Opaque Finishes Applied Indoors on Site

It takes a lot of masking, but you can spray opaque finishes on built-ins after they're installed. October 19, 2013

Question (WOODWEB Member) :
I have recently fitted some MDF TV units, a window seat, and display cases for a client. They were fitted unpainted as the client wanted to finish them herself (I am not the best painter anyway). Now she is trying to get them sprayed and no painter is willing to spray them. They are all saying they should have been sprayed before they were fitted. They will hand paint alright, but the client is really wanting to have them sprayed. Can they be sprayed once fitted? Also, will hand painting give a good finish?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor T:
You can paint in place as long as you mask and enclose the entire surrounding area, have a source of make-up air, and filtered exhaust. There are some hand applied paints like SW ProClassic that dry so flat that they look like they were sprayed. All of the brush or roller marks will flatten as long as you don't overwork the paint.

From Contributor D:
I agree. I have masked off huge areas in the past (around a whole staircase once). In that job I had used a solvent lacquer but now I would go for a waterborne if I did it again. It would be a bit of a mess if you want latex paint but you should be able to get some good water based lacquers. It will take more effort to mask and clean up than to actually do the painting.

From contributor M:
I don't think this is practical unless your customer is prepared to pay to have everything that isn't being painted thoroughly masked and sealed off. The reality is that while this is certainly possible (AAA spray rig, and waterborne paint) the conditions would not be ideal for spraying (booths were invented for a reason), dry spray would be an issue, and the finish would not be perfect. I would personally find a talented painting contractor and pay them to work some magic with a brush.

From contributor R:
I do it all the time - latex, oil, or lacquer. Latex will spray nicely with any (GRACO) airless sprayer. Latex won't last as long as an oil, but it dries faster with less odor. A turbine HVLP for the oil will be your best choice for low overspray and odor (Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo or Pratt and Lambert Cellutone for oil). Lacquer with an AAA airless will be the best for conventional lacquer pre-cat by ML Campbell or Valspar. Lots of masking and lots of odor! The client would have to leave the house for the day. All pilot lights would have to be shut off and then re-lit for the furnace or hot-water tank, etc. I would do the same for waterborne lacquer too! Make sure that whoever does the job completes samples first!

From Contributor N:
Of course you can. I've been doing it for 37 years on re-finish jobs. The new waterborne finishes are ideal for this. Last week I refinished a small kitchen using Valspar's Zenith pigmented lacquer with the customers at home. I masked off both ends of the kitchen floor to ceiling with a box fan blowing air into my space and another one with some booth filter duck taped onto it in the window over the sink. Five hours to mask, three hours to spray three coats (10-15 minutes of spraying, 45 minutes of drying). This was just for the faceframes as I did the doors and drawers in the shop and one hour to clean it all up. I used a Graco 4 stage turbine - lower overspray and handles the thinner waterborne lacquers. This setup would not work for regular house paint where an airless would be needed.