Cabinet Painting 101

Cabinet Painting 101

5 Cabinet Painting Hacks

Painting cabinets is not always the easiest process. There are a lot of things that can go wrong, quickly. But if you can nail down an efficient system for painting them fast, there can be immense profits in them. We will make the same amount of money just painting cabinets as we would painting almost an entire exterior. And it will take us less time. With the system we have developed we are usually in and out in about a day and a half. These, again, are one of our favorite kinds of jobs because there is a ton of profit in them, if you know how to do them well. So here you go, five simple and easy cabinet painting hacks to ensure you can make the most out of your time and energy and elevate your company to that next level.


Get the Paint Life Cabinet Painting Course for $199.  View course details HERE.


1. Clean with Dawn Dish Soap

An important part of painting cabinets, just like any other job, is the prep. If they have residue built up on them, chances are that the coating isn’t going to adhere correctly and you will run into several different problems. Because of this, we always make sure to clean them thoroughly with a residue free cleaner. What we have found works best for us is actually just your average blue Dawn dish soap, a Uneeda Non-Woven pad, and some warm water. In a pinch you can also use denatured alcohol if you need something that dries quickly.

Start by filling either a Wooster 24” roller bucket with warm water and Dawn dish soap, just as if you were about to wash a load of dishes. If you have never washed dishes… then now might be a good time to learn. I am sure someone in your life will thank you for it. To wash the cabinet doors, you do not want to submerge them in the water. This will make the drying time last longer. Not to mention that you could possibly damage the wood. Just set them on top of the bucket and scrub thoroughly with your sponge. The bucket will catch any excess water that runs off. Next you will rinse them over a separate bucket of clean warm water without soap.

Now all you need to do is set them out to dry. You can either hang them (if you are familiar with our PSDR system this is the best way to go) or set them where air can flow easily between both sides. One of many perks of using the PSDR system is that during this, and really any step of the cabinet painting process, they will dry faster. Not only that, but they will store in a safe place where you don’t have to worry about them getting knocked over or re-contaminated with another residue.


2. Caulk with Tower Accelerator for Same Day Painting

Idaho is a fairly dry climate. Who am I kidding… it’s the freaking desert! Well, the high desert anyways. Yes, we do get every season. And Idaho terrain varies greatly across the state. But for the majority of Idaho, and especially for where we live, it is dry and dusty most of the year. Because of this, we can get away with caulking the front panel on our cabinets, without worrying about it cracking down the road. Now, if you live somewhere more humid, I might not recommend doing this. Please always keep in mind that your climate is a huge factor in which methods will and will not work well for you.

Most caulking requires long cure times before you are able to paint over it. This eats into our bragging rights about finishing the job up in a day and a half… and the pocket book… both are important, I suppose. To speed up this process we use Accelerator. This caulking is paintable within immediately! How incredible is that?! Remember that in this industry, time IS money. Don’t ever compromise the quality of your work, but the quicker you can get a job wrapped up, the more money you will bring home from it. Save yourself some time and make your cabinet job more efficient by trying this caulking out. We do not think it will disappoint.


3. Spray with the PSDR Spray Rack

Over the years we have developed what we consider to be the top of the line, most innovative way to paint cabinets efficiently. We have tried many different systems and we find that the spray rack systems gives us the best finish and completes the job at a quicker rate. Specifically, we use the PSDR Rack by PaintLine. This system allows you to spray your doors vertically, from hangers, and hang them up to dry. What is so great about this is that you can spray both sides at once AND multiple coats in one day. No more worrying about giving doors enough time to cure before flipping them over and spraying the other side. We also use a 2K poly like Renner 851.  This makes the cabinets dry quickly, and also creates a hard surface for longer lasting, more durable cabinet repaints. With this technique of using a 2K poly and the PSDR racks, we have been able to paint a large kitchens in about a day and a half. 

The PSDR kit includes 50 hangers, 18 feet of durable drying line (3 drying racks), a spray rack that allows you to spin doors while spraying, and three storage cases. This system is easy to set up and only takes about 10 minutes to assemble. 

People often ask how we hang the doors on the hangers. Well, we screw little cup hooks into the tops of the upper cabinets, and the bottoms of the lower cabinets. This is an area where no one will ever see the holes. But you can also go back and fill the holes afterwards if you feel better about it. We explain the process to our clients prior to beginning this process, and we have had zero complaints about the holes since they are nearly invisible. I mean unless standing on a ladder above the cabinets… or laying on the floor below…. an unlikely scenario for your customers day to day activities.


4. Have a Spray Can for Easy Touch Ups

Did you know you can get your paint loaded in aerosol can for easy touch-ups? Upon purchase, you can actually request to have an aerosol made of whatever color of paint you will be using. This will run you about $8-$12 per can, but what it will save you is worth the extra fee. We usually get two to three cans per job, just to make sure we have an adequate amount. This will save you from having to reload a machine, just to touch up one or two doors. With these spray cans you can mask off and touch up easily, without having to worry about brush strokes. Give it a shot and see how you like it. We find it very useful.


5. Label Hinges

Keeping track of where your doors and drawers go can becomes a pain really quick. If you guess wrong then you have to spend a bunch of extra time adjusting hinges to make doors fit correctly. And to make money on cabinets… you need to be able to bust out a high quality product, quickly. To save you this pain, our final tip is a no brainer: label your doors, boxes, and hinges. The process is simple, really. We always work from the top left to the top right, then the bottom left to the bottom right. We will place the number on the back of the door where the hinge will be screwed back on, and then cover that number with a piece of FrogTape to keep it from getting painted over. We will also tape the insides of the box with the door number as well, just to make sure we have the right door for the right box.

For the drawers, we will place the number on the face, behind where it screws back onto the drawer. And again, cover that number with FrogTape, to keep it from being painted over. For the hinges, we will write the number of its coordinating door on the back of the hinge. We will label “a” for the top hinge, and “b” for the bottom. We will then sometimes wrap them in a bit of tape as well to keep them together… and also to make sure they don’t feel left out.

This is going to make the re-installation process go so much smoother. You will spend much less time adjusting hinges and trying to make everything fit correctly if you can follow this easy method and put everything back where it belongs. Who knows, maybe it’ll set you up for success in other areas in your life as well.

So there you have it, 5 simple hacks to make your cabinet painting job more efficient. Again, there is a lot of money to be made in cabinet jobs. If you know how to do them quickly and well. I believe that as painters there will always be something new to learn. New tools and techniques are coming out every day to help enhance our productivity. Why not utilize these and learn to work smarter, not harder? Especially where time and money are involved.

Keeping an open mind is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your painting company. Maybe just in life as well, really. You never know which tools or tricks are going to elevate your work to that next level. But don’t take my word for it. Get out there and do what you do best. Hustle. And make the world a more beautiful place. One paint job at a time. 


Get the Paint Life Cabinet Painting Course for $199.  View course details HERE.

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