What Does Cabinet Painting Really Cost?

In Homeowner Tips, Interior Painting by Lindsey Mueller3 Comments

Cabinet painting seems to be at the height of popularity. With light-and-bright kitchens being on trend, many homeowners choose to kick off their remodeling project with renovated cabinets. Many have found the cost of painting cabinets to be far more affordable than replacing. With new paint and updated hardware, homeowners can go from dated natural oak cabinets to modern white or gray cabinets.

Unfortunately for homeowners, the cost of cabinet painting is not as straightforward as one might expect. Popular websites that quote the cost of cabinet painting tend to be all over the map at best, and inaccurate at worst. For example, Thumbtack quotes a price range of $1,200 to $7,000. Similarly, Angie’s List provides a range of $1,200 to $6,000. However, for many cabinet painting jobs, the lower end of this range would barely cover the cost of a quality paint, primer, and necessary sundries. HomeAdvisor presents a much narrower price range, $1,662 to $3,780. With all of the different information available, it’s easy to see how consumers may become confused.

So, what should consumers expect?

A fellow painting professional and friend of Sound Painting Solutions, Nick May of Walls by Design in Denver, sought to alleviate some of this confusion by calling upon his network of professional painters across the country. He asked 85 different professional painting companies to quote a price for a particular set of kitchen cabinets, based on these photos:

Interestingly, the highest prices quoted were right here in Washington state. And of the four Seattle painting contractors surveyed, the average quote was roughly $9,300 — significantly more than any of the prices mentioned above. High wages, high cost of living, a booming housing market, and a strong demand for contractors all contribute to higher prices in our city.

As a whole, Nick’s survey illustrates how home improvement websites tend to understate the going price for cabinet painting. Based on his survey of 85 contractors, the average cost of cabinet painting across the country was roughly $4,900. This is a significant difference from the ~$3,000 average that the websites above have suggested.

For more information, check out Nick May’s blog, “The Real Cost of Cabinet Painting”, at the Walls by Design website.


Selecting a Cabinet Painting Contractor

Even in any given city, the price of cabinet painting can be very subjective. Other than price, there are many factors a homeowner should consider when selecting a painter for their cabinet project. These factors may include the following:

Preparation

Preparation is the first (and most important!) step in the cabinet painting process. All surfaces must be sanded smooth and cleaned/de-greased to facilitate a bondable surface. Without sanding and cleaning, the paint will simply sit on top of the surface. This will likely result in chipping or peeling. A bonding primer should be the next step. Our team likes to use an oil primer, which is very bondable and sands well without gumming up. Additional sanding and filling in between coats will ensure a more uniform surface.

Products Used

It is extremely important to select a durable product intended for millwork and cabinetry. At least two top-coats of the paint should be applied. The consumer will also want to discuss with their contractor the level of sheen of the paint (satin, semi-gloss, etc.). The level of shine will have a big impact on the finished look.

A longtime favorite product of cabinet painters is Benjamin Moore’s Advance. Benjamin Moore has also recently released a new product, Scuff-X, which is their most durable paint yet. It comes in satin and, in limited markets including Seattle, semi-gloss sheen. We have found that it lays out beautifully on cabinetry and trim. As its name suggests, it is also washable and holds up to a lot of wear!

Type of Application

Spraying is often the most desirable option, as it produces the smoothest finish possible, free of any brush lines or roller marks. However, we have found over the years that with proper technique, brushing and rolling can produce a final product that is still beautiful and more affordable. When our clients choose this option, we will use a foam roller to minimize stipple.

Brushing and rolling is more affordable in part due to the extensive masking required when spraying. When spraying, the entire kitchen must be masked off to protect against overspray from painting the cabinet boxes. Contractors should educate their customers about the pros, cons, and cost differences of each method.

To help our clients choose a particular finish, we carry cabinet door samples that demonstrate the differences between a sprayed, brushed, and foam-rolled finish.

Length and Location of Project

It is important for a contractor to communicate in their written proposal or contract how long a particular project will take. Interior home improvement projects will always cause some inconvenience, but cabinet painting can be more severe, as you will have to remove all of your belongings from the cabinet interiors and drawers. You may also be unable to use your kitchen at all. In general, you can expect that a quality cabinet painting job will take several days.

Another consideration is whether the bulk of the project will take place off-site or at your home. Of course, cabinet frames must be painted in place, but with regard to doors and drawers, every painter has a different approach. Sound Painting Solutions typically opts to complete all of the work on-site, so long as space is available. A garage works well for this purpose when painting doors and drawers. This approach ensures that the finished pieces will not be damaged when transporting them from the shop back to your home.

Caliber of Contractor

We encourage consumers to vet potential contractors to ensure that they have prior experience painting cabinets. Other than examining the specifics of a cabinet painting proposal, consumers should make sure that their contractor has a positive reputation in the community and verify that they are licensed, bonded, and insured.

Another item to consider is whether the contractors’ own employees will be performing the job, or if they will be subcontracting the work. Subcontracting can lead to more unpredictable results, as the general contractor has limited control over the sub’s workforce. If they will use employees, the employees must be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. In the state of Washington, companies are covered by the State Department of Labor and Industries. Similarly, it is useful to have some insight into the company’s culture and compensation. Happy employees tend to take more pride in their work, leading to a better result for the homeowner.

Looking for a Cabinet Quote?

A Sound Painting Solutions team member working on a cabinet painting project
A Sound Painting Solutions cabinet project in progess!

If you are in the Seattle area and would like to get a quote on your kitchen cabinets, contact Sound Painting Solutions today. We can present you with samples and upgrade options so you can make a confident, informed decision on the finish of your cabinets.

We are a five-star-rated, quality contractor with decades of collective experience in painting cabinetry, trim, and more!

Learn more about our company at our About Us page.

Comments

  1. great article .. agree 100% …we would love to share this with future customers.

    Bryan & April
    NJ
    Cabinet Cosmetics

  2. Cabinets and kitchens take time. Each piece is a seperate item with multiple visits to each piece along the prep and painting process. From the initial set up, removal process, to the last hinge and door re-installed is a very delicate, time consuming, detailed project. I’m glad you are setting expectations from all of the so called online experts. Nice work guys.

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