Learn how to paint your cabinet door successfully using a brush and a small foam roller
Around here we have been painting or even repainting more cabinets. I love the idea of adding bold colors to cabinets to help modernize your space. From our bathroom vanity makeover to now repainting our kitchen cabinets, we have a lot of experience in painting old oak cabinets.
What is the best roller for cabinet painting?
Small rollers work best as you have more control. love using a small foam roller and handle. You get a smooth finish while having a lot of control.
What is the best brush for cabinet painting?
We love a 2.5” angled synthetic brush from Purdy or Wooster. This brush is a universal tool that you should definitely have in your paint kit. Learn how to keep it clean with tips from one of our blogging friends.
Can I spray my cabinets?
Yes, we even have this sprayer, but my method of using a small foam roller and brush works so well that I haven’t wanted to use it. You definitely have to spend a lot more time prepping and taping out things you don’t want to be sprayed. I think if I repaint the actual doors in my house then the paint sprayer will be what I use.
If you truly want the smoothest look, then spraying is probably your best bet. However, there are other factors you may want to consider and there is a little bit of a learning curve with understanding all the ins and outs of cabinet spraying.
Read More: Our Cheap DIY Kitchen Remodel Ideas
What type of paint is best for cabinets?
If you want more information about the types of paints to use feel free to check out this other cabinet painting post. Hands down our new favorite type of latex enamel paint is Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel from Sherwin Willaims. It will make your cabinets look brand new and the paint has self-leveling capabilities. Make sure that you get in Satin, Semi-Gloss or Gloss. You want a painted surface that can be easily wiped and is durable.
We have also had success with SW Proclassic Line and Behr Latex Enamel like when we painted our oak railing.
Do you need to paint the backs and fronts of cabinets doors?
Yes, please do. Just as we don’t want you to think you should paint the doors without taking them off. Start with the backs of the doors first. You don’t always have to paint the inside of the cabinets, but you should paint the “lip” on the cabinet boxes as well. Doing this as neatly as possible helps to create a finished look.
Our “before and after” DIY cabinet painting ideas
The after picture of this bathroom vanity was primed and painted using Behr Charcoal Blue.
Before kitchen cabinet painting
This is what our kitchen currently looks like. We even painted the glass backsplash (read all about how by clicking on the link).
What green paint color did you use on the bottom doors and kitchen cabinets?
The final green paint cabinet color we decided on is Sherwin Williams Rookwood Sash Green. We are very happy with the color choice. If you are considering a bold color for your next cabinetry painting project you may want to look at this color.
How to paint cabinet doors by hand
Printable instructions at the bottom of this post.
1. Take off all old hardware. Don’t be lazy and try to paint around. Trust us it rarely ever works. Create baggies and a labeling system for the doors and hardware.
2. On the old oak Merillat cabinets, we have the hinges are large. Write a number on the door with a sharpie where the hinge would be since it will get covered up anyway. Make sure doors are smooth and clean.
Optional: Lightly sand any spots that may be rough.
3. Use a deglosser to wipe down doors. If necessary lightly sand any rough spot before wiping down.
4. With primer or paint use the brush first to go in the ridges where a roller won’t go on the back of the door.
5. Then use the small foam roller to go along the edges and the back. In this image below, we are painting over painted kitchen cabinets using Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim. We honestly couldn’t believe the results we were able to get with a simple gallon of paint in a fun color.
6. Lay flat to dry. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to get 2-3 coats of paint.
7. Once the paint is not tacky, you can flip over the doors and begin painting those.
8. Use the brush in the creases and ridges. Make sure you don’t have drips.
9. Use a small roller in all places you are trying to apply a smooth and even layer.
10. Repeat the process until you do not see any white or uneven spots coming through.
11. Attach doors back on your already painted cabinet boxes. Allow as much time for the paint to cure as possible.
How do you know paint is dry or doors can be put back on?
Your paint should not feel tacky. I will warn you that our favorite paint (SW Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel) does seem to take a while to cure. It is the biggest con to using this paint that we have found, but it is totally worth it for the finish.
Other tips for cabinet door painting
- Do NOT rush. I know this is hard. Our drawers and box in our cheap kitchen makeover had been in for a week before the doors went back on. It is better to wait than be mad you rushed. You increase your chances of scratching your beautiful paint job if you rush.
- Wait as long as you can for the paint to fully cure before adding back on hardware. We will add the hinges and doors back on and then wait 2 weeks before putting on handles and knobs.
- Set up a good area to paint doors and drawers so you do not feel rushed. Simple sawhorses and 2 x 4’s always works for us.
Add plastic bumpers on drawers and doors to stop the cabinet doors from banging against each other.
You can always spray paint old hardware or buy new! If you need to spray the screws, stick them in old cardboard to help them stay up.
- Take off all old hardware. Don’t be lazy and try to paint around. Trust us it rarely ever works.
- Create baggies and a labeling system for the doors and hardware. On the old oak Merillat cabinets, we have the hinges are large. Write a number on the door with a sharpie where the hinge would be since it will get covered up anyway.
- Make sure doors are smooth and clean. Use a deglosser to wipe down doors. If necessary lightly sand any rough spot before wiping down.
- With primer or paint use the brush first to go in the ridges where a roller won’t go on the back of the door.
- Then use the small foam roller to go along the edges and the back.
- Lay flat to dry.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 to get 2-3 coats of paint.
- Once the paint is not tacky, you can flip over the doors and begin painting those.
- Use the brush in the creases and ridges. Making sure you don’t have drips.
- Use a small roller in all places you are trying to apply a smooth and even layer.
- Repeat the process until you do not see any white or uneven spots coming through.
- Attache doors back on your already painted cabinet boxes. Allow as much time for the paint to cure as possible.
We love Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Enamel Paint. You can see how we repainted our kitchen island here.
We will never paint cabinets or trim with different paint. However, if that paint is too expensive we have also had success with Behr Latex Enamel.
Use a stain-blocking primer if doors haven’t been painted before. Then follow these steps with at least two coats of latex enamel paint. We also normally use a latex-based primer if it is the first time painting cabinet doors. Great options to consider for primers are: SW Latex Multi-purpose Primer, Zinsser
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