Hand Painting Oak Doors (Black) in Breaston, Derbyshire

There’s nothing unusual about hand painting oak doors! ‘Sacrilege‘ I hear a lot of people say, criminal others will cry, leave them in a natural finish. Well this particular project went totally against the grain when I was referred to a client in Breaston, Derbyshire; she wanted all her new internal oak faced doors painting BLACK! You cant paint oak black, can you? I’m absolutely a traditionalist at heart but having said that, I’m all for change if its done correctly and with the right products in the right environment.

Project: 20 x Oak faced doors to be painted black
Project: 20 x Oak faced doors to be painted black

The referral initially came through Osbourne of Ilkeston, a kitchen company I hand paint kitchens and furniture for and as their client had come to a loss at trying to find suitable doors in the colour and finish she was wanting to achieve, they suggested going for an oak faced fire door and have me to hand paint them in the desired finish. Osbourne’s were supplying a beautiful hand made kitchen (factory finished) and some dressing room and bathroom furniture. The client had a monochrome theme going through this newly refurbished luxury house and black & chrome were certainly in tasteful abundance. The big heavy fire doors would be purely for aesthetic purposes and not part of any fire or building regulation, so products to use were not limited on that score.


Normally, if I was wanting to darken down oak or similar wood species, I would use a stain in the desired colour and then a lacquer on top. The lacquer would draw the grain out from the stain and create a highlighted effect as well as adding durability to the surface.  However, the client didn’t want this type of finish but more of a solid colour with a silky smooth effect that still showed off the grain in the timber.

1st coat of Tikkurila Furniture Feelings Paint
1st coat of Tikkurila Furniture Feelings Paint

After preparing some samples in the finishes I thought would be suitable, I arranged a site visit to discuss options with the client. The house was coming to the final stages of completion with the builder/main contractor still on-site. He was adamant that the finish the client required could not be achieved and like many, his opinion on painting oak doors black was a negative one.

orange Fox (velvet) mini roller 4", applying Otex primer
The orange Fox (velvet) mini roller 4″ are ideal, in this case for applying Otex primer

I personally was quietly confident, as having painted dozens of oak kitchen doors in the system I was going to specify, I was happy that I could achieve the clients expectations. The paints I use are purposely made and designed for hand painted furniture, the offer a durable and hard wearing finish; the (Otex Primer) is a solvent based high adhesion primer which I have tinted to match the top colour. The top coat is a water based product (Furniture Feelings) which offers a soft and silky semi matt sheen.


In my experience with dark pigmented paints I find that the colourant added, leaves the paint quite thin in consistency (not all paints) but as a general rule. This system was no exception o that and therefore I did not need to put in any additives to aid the flow out, other than a splash of white spirit to the Otex primer and a splash of  water to the 2nd top coat, which will be explained later. The oak doors had a raised moulding around 2 inset panels, the application and cutting in sequence with these paints would need to be accurate and methodical to achieve a quality brush free finish.

Purdy Monarchs used for applying the Otex primer and Fox sash brushes for mouldings. The Wooster Silver Tips for tipping off
Purdy Monarchs for applying the Otex primer and Fox sash brushes and Wooster silver tips for applying Top coats

Degrease: Although these doors were bare and untreated, they had to be man handled to be hung and therefore did have numerous builders finger prints over them.  I would not recommended using a water based cleaner/degreaser to remove these marks because it may raise the grain in the oak faced finish. A quick wipe down with methylated spirit on a lint free cloth is most suited. Hoover with henry and tack cloth off.

Prep & Prime: I applied the Otex using the Fox No.12 round sash brush and the Fox 4″ mini roller sleeve, which I buy from on-line store Mypaintbrush. The Fox sash is ideal for accurate cutting in lines around the raised door mouldings and the Fox mini roller sleeve holds lots of paint for tackling the large panelled areas and frame. I add a splash of white spirit to the Otex and as I apply with the mini roller to the flat surfaces, this then gets drawn back into the timber and as I do not lay off the Otex with a brush, the mini roller leaves an almost spray like finish which is ideal once flatted back for applying the top coats.

Once the Otex is dry I then fill up the small holes around the moulding, created by the nail gun. For this I use Ready mixed Prestonett tub filler and then flat back flat back with Mirka Abranet 240g abrasive. I apply a second coat of Otex to the mouldings to cover where I’ve rubbed back the filler and to ensure maximum coverage. Next I flat back the whole door (both sides) using  Mirka Goldflex 320g abrasive. The Goldflex is a superb flexible (sponged backed) abrasive for using on detailed mouldings and also on a block for flat surfaces. I again hoover with henry and tack cloth off with Axus tack cloths. We are now ready for the black top coating.

black painted oak looks with stark white walls and woodwork
The black painted oak looks stunning against the stark white walls and woodwork

Top Coats: Two full coats of Tikkurila Furniture Feelings paint is applied, leaving 1st coat overnight before re-coating with the 2nd coat. For this I again use a Fox sash No.12, a Wooster ‘Big Green’ Jumbo Koter 4″ mini roller and a Wooster Silver Tip 2″ brush for laying off (Tipping) the roller finish.

grain visible through silky smooth finish
The grain is still visible through the silky smooth finish

The client spent quite some time researching for the style and effect she wanted, she has already asked me to hand paint the large bespoke front door to the main entrance of the property so I’m hoping to have exceeded her expectations with the finish and service I’ve supplied and await some feedback…

If you own an existing wooden kitchen or any wooden furniture and would like to discuss the options available to you for refurbishing, please do not hesitate to Contact Me for a open, no obligation discussion to your requirements. If you wish to leave any comments about this post or have any questions, please feel free to do so.

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