Cabinet painter's quote is outrageous!

strayerdarbNovember 27, 2013

What should it cost to paint my new kitchen cabinets? It's a 17' by 15' kitchen with cabinets to the ceiling and an island. The painter that the designer recommended came over yesterday and quoted $9,200!! I was so shocked and exhausted I didn't know what to say. For that price I'd like my whole house painted! Am I wrong? What does it cost to paint cabinets?

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Sophie Wheeler

An average sized kitchen is around 4-6K for a professional paint job, i.e. someone who does the hours and hours of prep properly and doesn't slap on latex with a brush over dust. Your kitchen is about double average size. It's a perfectly reasonable quote. Paint is a premium finish choice because of the increased labor to accomplish it.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 8:03AM
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Well the bigger problem is that just because they charge $9000 for the job doesn't mean they won't be doing something stupid like slapping on latex over dust.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 8:45AM
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How many hours are projected. My painters are time plus materials at $40 an hour per person of the job, and would probably spend a few days prepping a kitchen. So there could be a couple thousand in prep on this. Many people who are "painters" would come in and open up a can, pick up a brush and get started. It seems on the high side to me, so maybe get other quotes but make sure you are comparing similar jobs.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 8:57AM
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Not sure how I would feel about that. I'm having a ton of cabinets custom made, the majority will be painted white and the island will be stained. We're talking an 8 ft island and the cabinets on the walls go to the ceiling in most places (9ft). All together the cost for my cabinets including painting is around the $15k mark. Unless you paid 6k for the cabinets I would definitely get other quotes.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 9:12AM
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Thanks, I will proceed with getting more quotes. The painter described his process and he does a lot of prep work, taping over the hinges and guides, sanding, priming, sanding, etc. The paint would be sprayed. Can't remember how many quotes he said. He comes highly recommended and I've seem some of his work in new homes in my neighborhood and some remodels, so I'm confident he would do an excellent job. it's just that I was not planning on 9K. I will get more quotes and make sure they describe a similar process. Thank you.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 9:34AM
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I live in the SF Bay Area, so prices can be steep. I have a 10x10 G-shaped kitchen, less than half the size of yours. I kept my existing cabinet boxes (golden oak) and they were painted in place. I got new doors, drawer fronts and end panels which were painted in the shop. Total cost was $4300. I thought it was steep, but they did a great job.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 10:07AM
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Are these new or old cabinets? If they are old there is a huge amount or prep. Is he taking the doors off site to spray?

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 10:47AM
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They are new custom cabinets, just finished today. They are paint grade maple. I don't remember if he was going to take the doors off or not. I know he will remove the drawers. The doors are easy to take off though because the hinges are really good and easy to deal with.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 11:04AM
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Is there a reason you chose to have them site finished and not painted by the cabinet maker before they were delivered? I had semi-custom maple cabinets done, with an island for a small kitchen, painted, and glazed for half of what your painting costs...sounds like you need a second opinion.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 12:15PM
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I have no idea whether or not that quote is outrageous. I don't know what type of cabinets you have - are they simple shaker and do they have straight edge or beveled edge. Or do the cabinets have a lot of details and frou-frous to them. How many linear feet of cabinets do you have and how many uppers - do the uppers go to an 8' or a 9' ceiling, does your island have fancy legs on it. Are your crown moldings simple or detailed and can they be sprayed or do they need to be hand painted. 'm not interested in knowing those details, I'm just pointing out that I have no idea if the quote is outrageous or not.

Before you go any further, if you haven't done so already, you need to educate yourself on the best process to use for your cabinets and the best products to use. Go to your local paint store and ask them, get on the internet and research the process and the products.

Compare the process and products among the quotes that you get and the information that you got from your own research. And ASK questions of the painters about why they do what.

I painted our old cabinets twice myself (I'm not suggesting you do that) but before starting I went to our BM store and the manager wrote out the process and suggested the best products. He even told me what grit of sandpaper to use between each layer of paint (they differ - who knew?) and the temperature range that the room should be where I would be painting and to make sure the doors were level flat when painting.

Go with your gut and the person who will give you the best job for your new kitchen. The paint quote is only a percentage of your whole job but it is the show piece of the job. Don't cheapen out on it.

A month from now I want to see pics of some beautifully painted cabinets and not a post venting about a sloppy paint job.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 12:30PM
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That's good advice, blfenton. It's a shame that we have to be so knowledgeable about everything when we are paying professionals to do a job, but that's just the way it is.

There are plenty of "blow-and-go" painters out there, and you definitely want to make sure you get a professional job. As some of the others have stated already, this is not the place to try to cut costs.

I don't know how I'd feel about "taping over hinges and guides" ... I would think that all of those things would be removed before painting.

I would have thought your designer would have given you an idea of the cost to expect for finishing your cabinets so that you could have budgeted the correct amount. Since your cabinets are paint grade, your options are limited at this point and $9,000 might just be the going rate.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 1:03PM
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robo (z6a)

I was also kind of thrown by the 'taping over hinges' thing. Is painting cabinets in place a high end thing?

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 1:24PM
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Painting in place is either a VERY high end artisan type thing, as in Christopher Peacock 250K worth of cabinets, or a very low end builder cheapo special, as is 4K of site built cabinets. Most cabinet makers prefer to control the environment where their products are finished and have a finisher on staff that does it in house. You don't get very good quality results outside of a controlled spray room. All manufactured cabinets are finished in a clean room with high quality products that are very hard for your average finisher to obtain. They will mostly all pass KCMA testing for wear and tear. Almost no site finished cabinets will pass the tests.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 2:14PM
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I've mentioned it before but painting installed cabinets results in cracks between the units due to expansion and contraction of the wood. I would not want to be going through all this new custom cabinet expense to end up with cracking seams.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 5:48PM
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I had my maple cabinets painted 6 years ago. A small kitchen (9 x 9) cost $2200. I got 5 estimates and went with a very highly rated person. He did a beautiful job--I was incredibly impressed with his careful, detailed work. No cracks or problems in 6 years--they look like new. I suggest you get a number of estimates and be careful in who you pick to do the job.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 6:07PM
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I had my FR custom built-ins painted on-site. It was about $2.5 3K for 9 feet of 8' high cabinets, I recall and took two guys about 4 or 5 days. Normally the cabinet guy and GC would prefer to do this off-site, in a controlled room with a conversion finish. But because the rest of the room trim and existing built-ins were being painted, I wanted to maintain consistency in finish. They assembled a spray room with plastic in the garage and disassembled each and every piece.. The remainder of the room was done as well (and took additional time and money).

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 6:30PM
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I have more estimates coming. I understand the process and I am only asking for quotes from highly recommended painters.

The cabients are shaker with a bead, to the ceiling (10') with a 4' x 8' island. Cove molding, no island legs.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 6:33PM
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We aren't using the kitchen/family at all and it seems like we could use thick dividers to create a spray room right in here instead of the garage. The garage is lots more dirty, nasty and dusty than the inside of the house.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 6:39PM
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For So Cal, that price doesn't seem too far out of line. I would get two other bids though. The "average" new kitchen paint or stain around here would be in the 6k -7k range, but you may have circumstances that require more. Although I would be concerned about "taping over hinges and guides" ...these are usually removed by a good quality painter

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 10:35PM
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I'm just curious why you commissioned custom-built cabinets without planning in advance to have the cabinet maker paint them or making arrangements with someone else in advance to have them painted.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 10:55PM
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We were considering getting our cabinets site painted and got a quote of 7000 dollars to 7500 dollars from two painters. We decided to go with Factory finish because of what Livewire oak mentioned.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2013 at 12:22AM
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