paint roller

How to paint your new wood cabinet doors

Written by David | December 15, 2020

Are you replacing older cabinet doors?

Then today is your lucky day! We are seeing more and more customers where they are repairing their kitchen cabinets.  This means repairing doors that are damaged.  If this is you- then we are going to give you a quick how to paint your new wood cabinet doors! The hardest part about this is what color are you going to paint?

oak wood cabinet door - how to paint your new wood cabinet doors

here is a raw oak wood cabinet door

So what kind of wood door do you have?

Knowing the type of wood you have is the first step in telling you how to paint your new raw wood cabinet doors. It does make a difference in the amount or type of prep you will have to do to get your new doors looking perfect! There are a few basic types of materials new wood doors are made from:

  • Oak
  • Cherry
  • Maple
  • MDF
  • Birch
  • Both hardwood and MDF

Each of these types of wood has unique properties as to why they are used.

Oak is really used for the look of staining the grain of the wood. I do not know anyone who selects a oak door for how well it paints! As I am sure you know, and can see from the image above, painting oak doors presents a trick… getting rid of the heavy grain.

Cherry looks amazing when stained – flat, smooth, great colorations. Beautiful!

Maple is very hard. It will wear better than most other woods, but the kicker is that it is very difficult to stain and cannot be re-stained.

MDF is a manufactured board made from glue and sawdust. It is cheaper, is very smooth, and is very susceptible to water damage, but it does not shrink or expand like traditional wood doors.

Birch is nice, light, smooth, more inexpensive, and is a very nice wood to paint on.

Applying primer to a raw oak door

Since we covered the different types, we will just focus on painting an oak door.  Oak is very porous and heavy grained. You see every line that the tree had.  So to make it look good, these are the steps for how to paint your new wood cabinet doors.

These doors need to be sanded.  Once sanded then you can apply a coat of wood primer. Oak doors have all of that grain so we use a small foam roller to roll the primer on the doors and it will get forced into all of those nooks and crannies.

painting oak cabinets - one coat of primer

a oak door with one coat of primer

When you have primed the door with primer, the wood will swell up and it will be very rough and splintery.  After the primer is dry, you will need to sand it smooth then use a vac to clean all of the dust.

festool sander and vac - repainting cabinets

our Festool sander and vac

With the 1st coat applied and sanded, apply another coat of primer (you can use a fine roller but we spray).  The 2nd cost of primer will sit down very nice and the grain you saw in the 1st coat of primer will almost disappear. Check to see that the primer is dry- usually a few hours- then again sand and vac clean.

Painting your primed oak door

Let’s review:

  • You sanded the raw wood door
  • Then you cleaned it to remove all dust
  • A coat of primer was applied to the door
  • After the primer was dry, you sanded it smooth
  • You applied a 2nd coat of primer
  • Checking to make sure it was dry, you sanded it again and cleaned it.

Make sure that you are not touching this door with your hands – wear gloves. This keeps your hands clean and keeps the oils from your fingers off of the surface to be painted.

new cabinet door painted - dfranco cabinet refinishing

a new cabinet door primed and painted

Your door is ready to be painted!!

With your paint in hand and ready to go- get painting!! Again, we like the Wooster foam rollers, but everyone has their favorites.  Anything that will leave a smooth surface is great! (We spray them) When you finish painting the door, then allow it to dry overnight.  PLAN on having to apply a 2nd coat of paint.

Allow the painted door to dry!

There are several good cabinet paints on the market. It doesn’t matter which one you choose as long as you do your work to prepare the doors and allow enough time for them to dry.  Once the final coat of paint is applied, again, make sure you give it 24 hours before you decide to install hinges or hang the door.  By allowing this extra time, you are giving the paint more opportunity to harden which will make sure the door does not get damaged when you install it. Once dried and installed, it is time to sit back, relax and enjoy your new cabinets door(s).

Questions? This was a brief insight on how to paint your wood cabinet doors.  We hope it was a help to you. Let us know if you need help, we are here to help you love the space you’re in.

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