Glaze technique ages cabinets

DEAR DEBBIE: I have 30-year-old brown-stain kitchen cabinets that I want to paint to have an aged look. I've seen you do this with light colors, but I'd like to try black with a red glaze. Would that work? -- Lorraine.

DEAR LORRAINE: This will make a stunning transformation, similar to a makeover I did for a homeowner whose only request was not to use black. But cheekily I couldn't resist this luscious combination of red antiqued with a black glaze, and he was delighted with the sophisticated results.

You don't say whether your cabinet doors are flat or have molding detail. Antiquing will work with either style. The glaze coat is transparent and allows the base coat to peek through, adding depth and interest to the finish. With the molded doors shown in the accompanying photograph, the effect is even more dramatic.

The top coat, or glaze coat, will be the dominant color. In the step-by-step instructions that follow, simply switch to a black base coat and red-color glaze for your cabinets.

This technique is for antiquing over sealed wood. Sand the surface to rough it up and then apply a good-quality primer that is designed to cover slippery surfaces. Next, apply two coats of your base-coat color; I used red. Allow the first coat to dry before adding the second coat. Make a colored glaze by stirring together one part black paint to three parts glazing liquid. Brush a thin coat of the black glaze over the surface, building up the color and getting into all the indentations. While the glaze is still wet, rub back most of the glaze from areas where the cabinet door would naturally be worn, along the edges and the handles. Also remove glaze from the indentations to highlight the design. Once the cabinets are dry, apply two coats of satin varnish for added protection.

DEAR DEBBIE: I have decided to repaint my (outdoor) concrete fountain, which has been a light color of pink and is quite stained by leaves. What would be the best way to get an antiqued look? I thought I'd start with a bronze or tan and then use another color to rub on and off to fill the creases. What color choices would you pick? I'd like to finish with a gloss. With much appreciation. -- Ruby.

DEAR RUBY: Why not choose a copper verdigris finish for your fountain? It will look very authentic, just like a copper vessel that has been naturally aged, and stains and dirt will be far less noticeable.

You can buy verdigris kits at the craft store, or you can create your own. Begin with two coats of copper or bronze paint for your base and let this dry. You will need a light and a dark shade of blue/green, either two shades of aqua or turquoise; these are the colors in verdigris. Mix each with equal parts glazing liquid. Brush on the darker-color glaze first in random patches, making sure the color goes into any crevices. Next brush on the lighter blue glaze sparingly. Spray or dab water over the entire surface; let it eat through the drying paints. With a rag, dab over the surface, removing most of the blue glazes and leaving the excess behind in the indentations. The copper base coat should be prevalent. When you are happy with the illusion, let the finish dry overnight, then apply two coats of gloss varnish for sheen.

Debbie Travis is a columnist for King Features Syndicate. E-mail questions to her at