Spray painting cabinets.

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Forum topic by percy posted 03-07-2011 08:08 AM 2208 views 2 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View percy's profile


8 posts in 2793 days

03-07-2011 08:08 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I am making new kitchen cabinet doors of western maple. I am undecided how to finish them. We both prefer a dark cherry colour. I have never used a spray gun before. Am I foolish to try to spray them? I have been reading about HVLP sprayers which seem easier to use than regular sprayers.

11 replies so far

View David's profile


198 posts in 2660 days

#1 posted 03-07-2011 05:11 PM

You’d be foolish to try to spray them if they’re the first thing you’ve ever sprayed before… and I say this from having made that mistake myself. Spray guns are a great time saver once you get the pressure right, sprayer set correctly, and have a feel for it. Technique is very important, I’d suggest checking youtube for some how to videos.

I would practice on scrap or even just cardboard boxes before going for the cabinets. One thing I learned the hard way is that you should never let the tank get too low, or the sprayer will start to sputter and you’ll get uneven coating.

Overall I was able to get the feel for it within a few hours of experimenting, once I got the settings right it was an incredible time saver, way faster and more consistent than using a brush or roller.

-- Perilous to all of us are the devices of an art deeper than we ourselves possess. --Gandalf the Grey

View DLCW's profile


530 posts in 2651 days

#2 posted 03-08-2011 05:14 AM

Spraying finish is an art as well as a science. There are many factors such as temperature, humidity, wood surface temperature, room air cleanliness, compressor/turbine air cleanliness, finish type (water or solvent borne), etc, etc.

Like DMWAHL indicated it takes practice to get all the planets to come into alignment and get good results. I’ve been at it for over 10 years. I use an HVLP with a two stage turbine that cleans and dries the air before delivering to the gun. It took me about a year to get to the point where I could say I had achieved a professional finish on a project.

I would not attempt to finish your cabinet doors if you have never sprayed finish before. It takes a lot of time, patience, wood scraps and actual finish to get good at it. You would need a good spray booth as well as a good drying rack. When you start spraying you don’t want to stop. I built a drying rack that will hold 75 doors/drawers and other flat panels. This enables me to keep cycling parts through the spray booth while other parts are drying. For kitchen work I generally use conversion varnish as it is very durable. But I only spray on horizontal parts to avoid any runs and get the desired finish thickness.

I would not attempt to use the hangers (you can buy at popular woodworking stores) that allow you to hang your doors while you spray. When you use this method you have to spray very thin coats to avoid runs. It is also difficult to get even coating as your panel spins around from the force of the spray. Don’t ask. :-) Because of this you won’t achieve the finish thickness specified by the manufacturer to achieve the level of protection they indicate.

-- Don, Diamond Lake Custom Woodworks - - "If you make something idiot proof, all they do is make a better idiot"

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2636 days

#3 posted 03-08-2011 08:52 AM

HVLP ? Yes.
Practice makes perfect ? Yes.
Perfect viscosity and the proper tip ? Yes.
Much overspray ? No.

A good semi-pro unit that has a real easy learning curve and is nice on the wallet ? Right here:

We have used it on cabinetry including doors / drawers, mantels, entertainment centers, etc. We use oil-based enamels, usually (no lacquers)... though I bet it would love spraying it. Good for stains and urethanes, too.

Eastwood (the pro automotive supplier) also sells and recommends it for automotive spraying.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View pintodeluxe's profile


5657 posts in 2810 days

#4 posted 03-08-2011 09:08 AM

Spray, Spray, Spray!
If you have a compressor, all you need is a gravity-feed HVLP gun. I can recommend the Porter Cable PSH1 (1.5 mm for lacquer, and either the 2.0mm or 2.2mm tip for latex). Filter the latex before you spray. The PSH1 runs $90.
Woodcraft also has what looks like the identical unit branded as Wood River with a 1.4mm tip for $35. It has been getting good reviews as well. 2mm needle kits only run $10 extra.
If spraying with lacquer, thin 10-20% with lacquer thinner. If spraying with latex, prime first. Thin Latex 10-20%with water. Run the regulator at 30-35 psi, and spray slow and steady. You’ll do great!

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View ScottN's profile


261 posts in 2676 days

#5 posted 03-08-2011 02:57 PM

I agree with pintodeluxe. I had the porta cable gravity feed gun and it did the job. I seemed to have better luck with it cranked up to 60 psi. I still use it when spaying on stain. Start off practicing spraying the backs of the cabinets. After you spray your first top coat, let it dry and lightly sand by hand with 400 or so grit sandpaper, sanding off the raised wood fibers until it feels smooth and its pretty quick…not much time spent sanding. With that sprayer I was doing a min of 3 coats.

-- New Auburn,WI

View Earlextech's profile


1161 posts in 2687 days

#6 posted 03-09-2011 12:11 AM

Hi Percy – If you have never sprayed before it doesn’t make sense to start now by using a compressed air system. HVLP starts with less problems right away because it uses clean air and because it has about 40% less overspray. I would recommend the HV5000 or the new HV5500 with about twice the power. Very simple systems to use, easy to clean up. Short learning curve.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 3056 days

#7 posted 03-09-2011 06:41 AM

What type of finish are you planning to spray?

View percy's profile


8 posts in 2793 days

#8 posted 03-09-2011 07:17 AM

Thanks guys for all your info. We would like to acheive a dark cherry colour preferably with stain.

View Earlextech's profile


1161 posts in 2687 days

#9 posted 03-09-2011 03:56 PM

I always spray my stain and remove the excess with a cloth.
This gives you a very even coat, is very fast and it’s easy to do another coat if you want it darker.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View pintodeluxe's profile


5657 posts in 2810 days

#10 posted 03-09-2011 06:03 PM

In regards to Earlex’s first reply-
It makes sense to use a compressor driven HVLP system if he already has a compressor…
1. Less initial investment $35-100 range vs. $200-500 for a self-contained HVLP.
2. The new conversion guns (compressor powered) produce wonderful finishes. If anyone hasn’t tried one in the last 5 years – they have improved vastly. Especially the gravity feed HVLP guns.
3. You can change pressure at the compressor or gun regulator. With a dedicated system you are stuck with one pressure, unless you opt for the more expensive 2 or 3 stage unit (often more than $500).

Also – do you work for Earlex? If so I must consider your responce a little biased. LOL.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Earlextech's profile


1161 posts in 2687 days

#11 posted 03-09-2011 10:41 PM

Don’t let my mysterious name confuse you. I work for Earlex. I am tech support. I am here to promote spray finishing in general, HVLP in particular, because I am a believer. I am a little biased.
I personally don’t like conversion guns because you start with contamination in the line. You have to spend as much money now on moisture blocks and filters to bring the cost up to stand alone system prices.
Also, decent HVLP systems can be purchased for about $150 at the blue big box.
Being stuck, as you call it, with one pressure is one of the features of HVLP. You don’t have to adjust the pressure because it’s constant. It makes it easier for newbies to get into spraying.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

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