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Refinishing/painting cabinets is a new trend that is exploding on the home remodeling scene in just about every state now. Some cabinet painters have gone to laquer only, some use high quality paints, and some just use trim paint on cabinets. Obviously classic trim paint will not hold up to expectations of something so expensive to replace. This leaves us with the options between high quality cabinet paint and lacquers. Each have their benefits.

Benefits Of High Quality Cabinet Paint

Paint that is durable enough to take the abuse of a kitchen, bath or laundry rooms will retain elasticity thus preventing huge chips that lacquers sometimes get. Acrylic paints will also not yellow like all lacquers. Some acrylic paints do contain alkyd resins that will yellow under heat such as by or above the stove. Because of this we suggest a urethane-modified acrylic paint in light colors. Urethane-modified acrylic cabinet paints will only ever need touch ups on corners in extreme abrasion or impact which moves/dents wood.

Benefits Of Lacquer

Lacquers have many subsets and sciences to them. Most lacquers used today on cabinets are “Catalyzed Lacquers” and are actually waterborne pre-catalyzed acrylic lacquers. These are harder than even the best acrylic/urethane paints but not by much. The major downfall of these products is that they are difficult to touch up after a few years because of yellowing. Also being so hard, the coating will not flex like a urethane modified acrylic with the wood and often will crack at wood joints which cabinets tend to have in spades. Lacquer cabinets with pre-cat lacquers will chip far before the urethane-modified acrylic.

What Do We Use?

At Grants Painting we offer both a lacquer finish and a water based finish. For the precat lacquer we use Valspar Pre Cat Primer and Topcoat. Benjamin Moore Advance over a solvent primer for a painted cabinet. However with the additional cost of applying lacquer and the downfalls of cracking chipping and yellowing preventing repaired doors from totally matching most customers choose to go with Benjamin Moore Advance which is also what I personally would choose for my cabinets.

Spray Equipment

Spray equipment is an important part of this debate. Many will claim that HVLP guns over airless spray systems will give the only acceptable finish. With new age technologies there are many options and techniques available even a hybrid unit that uses an airless system with a HVLP air diffuser which controls the paint feed much better than any HVLP gun can with only slightly more overspray. Choosing a finish should not be based on which equipment is better. Making sure your cabinet painter is competent enough to spray any finish with any equipment is far better of a concern. An idiot with a $4000 dollar sprayer can actually do a ton of damage! Never ever should cabinets be sprayed out with any airless setup less than $1500 or with only standard airless gun or standard tips. The airless sprayer on the shelf at your local big box store will NOT DO THE JOB.


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