I get a lot of questions from people about painting cabinets and furniture, but nothing upsets me more than getting emails from people who hired someone to paint their cabinets where the job was done poorly. Paying good money after bad is a horrible feeling, and as a painter, fixing someone else’s bad paint job is not fun, and it’s also usually more expensive than it would have been if I had done the job correctly in the first place. So, to help you avoid this potential nightmare, I’m going to share seven questions to ask when hiring someone to paint your cabinets. This post contains some affiliate links.
Are Cabinets Your Niche?
I have found that cabinet painting is a niche business. Not all painters/contractors can (or should) paint cabinets, but that doesn’t stop them from doing it. If you find someone who paints cabinets regularly, the likelihood of a good end result is a lot higher. I had a homeowner who hired a contractor to paint her kitchen cabinets, thinking he was up to the task since he had done other big remodeling projects on her home. Instead, she got a hot mess for a whole lot of money. The contractor didn’t number the doors and drawers, so they were rehung all crooked and cockeyed, most certainly not in the original location. The contractor said that he sprayed them, but there were brush marks and drips that indicated otherwise. He ran out of paint, and the second can of paint was not the same color. I’m talking a huge mess here, people. Clearly, cabinets are not his niche business, and it was a total headache for the homeowners (and the contractor, for that matter).
What is Your Process?
You don’t have to be a paint expert to ask this question, so don’t be intimidated. Do they thoroughly clean and prep the cabinets? Sand them? Prime them? I recently got an email from a reader whose paint contractor painted her oak cabinets, and the grain is bleeding through something terrible. You will see some grain on oak cabinets, but not like this. This was bad. Grain bleeding through everywhere.
While the contractor sprayed a lacquer, it’s obvious that there wasn’t proper prep to seal in the oak grain on this door. Asking questions about their process should help to avoid some of these issues. A fellow cabinet painter had someone contact her who had gone the cheap route and was practically in tears because the paint was peeling off the doors. This is the sort of thing you want to avoid, so ask questions and don’t be afraid to do so.
Do You Have Sample Doors and Pictures of Your Work?
Whenever I show up at a customer meeting to look at a kitchen, I always bring a sample door with me. That way, my potential customers can see and examine the finished product before they hire me. I think it puts their minds at ease to see an example of my work in living color, before I even touch their kitchen. In some cases I also provide photos of my work, so they can see the full before/after transformation of kitchens I’ve done. But I really think that the sample door is key if you’re looking to hire someone to do the job. Pictures can often hide what a sample door cannot.
What Products Do You Use?
If a painter is confident in his/her skillset, asking questions about the products to be used for the job, shouldn’t be a big deal. There is more than one way to paint cabinets, and every painter who does cabinets regularly, has a process in place to do so, and products that they know and trust to get the job done. So ask about their products. Make sure they’re not using wall paint to do the job. Or something that is a paint and primer in one. Make sure they’re using a good primer or undercoat prior to applying the finish of choice. The last thing you want is your paint peeling off in sheets because the painter didn’t have a good process and products in place to do the job.
Will You Spray or Brush and Roll?
I will clarify that in a majority of my customer kitchens, I do a combination of spraying the doors and drawer fronts and then brushing and rolling the cabinet frames. If it’s a really large and/or detailed kitchen, I will spray the entire thing, but most of the time, that’s not necessary. I have a lot of experience and a great arsenal of products and tools to get the job done. I personally like the look of sprayed doors, and in order to get a professional hand painted finish, that takes some serious skills. My friends at Traditional Painter are crazy good at this, but it takes years of experience to hone such a skill. Again, this is where sample doors come into play as well.
Can You Provide Customer Referrals?
If a cabinet painter has experience to amount to anything, they should have referrals that potential customers can talk to openly and ask questions about their work. Sometimes people need to speak with a couple of past customers to get comfortable with hiring someone to do the job. If the contractor you’re looking at can’t meet this request, I’d consider it a red flag and continue your search.
Are You Insured?
This is a question that can easily slip your mind, but it’s important as well. It’s in both of your interests to make sure your painter is insured, and it should be easy to prove. One of my cabinet customers had a painter who took her cabinet doors and disappeared. He took her deposit and left with her doors, not to be seen for months. This poor woman had to get the law involved in order to get them back. While she had done research and had even called references (because at one point I think he did good work), but I’m willing to bet this guy didn’t have insurance. What a mess.
While I wish I had a mobile workshop where I could travel around the country and paint your cabinets myself, that’s not a reality. So, I’m hoping that this list of questions to ask when hiring someone to paint your cabinets will be helpful if you don’t want to tackle it yourself, and want to be sure you hire the right person for the job.