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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey everyone, sorry, this might be a dumb question, but we are having issues with our current painter.

Is Promar 200/400 an acceptable paint for new cabinets in a high end custom home? How about flat Promar 200 for walls? We have little kids.

We paid $9,828 for 91 linear feet of cabinets. This included bondo and sanding the new wood cabinets (hybrid with MDF center panel and plywood boxes).

And $23,760 for walls and ceilings (about 2500 sq feet, first floor only). Not to mention additional for the cabinets in the bathrooms, office, and accent walls.

Initially I thought this was a really high price and I confronted contractor about it, but GC assured me painter was the best and top quality stuff would be used. I didn't know any better and we started work. After looking back at the bid it states FLAT Promar 200/400 for walls and ceiling (see picture of bid), but they never specified which paint for the cabinets.

Turns out they ended up using Promar 400 on the cabinets I believe and anytime I even put my nail on it it wants to scratch and chip. Painter boss won't talk to us, and GC says he uses this painter and paint on multi million dollar homes in the past with no complaints. He told me it was the most used paint SW sells.

We also started having issues with the wall paint. Turned out he also used Promar 200 on the walls in flat and we have kids so it was making scuff marks everywhere and it started to peel terribly in about a week. We actually approved Matte, but didn't realize it was flat until after the paint started to chip.

We were never given the option to upgrade the paint selection to Emerald or anything else, they even got all the sheen preferences wrong that our designer had specified when we agreed on colors. We honestly didn't know anything about paint until after we looked at the paint job and it was horrible.

They had penciled something on the drywall during construction and AFTER the paint was applied we could clearly still see the pencil marks. And painter had left and said he was done. lol.

They also painted over all the new shiny metal hinges of the cabinets. After a few days it was all chipping and GC said painter would come back to "touch it up". Is this normal for a high end painter to paint over new metal cabinet hinges?

Sadly I already paid the GC for most of the work and now we are screwed.

We hired our own new painter and he came in and did the walls in SW Emerald in Matte. Baseboards in Scuff-x by BM in Satin and it looks great.

Now we are contemplating having at least the most used kitchen cabinets re done. Is it worth it? Will Promar paint last in a highly used kitchen?

We are really bummed this happened. We are really tired (been 10 months already of remodeling) but we don't want to start moving our stuff into the kitchen and in 6 months the paint starts to peel and then have to re paint the cabinets again. We will probably be in this home for at least another 10-15 years.

Any advice?

Thanks so much!

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Yes, I know this is from a HO but sounds like he or she is getting screwed. Hate to see this happen so will allow for a few responses to help them out and then the thread will be closed. Please do not report this as a DIY thread.
 

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So I don't want to say SW is always terrible all the time, as I like some of their products and my personal SW store always treated me well, but their pricing model imo is somewhat dishonest to allow a big markup on paint and is just in general bizarre. So Promar 200 and 400 are "contractor grade" paints that are more meant for apartments or at best lower end new construction walls and commercial spaces. You can use it as a trim paint, too, but on trim it kinda sucks as while it looks adequate, it does end up chipping/etc, especially if prep regarding priming/cleaning/etc wasn't on point. On baseboards/casings it's barely acceptable in a lower end setting, but definitely not on cabinets. (400 is a lower grade than 200, which is mindboggling, too, for cabinet use.)

So with the SW pricing model Promar 200 generally goes for about $28-30 for most pro painters, but if you order high volumes it can be as low as $20 or so. Promar 400 is about $21-25 a gallon. Anyway, if you go to an SW store as a homeowner, it will be about $60-70 a gallon, while homeowners can get a paint like say, Cashmere for $60 or $40 or so on sale, and then Emerald/etc is the same story, about $60-70 a gallon. Our price as a contractor for those products usually ends up being about low $30s for Cashmere and high $40s or low $50s for Emerald. So the problem comes now, in that it's very easy to pocket $40 a gallon with Promar by charging the retail homeowner price in the materials part of the job, so on 5 gallon job let's say, you make a nice extra $200 and no one is the wiser. Thus Pro-Mar, Profit Margin. I personally think PM200 or PM400 aren't really much better than what you'd get at Home Depot or Lowes for $20-30 a gallon when it comes down to it.

So according to the picture you were specified Cashmere Pearl which is not ideal for cabinets since it's not a specific cabinet paint but just a higher grade normal latex paint, it's certainly better than Promar 400 by quite a lot. Not the best, but certainly not the worst paint around.

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At least that's what it looks like to me (designer spec?)

So again, other companies make contractor grade paints, and sell them for $20 or so, and there's painters that will use $25 a gallon BM Superhide and charge people for $80 a gallon Aura, but at least BM doesn't play the pricing game and contractors mostly just get flat 10% or so discounts at BM stores, so there's not a huge disparity between what HOs pay and contractors so HOs can know what's going on. I believe even PPG (not quite sure, though) doesn't do things like make Speedhide (their slightly better Promar equivalent) be $70 retail to HOs, but more like $40. SW is also the easiest paint store to get a fairly large charge account with vs BM and PPG, too, so a lot of painters are locked in with them due to that. Making money off paint is acceptable (I never did it this way, though, just a flat bid with paint included) as all businesses do it, your auto repair shop is marking up oil for oil changes, etc, just to the extent SW does it is a bit bizarre/complicating.

The only thing a little confusing is that can that says alkyd, that product while a contractor grade paint, it's oil based and would definitely be strong enough for cabinets and pretty ideal for it. (I can't get this on the East Coast and there's no equivalent product here.) So it could be they started with that, and switched to 400 latex halfway through? Another weird unintentional thing that could have happened is if they were using Southwest Builders Latex and got it subbed for PM400 on price alone, Southwest Builders latex was supposedly really good for the price and apparently a decent trim paint, at least compared to PM200 or 400. (Maybe like a Cashmere.)

SW's going through a paint shortage now due to their plant being damaged last year during the Texas hurricane, higher demand, and needing to supply Lowes over their own SW stores. So stuff is really messed up and employees are specifying really ridiculous alternatives to products people used to regularly use and generally stretching use case scenarios out too far, and it's messing with a lot of people. So it might be somewhat unintentional on your paint contractor's end, but the work quality with caulking/etc seems terrible, too.

Anyway, you're pretty much screwed and there's not much you can do. Even repainting it without stripping it is questionable as you'd still have a layer of not too great adhering paint (especially if the cabinets were originally lacquered and weren't primed, in that case almost no paint on Earth would stick well.) So redoing them would be the best course of action. Your only hope would be if the Southwest Builders alkyd product was used and then maybe it just has an extended cure time to harden up. Otherwise if it's 400 latex on cabinets then you're pretty much just screwed. The only sort of halfass fix that may not work at all is covering them with a waterbased polyurethane, but even that's a longshot that probably won't work.
 

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We also started having issues with the wall paint. Turned out he also used Promar 200 on the walls in flat and we have kids so it was making scuff marks everywhere and it started to peel terribly in about a week. We actually approved Matte, but didn't realize it was flat until after the paint started to chip.
Promar is barely acceptable for use on drywall and has no business being applied to woodwork and especially cabinetry. That said, it shouldn't be peeling off your walls. While a cheap flat will indeed scuff and mar easily (thus it's primary use should be limited to ceilings), it shouldn't chip or peel. I actually can't think of any reason why it should be doing so - unless it's peeling from someone painting over wet drywall patches or previously clear finished woodwork.

There are a number of paints available in matte that have much better scuff resistance. Dulux makes a product called Diamond that looks good and holds up well, and of course BM's Aura line is absolutely fantastic for walls. I've never been a fan of SW paints myself, but I think they have at least one or two lines that are OK. Promar is not among them. It should be clarified that "matte" and "flat" are different sheens. Matte has about a 5-10% sheen while a flat should have none (or almost none) whatsoever. Matte is often used on walls to provide a rich, non-reflective surface. Flat is for ceilings. If you know your walls are going to take a beating, stepping the sheen up to an eggshell is recommended.

Your painter didn't follow the spec. Flat is not matte. Also looks like he did all your trim in semigloss instead of satin.

They also painted over all the new shiny metal hinges of the cabinets. After a few days it was all chipping and GC said painter would come back to "touch it up". Is this normal for a high end painter to paint over new metal cabinet hinges?
No. This is what absolute bottom feeding hacks do to save time. Or people who don't know their asses from their elbows. If i'm reading this right and he sprayed right over all your hinges on purpose, that paint will always chip off no matter what you do. They should be removed and replaced with new ones, and your painter should pay for them. That is the most unprofessional thing I have heard of in a long, long time.

Now we are contemplating having at least the most used kitchen cabinets re done. Is it worth it? Will Promar paint last in a highly used kitchen?
Promar will not last on your cabinetry, nor would any other latex paint. It's not made for that kind of application. You could go over it with a more durable product, but one good hit and it too will chip because it'll now be sitting on top of a soft coating (the promar). It'll probably look not-quite-right as well since you will have too much coating on the wood. Those square edges will start to round over.

The good news is that being a latex it will be easy to chemically strip it off and start over. The bad news is that it's a messy job and you might find it difficult to find someone willing to do it. You could leave it, but in the high traffic areas you will notice it will first start to scuff and mar, then leave shiny spots, and around your stove and sink it will likely start to soften and "melt". Grease rapidly degrades acrylic coatings, as do cleaning products.

Cabinetmakers use conversion varnishes (2 component coatings) for cabinetry because they are hard, "close to the wood" as cabinet finishes are supposed to be, don't scuff easily, have superior chemical resistance and are highly resistant to chipping. There are waterborne products made by manufacturers like MLC, Chemcraft, Renner, Valspar, Target Finishes, General Finishes etc made specifically for cabinets that will hold up over time and can be applied in an occupied home without too much fuss. If you do end up having your cabinets redone, make sure they are redone with the right coatings. And again, I recommend stripping off the latex first.

Lastly, I don't know what that painter was thinking using white caulk to seal the cabinets to the floor. That looks awful. Normally that space is left alone (not caulked with anything). A professional would have at the very least used a clear silicone and a very thin bead so you wouldn't even know it was there.

Again I'm so sorry you were referred to such an unprofessional painter. I can't begin imagine your disappointment. Your GC is probably taking a percentage from him which is the only possible reason I can think of for him using such a hack.
 

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Yes, I know this is from a HO but sounds like he or she is getting screwed. Hate to see this happen so will allow for a few responses to help them out and then the thread will be closed. Please do not report this as a DIY thread.
Glad you allowed this thread.
Beautiful home with HO getting screwed big time. If it was me I would gather all supporting docs, write down conversation dates and content then make a trip to my lawyer to see what could be done.
Promar? Really?
As the HO I would begin to wonder where else I've had the wool pulled over my eyes.
Lots to learn here about spelling out the details of your estimate to prevent misunderstandings although that doesn't seem to be the case here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Thank you so much everyone and allowing this post. I understand its not for HOs.

I only put the prices there to understand if it was indeed on the high end, if so I would have expected a bit higher end paint and higher quality work? And just trying to determine if the price I paid was for the quality I got. If I paid for a very low budget painter, maybe painting the hinges was expected? That is the only reason for the prices. I'm sorry about that.

I've attached a picture of the peeling that was happening on all the walls. The SW rep did come and take samples of the chipping paint and this was the report:
"Samples were received for ***. There is no information on the substrate, existing coating, surface preparation, application method, number of coats, or the date of application. Cracking is reported with Pro Mar 200 Zero Flat. The samples were examined under optical microscope at the lab. The samples consist of one visible layer of white paint that is 13 to 14 mils thick. The cracks are through the entire paint film and into the surface of the drywall compound beneath the paint. Examination of the samples shows the cracking is likely being caused by the heavy application or issues with drywall texture."

I posted pics of only the labels that I found that were the color of the cabinets to find out exactly what the original painter used. We still haven't heard back from original painter as to what he actually used on the cabinets. I'm glad to know that maybe if the Alkyd was used then that would last on the cabinets? Is that the standard for cabinets?

We were able to hire a new painter for the baseboards and walls. He decided to use Emerald Matte on the walls and Suff-X satin by BM on the baseboards in our specific sheens specified by our designer which original painter did not go by at all.

Sadly the original painter never even showed up to do a walk through, but I guess ultimately the GC is responsible.

We just want to know if we should have GC use a new painter to re do at least the kitchen cabinets since that will be getting the most used and we paid a lot for them. I just don't want to move into the kitchen, give this GC and painter a pass and then in 1 or 2 years have to re do all the cabinets again. That would be a nightmare for us.

But if we can confirm from the painter that Alkyd was actually used on the cabinets then maybe we should just let it slide?
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Excuse me but I get angry when I see such shoddy, dishonest and downright criminal work. There is no way in he** I would give anybody involved a pass on any part of this work. You need to get tough and get some recourse going. Some of this garbage work can't be undone without great time and effort, if at all. Painting the hinges speaks VOLUMES about every other aspect of this job and the fact the GC is defending the painting contractor doesn't bode well for you.
 

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@bankingdom,

Posting exact prices is not allowed in this forum (and it is in bad taste).
The Painter is not here to defend himself, so we don't have the full story.

You posted a lot of cans and labels. One of them is an Alkyd, where was that used?
Not sure what side of the story the “painter” could provide that would justify the quality of the work they did (painting over new adjustable hinges - really?). And the so called contractor is equally (if not more) to blame in this situation in allowing this to stand as a finished product. As to the posting of exact pricing, those are frowned upon in threads where other painters are asking how much they should charge for a specific job. In this case, she is trying to show what she paid for this piece of crap work.

To the owner: if you live in a state that has a contractor/construction oversight board, you might try to talk with them. Although most of those agencies deal with contract issues rather than outright poor workmanship problems. If you had a contract, you might consider taking it to a lawyer to see if you may actually have any legal recourse.
 

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Not sure what side of the story the “painter” could provide that would justify the quality of the work they did (painting over new adjustable hinges - really?). And the so called contractor is equally (if not more) to blame in this situation in allowing this to stand as a finished product. As to the posting of exact pricing, those are frowned upon in threads where other painters are asking how much they should charge for a specific job. In this case, she is trying to show what she paid for this piece of crap work.

To the owner: if you live in a state that has a contractor/construction oversight board, you might try to talk with them. Although most of those agencies deal with contract issues rather than outright poor workmanship problems. If you had a contract, you might consider taking it to a lawyer to see if you may actually have any legal recourse.
And maybe a call to the BBB. But scumbags companies don't usually care about that. Only legal intervention will get their attention
 

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Not sure what side of the story the “painter” could provide that would justify the quality of the work they did (painting over new adjustable hinges - really?). And the so called contractor is equally (if not more) to blame in this situation in allowing this to stand as a finished product. As to the posting of exact pricing, those are frowned upon in threads where other painters are asking how much they should charge for a specific job. In this case, she is trying to show what she paid for this piece of crap work.

To the owner: if you live in a state that has a contractor/construction oversight board, you might try to talk with them. Although most of those agencies deal with contract issues rather than outright poor workmanship problems. If you had a contract, you might consider taking it to a lawyer to see if you may actually have any legal recourse.
Painting the hinges is inexcusible. The second post and following set of pictures clearly shows shoddy workmanship, of which the GC is ultimately responsible.
The Cabinets were likely painted in an Alkyd (not ProMar 400), but who knows. It's the internet.

Situations like this are never good. They reflect poorly on the paint community, and they are bad for the clientele. I genuinely feel for the customers, as this was supposed to be a good experience- this is a bad situation all the way around.

In my opinion, allowing this kind of post could open the floodgates for complaints of this nature from around the world on a regular basis. I'm sure there are unhappy customers in every city in every state, especially after the kind of summer we had this year.
 

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In my opinion, allowing this kind of post could open the floodgates for complaints of this nature from around the world on a regular basis. I'm sure there are unhappy customers in every city in every state, especially after the kind of summer we had this year.
See post #2 in this thread. It's being temporarily allowed, and will be closed.
 

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And maybe a call to the BBB. But scumbags companies don't usually care about that. Only legal intervention will get their attention
Painting the hinges is inexcusible. The second post and following set of pictures clearly shows shoddy workmanship, of which the GC is ultimately responsible.
The Cabinets were likely painted in an Alkyd (not ProMar 400), but who knows. It's the internet.

Situations like this are never good. They reflect poorly on the paint community, and they are bad for the clientele. I genuinely feel for the customers, as this was supposed to be a good experience- this is a bad situation all the way around.

In my opinion, allowing this kind of post could open the floodgates for complaints of this nature from around the world on a regular basis. I'm sure there are unhappy customers in every city in every state, especially after the kind of summer we had this year.
I get your concern but egregious situations like this that get posted here seem to be relatively rare. We have had a few similar threads started in the past and when it seems obvious it is largely the fault of an unscrupulous painter (and/or contractor) we have allowed for limited responses just to help the customers out with possible remedies.
If the floodgates were to suddenly burst open and a bunch of these showed up, it would be a simple matter to not allow them at all. In the final summary (and I do mean final), it’s a judgement call that hopefully can help a little in improving the tarnished image of our profession - at least in this HO’s eyes.
 

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And maybe a call to the BBB. But scumbags companies don't usually care about that. Only legal intervention will get their attention
Nobody checks BBB anymore. It's not trusted like it used to be.

The homeowner should get on the GC's and painters instagram pages and post pictures of the hinges.


I only put the prices there to understand if it was indeed on the high end, if so I would have expected a bit higher end paint and higher quality work? And just trying to determine if the price I paid was for the quality I got. If I paid for a very low budget painter, maybe painting the hinges was expected?
No. You got screwed. You paid very high prices for what is, by all appearances, very low quality.

The samples consist of one visible layer of white paint that is 13 to 14 mils thick. The cracks are through the entire paint film and into the surface of the drywall compound beneath the paint.
Well there's the problem. Given the lab found the coating to be "a single layer" 14 mils thick when dry, and that Promar is 32% solids, the painter applied it at ~45 mils wet, when the TDS calls for a 4 mil/coat application thickness and a 1.4 mil DFT. The cracking is caused by major overapplication of the coating, and likely a wet on wet one as well. And given that it goes right down to the drywall, it's likely they skipped the sealer as well and went directly to topcoat.

I posted pics of only the labels that I found that were the color of the cabinets to find out exactly what the original painter used. We still haven't heard back from original painter as to what he actually used on the cabinets. I'm glad to know that maybe if the Alkyd was used then that would last on the cabinets? Is that the standard for cabinets?
If you want to check what's on the cabinets, put something smooth and heavy on one of the painted surfaces. If it sticks at all, it's latex. And given that it looks like the interiors of all your boxes were sprayed id check that long before you start loading dishes into them.

You can also buy a product called "goof off" or "goo gone", put a bit on a rag and in an inconspicuous area (like behind the stove) rub some of it in a small area for a few seconds. If the paint starts to come off the surface and into your rag, it's latex.
 

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I can't believe that they didn't remove the doors and hinges before spraying. This is a huge red flag. I am curious though, why the cabinets weren't pre-painted before delivery? Most of the new custom kitchens I see, are all made and sprayed with lacquer at the factory before delivery..
 

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I can't believe that they didn't remove the doors and hinges before spraying. This is a huge red flag. I am curious though, why the cabinets weren't pre-painted before delivery? Most of the new custom kitchens I see, are all made and sprayed with lacquer at the factory before delivery..
I know in western Canada it is customary for the cabinetmaker to build and finish the cabinets in their shop before delivering them to site for installation. With the exception of built-ins and railings which on new construction are built on site and left for the painter to finish. In some parts of the states though it is common practice for the entire kitchen to be built on site as well. I know I was surprised to learn about that the first time I came across it.

Spraying over hinges is a level of hackery I have never seen before.
 

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Nobody checks BBB anymore. It's not trusted like it used to be.

The homeowner should get on the GC's and painters instagram pages and post pictures of the hinges.




No. You got screwed. You paid very high prices for what is, by all appearances, very low quality.



Well there's the problem. Given the lab found the coating to be "a single layer" 14 mils thick when dry, and that Promar is 32% solids, the painter applied it at ~45 mils wet, when the TDS calls for a 4 mil/coat application thickness and a 1.4 mil DFT. The cracking is caused by major overapplication of the coating, and likely a wet on wet one as well. And given that it goes right down to the drywall, it's likely they skipped the sealer as well and went directly to topcoat.



If you want to check what's on the cabinets, put something smooth and heavy on one of the painted surfaces. If it sticks at all, it's latex. And given that it looks like the interiors of all your boxes were sprayed id check that long before you start loading dishes into them.

You can also buy a product called "goof off" or "goo gone", put a bit on a rag and in an inconspicuous area (like behind the stove) rub some of it in a small area for a few seconds. If the paint starts to come off the surface and into your rag, it's latex.

I wouldn't use Goo Gone, but 91% isopropyl alcohol is a better test. Alcohol will melt latex paint but won't do anything to oil based paint. If the oil based paint isn't fully 100% cured something with acetone or toluene (which is what's in goof off) could still take paint off and give her a false positive. Oil based paint can take up to 2-3 weeks to maybe a month to fully cure rock hard, especially if you used an additive like Penetrol that retards dry time. The other test, too, would be in the nature of the peeling. Oil base if it's not fully cured will certainly chip off a bit, whereas latex will peel in sheets and feel gummy.

Latex will peel in some variant like that.

I think being clear, too, not all cabinets need to be done in oil based paint, lacquer, or polyurethane. Latex is perfectly acceptable in some scenarios, just with latex paint your preparation and application needs to be more on point, and imo your choice of primer is very important for a latex paint. The BM Scuff X is a latex paint, and as far as what I've heard it's approximately as strong as oil. There's quite a few latex paints that are around that strong, but they're advertised for cabinet and trim use, not just as a general purpose wall paint. Cashmere would be kinda just barely cutting it, it's supposedly about as "strong" as latex Proclassic, but I've heard SW doesn't like to advertise it for trim because it would cut away at profits Proclassic makes. Same even with BM for Regal and Aura, there's people that do use it on cabinets and it works out "fine" but Advance or Scuff X in that scenario would be better.

Anyway, with the PM200 on the walls cracking that way from being way too thick, no priming, and painting directly onto hinges I no longer can really give the painter any benefit of the doubt that it was only SW's fault for their shortage shenanigans. The only other thing that could have been the issue but I doubt it is application temperature, if it was unheated and say, 40-50F inside that can cause issues with paint curing too slow and cracking like that. But still, PM200 requires a primer and is not advertised as "self priming" even over bare drywall as far as I know.

unpopular opinion: if youre doing a high end home and not using benjamin moore products i think its a red flag
Bad stuff gets done with BM, too. If anything some contractors use it as a mask of "I use BM so therefore I'm high quality" when they could take similar shortcuts on prep and application or pick completely wrong products. I guess it's less likely than from a Promar King, but even this guy we talked about in another cabinet thread said on his site he only uses Benjamin Moore. I will say SW's positioned themselves in the lower end of the market place and there's probably more bad apples among painters that use SW, but imo a lot more painters than we'd like to admit hide behind the "elite" and "premium" mask of BM.
 
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