How hard is the paint?

Paint hardness is a topic that few paint companies or consumers look at.  So, congrats!  The hardness test is done in the manufacturer lab, using one of two (or sometimes both) universally accepted systems. One is the Wolff-Wilborn Pencil Hardness test, the other is Persoz & Konig test.  Each has its own scale.  The results are usually buried in the product literature, and sometimes not disclosed at all without asking.  Anyhow, most of our product is around a 5 in hardness.  That’ll survive a lot of wear and tear.

Do you have a showroom? Can we visit you?

We do not have a formal show room in the way larger remodel firms have.  However, we do have our “Tradeshow” display set up on a wall in an area of our shop.  BY APPOINTMENT, you are welcome to come and see this.  The setup shows the step by step process of our cabinet painting, going through stages.  You’d also get a great feel (literally) for how our grain reduction appears and feels on oak.  This is the concern of many consumers we help.  At the same visit, you can get a first hand look at the process in the back workroom too.  Please contact us if this is something that interests you!

How much will painting the cabinets cost?

For tight grain/smooth woods such as birch, maple, pine, or similar veneer:

  • Smaller kitchens typically start at $2500 and are often done for less than $3000 (roughly up to 25 doors & drawers combined).
  • Average size kitchens usually cost between $3500 and $4500… a range that can encompass an island (approximately 35 to 40 doors and drawers combined).
  • Larger kitchens are typically $5000 to $6000 or more (with a combination of roughly 45 to 55 doors and drawers).   Larger kitchens more often have other cost factors.

Remember, these are averages.  Please review the notes on additional costs below.

For Oak cabinets, which Colorwheel usually does a grain reduction step:

  • Smaller kitchens typically start at $3000 and are often done for less than $3700 (roughly up to 25 doors & drawers combined).
  • The average size kitchen will cost between $4500 and $5500… a range that can encompass an island (approximately 35 to 40 doors and drawers combined).
  • Larger kitchens are typically $6000 to $7000 or more (with a combination of roughly 45 to 55 doors and drawers).   Larger kitchens more often have other cost factors.

Remember, these are averages.  Please review the notes on additional costs below.

Other Cost Factors

  1.  Color selected, as some require extra coats
  2.  Sanding of door edges to ensure fit
  3.  Grain filling on OAK, which is an extra process Colorwheel offers to help with OAK specifically
  4.  Artistic endeavors such as distressing, glazing, striping, or high gloss finishes
  5.  Repairs to surfaces
  6.  Changing hardware locations or styles, from one-hole to two, or from two to one, or the size of the spacing
  7.  Handling hardware that is difficult to remove, for example soft brass screws, stripped screws, flatheads, etc.,
  8.  Painting of shelves
  9.  Painting of open box systems, or the boxes behind glass doors
  10.  Glass doors themselves
  11.  Corbels, moldings, decorative trim pieces, etc.
  12.  Islands
  13.  Number of colors being used
  14.  Crown molding
  15.  Profile complexity, staggered height boxes, etc.

How do I really compare apples to apples?

If you focus on price alone, you might be assuming all the rest (people, process, product) are the same from one company to the next.  This is a horrible mistake to make.  So how do you compare apples to apples?

Really, you need to get granular.  Ask the tough questions!

  • how many sets of cabinets do you paint in a year?  Can I call those people?  Can I visit one or two of the sites?
  • how long have you been painting?  or how long has the person been painting who will be on my job?
  • what type of cleaning agent do you use?
  • what type of primer?
  • what type of finish product do you use?  is it specifically for cabinets?  is it brittle?  is it too soft?   what is the recoat time and do you obey it?  how many coats of paint do you use?
  • how often do you run into issues or call backs?
  • what if I’m not happy with how something looks?
  • do you belong to professional groups?  are you actually active in those groups or is it just a marketing stamp on your things?
  • what is your warranty?  what are the EXCLUSIONS in your warranty?
  • have you had warranty claims?

The truth is, every person you meet will say that there way is “the best way” or “that it works” or “they’ve used it before” or have “happy customers.”  But, can you imagine if they told you the opposite of those things?  Of course they wouldn’t.  So, it’s up to you to read between the lines and make great choices!

How Does Your Cost Compare with Others?

Painting services have a wide range of cost from provider to provider.  And Colorwheel’s prices are very competitive with other QUALIFIED and SKILLED cabinet painters.  Of course, defining what qualified and skilled mean may mean a lot more to us than it does to you…. So, we’ll even give you competitor names, because frankly, we want you to choose the best fit for you.

Generally, we are on the higher end of prices people receive because they haven’t really called true competitors.  Be wary, a low price should scare you!  Like it or not, this is capitalism.  Lower prices may mean you’ve found:

  • an exterior painting company that’s trying to stay busy in the winter or on rain days
  • a job that is sold off to a subcontractor at a rock bottom price, meaning unqualified workers
  • someone who doesn’t really know what they’re doing
  • spraying in your garage, basement, or never even taking the doors off
  • inferior process and or thin to minimal coats of product
  • inferior product, like soft trim paint, or brittle chemicals
  • no warranty or one full of loop holes

Colorwheel will provide a HIGHLY DETAILED proposal that documents process and product.  Our warranty is also outstanding!

How does the cost compare to new cabinets?

In comparison to getting new cabinets, the cost is roughly 1/3 or better.  While it’s easy to look at the cabinet cost only, please remember that if you replace cabinets, there’s also:

  • a counter top to remove
  • a counter top to reinstall or have the new one purchased/installed
  • a plumber to do a disconnect of water lines
  • a plumber to do a reconnect of water lines, faucet, etc.
  • disposal costs or arrangements
  • a kitchen that is unusable for 2 to 6 months and as a result, more cost eating out or changing your cooking habits

Can the cabinets be painted?

In most cases, yes; however, we do not recommend painting laminate or melamine surfaces.  We also do not recommend painting when the cabinets themselves should be replaced (sorry!).

How do I know if my cabinets can be painted, or if it’s worth painting them?

If you like:

  • the profile of the cabinets
  • the layout of the cabinets

And the surfaces are:

  • generally in good shape
  • and in working condition

Then yes, it is likely worth it to paint them!

Can oak cabinets be painted?

Yes.  And they turn out fantastic!

But what about the grain?

The grain reduction process Colorwheel uses will drastically reduce and nearly eliminate the pitting and deep channels in the grain.  However, the swirl pattern of oak will be present to some degree.  Once you see our samples, you can decide if this is the right project for you!

How long does it take?

Usually, the boxes (where everything is stored and shelved) take about one week.  Those stay in your home and the week does not generally consist of 8am to 5pm days, but rather, partial days. For example, the preparation of the area and priming might be done on day one by two p.m., at which point we hit a standstill while the primer dries.  Then, sanding and painting a first coat might be done on day two by noon, and then production hits a standstill again while paint dries. The doors and drawers themselves usually take 3 to 4 weeks.  It sounds like a long time but this allows them to be processed, and substantially cured, before being transported back to your home.  Darker colors can take longer.  If anyone is telling you it’ll go faster than that, BEWARE!

Another guy said he could do it for so much less, how is this possible?

We’ve all heard that “you get what you pay for,” and you know, it’s true.  Lesser price means shortcuts, plain and simple.  If we could do it for less, we would!   We’re not trying to get rich off any one project, business just doesn’t work that way.  On top of that, nobody has more reputable references in cabinet painting than Colorwheel Painting.   Want to see some?  No problem, we’ve got customers ready and willing to let you in to see our work.   Want to feel samples?  Even easier.  Want to beat on those samples to ensure they’re durable?  Go for it.  We love this work and hope you’ll turn to us!

What do you use for primer?

Zinsser BIN Pigmented Shellac is used in most cases as a universal NON-WATER based primer.  In some cases a water based primer may be used, but it must pass an adhesion test.

Can you use a Prime & Paint in 1-step product?

No. Standard latex primers will not properly adhere to a previously stain and lacquered finish, conversion varnished surface, or even to semi-to-glossy painted surfaces.  Even if it does adhere, it rarely offers the stain blocking properties needed and residual grease, dirt, and cleaning product residue can penetrate through it, causing long-term adhesion issues for the paint.

What do you use for a top coat?

Colorwheel has tried and tested many of the products on the market.  More than you can imagine!   As a result, we’ve found a select set of paints (not known to most) that offer an incredible ability to self-level, spray smoothly, and provide a beautiful appearance with lasting durability!  Without these great products, we couldn’t offer the warranty that we do.

How many top coats will I need?

At a minimum, 2. Possibly more depending on surface conditions.  Remember top coats are the PAINT, a priming layer (or two) should occur before this.

What about pigmented lacquer?

Pigmented lacquer is not a good choice in moisture prone areas.  It is also not compatible (from a chemistry standpoint) over many other types of coatings.  We have several competitors stating that it’s O.K. to use, so please be careful.  The same competitors will spray it in your house and throw a box fan in the window for ventilation  (not good, those aren’t explosion proof fans!).   Instead, go for pigmented conversion varnish if you have raw wood, or paint if there is ANY type of previous coating.  Now unfortunately, Colorwheel does not offer these products or services, but we’re happy to make a solid recommendation.

Do you sand between coats?

Typically we sand the primer to make it smooth, and then no further sanding is needed.  Of course if we see a need for it, we go ahead and do it.

How do you prepare the surface?

We use a cleaner and deglosser to remove surface contamination from the surfaces. This happens before priming.  Grease, residue from cleaning products, hand oils (and even pet dander/oils), and general dirtiness must all be remedied and not just painted over!

How do you actually quote the kitchen?

We can quote from photos but prefer to quote by visually inspecting them and being there. A count of the number of doors to be done is crucial, as is a number of drawers or drawer fronts. Forming a plan for what items the customer will handle (if any, such as removing door knobs) also helps.  The downside to photos is we often miss small nuances, which ultimately result in change orders.

Do you caulk gaps?

Yes on boxes, no on doors. This happens after priming. The primer will “highlight” gaps where wood meets wood, and where wood meets the wall. We do not typically caulk any gaps in floating panels at doors though, as they are prone to cracking open in seasonal expansion and contraction.

How do I get more information?

Contact Colorwheel Painting directly. 414-708-6324, use a contact us form on this website, or email

How do you price painting contracts?

Our painting services are priced “by the job” as frequently as possible, but some jobs are billed hourly, and others are a combination of the two, for example wall paper removal could be an hourly billled task, with the remaining painting all done for a set price.  Other hourly billing tasks typically relate to wall repairs, sanding/refinishing, and design work or artistic work.  In the event of hourly billing, we always try to establish a range on the contract, up front.   This is done in good faith, and is based on our prior experience.

Who provides the painting services?

Our full time, year round employees do the painting work. Colorwheel Painting, S.C. is unlike most companies. We employ full-time professional painters year round ensuring you get the highest quality service available. Our employees are invested in our company and truly care if your painting job will last.

Do you warranty your painting work?

Yes. Colorwheel Painting, S.C. adheres to the standard warranty of the National Painting and Decorating Contractors of America. This is a 1 year warranty, with full details available at More importantly, Colorwheel Painting, S.C. actually honors the warranty.

Where do I pick out colors for my painting project?

Anywhere you wish! For example, just because you pick a color from the “Valspar” paint colors at Lowe’s, does not mean the same color can’t be manufactured in a Sherwin Williams Product. While this is technically called a “color match” it can be done, and is done all the time. The key is to truly look at the match, and have it adjusted as needed. Never simply trust the person matching the color without verifying the color itself.

Do you have any notable commercial painting references?

Yes! Notable Milwaukee companies including WE Energies, U.S.M.C., Department of Homeland Security, Fiddleheads Coffee Roasters, Stone Creek Coffee, Boerner Botanical Gardens, Sprint Store, Brooks Stevens, Workshop Architects and Pabst Farms Management have given us glowing reviews. Colorwheel Painting, S.C. can handle some serious commercial painting.

How far will your professional house painters travel?

Generally, we try to stay within a 20 mile radius of Milwaukee, but sometimes go as far as 25 to 30 miles.  As this travel time must be accounted for in our cost structure, projects that are further away do end up being more expensive.  That said, we often find that because poeople see what great value and service we bring, we’re worth the price.  Thus, it’s not uncommon for us to travel 1 to 1.5 hours away and in doing so, we have ended up as far north as Plymouth, west to Dousman, south to Racine, SW to Lake Geneva, and everywhere in-between.  In fact, our house painters are so amazing they’ve been invited to northern Wisconsin to paint vacation homes and we’ve even been invited to paint homes as far away as Washington, D.C.

How do I get a painting quote, painting estimate or painting proposal?

Contact the Colorwheel Painting, S.C. painting professionals using the “contact us” form. Email us directly or call 414-708-6324.

What kind of paint do you use for interior and exterior painting?

The type of paint we use in our residential painting is up to you so long as we feel its a paint we can properly use.  Colorwheel Painting has relationships with Benjamin Moore, Hallman Lindsay, and Sherwin Williams.   We also use Farrow & Ball, Fine Paints of Europe, Safecoat, and more.  Our consultants always guide you to use the right product for the job.  This ensures the right look and the right durability, every time.