On-Site Kitchen Finishing Advice

Tips on spray finishing kitchen cabinets on site. May 13, 2009

I will be on-site finishing kitchen cabinets for the first time and I am looking for advice. I will be staining and finishing everything after installation. I am planning on hanging doors and drawers. The floors and windows will be covered. I plan to cover and mask the cabinets after finishing them. Then paint the trim and walls. I use Target waterborne coatings so no risk of explosion. Any advice, pros, cons, etc. would be appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor D:
Why are you covering the windows? Are you afraid of getting them dirty?
Regardless of what products you use you will need to open some windows for ventilation. Are you planning to finish the doors after hanging? Sounds like trouble to me.

From contributor J:
I have done many kitchens after installation. Believe me you do not want to pre hang the doors or drawer fronts if at all possible it is so much easier to finish them flat. Then you will want to mask the openings of the cabs if they have prefinished interiors. Use twelve inch paper to mask out from where the cabinets meet the walls. Then decide which window you would like to place a fan in and mask it off after itís opened. If you do not cover the walls you will have problems with the latex adhering over the overspray.

From contributor F:
I have been offered this type of job in the past and always politely turn it down. Why anyone would choose to finish after install rather than before is beyond me. There is so much more work involved in masking, sanding and trying to do a quality job. Not to mention the liability risks, even with water based.

From the original questioner:
I have a few clarifications. By hanging doors and drawer fronts I meant hanging on lines not actually installing. I always hang them instead of finish them flat so I can do both sides at once. I am covering the windows to avoid overspray. Also the window above the sink will be trimmed and finished to match the cabinets. Inside and outside of cabinets will be finished the same so no need to mask the interiors. Also, as for the walls they are not even primed yet so I should not have a problem with adhesion on primer and paint.

From contributor D:
I have been doing on-site finishing for the past 15 plus years. It is very possible to get a quality finish provided you keep a few things in mind. Waterborne finishes may not have the same health risks as solvent based finishes, but they do have some risks. If there are other trades working in the house, you can bet you'll hear your share of death threats from the masses thinking that "whatever you are spraying is surely going to kill them".

I don't like to tape the walls next to the cabinets. I find it easier to sand the overspray and prime with a good quality primer than to fix the drywall next to finished cabinets after tape adhesive has pulled the paper off. It won't happen everywhere, but it will happen. Yes, even with 3M easymask tape.

Finish all doors and drawer heads flat and tape the insides of the boxes as suggested. I like to use 3M masking plastic, but the 12" paper works well. Remember to keep the traffic down in your area, nothing stirs up more dust than curious people walking in and out of you spray area.

From the original questioner:
I have a few questions. What do you usually do for a clean line where the cabs meet the walls? Do you run a bead of caulk or let the painter take care of that? Or is it better to add (pin nail) a small piece of pre-finished trim after painting the walls. I've seen new homes with a bead of caulk that runs onto the cabinet and it looks bad. Iím just trying to avoid that. Also, do you fill screw holes? I was planning on doing that along with nail holes.

From contributor D:
I do not caulk between the walls and cabinets, the installers should be able to hang the cabinets leaving only a slight line where they meet. There should be no need for caulking these lines. Once I have finished the cabinets i explain to the painters that if, for any reason, I need to come back and correct anything they have done to the finish, they will be required to pay for that correction. I also explain this to the builder, homeowner, decorator, designer and anyone else that will listen.