edge of the stone. Support the shelf or cutting board with wooden or metal brackets.

If you don’t want to add anything to that end of the island, you might want to bring the wood on the end more in line with the stone above. Replace the existing trim with pieces that are as thin as possible, ideally just a quarter-inch thick, and make the vertical trim pieces shorter so the horizontal piece at the top can span the full width of the island. This will hide the tops of the vertical trim pieces, which look jarring now. Beveling the top edge of the new top horizontal trim piece would also help make the wood look more flush with the stone.

As to the finish: If you add a cutting board, rub in mineral oil or an oil labeled for use on salad bowls, then wipe away any excess. For any other wood, add stain as needed to get the color to match the cabinet. Then brush on a couple of coats of a clear, water-based finish.

If you can’t get the wood colors to match, you might want to draw attention to something else at the end of the island. Add a towel bar or hooks for brightly colored hand towels.