Masking Cabinets for On-Site Finishing

There's more than one way to mask cabinet openings when spraying face frames on site. July 16, 2012

Any tips on masking FF cabs for onsite finishing? Particularly interiors of cabinets as these cases are pre-finished ply. Any tips and/or product that make the grade would be great.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor H:
3m fan masking machine with 1 inch 3m long mask. We normally go on site with 24" and 48". Due to the cost of the blue tape buy a case of 1"white tape to save money and use between masking plastic and paper. The problem with the plastic is that your second coat of finish will blow off once it dries. It does not matter what 3m says about being flake resistant. You will end up with dries finish in your last coat so once you plastic mask then line all surfaces next to finished wood with 12" paper mask.

As for the interior, the labor and materials to mask off the inside is about the same as the labor and finish materials to finish the inside. So unless you are painting the exterior or the interior is melamine, I would finish it. Leave the interior until your final sand then sand it and final along with your exterior. Masking is and art.

From the original questioner:
I have noticed when the paper mask gets saturated it shrinks a bit then pulls the tape on the edges tighter yet. I'll try to leave a little slack in the system. Iím not looking forward to sanding this inbetween coats and trying to vacuum up the dust without sucking up the masking.

From contributor H:
In 30 years I have never vacuumed a job before finishing. Normally the floors and counters are masked with rosin paper so we vacuum after everything is sanded. Blow the kitchen down before staining with a push fan and a pull fan to clear the dust out - a light blow before sealer, 280/Scotch-Brite, blow down, and wait ten minutes, then final. Itís a simple process, and do not over-think it or make more work than it already is.

From the original questioner:
I'm spraying pigmented poly and the primer would need a bit more sanding. I will just be a bit careful and turn down the regulator on the compressor to "dust".

From contributor H:
If you are using a high fill material or something elastic that takes a long time to crosslink, the finish will tend to bridge between the finish and your tape. Run a new case knife around your transition joints. This will keep from pulling your finish off the wood when you remove the tape.

From the original questioner:
I had an instance of this when spraying extension jams on Andersons pre-finished 200 series windows. Where the jams meet the actual window (inside corner) do you caulk that space? I did not and maybe wish I had. Itís tough as Anderson does not list any swatch or formulas for the paint colors and there would be a masked paint line on the window itself if I had caulked it.

From contributor Y:
We do a lot of site finishing and it is actually my preference over the last 27 years. I have found that reverse taping the backs of the frames with 2" 3m blue and then apply red flooring paper to the openings works well.

It is actually more cost effective than plastic and the red rosin paper does a very good job of absorbing the backspray continually for a minimum of eight coats without bleeding, running, or flaking. It holds well between sandings and low voc air dusting between coats.