Help! Need an autobody painter to paint kitchen cabinets.

MrsBungaloonieFebruary 7, 2012


I just joined Garden Web, but have long been a fan of everyone's postings on here. So, hi!

My husband and I have just purchased our first house. A really pretty Spanish bungalow that needs EVERYTHING fixed.

We are on a very tight budget but are hard workers and very resourceful.

My sister lives in Toronto and she has long been getting ugly but otherwise useful, cabinet doors painted at an auto body shop. She's been doing this for years. She always uses her own custom colors and choice of finish and they always come out looking like GORGEOUS, factory finish, custom doors, and she pays between 15 and 20 bucks a door. She has her own "girlie compressor" and sprays the boxes herself.

Naturally when I told her about my ugly fake dark wood laminate cabinet doors and our super crazy low budget of $1000 to restore the 70's kitchen back to its bungalow roots, she told me to get out there and find an auto body shop and to make sure they use "the box" (LOL!).

You can imagine my disappointment when I called all over the Los Angeles area and got only feedback like, "That can't be done", "You called the wrong guys, call cabinet makers"(who are quadruple the price), or my personal favorite, "What? Paint what? This is an auto body shop lady!"

Please, in the name of all first time home buyers everywhere, does ANYONE know a place in the Los Angeles area who will spray my heinous cabinet doors a lovely light vintage blue-grey?...Anybody?

Thank you!

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Sophie Wheeler

Plastic laminate doors? With autobody paint? Not bloody likely. Maybe if you were dealing with St. Charles metal cabinets, but if you did find someone, they'd just be cheating you by taking your money.

Save your money and replace your doors at a later time. You can usually find MDF for around $15-$20 per door, and then you can DIY paint them yourself.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 3:59PM
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My husband and I have just purchased our first house. A really pretty Spanish bungalow that needs EVERYTHING fixed.
We are on a very tight budget but are hard workers and very resourceful.

Accept that your limited budget means you will have to live with ugly stuff that is still functional while you take care of infrastructure that you may never see again:

First make sure the roof is in great shape, no leaks, flashing checked, etc. If it leaks you are wasting money on any interior work you may do.

Then check things inside the walls - plumbing, wiring, insulation, etc. It's useless to decorate a wall you need to rip open in 6 months.

Furnaces? Water heaters? Take care of these so you don't have an unexpected failure wipe out your kitchen budget right after you have demolished it.

And the walls and windows and doors: caulking, repairs, hinge alignment ... it's ALL more important than ugly dark wood 1970s kitchen doors.

Those cabinets can be painted (not by an autobody shop) but by you with a brush and some "GRIPS" primer that is meant to stick to laminate and melamine. After that, you can use any good high-gloss paint.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 4:17PM
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Those cabs can be painted in a shop. I know someone who redid her bad-'80s, white melamine, oak strip handle cabs in a high gloss, and they're holding up great. Try posting on local lists--some shops are already familiar with painting furniture and such.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 4:39PM
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Thank you for the feedback everyone!
hollysprings: I should have specified that my sister uses melamine paint on her cabinets, but with the autobody shop's labor and equipment and yes, ugly, melamine and laminate cabinets. I've seen her do it in her own kitchen to carry her over until she got her new kitchen, and her laminate doors were unrecognizable. Truly. Trust me on this :)
lazygardens: thank you for the checklist! It's great and I wish I had joined here a month ago, because everything you listed came to pass! LOL! I am now finishing up the hole patching from the electric and plumbing gut jobs. The roof is good (thank goodness), but we did have to get a new water heater right after we closed.The windows and doors are secure and caulked and the termite damged floors have all been repaired (after the house was tented).
I am just now finally looking at the kitchen and I want to do what I can to make it livable for a few years until I can really fix it. I will look for that "Grips" primer. My sister called since I first posted and convinced me that I can roll up my sleeves like Rosie the Riveter and do it myself. Again, great checklist.I appreciate your help :)
marcolo: Thank you for the encouragement and proving I'm not in the twilight zone on this! LOL! Tried craigslist forums and just got a flood of other homeowners looking for the same thing, grateful that I even knew what they were talking about. Interestingly, most of them moved here from the great lakes, so I wonder if it's just more common up there and viewed as weird down here. Boy if I were going to open a business here in LA it would be painting ugly laminate cabinet doors for 20 bucks a pop!
Thank you everyone, I appreciate the feedback :)

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 7:11PM
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Circus Peanut

As you can see, it will be a slog finding a professional versed in these things who won't be rudely dismissive, but when you find the right shop it'll all be worth it.

(I was told clearly on this forum that making my own copper countertops was ridiculous. I did it and they're fabulous.)

Alternately, you could pick up a used HPLV sprayer on CraigsList and set up your own booth in the garage or basement. (Outside the building envelope if possible to keep any vapor out of your air system and away from any combustion appliances.) As you continue to renovate, it will probably prove useful for many other projects too. We used a HPLV to repaint our castiron bathtub, spray stain on wooden trim, spray stained cabinet parts with pre-cat lacquer. We love ours!

Crossing fingers for you --

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 7:40PM
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circuspeanut: Thank you for the sprayer tip! I was looking at them and wondering how useful one would be after I did the cabinets and you have confirmed their usefulness for me. We are planning on painting our house (stucco exterior) in the late spring so I will research a good sprayer I can use for both the cabs and exterior (hopefully) and then get one on craigslist. I was also encouraged by the amount available "pre-owned" :)
Good on ya' for that countertop too! Very encouraging to hear you met with resistance and still came out with a beautiful look.Would love to see a picture.
I will be installing an ikea butcherblock counter I bought with house warming gift money and a double bowl farmhouse sink I grabbed from craigslist for 125 bucks (they had it for two months and decided to go with a different look).
Again, thank you :)

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 4:33PM
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The (amazingly talented) plasterer who was working on our livingroom, offered to get his sprayer and paint my plastic looking laminate cabinets after I asked him if he had any advice for me before I started prepping them to paint.
He new exactly why I had been looking for an auto body place with a booth and knew exactly how to sand, prime and spray my cabinets. He laughed when I told him about all the resistance I had experienced calling around and he said LA body shops just don't know about how easy that money is yet, and that they'll start doing it once they realize. He didn't have a "booth", but they look amazing!
"Revere Pewter", inside and out. Two coats after primer, in a pearl finish.
I will post pics after I move in and get the doors back up and put on the glass knobs. Oh yeah, he did it all for 350 bucks. Thanks for all the support and good ideas :)

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 2:17PM
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That's wonderful! So glad it worked out for you and looking forward to the pics! Enjoy!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 2:52PM
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Fantastic! As my niece says, "if you can think it, you can do it!"

I want to do this to my little beach place but I can't figure out how to paint the boxes and the filler strips the same high gloss as what the auto body shop does.

Can't wait to see the pics.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 3:08PM
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Awesome, looking forward to seeing your photos!

On a somewhat related note, an autobody shop here in Portland, OR said they would paint any appliance I brought to them: refrigerator, oven, even a PC case. I never got around to it - I replaced the refrigerator instead - but I think it would be really cool to do some day. Think about a British Racing Green refrigerator with a white racing stripe...

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 4:59PM
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I just had a body shop paint an oven door for me.
I bought the "base/color" only. They have all the other additives, thinners, hardners, clear, and supplies. I paid for those as well, but, I paid them for only what they used (in their estimate).
I bought the "base/color" ONLY, and took it to them.
1/2 pint: $70.00
Quality automotive paint is not cheap.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 6:58PM
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can you share the name of the autobody shop in portland who said they wold paint anything? Please?


    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 6:03PM
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I just wanted to give a few pointers on spraying... an HPLV sprayer is incredibly useful but please be careful (or do not use at all) to spray a house. While they are far better than siphon feed sprayers, they still create a fair bit of overspray. This is fine if you are spraying lacquer on cabinet doors outside- the lacquer is dry in seconds in the air - its just dust by the time its travelled next door. But when spraying house paint, any wind will end up painting the neighbours house/car/pet/ can be a tough conversation afterwards (and can be rather expensive.)

Use an airless paint sprayer for houses - much more direct spray and a heavier coat. They are cheap as well.

Also, for a DIY with an HPLV, you need a decent compressor to get the right flow - the little hotdog/pancake compressors will not normally/likely support the CFM's required by a spray gun.
just my 2 cents.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 7:28PM
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Just have to post a few words. I live in Europe, Iceland to be precise and people here have been using Body shops to spray paint cabinets for years with fabulous results. The spray paint they use holds much better that regular spray paint.
Just my 0.2 cents .

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 7:57PM
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Would you be able to share your plasterer's information?

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 1:24AM
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did you ever post your pix? MrsBungaloonie????
I want to do the same with my kitchen cabinet door, auto body paint. would love to see what you've done. or get the name of your painter. I'm in LA too.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 3:32PM
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Holly- Kay

My hubby restores cars and has a paint booth. He is NOT going to be happy when I suggest that he post his painting abilities on craigslist!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 3:53PM
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Mrs. Bungaloonie & petrossian:
Are you guys talking about Los Angeles or Louisana?
I tried to send an email to you both but you don't have email set up. If you are in the Los Angeles area, please email me or post the name of your painter! I would like to give him some business!!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 4:20PM
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Dear Bungaloonie & Petrossian,

PLEASE share pictures and name of painter for those of us in or near Los Angeles trying to accomplish same objective. If you would rather email them privately, please please do so. Definitely need the help.
Thank you

    Bookmark   October 5, 2013 at 12:41PM
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