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How To Easily Paint Cabinet Doors

Learn how to paint your cabinet doors successfully using a brush and a small foam roller with our easy step-by-step tutorial and video.

how to paint cabinet doors with white doors showing newly painted kitchen

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Our DIY Cabinet Painting Projects

Recently, we have been painting or even repainting 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. 

Read More: Our Cheap DIY Kitchen Remodel Ideas

Best Paint 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 hybrid 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.

Behr Latex Enamel paint, Proclassic paint and Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel Paint Gallon cans.

What finish is best?

Make sure that you get your paint in Satin, Semi-Gloss or Gloss. You want a painted surface that can be easily wiped and is durable.

Other Cabinet Paint Options

  • Benjamin Moore ProAdvanced: Similar product to the SW Emerald Line
  • SW Proclassic: In our opinion, does not have the same self-leveling capabilities as SW Emerald Trim Enamel
  • Behr Latex Trim Enamel: This is a more economical paint but is not as thick and durable as the options above.

We have also had success with SW Proclassic Line and Behr Latex Enamel like when we painted our oak railing.

Before And Afters

Bathroom Cabinet Doors

before painting bathroom vanity oak cabinets

The after picture of this bathroom vanity was primed and painted using Behr Charcoal Blue.

gray blue painted bathroom cabinets in small bathroom.

Kitchen Cabinet Doors

old white kitchen cabinets painted with glass backsplash

This is what our kitchen currently looks like. We even painted the glass backsplash (read all about how by clicking on the link).

green lower kitchen cabinets and white upper cabinets by kitchen sink.

See how we chose this paint color for cabinets using Samplize. We knew we wanted a rich green color, but have large peel and stick paint samples really helped us narrow down our choice.

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.

Recommended Supplies

paint can, small paint tray, foam roller and other bathroom cabinet painting supplies.

How To Paint Cabinet Doors By Hand

Printable instructions are at the bottom of this post.

Before You Begin

Set up a painting station where your doors will have time to dry. You can prop the doors on 2 x 4s on sawhorses in a separate location from your cabinets.

Step 1: Remove Hardware and Hinges

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.

lower cabinets with doors taken off.

Step 2: Label Doors

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.

taking cabinet door hardware off

Step 3: Lightly Sand The Surface Of The Doors

Lightly sand or scuff up doors with 220 sandpaper.

hand using 220 sandpaper before painting cabinets

Step 4: Wipe Down With A Deglosser

Use a deglosser to wipe down doors. You want your cabinet doors to be as clean and dust-free as possible.

deglosser used to prep painted cabinets

Step 5: Use Primer If Painting Unpainted Surfaces

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. 

woman holding small paint tray using brush to paint cabinet doors.

Here is an example of the bathroom vanity cabinet door and where the paintbrush was used before the foam roller.

painting creases of cabinet door first with brush on cabinet door.

Step 6: Use Small Foam Roller For All Other Areas

Then use the small foam roller to go along the edges and the back. You can check out all of our favorite rollers to paint cabinets here.

small foam roller painting cabinet door front green.

In the 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.

partially painted cabinet doors on sea horses and wood in garage.

Step 7: Let Each Coat Of Paint Fully Dry

Lay flat to dry. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to get 2-3 coats of paint.

green paint drying on back of cabinet doors.

Step 8: Flip Doors Over And Paint The Fronts

Once the paint is not tacky, you can flip over the doors and begin painting those.

back of painted cabinet door.

Step 9: Continue To Check For Drips

Use the brush in the creases and ridges. Make sure you don’t have drips.

zoomed in corner of cabinet door with SW Rookwood Sash Green paint on brush.
Don’t worry when your first coat has white showing. Just take your time and slowly add layers to get the rich color you desire.

Step 10: Continue Use Foam Roller

Use a small roller in all places you are trying to apply a smooth and even layer.

Step 11: Each Cabinet Door Should Have 3 Coats Of Paints On All Sides

Repeat the process until you do not see any white or uneven spots coming through. Even with white paint, you will want to paint 2-3 coats of paint as we did for our upper cabinet doors.

small foam roller and paint tray with white paint resting on cabinet doors.

Step 12: Let Fully Dry And Attach Back On With Hardware

Attach doors back on your already painted wood cabinet boxes. Allow as much time for the paint to cure as possible.

kitchen cabinet with door off the bottom cabinets.

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.

cabinet doors open waiting for paint to cure

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 the 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 work for us.
painting cabinet doors on 2 x 4's and sawhorses

Protect The Inside

Add plastic bumpers on drawers and doors to stop the cabinet doors from banging against each other. 

plastic bumpers used on back of painted cabinet door

Spray Paint Hardware

You can always spray paint old hardware or buy new ones! If you need to spray the screws, stick them in old cardboard to help them stay up.

old hardware being spray painted

Tutorial FAQs

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. 

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 in understanding all the ins and outs of cabinet spraying.

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. 

Do you need to paint the backs and fronts of cabinet 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 or edge of the cabinet boxes as well. Doing this as neatly as possible helps to create a finished look.

Are there products that would help speed up the painting process?

Yes, there are drying racks that allow you to flip the doors without touching the sides. You could also try to put a small thumbtack in the edges to elevate the doors. However, make sure that you are doing that on the back of the doors and not the front.
The other option would be to add a small eyelet screw to hang the door for drying.

Follow us on Pinterest, Youtube or Facebook for more DIY inspiration!

green painted kitchen doors and cabinets with polished nickel hardware and glass knobs.

Remember, take your time and enjoy your DIY modern painted cabinets!

green lower kitchen cabinets and white upper cabinets by kitchen sink.

How To Paint A Cabinet Door

Painting cabinets, cabinet doors, and drawers are such a budget-friendly makeover idea for your home. Use paint to modernize spaces is one of our favorite DIY home improvement ideas.
Print Pin Rate
Keyword: cabinet painting, DIY painting ideas, how to paint cabinet doors, paint ideas, painting bathroom cabinets, painting kitchen cabinets
Prep Time: 2 hours
Active Time: 5 hours
Dry Time: 2 days
Total Time: 2 days 7 hours
Author: Erin
Cost: Varies $100-$200

Equipment

Recommended Supplies

  • Krud Kutter
  • Primer only if you haven’t previously painted the door
  • Urethane Trim Enamel Paint
  • Frog Tape

Instructions

  • 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.
  • Use 220 sandpaper to roughen up surface of doors (painted or wood).
  • 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 a 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.

Notes

  • 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 your first time painting cabinet doors.
  • Great options for primers are SW Latex Multi-purpose Primer, and Zinsser.
  • If you are changing hardware placement, you will need to fill the old holes with wood filler and smooth them out before painting your cabinet doors.
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Tutorial Rating




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Andrea Bennett

Monday 17th of January 2022

Do you mention the green that you use? It’s a great tone! Not too dark or light

Erin

Tuesday 18th of January 2022

Hi Andrea. It is Sherwin Williams Rookwood Sash Green. It is a great color!

Libbie

Tuesday 13th of July 2021

I love the beautiful green you chose! Gorgeous!!

Erin

Wednesday 14th of July 2021

Thanks, Libbie. We took a chance on green cabinets and are very happy that we did!

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