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Finishing time for topocoats

Dave Edgerton

A question for those who do manual spraying as I do.
Do you find it takes you longer to do a pigmented finish on a door or a stain and clear coat?
Lets consider its a spray only stain where you have to do 3 passes and a sealer and clear top coat.
The pigmented lets say its primer and 2 topcoats.
Now from a business perspective which finish style would you say costs more per square foot ready to go out the door. Remember, cost, which includes o/h and labour and finish materials.

5/15/18       #2: Finishing time for topocoats ...
Leo G Member

Stain and 2 squirts compared to 2 prime and 2 topcoats.

Stain is faster, but stain needs nice, usually more expensive materials. And usually work to select matching colors.

Paint needs cheaper materials (soft maple/MDF panels) and there is no sorting for color, no need to have swirl free sanding.

Over all I think staining is quicker and usually cheaper (material dependent) but usually I call it a bust between paint and stain. Adding glaze makes painting much more expensive.

5/16/18       #3: Finishing time for topocoats ...

We often do 2 prime coats 2 color coats. The first prime coat reveals all the defects. We fill & sand and reprime.

The stains we do are generally dark and are easily applied with a rag. MLC woodsong.

I usually figure itís pretty close cost wise. Those stupid glazed rub thru jobs always take forever.

5/16/18       #4: Finishing time for topocoats ...

Right upfront I charge 20% more for paint then stain & clear.For paint; it's standard practice in my neck of the woods to caulk in the panels, material is more because if you need a gallon and a quart that means you're buying 2 gallons plus there is the extra prep filling and sanding inperfections between prime coats. In my shop; Paint is 2 prime, 2 finish. Stain is stain , 3 clear.
Plus 99 times out of 100 on the paint jobs I make 2 trips out to the job to caulk the cabs to the walls & ceiling and touch-up. This is a added charge that I usually do T&M.

5/18/18       #5: Finishing time for topocoats ...
Bob Niemeyer  Member


Prime and Paint is always more work and more time. 20% minimum upcharge from clears. I like to use PU for painted unglazed jobs if a kitchen. I always use PU primer even under CV. I am going to push the upcharge to 25-30% from clear on the next paint job.
I think I can speak for most of us self employed people here, We work to make a profit, not just pay the bills.

5/18/18       #6: Finishing time for topocoats ...
Jim Conklin  Member


On tight grained wood, pigmented comes in ahead by the time spent staining. Easier at prep too - just fill defects with whatever at hand without worrying that the fill will grab too much stain.

Open grain with pigmented is more than stained. Poor or worn construction with pigmented is more owing to caulk and spackle for cracks, panels and joints.

Material cost apart from stock white and black is more for pigmented.

Glazing on pigmented is more than a furniture glaze over stain.

5/19/18       #7: Finishing time for topocoats ...

We use soft maple & prefinish ply for paint grade. We pocket screw everything, glue joints are perfect. We do a a relly thin prime coat(1/2coat) to high light the defects. sand it perfect. 2nd prime coat, 1st top then 2nd.

Stain grade. First the wood is more expensive oak, mahogany, cherry. Ideally you should be grain matching as you layup(more time) We try to use as much prefinished ply as possible, but we always end u having to finish some wood ply.

Sand everything perfect. all the way up to lock sanding with 180. Stain which is slower than sprayng. another careful sanding so you don't go through the stain.
I'm sticking with good painted is about the same as good stained.

Slapping something togther out of red oak. Lots of putty and slather a couple of thick coats of you favorite poly will definitely save money, but that doesn't belong on WW/

5/19/18       #8: Finishing time for topocoats ...
mastercabman Member

Any cabinet manufacturers will charge more for painting
I've seen as low as 10% up to 25%
Glazing is about 10-15% more
staining is a little more forgiving

5/22/18       #9: Finishing time for topocoats ...

I'm going to say the exact opposite of a lot of these guys here (respectfully, because they know their market/business better than I do).

In our experience, stain is a more costly process (I'm not talking about material goods, but the actual process). In the market we are in, a hand-applied stain takes time to do properly, consistently. We spray it on, wipe it off. Followed by 3 coats of clear CV (4 steps total-- stain, clear, clear, clear). You HAVE to be more gentle in sanding/scuffing or you get burned edges. Our clients do not tolerate stain colors being all over the board. Natural variation is one thing, but misapplication of stain is never tolerated.

Paint is exactly the opposite. It's brutally simple. We do 2 coats of white, one coat of clear (3 steps total- white, white, clear). So right off the bat, it's 1 step less than stain. You have far more margin of error while sanding/scuffing, and still can get a spectacular finish.

The problem most people encounter with paint is using a pathetic product. I've worked in shops using "the cheap stuff" because they were too damned mentally lazy to learn how to mix catalyst, so instead, they did a 4 or 5 coat system (primer, primer, white, white, clear).

I use a CV that is self-sealing (even in opaques) that gets my white done in 2 coats, and we top with clear. If you can't do that with yours, find one you CAN do that with.

5/22/18       #10: Finishing time for topocoats ...
mastercabman Member

Could you tell us what products do you use?
Seems to me that 3 coats of CV is a little excessive
I use MLC and was told in my class that 2 coats is plenty since CV has high solids
Stain jobs I do stain,sealer,2 top coat
Paint jobs I do primer,then 2 top coat
I rarely put clear on my pigmented top coat
If I do I only put 1 coat pigment and 1 coat clear(over primer of course)

5/25/18       #11: Finishing time for topocoats ...

I think you really need to give more specifics as to stain vs paint.

Average kitchen could be red oak with a basic simple stain plus 2 coats of cv. Not getting crazy about sanding trying to even out the end grain.

Or it could be a painted job built out of soft maple with mdf panels and regular ply. Do a decent putty fill job with a coat of primer and 2 color coats.

The other two extremes which could be double the cost would be a cherry stain job. Where you've got raised panels, frames, ply, applied moldings. It requires tons of sanding really good stain matching where you would be hand applying some and spraying multiple coats on other parts.

Or a gloss white paint job on a similar style project. The materials are the same as the first job: soft maple, mdf, regular ply. 2 coats of primer and very good final 320 grit sanding before last topcoat. Otherwise you will see the 240 grit scratches.

4 different critters. It also matters if you are just finishing or you include the wood material costs.

5/26/18       #12: Finishing time for topocoats ...


Why do you do a clear coat? We have always done a primer then 2 tinted topcoats. The primer always you to get it dead flat & smooth.

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