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Is It Better to Spray or Hand Paint Your Cabinets?

Liberty Painting DIY Series

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Whats The Main Difference Between Spraying and Brush/Roll

Painting cabinets by brush or sprayer , in the end, leaves you with the common result of having protected your cabinets. And from a distance, you have virtually the same appearance. But those of us with an eye for finer details will almost instantly recognize the difference in finishes upon closer examination. There is no doubt that, in terms of fine factory finishes, that spraying will hands down leave the best finish.

But does spraying offer the same protection?

Absolutely. In some cases, the protection may even be better , due to the fact that spraying kitchen cabinets spreads the top coat more evenly. Thus eliminating the chance of light areas or missed areas that can be a result of hand brushing.

So, eventhough spraying is universally thought of as the best application method for kitchen cabinet, there are certain aspects that must be considered before you decide to borrow or buy your new sprayer. We will go over these in the next few paragraphs.


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Prep Process for Spraying Cabinets

Many times , when people think of spraying , they just picture themselves pouring some paint and magically spraying everything in 10 minutes. It FEELS amazing, the thought of effortlessly completing what would normally be a 2 or 3 hour job within minutes.

But, all the time saved by spraying, is almost matched by the prep process. Taping off everything that is not being painted. Protecting the floors. Making sure there isnt a single spec of dust or debris anywhere on the surfaces. REMOVING cabinet doors. Its a lot. For professional’s, it becomes a process. We do it over and over, and eventually, it becomes quick and effortless. We know which tape’s work best and where. We have special spray tips that cut down the amount of overspray, which in turn, cuts down the amount of masking we need.


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Prep Process For Brushing and Rolling Cabinet Doors

Initially, the prep is identical. Wash the doors and boxes with dawn dish soap, sand everything and then vacuum all the dust off of everything.

With brush/roll, this is pretty much all the prep. Except for having a clean place to paint, you are ready to paint your cabinets and boxes.

Now, the aspect you need to focus on, when brushing and rolling is, the WAY you brush. All brush strokes need to flow the same way. There can be no start and stop points. We call those lap marks. And they look bad on cabinets. Depending on the type of paint you use, you will most likely have brush marks. There are paints , like Emerald Trim Urethane, from Sherwin Williams, that have an extended set time.(The amount of time it takes to for the paint to completely dry) This extended set time allows the paint to ‘float’ out longer. Thus giving it time to settle out, eliminating almost all the brush marks. Again, this depends on the quality of brush you use. A good china bristle brush will have finer brush marks, that means its easier for those brush marks to ‘settle’ or ‘float’ out.

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So Which Style Is Best For You?

All in all, the finish can be pretty good, if you use the top of the line paints, brushes and a foam roller. The time it takes will be considerably longer, remember, you will have to apply 2-3 coats of primer and top coat. With spraying, its around the same, but you use thin coats that dry fast. And spraying is much faster.

From a professionals point of view, if the homeowner is willing to use top quality products, then brushing and rolling is probably the best way to tackle this project. The type of sprayer, the cost of various painter tapes, masking plastic/paper, and the lack of experience , all together is a recipe for disaster for a complete novice. The pace of brushing and rolling is a safeguard against any major mistakes. 

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