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FAQs by Customers

The following frequently asked questions have been compiled from emails we have received over the last couple of years. The questions are from potential customers seeking answers from us and are always asked prior to making any commitment to hire us. For the sake of continuity and privacy, we have sometimes inserted the proverbial: “Mrs. Jones” when responding to our potential customer. If by chance, the question(s) you wanting answers are not covered, then please email or call us and we will get back to you immediately.
Question #1) What specifically do you do when you paint (or refinish) my kitchen cabinets anyway?

That’s a pretty general question that covers a lot of area in the world of kitchen cabinet painting but we get it a lot so lets start there.  I will answer that question very comprehensively and will include some other questions that we get, along the way.


 1) oak cabinets

2)  maple cabinets

3) laminate cabinets

4) thermofoil

 Lets assume, for the moment, that we’re doing what we do on a lot of our cabinet refinishing projects:  which is to paint those faded oak, maple, laminate, thermofoil (or whatever type of kitchen cabinets yo have.)  And to be fair, a lot of the kitchen cabinets we paint are, in fact, not in bad shape at all, nor are they even faded.  Furthermore, there are no shortage of cabinet painting jobs we do where the cabinets are in what we can accurately describe as “new condition”.   In these cases its simply time to try a new colour.  After all, it’s looking pretty dark over there isn’t it?

For those who are thinking of going to a darker colour from you present light one that’s cool too.  Only YOU know what mood you want to create in your own kitchen.  

Now, for starters, we don’t just “throw a coat of paint on them”. The process of painting your cabinetry is a lot more involved than that. It’s extremely detailed work. Right up there with brain surgery and rocket science.  Not quite…but close.  ;>  Don’t believe me?..then read on and decide for yourself when you see exactly what’s involved in delivering a high quality kitchen cabinet refinishing job. 


 Don’t concern yourself with taking down any cabinets or putting them back.  There are one million other things you would rather be doing.  That’s why you hired us to paint your kitchen cabinets.  And part of the process of painting them involves taking them down, taking them to our shop, painting them there and then bringing them back and installing  them.


Now, if you *insist* on saving a bit of money and want us to knock some off the over-all price then feel free to discuss with us how much you can save by removing all the doors, drawer hinges and knobs and replacing them yourselves.  For 95% of our customers we remove and replace everything with 5% doing themselves.  Whatevers clever.  Again, most of our customers have one million other things they would rather be doing than removing and replacing cabinets.  Not to mention the fact that if they’re not labelled properly and you try to put a drawer back on in what you believe to be the right spot (but it’s not…AND it’s upside down but you can’t tell) then  you will spend an hour playing around with it and maybe not ever figure of the riddle.    Sound like I’m speaking from the point of view with having first-hand knowledge?   Yipper skipper. So ya, there’s a major learning curve.   But if you feel so inclined to save a few hundred bucks then dig in my friend.  


 Excellent question. We will show up and do the uninstall but before we start taking anything down we will do a couple of things to give both you and us some peace-of-mind. 


1) We will open and close and examine all your cabinets (both doors and drawers) to see how easily they in fact open and close. 

Some cupboards are less than perfect so we takes notes, pictures and videos to record whatever the issue is with any particular kitchen cabinet or bath cabinets door or drawer.  This is a very important step as sometimes you don’t notice a pre-existing condition until AFTER we do the work and then do the install and then things stand out a bit more and get noticed for the first time even though it’s pre-existing.   

“WHAT’S A PRE-EXISTING QUESTION” you ask?  Good question.  Here are a few examples:

Example A:   

We open one of your cupboard doors above your fridge and it doesn’t open all the way but instead rubs against the top of the fridge. 

 Example B:

 The ‘lazy susan’ that hangs in a lopsided fashion due to weakened hinge placement over the years and no amount of playing around and adjusting the hinges will make it hang in a perfectly aligned fashion

Example C:  

The drawers around your sink  are in extra bad shape and are warped or bulbous in nature due to water settling on it over the years and making the surface swell.  We do a lot of extra work to make these particular drawers or doors look as best as possible.  That amounts to twice as much primer and epoxy paint than usual.  Question;  Will they look perfect?  No, only buying new will make them perfect but we can  get them up to  an 8/10 versus their current state of 3/10.


2) We look around  our work area to see if there is any damage that stands out that was caused my anyone in the past. We will also take pictures and video, where required, to help assist you in any way.

The following is an actual, verbatim, conversation we have had.

Customer:  “You scratched my floor Rick”.   

Rick: “umm…not so much.  (holding up cell  phone) Here’s the video I took of the pre-existing scratch that I noticed at the 10 second mark of me being on your property.  It’s the same video that I also emailed to you, text you about and spoke to you in  person about” 

Customer:  “Oh, THAT scratch..right..thanks…I’ve been juggling a lot of things lately with this reno..sorry.  Must have been the counter-top guys or the electricians”

 Rick:  “Usually is Mrs. Jones…usually is”    


 Now comes the labeling.  We don’t want to be guessing where things go at the end so we are very methodical by clearly labeling where everything goes.  That involves putting some  painters tape on  the inside of the cabinet boxes…labeled “#1″….”#2” etc..while we simultaneously tape and label the cabinet doors associated with those areas as “#1″….#2”..etc.   until all the kitchen cabinet doors have been removed.  When the cupboard doors have all been labeled we then move onto the removal of the cabinet drawers.  Same process as above only this  time we label all the drawers with a letter instead of a number.  We also make sure we keep track of what side of the drawer is up and which is down.  Things can get a bit trick if we try to install one and it’s upside down because even though we will in fact be able to affix it it will look askew due to being slightly off.  Centimetres matter.  And those faux drawers you have under the sink…if we can get to them we will take those off as well.  Sometimes they simply don’t come off or they do come off but we can’t access the screws due to the shell of the sink being in the way.  Our goal though is to remove them if we can.


Once we get everything off we do an “official count” to make sure we have the same number of cabinet doors and drawers you said you had when we first contacted you via email and were asked of the “total number of doors and drawers”.   If there are less pieces then we will tell you what rebate you have coming and if there are more pieces than you had originally thought then we will let you know the extra charge so that we don’t leave your property with your items and THEN tell you about the extra charges.   This quite obviously is the fairest manner in  which to conduct business. 

Can you believe how much detail and work is involved in doing high quality cabinet refinishing and we haven’t even taken your cabinet doors and drawers out of your kitchen and to the spray shop yet!


 One other nice touch we do is that when we take down, or rather, uninstall your cabinets we have to lean them up against your walls before taking them out to our truck or van.  We don’t rest them right against your walls as we don’t want to scratch any of your existing painted walls.  By placing a small piece of foam between the cabinet and the wall we protect the wall from any damage.  That foam you see is the very same foam we use to wrap and protect the doors and drawers after they are dried and cured.  But more about that later. 


 We sure do.  We take off our “street  ware” and put on our DEDICATED INDOOR SHOES.  These are shoes that have never been outside, ever.  They are 100% dedicated to being inside a customers house.  Nice touch, right?



Prior to leaving we will make sure that there are no outstanding issues.  We don’t want to take your cabinetry off your property only to discover down the road when we’re painting the ‘on-site fixed pieces’ that we didn’t discuss a particular aspect of the job. Such as:











Question #2) Do I need to empty my kitchen cupboards and drawers before you arrive? No you don't. We won't be painting actually inside your cabinets except maybe behind a glass door or two where you can see the old colour. Don't worry, we won't be getting any dust or paint on any of your personal or foot items. Once in a while we are not able to take the cabinet drawer face off without doing damage to the drawer so in that rare instance we would take the entire drawer with us at which point you would have to empty the entire contents of all your drawers and put all the contents back yourself when the job is complete. The goal is always the same...to remove the drawer face only and take that with us and leave you the rest. For a new kitchen this is not difficult but with older style kitchens where they simply glued the face cover onto the the drawer box then we have no other choice but to take the entire drawer with us as prying off the face would cause way too much damage.
What kind of primer, paint or lacquer do you use when you refinish my kitchen cabinets? Excellent question.
How much is this going to cost me and what exactly am I paying for?
What about melamine, is that any good for cabinets?

Melamine, although a bit better than regular paint is in fact just a fancy name for “paint” and also pales in comparison to a pre-catalyzed industrial epoxy.  Melamine reminds me of what it used to say on my report card when I was a kid: “good effort this term”. Melamine strives to be what it can never be;  industrial epoxy.

How do you arrive at a price for painting our cabinets? Does someone need to come and take a look?
We have been spraying kitchen cabinets for 29 yrs now so there is really nothing for us to see that we haven’t already seen…so no, no one typically has to come take a look. We just need to know the total number of doors and drawers and what type of wood or laminate you presently have. Then it becomes a simple math equation.
Our kitchen cabinets are Oak and my daughters kitchen is laminate. We have approximately the same number of pieces. Will the cost be the same for the both of us?
Assuming for the moment that you both have the identical number of pieces, then no, the price would not be the same. Spraying over laminate is cheaper than spraying over a wooden cabinet since there are fewer coats of lacquer that need to be applied. Spraying laminate is a three coat system (one prime, two finish) whereas spraying maple and all other wood excluding oak, is a four coat system, and spraying oak is a five coat system. (three prime, two finish).
Whats the big deal with Oak; what is it exactly that causes the price to be higher than for cabinets made from different materials?
Oak is the most porous wood we work with and instead of just spraying the primer on and being done with it, like we do with other types of cabinetry, we have to ‘push’ the lacquer primer into the grain by using high-density foam rollers. So, although we spray three coats of primer we immediately follow each coat by forcing the primer to go deep into the crevices, where it normally does not go when you simply spray. This is a crucially important step to fine finishing oak cabinetry since this method then allows the top coats of lacquer to sit on top of the surface where it belongs due to the wood having been so perfectly sealed.
I have 48 pieces of oak cabinets in my kitchen. How do you arrive at a price for that? How do I book a job?

The pricing is broken up into four areas:

    1. Number of pieces multiplied by our price per piece.
    2. On-site painting of fixed pieces.
    3. Removing and replacing of hinges and knobs.
    4. Cost of materials.

Book job’s online by giving a non-refundable Interac e-transfer deposit.  

How long will we be without our doors and drawers and what exactly do you do at your shop with them?

We will need your cabinetry for 2-3 weeks for the average sized job. (22-50 pieces)  .  All doors and drawers are cleaned thoroughly with disinfecting agents to remove all the oil, dirt and grime that has accumulated on your cabinets over time.  Even if you yourself have done an excellent job keeping your cabinets spotless and clean over the years we still scrub them clean prior to sanding in order to deliver a high quality refinishing project. This is a vital step in  the preparation of doors, drawers and cabinet boxes as we want the cabinet surfaces to be able to ‘take’ the primer and paint as best as possible.  We do a lot more than just a little light sanding as well.  We use orbital electric sanders in our spray shop to sand the surfaces as smooth as possible to remove all loose and peeling paint.  We typically do not strip everything entirely as that’s rarely required.  If you cabinets are delaminating…something that happens with some thermofoil on occasion then we will remove / strip the entire thermofoil off before priming it.   To paint your cabinets we typically use either an hvlp spray gun or an airless sprayer to achieve a high quality finish with no brush marks to your doors and drawers nor any brush markts to your cabinet boxes.  Most often we brush and roll the boxes to get a similar look to the sprayed doors and drawers. 

I'm pretty handy with a drill. Can I remove the replace the doors and drawers and take the hinges and knobs off myself?

No problem but again, I’m guessing that there are one million other things you would rather be doing.  If I’m wrong and this is no big thing and you’re also good at it AND you want to save some money then by all means dig in.  Please note that anything you take down ALSO has to go back up.  In other words, you can’t have all the fun (doing the uninstall of the cabinets) and THEN pass over the tricky part to us…the install. 


Actually you can provided we still get paid in full (typically $400’ish) that we charged for both the uninstall and install.  In other words, you just did an uninstall  and got paid nothing for it.  So if you **LOVE** helping out and want to be part of the process you can but in this particular case you won’t get paid for it.  Your ‘street cred’ goes up though.  ;>

I use to be a College Pro Painter. I can probably do the on site painting myself as well. Can you set me up?

 There are probably a number of things that you would  rather be doing.  We don’t really recommend it but if (push comes to shove) and you feel so inclined we can give you the exact application tools we would use if we were to do it ourselves. Typically though, the majority of our customers prefer to shy away from this aspect… and understandably so.  For what it’s worth the owner of Vancouver Kitchen Cabinet Painting used to be a College Pro Painter and was Painter of The Year in North America when he produced 1142 hours over 8 bi-weekly payrolls in Toronto, Ontario and beat out 3300 other College Pro Painters.  Despite having all those hours he was still just a College kid so it’s anyone guess at just how good the quality was.  Decent but not what it is after you get 30 yrs of painting under your belt.  Painting the fixed pieces in a kitchen to give a simulated ‘spray like look’ and painting all the crown…kicks…etc without getting any brush marks is no easy things.  If you’re up to it then dig in but your quality won’t be anywhere near what we can do for you.  Prior experience as a College Pro Painter notwithstanding. ;>

We are trying to take the fronts off the drawers that are glued with screws. Do you normally rip them off or can you paint around the drawers?
Sounds like you should leave them be as there could be issues getting them back on. We can prep, prime and spray them as is if that seems to be the better route.
We are painting the kitchen walls as well. Should we paint the walls before or after you paint the cupboards?
We would do the walls first. Touching up a wall due to any inadvertent damage during the install (by yourself) is much less egregious than injury inflicted upon a cabinet stemming from an accident by the aforementioned customer.
Do we wash the doors and frames before you guys arrive.
Thank you but don’t do any washing or cleaning of the cabinetry as that is part of what you’re paying for.
I’m a bit concerned about the smelly primer. Not only do we have a toddler but I am pregnant, so it won’t be so good for me/baby either.
We’re in full agreement with you on this one. We do not use smelly dangerous solvent based primers; we use very eco-friendly low odor pre catalyzed water based lacquer primers. The best primer/sealer on the market.
What's your policy on deposits and are they refundable?

Deposits are 100% refundable if there are less than 5 emails we had to respond to.  Anything between 5-10 is 50% refundable and if we responded 10 times or more during the course of the planning of your project then there is no refund whatsoever.  

Are there any extra costs after you take our cabinets?

Are there any ‘extras’ after the job starts?    The only time there are extras would be if you added some more cabinets to get done or if we came across an unforeseen condition.  An example of an unforseen condition is if we get a ‘reaction’ when spraying your cabinets and it’s not applicator error.  ie: dimpling /  This can happen with paint coatings any time.  More so with lacquers / polyurethanes and paint with lacquer-like qualities.  Most likely to occur with oak due to the porous nature of oak but can happen on maple and laminate just as well.  This particular unforeseen condition occurs about once in every 100 kitchens we do.  The extra costs involved would be for a total sanding to remove top coat, re-priming everything and then spraying two more coats.

“My cabinets are now a contemporary blue with perfect uniformity of sheen. I have no hesitation in recommending 604-PAINTER to any of my friends or clients”

Justin, General Contractor – Tsawwassen


Vancouver Kitchen Cabinet Painting

7990 Argyle St,
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Tel: 604-PAINTER | 604-724-6837

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