How to Paint DIY IKEA Cabinet Doors

Plenty of our Clients come to us wanting unfinished, DIY doors that they can wrap or paint themselves. In this week’s blog post we go over the various ways to paint your DIY doors to completely customize your IKEA cabinets. We will also give an overview on how to refinish your existing kitchen, bathroom, office, and closet cabinets.

Why DIY? Unfinished Doors for IKEA Sektion Kitchens

It is undeniable that the cost of appliances, countertops, and cabinetry have gone way up over the last two years. Inspired Kitchen Design reported at the beginning of the year that due to supply chain challenges IKEA was raising it’s prices 9% across the board. That means if you’re building a new home or plan to remodel your kitchen or bathroom, finding creative ways to cut costs is a necessity for a lot of people.

Of course, saving money by going with DIY doors means you or your Contractor have work to do. Making sure you finish your DIY doors correctly is a must. Correcting mistakes is time consuming and stressful. We will cover some of your finish options, things to watch for and consider, and help you do them right the first time.

Our DIY Shaker Door | Our DIY Slab Door

DIY Cabinet Doors – Choose Your Texture

When deciding to finish cabinet doors, you’re not only choosing a color, but also texture. Depending on the color and other design elements in your Kitchen you might want something textured similar to a wood veneer. If that is the case you would opt for using a roller with a larger Nap. The Craftsman Blog published a very helpful article to help any DIYer choose the correct Roller for any project.

If you’re wanting to have a smooth, professional look, you will need to spray on your paint. A lot of our DIY & Contractor Clients rent or own a paint sprayer to achieve the smoothest finish. Know that there is definitely a learning curve to achieve the right look, so we recommend you spend some time practicing the use of the sprayer.

If you’re not comfortable using the sprayer, but want a smooth finish it’s recommended you use a small 4” foam roller. The shorter roller length gives you precise control over where you’re applying the paint and the foam nap provides the least textured application of your paint.

DIY Doors for IKEA Cabinets – Choose the Right Paint

If you have painting experience then Oil-based paints are an option to consider. Oil-based paints make for a more durable surface, which is something to factor in for high traffic surfaces.

For those with less experience you can go with a Latex. Latex paints level out and dries quickly. Unfortunately they can take up to 3 weeks to completely cure. During that time your surfaces can take damage that can require you to start over. The most durable and more adhesive Latex are completely acrylic-based.

With decades of experience painting cabinets (and homes) we can confirm that it always costs you more when you skimp on the paint. The top paint brands are top sellers for a reason: they make a superior product. You always end up having to repaint when you try to save money on the paint itself.

DIY Painting – Project Workspace

Finishing your kitchen cabinet doors is one of the most important steps, so make sure you have the time and space to do it right. Of course there will be a project timeline and you might be juggling a lot. Still, you need to:

1. Make sure you have the time needed to prep, paint, and allow your doors to dry. Unless you are going for a shabby look, there cannot be any rushing in the painting stage.

2. Make sure you have a dedicated space so you won’t have to move your doors before they are ready. This is especially important for resurfacing and larger projects, making it difficult to keep track of which doors, drawers, and panels go where. Once primer and paint is applied, markings are covered up and placement is often how a lot of folks keep track of their cabinet fronts.

How to Paint DIY Cabinet Doors

Cabinet Painting Tool List

  • Paint Tray
  • Stir Sticks
  • Rollers
  • Brushes or Sprayer
  • Sanding Block
  • 150 and 240 grit Sandpaper
  • Degreaser (preferably TPK)
  • Quality Paint
  • Matching Primer
  • Polyurethane
  • Blocks and Sawhorses

1. Sand Your Doors

Lightly sand the inner (and outer) edges of your DIY doors with 200-240 grit sandpaper. Use a medium-soft bristle brush to remove the dust created. If you’re painting your old doors there will be a lot more sanding.

2. Clean Your DIY Doors

Use a degreaser like TPK to remove any oils from your hands, or any other foreign materials that can affect the adhesion of your Primer & Paint. From here on out wear gloves to makes sure to not contaminate surfaces. Wipe down your doors with water using a sponge. Make sure they are dry before you proceed.

3. Caulk Any Seams and Gaps

For DIY doors with a frame, like shaker doors, make sure to fill every small seam and gap where where the panel meets the frame. When redoing older doors, especially all-wood doors, there can be lot more seams to take care of.

4. Primer

Place doors and panels face up on a level surface. Use a roller to apply your Primer, face/panel first, then face of frames, followed by inner and outer edges. Primer is important for paint adhesion and concealing any imperfections in your doors. Of course, make sure you’re using Latex primer with Latex Paint and Oil-based Primer with Oil-based Paint. You will be very disappointed in how things turn out if you mix them.

5. Sand Primer Layer

Once you’ve let your Primer dry for at least an hour, you will want to lightly sand your first layer. Brush away all the dust once this is done. Then you will need to apply another layer of Primer, Dry, Sand, and brush again.

6. Paint

Place doors and panels face up on a level surface. Use a roller to apply your Paint, face/panel first, then face of frames, followed by inner and outer edges.

7. Sand Paint Layer

Once you’ve let your Paint dry, you will want to lightly sand your first layer using 150 grit sandpaper. Brush away all the dust once this is done. Then you will need to apply another layer of Paint, Dry, Sand, and brush again.

8. Polyurethane

After you’ve applied two layers of paint and let it dry, you will need to finish it off with a layer of polyurethane. The downside of painted cabinets is that the finish is soft and susceptible to damage. By adding a layer of polyurethane you are giving the custom doors for your IKEA cabinets the needed protection for their high traffic use.

Painting Your Old Cabinet Doors - Overview

All of the previous techniques should be applied to your old cabinet doors, but there is additional prep needed and other considerations:

1. Painting in itself is time consuming. Removing the original finish and preparing them to be painted doubles that time.

2. If you don’t remove your doors, drawers, and panels you will be creating more work for yourself and will not be pleased with the end result.

3. When you do rake your cabinets apart to paint them, you will need to keep track of cabinet placement and positioning. One of many upsides of working with IKEA cabinets is that the hinge drilling patterns are very straightforward and standardized. If you don’t have IKEA cabinets you will need to make sure you pay very close attention to which cabinet boxes they came from and their orientation.

Written by Todd Zimmerman

Producer of the John Webbccast

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