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Kitchen Cabinet refinishing (pro not DIY)- Milesi, BM Advance?

SF
last year
last modified: last year

Hi folks, we are shopping cabinet refinishers and have found that the top two contractors in our area use either Milesi or Benjamin Moore Advance (spray application).

I understand that quality of contractor is paramount for this type of work, but I'm also wondering if anyone can advise on which of these two products are better?

Any other advice for this type of project, including vetting the contractor properly, would be appreciated. The kitchen is quite large and we are very concerned about this being done right. At the same time, spending $30k-$50k on new kitchen cabinets is not an option. Existing layout and structure of the cabinets are in great shape.

Comments (41)

  • Hillside House
    last year

    I don’t know anything about Milesi, but we used BM Advance (DIY) and it has a very long dry/cure time. It’s 18 hours between coats, and a full 30 days to cure.

    Are they planning on taking doors/drawers off site to spray? How long of a time frame did they give?

  • SF
    Original Author
    last year

    Yes, they've quoted 4-5 weeks to spray the doors in their shop.

    4-5 days on site to spray the boxes.

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  • Hillside House
    last year

    Keeping in mind a couple of differences (diy, and sprayed onto now, paint-ready doors instead of a refinish) I have been very pleased with the BM Advance. We did ours a couple of years ago, and it’s a heavily-used kitchen... family of 6 (7, if you count my oldest daughter’s boyfriend who doesn’t seem to have a home!) and a St. Bernard. We have had no chipping or flaking, and the smooth finish wipes clean easily. I would definitely recommend.


    SF thanked Hillside House
  • SF
    Original Author
    last year

    Thanks, that's exactly the kind of feedback we are looking for. I can believe the quality of fresh finish to be at or near factory level, but we are much more concerned with how things hold up over time. I do see some stories from Pros who use BM Advance over at painttalk forums who report some chipping not too long after installation. That's disastrous.

  • PRO
    The Cook's Kitchen
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Advance is a consumer grade product. Fine for consumers. A pro should use professional grade. Milesi is one of the best available professional grade products.. https://youtu.be/UNZJLwujNv0 

  • SF
    Original Author
    last year

    Interesting. So we are down to two cabinet painters.
    The first uses Melisi but has less experience than the second, who has excellent reviews and has been doing this for decades- but uses BM Advance.

  • live_wire_oak
    last year
    last modified: last year

    The 30 day cure knocks Advance out of the running for any true cabinet coating pro. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Except a painter, painting woodwork on your wall. Who will leave it behind and not transport it anywhere. And then charge you for touch ups when you ding the soft paint.

    Look at samples of their work. Milesi will pass KCMA testing. Advance will not. That’s the difference in a professional coating vs a homeowner grade one.

  • SF
    Original Author
    last year

    We will look at a sample, and he will also paint one of our doors to sample his work. I expect the sample to look perfect, otherwise they wouldn’t do this. The proof is in how the finish holds up over time from normal use - can’t really get that from a sample. Sure, you can scrape a cabinet to see if the finish comes up, but I think even factory finish can’t stand up to sharp metal etc.

    I spoke to him at length today and he stated that after many years and many different products, he keeps coming back to BM Advance.

  • live_wire_oak
    last year

    Then he is a painter first, and not a cabinet coatings professional. Ask him if he caulks panels. That’s a drop dead test.

  • SF
    Original Author
    last year

    Will do. Just so I am asking the right question- where do you mean caulks panels? Between the wall and panel? Or imperfections on the panel itself?

  • SF
    Original Author
    last year

    Also, any guidance on where to find said “cabinet coatings professional” in NJ would be appreciated :)

  • SF
    Original Author
    last year

    Folks in that group are pretty evenly split on caulking panels. What is your perspective?

  • live_wire_oak
    last year

    Never caulk panels. That’s asking for trouble. Wood behaves like wood, no matter what. Humidity control is required. For floors, Furniture, and cabinets. 30-70%. Year round.

  • PRO
    The Cook's Kitchen
    last year
    last modified: last year

    There are a lot of waterborne professional coating systems out there that are superior to Advance. Painters that also paint cabinets tend to approach the job as an extension of how they paint trim. Brushes and rollers and caulk. Only recently that includes spraying too.


    A cabinet professional approaches the job as though it’s furniture, not trim, and he generally opaques nothing else, because it’s an outgrowth of spraying clear finishes on wood, and not painting trim. Spraying is all he does, and he never caulks anything because he understands wood movement, and that it can split panels. And there’s no room or place for caulk with stained finishes. So there’s no room for it with painted either.


    There’s a difference in mind set, and in the result between the two approaches.

  • SF
    Original Author
    last year

    Saw some sprayed cabinets this weekend. Was actually quite impressed with the quality of the finish. And I can’t agree with you more regarding caulk- it should NOT be done. Cracks everywhere. Surprised to learn that one of the big sprayers in my area does do caulk.

  • bry911
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Many good professional cabinetmakers will caulk shaker panels. This is just one of those things people who misunderstand wood movement believe. If you have solid wood panels they are going to move and they should not be caulked. However, if you have engineered wood panels (plywood or mdf) you are talking about an incredibly small amount of movement across the rails and stiles. Over a 30" door you are looking at less than a credit card's thickness for movement, which is well within the capabilities of caulk.

    The problem with shaker panels is that they either have no slope or too little slope to effectively shed water. Any moisture that gets spilled down the cabinet front will penetrate into the bottom rail and damage the cabinets fairly fast. Which is going to do far more damage to the cabinets than the modulus of change due to relative humidity changes. So panels usually get caulked when there is not a slope to drain away.

    Ask jdesign if he caulks his mdf shaker cabinets and see what he says.

  • SF
    Original Author
    last year

    Makes sense.

    We have raised panel solid cherry cabinets. Assume no way to caulk...

  • bry911
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Flat sawn Cherry has a dimensional change coefficient between .0025 and .00411 inches per percent change in relative humidity per inch of width. Across a 12" door face you will have about 4*.00411*12 inches of movement... So about 0.2", which is pretty significant so, I would not caulk it.

  • jdesign_gw
    last year

    Yes panels are always MDF and always get chalked when doing a pigmented finish. It matters how you do it and when you do. Im talking water based. Milesi, Ilva (same company) ICA , Renner and a few others all Italian products are superior but there are better domestic products around now too. A good finish is all about the prep. Re-coat time is in hours not days or you would need to find a different profession.

  • PRO
    Premiere Pros
    2 months ago

    You 100% never caulk panels or rails. We have had to replace doors for customers that had their cabinets painted by "professionals"... We use Benjamin Moore Aura when spraying..which works a lot better than the Advance.

  • jdesign_gw
    2 months ago

    I don’t consider Benjamin Moore a professional cabinet door finish.

  • PRO
    Premiere Pros
    2 months ago

    We’ve been through all the recommended products and the product has held up and provides a beautiful finish

  • jdesign_gw
    2 months ago

    Everyone is entitled to use any product they like but no high-end cabinet manufacturing company is using BM products in production. If it works for you fine. I’ll follow the lead of the top European companies because that the part of the market we are in.

  • 101stretired
    2 months ago

    I would really consider looking at the Milesi, there is no comparison. Milesi is a 2K Poly System, although it can be sprayed as a IK component. You need to ask the contract is he going to use it as the 2K? I have done a ton of research and going to spray some Milesi next week. I have seen some sample panels and they look absolutely amazing. I'm going to spray it as a 1K and add the hardener and spray some as a 2K component. As others have said BJ Advance sounds like it will work, but my concerns are the cure times around 28 days and recoat times.

  • jdesign_gw
    8 days ago

    Milesi is a great product as is its sister company ILVA and ICA is right up there with them. I don’t understand how you can wait 28 days for anything. I would be out of business. I’m spraying both ILVA and ICA and in ten fifteen minutes its dry and can be sanded.

  • bry911
    8 days ago

    Benjamin Moore makes a great product and is the manufacturer I recommend most often for painted millwork. However, BM simply doesn't really have any decent production coatings.


    I suspect that most businesses who advocate for BM products on cabinets are home painters trying to make extra profit by painting cabinets. Most will default to the same business model because it is already profitable for them. They don't research and aren't interested in any 2 part or shortened pot life product, because they are simply not willing to do the work required to switch to a higher quality coating. I know this is a generalization but it is one I am comfortable making.


    If I was having cabinets repainted by someone else I would expect a better product than a good wall and trim paint. YMMV.

  • jdesign_gw
    8 days ago

    Yes Premiere Pros, you are right and all the major cabinet companies here and in Europe have gotten it wrong for all these years. I’m glad we can all now switch to “house paint” and achieve that perfect finish.

  • MaryAliceB
    8 days ago
    last modified: 8 days ago

    It matters. There’s a big difference in a house painter taking on cabinets, and a professional cabinet finisher doing so. There is a huge difference in the durability of the result. 30 days to cure is not professional. Lie to yourself all you want. Or pick up some of the Italian finishes and up your game so you don’t get out competed.

  • bry911
    8 days ago

    We have been painting cabinets for over 12 years and have tried many suggested products from our suppliers and nothing finishes as well as Benjamin Moore aura.


    I am not trying to tell you how to run your business, but you are using a house paint on cabinets. You are not even using the BM Advance that everyone here sort of assumed you were, or their cabinet coat. Neither of which are good options for a strong durable cabinet finish, but both of which are better options than Aura for a strong durable cabinet finish.


    Of course, BM Aura finishes well, that is what it is made to do. It is only slightly less thick than toothpaste and has excellent self-leveling properties. It is quite literally designed to get pros out the door faster and enhance DIY results. However, it is SERIOUSLY lacking in the durability department and is a pretty poor encapsulating wood, which is important in kitchens. I suspect that using BM Aura significantly reduces cabinet life. At any rate, there are objective measures of performance that easily demonstrate it is a subpar coating for cabinets.


    Again, this is your business and so do what you want. For all I know you are only charging a buck and a quarter to paint cabinets and it is such a steal that even the inferior product is a good deal. Whatever...but if you are going to pop in and throw around that as a badge of honor and proof of expertise, it is going to be a rough ride for you.

  • PRO
    Premiere Pros
    8 days ago

    It is apparent you have your strong opinion... which is fine....our practices, products and process are what stands the test of time. I'm sorry you feel that you know more about this. But we'll stand with what has worked for us for years. And our "rough ride" has been highly recognized so you have a good day :)


  • jdesign_gw
    8 days ago

    You can paint your cabinets with mayonnaise for all I care. For us we look at the high-end 100k plus European cabinet lines and get as close to that as possible. Same materials, same interior components, same construction methods and styles and yes same finishing products. Thank your very much but I’ll have what they’re having.

  • PRO
    BG Construction
    8 days ago

    There are several cabinet painting Groups on Facebook that you might want to join. You’ll learn a thing or two. If you’re capable. Watch Eric Reason’s YouTube channel. Michael Craine. Dennis Rodriguez. Stefan DeSantis.


    A paint that isn’t even good for trim does ensure that early failure for planned obsolescence. But you won’t be getting the callback. Consumers are much more educated and demanding of better results these days.

  • 101stretired
    7 days ago
    last modified: 7 days ago

    The willingness to change will make or break you. As others have stated, I don't see how the BM product could be considered when it has a 28 day cure time. I'm not a professional painter nor in the business, but I am in the business of selecting the best quality product and most time efficient product. I'm extremely picky about any work I do. In a post above I stated I would spray the Milesi, it is unbelievable in regards to self leveling, the dry times and the hardness of the coating, without a doubt it is worth every penny!! I have seen remarks saying, "This is for "professional painters", special equipment on and on. Its all bull, with research and proper equipment the Milesi provided a perfect factory finish with minimal downtime, even for a skilled DIYer like myself.


  • MaryAliceB
    7 days ago

    Join the KCPE Mastermind group, for pros only. Those are the elite finishers doing the type of work you should be producing.

  • PRO
    Celadon
    7 days ago
    last modified: 7 days ago

    Reviews from unknowing 30 day clients that have no clue other than it’s “pretty” doesn’t mean jack. People buy reviews all the time. Google and Yelp are full of it. Reviews 5 years later, after the wild things have had their way with it, or from a cabinet professional? People with a knowledgeable and discerning viewpoint? Those are the ones that actually mean something. Your self admission that you’re using hack products doesn’t put you into a cabinet finisher category. That’s a house painter using house paint. The worst possible thing anyone could use other than Behr. Junk products waste valuable labor that could have been used for better quality results.


    Level up. Be better. Give better value to your clients. Stop and learn to produce something equivalent to a factory finish.

  • Missi (4b IA)
    7 days ago

    We painted our cabinets and used Milesi. I’ll never use anything else again -we’ve used all the “cabinet” paints over the years, and somehow I stumbled onto the kitchen cabinet painting experts page onFB...if ever I were going to sound like a dork ame “fan girl” over paint..well..here I am. Wish I’d known about the brand when we did the trim in the house. Love it so much I contacted the place I got it from and asked if we could use it on walls.

  • 101stretired
    6 days ago

    Missi, I'm glad to see other DIY persons, like yourself to think outside the box and use a fairly unknown product in the USA market like Milesi. Like you, I just happen to stumble across this product and asked a ton of questions, I had one gentleman from this site give me some very sound advice on proper usage and techniques. I have finished a kitchen, utility room and two bathrooms. One master bathroom to go and will never look back. using the correct product on the correct job produces excellent long term results.

  • jeri
    6 days ago

    I never see Scuff-x mentioned in this forum but I know it gets positive reviews. How does this compare to Milesi?

  • Pete Malloy
    5 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    ScuffX can’t even compare to Emerald, much less a 2K poly. No chemical resistance at all. Bad for kitchens where grease and cleaning happens all the time.

    The big issue that no one wants to talk about here is that professional coatings require professional safety equipment. You need a respirator. I’ll say it again. YOU NEED A RESPIRATOR.

    And it should never touch the skin. Isocyanates are no joke. Seeing homeowners who who think Milesi is nothing more than a “super Emerald” is very scary.

    If you spray, you need a safety course in spraying. Injection injuries can also be lethal. 48% of finger injections require amputation. Most injections are on the index finger of the don dominant hand. Don’t touch a sprayer unless you know basic safety protocols. You have a high chance of losing a finger. Or worse.

    https://www.orthobullets.com/hand/12104/high-pressure-injection-injuries

  • 101stretired
    4 days ago

    Pete has some very valid points. Whether it is Milesi, SW, BM, Behr, or paint you pick up at your local Wal Mart, never spray any chemicals,(paints are chemicals) without PPE. I have seen so many Youtube Videos of DIY persons spraying without PPE, just crazy!!!. Any time you atomize a chemical, through a spray system you must wear PPE. I don't think Milesi or any other European paints are any more dangerous when using proper PPE. In regards to sprayers, yes they can be dangerous, but even professionals get complacent and injure themselves as a result of carelessness. There is no need to scare yourself from using products like Milesi, A carefully well prepared DIY person surely can get a beautiful professional finish using these products. Every tool I use has some inherent risk, it is your job to minimize these risk.