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  • Writer's pictureChris Arnett

Cabinet Refinishing VS Cabinet Painting

When I speak with customers on the phone, or have a conversation in their home, the most common question I get asked is what is the difference between cabinet refinishing and cabinet painting? It's such a great question! Both processes achieve what is typically the main goal, change the color of my kitchen cabinets! There are many similarities and many differences. We could discuss the chemistry of the coatings being applied, the equipment needed, we could discuss the environmental conditions that go into refinishing versus painting, but the main thing, the thing that most homeowners are going to care about is what they can see with their eyes and feel with their hands, the end result.


Having been a residential painter for over 10 years, I know and understand what it takes to get a great paint finish on a surface. Prep work is key, there are no shortcuts. Even after understanding and mastering the prep work and the techniques involved in achieving a top-notch paint finish, as a professional painter, I still refused to paint kitchen cabinets. I knew that even with the best brushes and rollers, the top paint on the market for cabinets, I wasn't going to achieve that factory finish that I knew my customer, and I, would want.


Cabinet Painting:


A good paint job on cabinetry would involve the same preparation techniques as used in fine wood finishing and using a traditional paint sprayer on the doors and drawer fronts along with a fine finish roller on the frames. The look of the doors and drawers will be pretty smooth but may still contain imperfections due to the slow drying process of a trim/cabinet enamel which allow for dust and airborne contaminants to stick to the surface. The frames and end panels of the cabinetry will still have an "orange peel" finish due to the nature of rolling on coatings and are more susceptible to paint runs. IF done well a good paint finish on cabinetry should still hold up to light to moderate daily use and be cleanable. IF not done well, the results could end up not only being disappointing, but resulting in the need to replace the doors and drawer fronts, and remove all the paint from the frames, an avoidable and costly expense.



Kitchen cabinets painted:



Cabinet Refinishing:


Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing is the process of restoring a cabinet's original finish or applying a factory finish that results in a color change or a "painted" finish. The factory coating can be transparent, for stained finishes that highlight and show the wood grain, or solid opaque finishes that give the cabinets that "painted" look. The end result we are looking for here is a smooth, uniform finish on both the cabinet doors and drawer fronts as well as all of the face frame, end panels and moldings, things that are typically hand-painted in the cabinet painting process. The primary benefit here is that the cabinets don't look painted, they look like they came that way from the manufacturer. Discussing the chemistry of this coating versus paint can be a whole other discussion, but the final result here, what passes our eye and touch test is the smoothness, and the durability that allows for moderate to heavy use and cleanability, surpassing the KCMA, Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturer's Association, standards for finishes.



Kitchen Cabinets refinished:







When looking for options to paint your kitchen cabinets, ask your contractor if they are painting or refinishing and have them describe their process to you. Having cabinets refinished can increase your home's value, having your cabinets painted if done incorrectly could be a costly mistake that results in the need to replace parts or all of your cabinets. If you live in Columbus Ohio and the surrounding communities and would like to discuss kitchen cabinet refinishing and kitchen cabinet painting, just let us know, we're here to help you achieve the look you have always wanted for your kitchen!

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