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Is spray painting kitchens a good idea?

Listed under Blog, hand-painted kitchen, Ron Taylor, spray painting Posted Sep 19 2020


Here is a challenging article. Is spray painting kitchens a good idea?

It looks very smooth and fast, but this is only part of the kitchen spraying process

Questioning if spray painting kitchens is a good idea?

Ron Taylor, Traditional Painter for Warwickshire is a hand painted kitchen specialist. However, as far back as 2012 he was exploring acrylic paints and spraying acrylic paints. Most of the UK trade was still fighting the whole idea of the 2010 change over to water based paints. And who on earth sprayed anything but bridges and oil platforms? Ron’s articles.

Ron has spent many years testing and probing and pushing the limits of spraying kitchen cabinets. There are many examples of Ron’s perfectly painted kitchens, the result of much painstaking research. His trip through masking tape, and masking papers and static charged plastics alone would fill a small book. And don’t get him started on different paints, paint visocity and tip sizes.

But here we are in 2020 and Covid has exposed yet another fault line in how things are done. Ron has concluded that after trying every which way: spraying kitchen cabinets costs more time, effort and money than it is worth.

Wot, no spray?

We are not saying that spray painting kitchens, period, is a waste of time. However there is a time and a place for spraying. Spraying everything every time, particularly cabinet frames, has proven not to be smart painting practice.

By the time you have masked up everything, (and you have to mask up everything!) time has flown, lots of un-recycleable materials have been used, and the client is unable to use their kitchen at all for the duration of the project.

I’m a great advocate of spraying but it needs to be in the right place. I was just finding kitchens and general trim work was taking longer spraying with all the masking than brushing. Also people don’t want the kitchen out of action for a week with masking over cupboard openings. Plus you can’t touch up sprayed doors with a brush without it showing.

Customers like the idea of spraying until they see the disruption and the dried spray dust.

Ron Taylor

There is nothing wrong with spraying high adhesion wood primers on kitchen cabinets. The world’s most successful custom kitchen manufacturers have been doing this for years. A beautifully primed kitchen is a marvel to behold for the painter and the client alike. And there is nothing wrong with spraying doors and drawers to a finish, if the client really wants a sprayed finish. (And smooth laminate does come up brilliantly if sprayed.) But once you start erring towards spraying the whole kitchen, every time, regardless, the maths and convenience don’t usually add up.

So what is the perfect balance, if someone wants their kitchen sprayed?

You need a spray painter who can hand paint to the highest standards!

Time and a place for brushes and spray guns

One of the nebulous qualities of a professional kitchen painter is the ability to come up with the right paint, the right application, the right technique. For Traditional Painter, it has been proven that the most effective way to spray paint a kitchen is to paint the frames by hand and spray the doors off site. This gives the client access to the kitchen in the evenings, reduces the time the painter is in the kitchen, and allows them to prepare and paint the doors and drawers away from the property.

Critics of this approach will say that there is a difference in texture between spray and brush finishes. Critics would need a Superman level of vision to spot the difference, assuming the frames have been hand painted by a true professional kitchen painter who can paint to the same standard as they spray doors.

But spraying gives a much better finish than a brush.

The title to this subsection could be, “Is the customer always right?”

From my point of view, when I receive a request for a quote “to spray my kitchen” most times I can tell that the clients have been convinced that a sprayed finish is better than a brushed finish. This conclusion is understandable.

Let’s face it, when you think of the average painted door or frame in your lounge, you are probably thinking, “I don’t want that dubious quality finish on my kitchen doors!” And we all know what car bodies look and feel like, all sprayed and lovely. And watching a spray gun at work, of course the speed of application is amazing in the right hands. It’s an obvious step to make, therefore, to ask for a sprayed kitchen. But it is not so black and white that it is better than hand painting, especially if you are asking a spray painter like Ron. Mark in Cheshire is another of many at Traditional Painter who can also spray and hand paint to the highest standards.

Best of both worlds

Whilst I am not saying your Traditional Painter will dismiss out of hand your request for a sprayed kitchen, please take a look at one of their samples of a hand painted door before deciding. The path to that level of hand painted finish is far cleaner, tidier and less disruptive than for a completely sprayed finish. As Paul Barber says, and bear in mind he was painting for Smallbones back when Charlie Smallbone was in charge:

I find the benefits of spraying the doors and drawer fronts up to final top coat is good for speed and finish. But normally I brush the topcoat with my favourite Purdy Sprigs.

Great finish almost brushless but it is a bespoke hand painted finish.

Almost all of the world’s best custom kitchen companies follow this process, priming in the workshop, delivering beautifully primed kitchens on site, ready for the specialist hand painter to finish to completion. (We have literally just been approached by a kitchen company in Derbyshire looking to provide this very combination of service to their UK clientele.)


As all Rolls Royce owners of yore will remember, a hand painted finish was considerably more expensive than a sprayed finish! We produce Rolls Royce quality painted finishes, but hey, we paint kitchens which are less work than a Roller. The average price is therefore about £2500-3000 to transform older pine or oak kitchens into a “new kitchen”.

If someone quotes you a crazy low price for spraying, please focus on the crazy. 8 years’ research from Ron and others at TP has concluded that spraying kitchens completely to a finish is not cheaper, nor better than hand painting, when done right.

It obviously is cheap if doors are sprayed shut, and all hinges are sprayed in with the doors and frames. From a safety point of view, be concerned if sprayers are using highly toxic two-pack spray paint in your house. They use those so they can finish in 2 days. But you should think twice. Do make sure you are happy with what you are going to get. It is your kitchen and health after all.

Thanks for reading Is spray painting kitchens a good idea?

Is this a hand painted or spray painted kitchen?

I can only speak for Traditional Painter, our hand painted finishes are exceptional. The members who spray the primers and base coats really know what they are doing. On completion of a kitchen painting project, the most repeated comment after “I can’t believe the transformation” is “That’s sprayed!“. And 95% of the time, the answer is no. It was brushed to a finish by a specialist with 20-30 years’ experience of painting right.

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