Painting Cabinets Correctly

Painting Cabinets Correctly

Painting cabinets correctly should not be a difficult thing for a professional painting contractor. I have previously gone into some detail about the steps necessary for a professional, great looking end result.

What really bothers me is how often we are asked to “fix” another paint contractors work. Sometimes we can but often it is not cost effective for the customer. I think it is terrible that there are people out there doing cabinet refinishing or painting and they obviously have no clue.

As a homeowner you owe it to yourself to really check out the person or company you are intrusting your rather expensive cabinets to.

We do cabinet jobs almost weekly and are very good at it. I am confident there are other companies in Omaha that do good work too. Find out!

I recently went to look at a cabinet job to see if I could fix it and it was quickly obvious it was a total loss. The homeowners purchased some previously finished cabinets from a local store as a close out. The cabinets were probably fine to begin with but they wanted a different finish. The person they hired did no prep work at all and rolled (not sprayed) an inappropriate coating. They were a real mess. You could finger nail off the coating.

On any cabinet job there should be several days of nothing but prep work. Sanding, caulking, putty work, etc.

Painting cabinets is a special niche. Not every painter has the skills to do it correctly.

When hiring a painting contractor, check them out! look at their work or pictures of their work. Check references, reviews, etc. It could save you lots of heartache and money.

Metal Handrails

Metal Handrails

Metal Handrails can pose a challenge whether they are interior or exterior handrails. Exterior handrails are obviously subject to more wear and tear and need more maintenance but interior metal handrails can pose their own set of challenges.

We just finished an interior commercial stairway that included the handrails. Actually the biggest challenge on this job was matching the paint color. There was no leftover paint and nothing to remove to mtch so it hand to be done on site by eye.It is always a good idea to leave the extra paint on the job when done or at least make a note of the paint formula for the customer for future reference.

The other challenge was that it was several floors of handrails, straight up! Arg.


metal handrails
straight up


We sanded the metal down well to even out the areas where the paint had previously chipped. This also helps with adhesion of the new coating.


sanded handrails


sanding handrails


We then spot primed the exposed metal. We ended up using three coats of finish on this project because the rails were in such bad shape to begin with. We used PITT-TECH DTM as the finish coat. This is a very good industrial enamel. We have used it on several interior and exterior projects.


Hallway Painting

I never realized the number of people that read this blog until this winter. It has been pointed out to me by several people that there has not been a post since September. I didn’t think it had been that long but when your busy I guess time flies.

We completed a few exterior commercial painting projects just before the weather turned and have been busy through the winter.

We are currently doing an interior remodel project of 80 residential units. You don’t realize how large the project is until you start to walk the hallway or in our case paint it. There are three hallways that are a 1/2 mile long each.


hallway painting
long hallway


This particular building is also shaped like half an octagon. It became easier to brave the cold and walk across the parking lot to get to the other side rather then keep walking the distance. When your painting a hallway this long, it sucks to haul your materials/paint out into the cold to get to the other side so you have decide to either “do the walk” or face the cold.

Hallway painting can become tedious when it is this length but attention to detail is still a must. The above photo shows the hallway walls and trim completed. The photo below shows how we had to remove a strip of carpet on each side to spray the base trim. This was important because the new carpet was not as thick as the old. If we did not spray all the way to the floor there would be a band of unpainted trim showing. This would be a nightmare to deal with on the back side after the carpet was installed.


hallway painting
Trim sprayed





Coating Weathered Steel

Coating Weathered Steel

Coating weathered steel can be a challenge but with the right products and prep, it’s a snap. The system I like to use is Amerlock Sealer which comes in a 2 component kit and Amershield Aliphatic Urethane which also is a 2 component product.  Both products are pricey but worth the cost.

Often you may not need to mix a full kit as was the case this past weekend. We only needed to deal with the door threshold of a commercial location. As long as you honor the mix ratio it still works fine and you don’t end up burning a whole kit which with Amerlock is 2 gallons and with the Amershield it’s 1 gallon. The Amerlock ratio is 1 to 1 and the Amershield ratio is 4 to 1.

Coating weathered steel often means dealing with rust. In this case we wire brushed the steel and sanded it. After cleaning up the debris and vacuuming up the dust we wiped the steel with denatured alcohol to pull any remaining moisture out of it.


weathered steel


We mixed a small quantity of the Amerlock sealer and gave the steel a good brush coat. The next day we mixed up the Amershield and gave it 2 brush coats 2 days apart. Problem solved.


coating weathered steel


This is also a system for the exterior as well. There is a set of metal stairs in Omaha that still looks great 14 years after application.

Dye Stain

Dye Stain

Dye stain or a solvent based stain with dye in it can be tricky to work with at times. It can often take longer to dry properly prior to receiving a sealer or finish coat and it often must be constantly stirred during application.

One of the most important facts to know about dye stain is that it be be properly vented in the container. it will often build up pressure. Sometimes enough pressure to explode. We revisited this fact recently when an employee hammered down the lid on a stain containing a lot of dye in it. Normally we would leave the lid loose or a safer approach is to drill a small hole in the lid. We do lots of stain work but sometimes lessons have to be relearned.

Dye stain mess


dye stain mess 2


I came to the shop This Monday and I recognized the smell before I even entered. Dye Stain. Sure enough when I entered the odor was overwhelming. The can exploded. What a mess to clean up. Fortunately it wasn’t near a vehicle or piece of equipment. It only took out a shelf, floor and wall.

If you work with dye stain or if a contractor has done dye stain work in your home and left you the extra, make sure it’s vented or the lid has a small hole drilled in it.

4th of July

4th of July

4th of July is always a great holiday! Mine sucked. I had two employees that wanted to work, which is great. One called me in the morning and said he sliced his hand and needed help. It wasn’t serious but it did take 7 stitches. The three and a half hours sitting in the ER was horrible but that’s life.

This drives the point of why you want to have workers comp insurance and should insist anyone you have work in your home or business carries the proper insurance.

I worked most of the rest of the day in the office and then got a call that my wife fell down a flight of stairs.

Back to the ER and several hours later. She fractured her foot, hurt her shoulder and was scraped up pretty good.

If you ever want to know how much your wife does in your household, try running things without her.

Hope your 4th was good. I know mine next year will be much better!!

Steel Toe Boots

Steel Toe Boots

Steel toe boots are usually a requirement on commercial job sites.  OSHA 1910.136 says, “The employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses protective footwear when working in areas where there is a danger of foot injuries due to falling or rolling objects, or objects piercing the sole, and where such employee’s feet are exposed to electrical hazards.”

The reference is always about “steel toe boots” but if you actually read the OSHA requirement, it specifically says “steel toe and shank “.

It’s a bit funny on a job site when you are asked by safety inspectors “hey are those steel toe boots” or if you get the same question from a general contractor.

I have never had anything dropped on the toe of my boot in over 30 years but have had many screws and nails pierce the bottom of my steel toe boots. That is the real danger on a construction site. They are all a maze of things to not step on. My advise is to buy/use steel toe and steel shank boots and that actually makes you compliant with OSHA regulations. The shank is a piece of steel between the inner and outer sole.

There is also a tremendous advantage for a painter with the steel shank. When standing on a ladder that steel shank helps with foot fatigue. Your foot wont curve down on the rung of the ladder but will stay straight and be supported by that shank. It makes a big difference at the end of the day!!!

Painting in the heat of summer

Painting in the heat of summer

Painting in the summer can be a challenge. Indoors or out. Often on commercial projects there is no air conditioning or air movement so it can get pretty uncomfortable. When you are painting, especially spraying, you are adding even more humidity into that environment. It’s not uncommon to see the windows dripping with humidity when spraying inside.

Painting outside has it’s own challenges. Direct sunlight being one of them. When painting outside you never want to paint anything subjected to direct sunlight. We always paint on the opposite side of a house to the sun. Working  in direct sunlight  will potentially dry the paint too fast and you don’t need the sun beating down on you either.

Most people know the basics. Stay well hydrated. Gatorade along with water is a good idea. Bandanas soaked in cool water before wearing them is a big help. Stay out of the sun when possible. Sun block is of no help either you will be sweating it off quickly. Start work earlier in the day and break off when it’s the hottest outside like two or three.

Take breaks more often. Eat smaller meals or snacks while working or taking lunch. If you feel dizzy, overly tired, etc. Call it quits for the day. There is always tomorrow to pick up where you left off. OSHA has some good tips for working in the heat.

Fluid Injection

Fluid Injection

Fluid injection into your body is very serious!! When working with airless equipment, the pressure is tremendous. That pressure is concentrated to a very fine point at the spray tip. If your Hand or other body part is over that opening when the trigger is pulled, you have a fluid injection injury.


fluid injection2


This is very serious and unfortunately most medical centers don’t know how to treat such a wound. I had one on my hand and it was terrible.

When you buy a spray gun or pump with  a gun one of the many things most painters throw away is a little packet of information you should keep. I keep one in my wallet and one in the company first aid kit. If you experience this type of injury had the card to medical personnel to help them treat your injury.


fluid injection3


The toxicity of what has been injected is secondary to the physical damage to the area. Surgical debridement of the area is the first concern and many latex paints and paints with titanium dioxide reduces your systems ability to fight infection so an immediate course of antibiotics is necessary. Fluid injection is a nasty wound and something you definitely want to avoid.

Wood Grain

Wood Grain

Wood grain. All wood has a grain to it. When wood is stained we are bringing out the beauty of that grain. When wood is being painted we sometimes want to minimize to appearance of that grain. A good example of this is when we are asked to paint cabinets. Either new wood or previously stained cabinets.

Sometimes this can be a challenge. Some woods like oak have a naturally open grain and on previously stained and lacquered cabinets there is often not enough lacquer to fill in the grain.

Let’s use as an example a new oak cabinet door. The best approach is to sand the wood smooth with a 220 grit paper. Next dust it off well. Next you will want to spray a fine coat of primer. We use proprietary primers and finish on our cabinet work. The scrub that primer into the grain of the wood using a quality brush. Work fast enough to not let the primer start drying. When dry you will want to sand the surface again and repeat.


wood grain minimize


We will normally do this about three times depending on the customers preference.

The next step is finish. We will spray and scrub the first coat of finish. Then sand. This last sanding we take special care to not burn any edges and we make sure to sand the surface well. Most of the wood grain will be minimized at this point.

We will spray two additional coats of finish and once, dry it will be perfect!!