Skip to main content

How to Mask Wall Cabinets for Spray Painting

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

Matt is a professional painter who owns and operates his own painting business, specializing in interior and exterior house painting.

Masking cabinets takes time but it saves time in the end

Masking cabinets takes time but it saves time in the end

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. 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 with ease, including the primer, saves even more time in the end. With a sprayer, I can spray a coat of primer, or paint, on cabinet frames usually in less than thirty minutes. With a brush and roller, it could take half a day or longer.

I do a lot of paint prep masking and cabinet painting, and in this article, I cover the tools and process you can use to make your project a lot faster and easier.

Tools and Materials for Spray Paint Masking

Masking wall cabinets involves covering floors, appliances, countertops, lights, and the cabinet openings. One handy tool you absolutely should 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 for all 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 I like using 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 beneath the base cabinets because it does a better job than blue tape at preventing primer and paint from bleeding underneath.

The yellow Frog tape (delicate surfaces) is best for taping the sides of freshly painted wall cabinets when you go to paint the walls. The yellow tape is also good for taping directly onto painted walls because 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 3M masking film, sizes 48-inch and 99-inch. Both sizes are perfect for spray painting and allow you to cover countertops and cabinet door openings easily. I cover this process next.

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 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 by 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. This tape works great for thin coatings like BIN primer and lacquer, which are more prone to leaking underneath.

Masking Countertops and Wall Cabinet Openings

Countertops are best covered with plastic, or masking 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 I recommended earlier, equipped with a roll of 3M 48-inch plastic. For the cabinet openings, white masking tape works the best because it's stronger and doesn't come loose as easily as other types of tape. 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 spray painting. When done carefully, the tape and plastic won't come loose while spraying. Don't use blue tape because it isn't strong enough and it will come loose.

Masking Appliances for Airless Spray Painting

Over-spray will ruin your appliances if you don't protect 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. They work great.

The problem with taping plastic onto the ceiling is the tape comes loose, or worse, the ceiling paint tears off when you remove the tape. The Zipwall poles are a lot easier to erect than having to climb up and down a ladder and stick plastic and tape to the ceiling. Zipwalls work great for containing 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.