Thinking of painting your cabinets? You may want to read this first...

The market has spoken: Homeowners that are seeking to make investments in their homes are finding that kitchen refinishing is perhaps the most equitable return on that investment they can make. Inspire by Color is a decorative finishing company, offering all types of faux painting, decorative finishing and cabinet refinishing. However, if you looked at our schedule lately, you'd think we offered nothing but kitchen cabinet refinishing. It's the hottest thing going in residential updates right now.


DIY or Hire a Painter?

Ok, so it's natural to assume that a good painter has the skill and resources to paint your kitchen cabinets. Perhaps you're thinking you can even do this yourself! Here are the basic painting steps. Sand, then prime, then paint. Yep, that's it! Professional painters are quite confident in their ability to carry out these three essential steps and they will tackle almost any surface in your home with these steps - and so can you. New products are also coming onto the market with ever increasing ease of use. Environmentally friendly acrylics are replacing the oils and some painters are investing in spray systems to lay down smoother coats.

Given the option, most painters will accept the challenge of painting your kitchen cabinets, but take heed; kitchen cabinet refinishing is an entirely different process than regular painting and your average professional painter has just enough confidence to make a real mess of it. There are many unique nuances in kitchen cabinet refinishing that will take your average painter by surprise. Trust me, I've had quite a few surprises over the years and kitchen surprises are quite often very costly and tedious to remedy. In fact, after spending 10 years in the cabinet refinishing business, I would never suggest that a novice tackle such a project as kitchen cabinets. That is, unless you prefer the messy look shown below... Hey, some people like that kinda thing...

Repainting -vs- Refinishing

When compared to the basic steps in painting, refinishing is a completely different process. Painting requires 3-4 steps while refinishing often requires 6-8 steps. Not only are there essential processes to follow, material selection is also pivotal. Many cabinet fabricators use furniture finishing methods that require solvent based lacquers for the smoothest spray-out and rapid drying time. It's important to identify what type of material was originally used on the surface, before forging ahead with a layer of new material. If pre-catalyzed conversion products were originally used, sometimes even the best oil primers won't provide sufficient adhesion.

In addition to proper preparation, application methods and material selection, there is often an artistic eye needed for color matching, glazing and/or accenting. For example, the photo above shows a recent project that required an accent glaze to be added to the carved profiles. As you might imagine, the glazing process demands quite a bit of finesse; a challenge that your typical house painter isn't keen on tackling. Taking all things into consideration, including the potential cost of failure, the safest bet is to hire a professional cabinet or furniture finisher to refinish your kitchen. Think of it this way - would you hire a house painter to repaint your car? Yep, it's more like that. Every kitchen has many unique nuances that keep even the most seasoned refinisher learning something new each time. If I haven't scared you away by now, you're ready! The process is incredibly transformative and rewarding, once you have the proper elements in place. 

Just think: 

Average cost of new kitchen cabinets: 15-25k

Average cost of refinishing cabinets: 5-7k

If the math makes sense and you know a professional cabinet finisher, you're almost there!

Cheers and good luck on your next kitchen remodeling project.

Nathan Wainscott

Inspire by Color