A. Powder coating is a process for finishing metal surfaces in which a powder is sprayed onto the item and then baked in an oven. Powder coating is scratch-, chip-, and rust-resistant, which makes it ideal for kitchen cabinets, says Jim Sluder, who owns Powder Perfect (309 2nd St., Tonica, 815-228-7011 ). The way it works: You ship your cabinets to Powder Perfect. In the shop your cabinets will be chemically stripped and then, if necessary, spot sandblasted to remove any remaining paint and rust. Then comes the powder coating. The finished cabinets will be shipped back for you to install. Turnaround time is a week to ten days.

Powder Perfect can do custom colors in a variety of finishes. The price per cabinet depends on the size and amount of prep work needed to be done. Sluder estimates that one cabinet about 12 to 14 inches wide and 18 to 20 inches high would cost about $100 at the high end.

Another firm that does this kind of work is Magnetic Inspection Laboratory (1360 Jarvis Ave., Elk Grove Village, 847-806-6986 ). Although the firm specializes in outdoor furniture, MIL pros will also refinish kitchen cabinets. They stock 15 colors but custom is an option and there is a choice of finishes: textured, satin, and gloss. Pickup and delivery service is available, and the company will quote prices over the phone.

A south suburban company, Gorilla Powdercoating (4711 W. 137th St, Crestwood, 708-388-2898 ), is another choice. Hundreds of colors are available. "We have many different formulations and a variety of finishes, too—metallic, textured, and many degrees of gloss and matte," says Gorilla sales manager Jeff Cipolla. Each material is priced slightly differently.            

Cipolla suggests a customer send in photos of the cabinets so he can see what shape they’re in before estimating a price. And although Gorilla doesn’t strip or sandblast, it works with businesses that do.

Cipolla recommends that the customer have the cabinets delivered to the stripper and then Gorilla will bring them back to their shop to finish them. Turnaround time for powder coating is three to five days, and with the stripping the whole process should take seven to ten days. Gorilla doesn’t deliver but the firm will wrap your cabinets to protect them from damage on the trip home.