top of page
  • Writer's pictureNatalie Yon-Eriksson

Painting Kitchen Cabinets with Linseed Oil Paint

Updated: Feb 8

The interest in painting interior cabinetry and furniture with Linseed Oil Paint is on the rise as homeowners and craftspeople look for a healthy paint formulations free of micro-plastics.


Many modern finishes for kitchen cabinetry, for example, are durable but easily chip or crack, are difficult to maintain and repair, and are often unhealthy formulations, high in harmful VOCs.

Once a modern finish is damaged, it is likely cheaper to replace the cabinets entirely vs. refinishing. In this case, the future means a trip to the landfill.

Ottosson Copenhagen Green on cabinetry by @brianpersico.

Linseed Oil Paint can wear with time based on traffic but offers a long-lasting finish that is easy to maintain, easy to repair, and is a simple formulation with no harmful VOCs.

When the cabinets begin to look rundown, clean, repair if needed, and repaint.


For interior cabinetry, we would recommend the Ottosson Linseed Oil Paint.


For bare wood,

ensure a clean, dry surface and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations: Apply a “primer” coat of 30% paint to 70% Ottosson Boiled Linseed Oil (interior applications). Let dry and apply 2-3 thin, even coats of undiluted Linseed Oil Paint to build-up the surface protection.


Over an old coating,

ensure a clean, dry surface and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations: Apply 2-3 thin, even coats of undiluted Linseed Oil Paint. No primer coat needed.



Top 5 Most Important Application Suggestions for Cabinetry


  1. Do a test before you start your project to confirm color preference, best application method, etc. to achieve what you are looking for in terms of design.

  2. Apply with a soft bristle brush or with a clean cloth or applicator pad to avoid excess brush strokes.

  3. Ensure each coat is fully dry before applying the next.

  4. While not required, you can gently sand between coats for a super smooth finish.

  5. Take into account the wood or materials being used for the project. If there is more than one substrate type, this will impact your results. If the cabinet boxes are made of plywood and the drawers/doors are hardwood, the paint will soak in and may appear visually different between the two.


It is possible to apply a shellac primer as a first step to avoid this difference, effectively creating a barrier so the paint will not interact with the different substrates. Not a strategy we would encourage for exterior applications where a barrier is problematic but one that is useful for interior cabinetry or furniture. 

If this strategy is used, no 30/70 primer would be applied. Apply the shellac primer and once dry, apply 2-3 thin, even coats of undiluted Linseed Oil Paint.



Shellac Primer


An over the counter, conventional shellac primer can work for the strategy discussed above, although many brands are so thin, it may not create an effective barrier with just a single coat. Many conventional shellac-based products may also have solvents and other unhealthy additives.


It is possible to create your own shellac primer. High quality dewaxed shellac flakes are available at Earth + Flax. Dissolve in denatured alcohol or 200 proof grain alcohol (food grade to avoid additives such as acetone found in many denatured alcohol products).

Mix to a thin, syrup like consistency. Avoid going too thin but keep in mind it will be thinner than what Earth+Flax Studio recommends for window restoration: How to Mix and Apply Shellac Flakes for Window Restoration.

Approximately 2-3 ounces of shellac flakes to one quart of alcohol. Adjust as needed.

Apply an even coat across cabinetry and allow to dry fully before applying 2-3 relatively thin, even coats of Linseed Oil Paint.






Clean with diluted Linseed Oil Soap on a routine basis as needed.


When maintenance is required, clean with undiluted Linseed Oil Soap, scrub if needed and repeatedly wipe down with clean water to remove soap residue. Let dry completely.


Once clean and dry, complete any necessary Linseed Oil Putty repairs (we would recommend Rubinol, a sandable interior putty) and some light hand sanding if needed. Vacuum and wipe down repeatedly, working to achieve as dust free a surface as possible.

If there were many repairs, it may be helpful to spot paint these repairs with a thin coat of the 30/70 primer or undiluted paint before proceeding.

Apply 1-2 thin, even coats across all surfaces, following general application suggestions.

Painting vs. applying a maintenance coat of Purified Linseed Oil will likely be required based on the heavy traffic most cabinetry receives.



159 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page