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How to Mask Wall Cabinets for Spray Painting

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Matt is a professional painter and freelance writer, sharing his knowledge, house-painting tips, and product reviews.

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Masking Kitchen Cabinets for Spray Painting

Using a paint sprayer to spray paint kitchen cabinets provides a superior finish when done right, but the most important part of indoor spraying is properly masking a room for over-spray. All sprayers produce over-spray that will cause property damage and a huge mess without careful masking of surfaces not being painted.

Masking cabinets takes time, but having the ability to spray everything, including the primer, saves even more time in the end. I can spray a coat of primer, or paint, on cabinet frames usually in less than thirty minutes. With a brush and roller, it would take significantly longer.

I do a lot of masking and cabinet painting, and I'll explain the tools and process needed to make the process a lot faster and easier for your project.

Tools and Materials for Spray Paint Masking

Masking wall cabinets involves covering floors, appliances, countertops, lights, and the cabinet openings. The most important tool you absolutely must use for cabinet masking is the 3M hand masker. Without this tool, you're going to waste a lot of time, believe me. The hand masker is inexpensive and well worth the investment. I use my hand masker on every single one of my painting projects. I can't imagine doing my paint prep without it.

The hand masker allows you to apply the tape and masking material to the surface at the same time, instead of having to do it separately. This allows you to quickly cover cabinet openings and other surfaces with ease.

The Best Masking Materials for Spray Painting Cabinets

I use a leak proof floor protector to cover kitchen floors. In the past I used red rosin paper, but the problem with that paper is it tears too easily. Rosin paper works well though for covering appliances that can't be moved. You can slide the paper between the cabinets and fridge, or stove, and wrap it over the front of the appliance.

The best tape that I use for spray painting cabinets is the white masking tape from Sherwin Williams, and Frog tape, both yellow and green. Green Frog tape is best for the floors. Primer and paint rarely bleeds underneath this tape, unlike blue tape, which I don't use much anymore for that reason.

The yellow Frog tape (delicate surfaces) is best for taping the sides of freshly painted wall cabinets when it comes time to paint the walls. The yellow tape is also good for taping directly onto painted walls, When you pull the tape off at the end, it's less likely to pull the paint off with it.

With the 3M hand masker I recommended earlier, you'll also need to use the matching 3M masking film, sizes 48-inch and 99-inch. Both sizes are perfect for spray painting, allowing you to cover countertops and cabinet openings easily without wasting a lot of plastic.

Base cabinets I masked with my 3M masker.

Base cabinets I masked with my 3M masker.

Masking A Kitchen for Spray Painting

First cover the kitchen floor with rosin paper, or a leak proof floor protector, using a razor knife to cut off sections that fit the size of the floor. Use white masking tape, or duct tape, to tape the sections of paper together in the middle.

Leave a couple inches of space between the floor paper and base cabinets for your tape. Fill this space with green Frog tape, taping right up along the edge where the base cabinets meet the floor. Green Frog tape works really well for preventing primer and paint from bleeding underneath onto the floor, especially when working with thin primer like BIN, or lacquer.

Masking Countertops and Wall Cabinet Openings

Countertops are best covered with plastic, or paper, using green Frog tape to fasten the material along all of the edges of the counter, so you can spray over and underneath them without any over-spray exposure.

The easiest way to cover wall cabinet openings is with the 3M hand masker, equipped with 48-inch plastic. For the cabinet openings, the white masking tape from Sherwin Williams works really well. The tape is very sticky and doesn't come loose easily. Stick the tape on the inside of the cabinets, around the edges of the opening, with the sticky side facing you. Using the hand masker, tear off a piece of plastic wide enough to reach the tape on all four sides.

Stick the 48-inch plastic onto the tape and unfold it all the way down. This is the easiest way to cover the openings for spraying. When done carefully, the tape and plastic won't come loose while spraying. Blue tape is not strong enough for this. The tape will come loose.

Masking Appliances for Airless Spray Painting

Over-spray will ruin your appliances if you don't cover them correctly. Covering appliances is really easy with a hand masker. For a microwave, tear off a piece of plastic and tape and wrap the plastic all the way around the edges. Open the plastic and tape it together in the middle so the microwave is totally concealed.

With a dishwasher, open the door and cover the rubber water seal on the inside to protect it from over-spray. Wrap the dishwasher with plastic the same way as I explained for the microwave. For stoves, you can either remove them, or wrap them with masking paper and plastic.

Controlling Dust and Over-spray

Even if you plan to brush and roll your kitchen cabinets, instead of spraying, you still need to seal off the kitchen with plastic to keep sanding dust from migrating into adjacent rooms. You can either tape plastic from the ceiling to the floor, or use a Zipwall dust barrier, which is what I use. If you paint for a living, or do a lot of drywall work, it is worth every penny to buy some Zipwall poles for dust control.

The problem with taping plastic onto the ceiling is the tape comes loose, or worse, the ceiling paint tears off upon removal. The Zipwall is a lot easier to install than having to climb up and down a ladder and play around with tape. These work great for concealing over-spray and sanding dust. I use the 12-foot telescoping poles for all of my cabinet painting projects.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: Do you cover the ceiling when spraying?

Answer: Yes, if the cabinets are taller and closer to the ceiling, I'll tape masking paper to the ceiling above.

© 2019 Matt G.

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