Your Next Big Thing...

   Could It Be Cabinets?

Do you think you might be in a good position to make money with cabinet refinishing but have steered clear because the idea of using a sprayer causes you to reaction like this...?



 Well, decorative finisher Ande Crenshaw has a message for you: Come on in! The market is fine!

“Cabinetry is a great business,” says Ande. “A lot of people avoid it, but at least you don’t have to spend hours on a ladder. People get intimidated by the sprayers, but then they take the classes and find out that it’s so doable. There’s nothing difficult about the sprayers at all.”

Ande Crenshaw teaching at a Faux Retreat

As the owner of Mojo Faux, Ande had established a nice niche for herself with cabinet refinishing in her hometown of Murfreesboro, Tenn. However, it’s important to realize that not every market is conducive to a lucrative business in this line of work. Ande can attest to this firsthand. She moved from Murfreesboro to Los Angeles about three years ago and has observed much less emphasis on cabinet refinishing in her new locale than what she experienced in her previous hometown.

“The L.A. market is completely different,” she says. “Here, if you want your cabinets redone, you hire a crew to spray them in place. The rental market is a whole lot larger here. So many people are renting or buying property to rent.”

However, the techniques used for cabinetry can be used in other projects as well. For instance, one project that Ande completed involved the transformation of a basic pocket door connecting a kitchen and dining area with the beautifully rustic look of barn wood.

Since moving to L.A., Ande has pulled back from decorative painting a bit so that she can focus on the activities of her 16-year-old daughter. “I’m more a dance mom than a painter these days,” she says. However, she does take on a few clients and also teaches cabinetry classes.

Keys to the Market

 For those who are not sure about pursuing cabinetry, Ande has a couple pieces of advice.

A cabinetry project completed by Mojo Faux

No. 1: Take a class. Ande herself has taught classes at Kathy Boyd’s Faux Retreat, and she also spoke highly of the training offered by The Faux Team of Chris Burke and Henri Menendez. “Taking a class will put you light years of the competition,” she says.

No. 2: Research the market. Not every market is conducive to success. “It totally depends on where you are located,” says Ande. In her case, Murfreesboro turned out to be the perfect place for cabinet finishes. With the help of her husband, Jared, who has extensive marketing expertise, she was able to build her business quickly. “For us, we put the word out, and it took off. Cabinets kept us busy, and it keeps the bills paid.”

Ande used her cabinetry finishing skills to create this unique pocket door.

No. 3: Know the basics. “The biggest mistake that people make is not priming and prepping first,” she says. And make sure you use the right primer, too. Ande vividly recalls one cabinetry project that turned out to be a problem. “I put the doors on sawhorses, sprayed them with the primer and hit them with a light sanding block,” she says. “I couldn’t believe it. All the paint peeled off.”

A closeup of the pocket door

That’s when Ande realized that she had inadvertently mixed a half gallon of oil-based primer with a half gallon of water-based. “I was in tears,” she says. “I had to strip every single door.”

While water-based technology is improving, Ande contends that it’s still not advisable to use a water-based primer on cabinets. “Waterborne is fine, but you have to deal with longer cure times. For the cabinetry market, we’re still pretty much in an oil-based world.”

However, she adds that after using the proper oil-based primer, you can paint with water-based paints and clear coats with no issues.

An Economical Solution

Cabinet refinishing also offers a good economical component for artisans to promote. "You’re always presenting a savings,” says Ande. “It’s about one-tenth the cost of replacing and about one-half the cost of refacing.”

Many homes already have quality cabinets, but they just need to be refreshed with a rejuvenated look. “If you can do something like that, there’s a lot of money to be made,” Ande contends.

Updating existing cabinets rather than replacing them also makes it easy to change the configuration, Ande adds. “You can take them to the ceiling, add an island, and all of the cabinets will match.”

So, if it’s trepidation about the sprayers and other technical requirements that is holding you back, you may wish to take Ande’s experience into account. “My advice is to work through the intimidation and fear and make it happen. If this is something you can do and you’re located in the right market, there’s a lot of money to be made.”

Another cabinet project by Mojo Faux.


Disclaimer: All information in this article is intended to be general advice. Professionals should research the market and have a good understanding of their own skills, financial resources and risk tolerance before undertaking any new business venture.