How Durable are Spray Painted Cabinets?

Jul 2, 2023

How Durable are Spray Painted Cabinets?

The question of how durable is spray painted cabinetry is one we often hear, especially those who are unaware of cabinet painting in general. The reality is that painted kitchens can last for decades if done properly and professionally. Although there are some horror stories about old lacquers and paint issues.  Older style NC (nitro cellulose) lacquers yellowed tremendously.  Yellowing is vastly reduced in modern lacquers – almost to the point of being indistinguishable.  DIY projects that have chipped and peeled due to improper prep and inappropriate adhesion primers have also scared off homeowners from cabinet painting projects.

For clients who are new to cabinetry painting – modern design trends are seeing more colour and painted finishes in home projects. In fact, most new homes feature sprayed lacquer trim, doors, and cabinetry for a luxurious and high-end finish. If prepped and painted properly, sprayed lacquer cabinetry will last just as long as natural or stained wood. This blog will explore the nuances of painted cabinetry, long term durability and whether or not sprayed lacquer may be right for your home project. 

Characteristics of Sprayed Cabinets 

Sprayed latex or lacquer cabinetry can present a range of different colours and sheens. Characterized by smooth, flawless surfaces and a furniture like finish, painted cabinetry is an excellent way to change the look and feel of your home. Whether your cabinetry is sprayed using a water borne paint or lacquer, when properly executed, the end result will present a solid, consistent colour and smooth finish that elevates an interior space. 

Sprayed Lacquer 

Not all lacquers are created equal.  Lacquers can be water or solvent based.  Using the highest quality low-VOC, KCMA-compliant lacquer products, your kitchen, bathroom or banister railing can look and feel brand new. A systematic method for cleaning, prepping, and spraying ensures the highest quality outcome for a luxurious, essentially new set of cabinets at a fraction of the cost to replace.

Sprayed lacquer will dry to the touch within fifteen minutes, and fully cure after around 30 days. Once cured, a sprayed lacquer finish lasts for a decade or more without noticeable discolouration or breaking down from moisture, heat, and general usage provided it’s well cared for.

Sprayed Waterborne Urethane

Waterborne urethanes, such as Benjamin Moore Advance, Sherwin Williams Emerald and Cloverdale MultiMaster are hybrid products blending an alkyd with water based clean up.  In the ‘brush and roll’ arena, these are excellent products.  They combine the leveling qualities of an oil with soap and water cleanup.

Generally they have great adhesion as well and in many cases one can safely avoid a first coat of adhesion primer.  They are not, however, KCMA approved.  They have not passed the test for use on kitchen cabinets and the specific challenges that kitchen cabinets present.  That being said, there are precious few products that can be brush and rolled that will.  So for us, they are the go to products when a client chooses our hybrid option.  That’s where a client can DIY the boxes of the cabinets while we spray the doors with lacquer for added durability.  Convivence and durability both where you need it most.   

Prime Coats

Primer is the glue.  Primer is ultimately the thing that makes paint stick to what’s underneath.  The cabinet repaint market is complicated in that regard because it’s not always obvious what the chemical make up was of the coating that came before.  It truly matters not what coating you use if the primer isn’t correct.  This is where testing and a little chemical understanding comes into play.  This is definitely an area where the expertise of the applicator is paramount.

Preparation

No matter the choice of topcoat, prep prep prep is always the most important aspect of how durable spray painted cabinetry will be.  Washing highly exposed areas (around the stove and garbage can specifically) to remove kitchen grease and sanding to create tooth are the two most important steps in ensuring durability of a sprayed finish.

Long term Durability of Spray Painted Cabinets

The long term durability of spray painted cabinetry is key to its rising popularity in home renovations. The chemical composition of sprayed lacquer allows it to cure into a synthetic “shield” to some degree. This protects the wood underneath from exposure, as well as displaying a high-end finish that maintains colour richness for years. Most newly-built homes, especially higher end homes will feature sprayed lacquer trim, doors, and cabinetry features throughout.

Of course, as with any paint, contact that’s hard or sharp enough to dent the wood will chip and dent into the paint layers. Corners and sharp edges are particularly susceptible to damage. Luckily, unlike stains or wrapped coatings, painted cabinetry can be repaired and brought back to new provided the original product can be used.

Are Spray Painted Cabinets Right For Me?

A sprayed kitchen is an excellent choice for any homeowner who wants an attractive, durable, show-stopping finish that elevates their home interior. A veritable unlimited option of colours can fit into any home decor.  Painted cabinets are a massive cost savings compared to buying new.  Where desired, cabinets, tile and flooring can be preserved.  And environmentally, it ensures significantly less cabinet/ building materials ending up in the landfill when they can be easily reused.

But if you are looking for a different layout entirely or the cabinets themselves aren’t in great shape, it’s possible that a replacement would be required to elevate your kitchen to where you’d like it to be.

We’re always happy to help if you have questions around what is possible with paint and possibly a few edits by an experienced carpenter.

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