Honor In The Overspray

This weekend we celebrate Memorial Day, which honors all those who died in the service of our nation. For those who made the ultimate sacrifice, there are not enough words to express the debt of gratitude all Americans owe. That said, I’m going to try anyway.

My regular readers know I like to tell stories to make a point, and today is no exception. As you read, you may begin to think I’ve gone off the rails, but soldier on, you won’t be disappointed… I promise.

Not long ago undertook the job of repainting our kitchen cabinets. We had re-done our entire kitchen years before, and when we did so, we opted to keep the original 1971, solid wood cabinet boxes, paint them, and enhance them with new doors and drawer faces painted to match.

At first, they looked great, but slowly the wear and tear of four children took its toll on our white-painted cabinets.

For years I chose to simply ignore this problem.

When we finished the six month bathroom/bedroom/closet project, I decided it was finally time to paint the shabby kitchen cabinets.

As the owner of two HVLP sprayers, I knew I would get the best results by spraying the doors and drawer faces. Since I couldn’t take the kitchen out of use, the cabinet boxes themselves would be done by brush and roller.

I also decided that this time I would use a high-gloss paint, making all surfaces as “wipe-able” as possible. With four teenagers (three of which cook) the kitchen takes a serious beating. The high-gloss finish would maximize the longevity of my efforts.

After much research, I chose Benjamin Moore “Advance” paint, which is paradoxically a water-based oil paint. I’m not going to explain how it works, just believe me that it does. If you’re a cynic CLICK HERE to read all about it.

So, with my methods and materials all set, I removed all the doors & drawer faces and set up a “spray booth” in the garage.

Although the HVLP method of spraying is fairly efficient, there is still a good bit of paint that does not land on the target. This paint is known as “overspray” and it is important that it be contained… because it will get on everything.

I hung drop cloths from the garage ceiling in an eight-foot, by eight-foot, square, and clipped the corners together with binder clips, leaving a single flap for entry and exit. I put my Black & Decker Workmate in the middle of the space and built a small turntable so I could rotate each piece from a single standing position.


My Titan spray gun sitting on the turntable I made for the job

There were 32 doors and 18 drawer faces, all of which had to be cleaned, sanded, caulked, and painted two coats on each side… a total of 200 sides to spray.

That’s a lot of spraying.

Things went smoothly and I was able to achieve the super flat, almost mirror finish I was after. About halfway into the effort, I noticed the drop cloth directly behind where I was spraying was getting pretty thick with overspray. Better there than all over the garage, right?


The doors hanging out in the basement to dry. See how shiny they are?

The paint I chose is $50 a gallon, so I was a little bummed so much of it was ending up on the drop cloth instead of the cabinets, but I didn’t dwell since I still had a lot of work to do.

I finished the spraying on a Thursday, and on Friday I pulled down the drop cloths. The one directly behind my spray position was so thick with over-sprayed paint, I had to take a closer look. As I sat and contemplated the intricate structures formed by the overspray, I returned to the thought of how much this funky little paint sculpture had “cost” me, but as I thought more about it, I came to a sobering realization.


The random structures created by all the “over-sprayed” paint.

For the paint that hit each of the cabinet doors and created a perfectly smooth finish, some paint had to miss and end up on the drop cloth.

For the process to be successful, a certain percentage must be lost.

As I stated earlier, HVLP is very efficient as spraying methods go, but it is not perfect, some paint is inevitably over-sprayed; in other words sacrificed for the cause.

This phenomenon is all around us.

When mammals (including us humans) reproduce, thousands of sperm race to fertilize an egg. The vast majority of them never make it, but without them the successful ones could not make the journey, and no egg would ever be fertilized. They are all committed to the goal knowing full-well many will only play a small supporting role.

Throughout the history of this great nation, brave men and women have taken an oath and marched into battle. The goal has been singular… defend our nation from those that would threaten the freedoms we hold so dear.

Every soldier pulls on his or her boots knowing that today could be the last day, but they do it just the same, with no hesitation, and no regrets.

As I played around with my camera trying to get a good shot of the overspray, the images reminded me of another image…


Those that never came home made it possible for those who carried on to achieve the goals of the mission and keep our nation secure. It is those men and women we honor on Memorial Day.

Never forget those who were sacrificed along the way protecting the life and standard of living you enjoy every day. Is there honor in the overspray? You bet your ass there is.


Copyright © 2017 – Stephen S. Nazarian – All rights reserved


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

4 thoughts on “Honor In The Overspray

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *