Refinishing Your Cabinets – What’s Right and What’s Wrong?

Refinishing your cabinets in Fargo, ND. What's right and what's wrong?

One of the most common projects to tackle when making updates at home is refinishing cabinetry. Whether it is a bathroom vanity, a dining room hutch, or an entire kitchen – putting a fresh coat of paint or stain on a cabinet produces a transformation every time. Now whether that transformation is a good or a bad one is another story. We wanted to take the opportunity to share lessons we have learned after working with families on their cabinet refinishing for over 20 years…and after two decades we really feel like we have seen it all! From over 10 layers of paint on a set of kitchen cabinets, to a bathroom vanity DIY project gone horribly wrong – we want to use our experience to help make your cabinet refinishing experience an enjoyable one! 

1. DIY - Right Or Wrong?

Is it a good idea to DIY your cabinet refinishing in Fargo, ND?Answer: WRONG. As much as we love a good DIY project – and there are plenty of them – painting or staining cabinets simply should not fall into this category. Unless you have experience with coatings, painting your own cabinets can so quickly veer into “Oh no, what have I gotten myself into?!” territory that it really is best to leave this to a professional. First off, these projects are always a huge undertaking. When done correctly, there is an entire prep process that must be completed just right to ensure the paint or stain adheres to the cabinet properly. Not to mention the taping that must be done with precision to allow for clean lines and ensure that no coatings end up on surfaces they shouldn’t be (painted marble countertops anyone?) These crucial steps cannot be overlooked – but because they are tedious and time consuming, they are oftentimes the most-rushed part when attempting a DIY. 

Now onto the coating application itself. This is not a buy-a-bucket-of-paint-and-a-paintbrush-and-go-to-town type of scenario. To have a result that will truly last, there is a blend of paint and primer that best adheres to the surface and prevents paint rub-off when you are simply trying to clean a splatter of pasta sauce off the cabinet door. And paintbrushes should really be avoided when it comes to painting cabinets, unless you don’t mind brush marks and streakiness all over your finished product. This leads to spraying equipment, and just because you can find handheld sprayers at the hardware store does not mean that purchasing them and using them for the first time on your cabinets is a good idea! When done right, a custom cabinet coating makes the cabinet look like new – and it should be difficult to tell whether that cabinet is brand new or refinished. 

2. Anyone Who Has A Painting Logo On Their Truck Can Refinish My Cabinets - Right Or Wrong?

Choosing the right company to refinish your cabinets in Fargo, ND.

Answer: WRONG. It doesn’t take much to call yourself a painter. And unfortunately, it doesn’t take much to buy into the seemingly ideal scenario of finding someone to refinish your cabinets for an “unbelievable” price. The reason? It actually isunbelievable! “Your get what you pay for” absolutely applies when it comes to coatings. And that crazy deal that seems too good to be true? It almost always is. There is a massive difference between dirt cheap and reasonably priced – and when you are investing in your home in any way, you should have something to show for it when it’s done. What is the point of paying someone a “cheaper” price, when the end result actually lessens the value of your home? And when you work with someone that doesn’t seem reliable, but they offer a lesser price, what happens when they flake out and don’t finish the work? Unfortunately we have seen both of these scenarios play out time and time again – and we have stepped in to redo cabinet refinishing projects for families that had it done all wrong. Skip the headache and work with a trustworthy company from day one. 

So how do you find a reputable custom coatings company? Experience is key. Make them prove their work through great reviews, a well-developed gallery, and quality referrals. This is absolutely not too much to ask! When you meet with the company for an estimate, ask about their scheduling. Understand from the beginning how they operate, how they will complete the project, and who will be doing the work. A reputable company has a team in place – and a scheduling system that makes sense. Know who your contact person is from day one too, allowing you peace of mind that your questions will be answered promptly. 

3. Paint Or Stain Can Just Be Applied Right Over My Existing Cabinets - Right Or Wrong?

Is painting or staining over your existing cabinets in Fargo, ND a good idea?

Answer: WRONG. So very wrong. This is where people get in over their heads so quickly – and one of the fastest ways they lose money on their coatings investment. If the surface being painted is not properly prepped, the new paint or stain is being applied to something that is not able to best accept that coating. So instead of soaking into the surface, it sits on top waiting to be easily chipped or wiped right off. And if too many coatings are applied, one on top of the other, the surface becomes so thick that pieces will chip right off when trying to close two cabinet doors that meet in the middle. Or a drawer won’t close just right. It can get sloppy fast – which is why working with a team that prioritizes these prep stages is not just a good idea, it is a necessary component of a successful cabinet refinishing. 

4. A Custom Coatings Company Can Help With Design Choices - Right Or Wrong?

A custom coating company can help you with design choices when refinishing your cabinets in Fargo, ND.

  • Answer: RIGHT. When a coatings company has years of experience, stays up to date on trends and educates their team on innovative techniques, and works with a variety of families – they can absolutely help with things like color choices, application processes, etc. If you are debating between white paint or maple stain for the kitchen – a quality coatings company can help! If you are considering an antique finish for your bathroom vanity, a quality coatings company can take care of this! This is actually a great way to feel out how experienced the coatings team truly is – because helpful input comes from a group that has worked with a multitude of different homes, surfaces, and design aesthetics. Something that we are proud to offer is the ability to provide feedback on decisions based on the current housing market. We believe that changes made in your home should benefit not just your day-to-day life, but they value you have in your home. Perks like these are excellent signals that you have found a reputable company! 

5. Coatings Projects Are A Stressful Interruption In My Life - Right Or Wrong?

Does your cabinet coating project in Fargo, ND need to be stressful?

Answer: RIGHT OR WRONG. This one could go both ways! Let us explain. When you get buried by a DIY project that you weren’t fully prepared for, or when you work with a company that is giving you what you paid for (ie: cheap price for inefficiency and shoddiness) – then things get stressful quickly. Suddenly you are watching your 26th You Tube video trying to understand why your brush marks aren’t blending or you are frantically calling coatings companies all over town to not only refinish your cabinets, but fix what the first team screwed up. This is the very definition of home project stress. Why put yourself through it in the first place?

When you work with a team that is experienced, has a process in place for both the prep stages AND the coatings stages, and is there to make the entire experience a positive one for you and your family – there is no reason to stress! And the interruption in your day to day life is minimal thanks to a schedule that you can trust the team to stick to. Having the reassurance that you made the best design decisions for both your family’s lifestyle and your home’s value is an added bonus, and makes the entire idea to execution process a positive one. 

We hope these Right-or-Wrong examples help in answering some of the common questions about refinishing cabinetry. These projects truly do tip one way or the other – it either turns out beautifully with lasting quality, or it looks disastrous and doesn’t last. There really isn’t a gray area when it comes to custom coatings. That is why selecting the right group to get the job done for you is critical to not only the success of the project, but enjoying the process! Because you should be able to love the exciting transformation of your home…whether you are rectifying Oak Overload in the kitchen or refinishing an inexplicable bold-colored vanity in the bathroom – working with a team you can trust is key to making sure it turns out the way it should….with a look you love and a quality that will last!

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