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How To Paint A Cabinet Door (Easy Step-by-Step Tutorial & Video)

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. 

*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Read our full privacy policy here. 

What is the best roller for cabinet painting?

I love using a small foam roller and handle. You get a smooth finish while having a lot of control. 

small foam roller painting cabinet door

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.

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

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. 

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

Our “before and after” DIY cabinet painting ideas

before painting bathroom vanity oak cabinets

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

blue gray bathroom painted cabinets in cheap bathroom makeover

Before kitchen cabinet painting

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).

painted green kitchen cabinets with upper painted white cabinets

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.

How to paint cabinet doors

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.

taking cabinet door hardware off

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.

hand using 220 sandpaper before painting cabinets

3. Use a deglosser to wipe down doors. If necessary lightly sand any rough spot before wiping down.

deglosser used to prep painted cabinets

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. 

painting creases of cabinet door first with brush on cabinet door

5. Then use the small foam roller to go along the edges and the back.

work station for painting cabinet doors

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. Making sure you don’t have drips.

how to paint cabinet doors with brush and roller
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.

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.

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 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.

painting cabinet doors on 2 x 4's and sawhorses

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

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

old hardware being spray painted

How To Paint A Cabinet Door

how to paint cabinet doors with brush and roller

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.

Prep Time 1 day
Total Time 1 day

Materials

Tools

Instructions

    1. Take off all old hardware. Don’t be lazy and try to paint around. Trust us it rarely ever works.
    2. 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.
    3. Make sure doors are smooth and clean. 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.
    6. Lay flat to dry.
    7. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to get 2-3 coats of paint.
    8. Once the paint is not tacky, you can flip over the doors and begin painting those.
    9. Use the brush in the creases and ridges. Making sure you don’t have drips.
    10. Use a small roller in all places you are trying to apply a smooth and even layer.
    11. Repeat the process until you do not see any white or uneven spots coming through.
    12. 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 the first time painting cabinet doors. Great options to consider for primers are: SW Latex Multi-purpose Primer, Zinsser

Recommended Products

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Did you make this project?

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

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

white painted backsplash with red apples on counter in kitchen
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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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