High-End Finishing On Site

Painting cabinets on-site can yield good results, or bad. October 1, 2010

I was reviewing my most successful jobs of the past year. Without a doubt, there are three jobs that stand out. We delivered all of these jobs either unfinished or primed only. They were put in very high end houses and very professionally painted in place by a painting crew. The finished product looked so good, I have a hard time calling those guys painters.

Do any of you actively sell to the high end of the market with unfinished cabinetry? Are there any sales strategies that you use to sell this way? We have always prefinished our cabinets in-house. Finishing has always been our main constraint as well as the most problematic area. We could easily double production with unfinished or primed only but we are not sure about the selling tactics and or pitfalls of doing business this way.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor G:
Finishers work onsite - and get well paid for it, too. If you don't want that part of the job, somebody else will get well paid for it. You might want to consider making an arrangement with such a crew, so you will know your work is in good hands.

From contributor J:
My company used to sell only unpainted cabinetry. We worked closely with a painting contractor who we knew did great work. It was really easy. In the long run we ended up deciding to do all of our own finishing so that we would have better control of scheduling and quality. Plus you get the money. Also our client base started demanding it. They didnít always like that we had to set up a paint operation in their home, especially on smaller projects. I still prefer to do my painted cabinets after they are installed so that I can caulk in all the joints for a seamless look. How does it get higher end than that?

Clears, and stained finishes are all done in house. A couple of times when our preferred painting contractor was unable to meet our schedule we had to hire painters that we were not familiar with.

From contributor M:

When I first found this forum I did 90% of my finishing on site, and I did a good job. It has its benefits.

1. You donít have to worry as much about scratching the cabs during transport and install.

2. You can sand in joints, crown miters, and etc.

3. You get to see everything in its proper layout which helps if you are toning and/or shading. It just takes a lot more prep and you have to be good at spraying vertical surfaces. If you have that down the result is seamless. Again I say beware of hack painting contractors. You need someone who is an experienced cabinet finisher.

From contributor A:
Our most profitable caseworks are primed installed built-ins. We have found two painters who do "brightwork" quality finishing. They typically use oil based BM Impervo, but we have switched to Muralo Ultra for the past few years. We throw down a quick coat of primer. Fill defects with Spackle, then throw down a heavy coat of primer. The customers often think they are finished when we deliver. We give the painters a can of Spackle and a fist full of 220 paper. Finishing in the shop often bogs us down and the sanding wears down your arm and spirit.