Paint Kitchen Cabinet Doors

Paint your kitchen cabinets without a spray gun.

Paint Ikea Kitchen Cabinet Doors

When planning our kitchen remodel, we wanted to continue our cozy, white, coastal cottage theme in the kitchen as well. We planned for light or white colored cabinets and to save a few bucks, we planned to purchase them from Ikea. Little did we know, to get the look we were after, we would be painting the cabinet doors.

Buying cabinets and cabinet doors from Ikea has some limitations. The cabinet boxes are offered only in white or dark brown, and the door finished are fairly limited. When we were looking, we didn’t find and cabinet doors in white that we liked. All of the white doors were simple, glossy and either made from covered fiberboard or synthetic resin. Yuck.

We wanted something a bit more traditional and something wood. And we were hoping these traditional wood doors would be a lighter, preferably white, color.

So what to do? We decided to buy the stock white Ikea cabinet boxes and the dark brown Ikea Tidaholm cabinet doors with the plan to paint them white. Painting brand new kitchen cabinets did not seem ideal, but, if the results were less than spectacular, well, it’s just the cabin and they are just Ikea cabinets.

Fortunately, painting the cabinet doors was fairly straightforward, and the results were fantastic.

Finished results of painting our Ikea kitchen cabinets shown with white Carrara marble counters and white farm sink.

Finished Ikea cabinets after painting and installing with White Carrara marble counters and white farm sink.

To match our interior walls, we painted the cabinet doors with Benjamin Moore’s Satin Impervo paint in White Chocolate.

Our finished painted Ikea cabinets perfectly matched our interior, and the soft, matte finish of the paint added depth and character to cabinet doors.

Ikea Tidaholm oak doors after painting showing soft matte finish with retained oak grain pattern.

Finished cabinets after painting. Notice soft, luster finish with retained grain pattern from original Ikea Tidaholm oak doors.

The method we used to paint the cabinets was simple — spray can primer and brush applied oil finish.

You can certainly have them professionally sprayed if you would rather not do this yourself. But, by taking your time, using high-quality paint and a few tricks, you can do it yourself and obtain a very high quality, professional finish for your cabinet doors.

Read on for a step by step how to paint kitchen cabinets yourself.

This how-to walks you through the steps to paint your kitchen cabinets or cabinet doors.  In this instructional, we just painted the doors, but you can apply the same steps to painting the cabinet boxes as well.  If you are planning on painting your entire cabinet, remove the doors and paint them as below, and paint the cabinet enclosures in place using the same techniques.

Overview/ Paint your kitchen cabinet doors

Project Supplies/ Paint your kitchen cabinet doors

  1. Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo paint Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo alkyd paint - great for kitchen cabinet doors.
  2. Zinsser B-I-N shellac primer, quart
  3. Zinsser B-I-N shellac primer, 13 oz. spray can
  4. Penetrol oil-based paint additive
  5. Polishing compound, No7 white
  6. Tack Cloth 3M, 3 pack
  7. Sanding sponge 3M, medium pro grade
  8. Mini paint roller Wooser, 4"
  9. Mini paint roller frame Wooser foam, 4"
  10. Denatured Alcohol, pint

Project Tools/ Paint your kitchen cabinet doors

  1. Paint brush Purdy Chinex, 2 1/2" angled
  2. Microfiber cloth 3M
  3. Portable shop vac Dewalt
  4. Horse hair dust brush attachment Pro-Team
  5. Drop cloth, 6'x9'

Project Steps/ Paint your kitchen cabinet doors

  1. Pick a quiet, clean spot to work
  2. Set up a clean work area to paint the cabinets. The location should have a table or similar to allow you to spread out the cabinet doors and should be relatively free of dust and debris that could compromise the finish of the paint.

    Prep table for painting kitchen cabinet doors.

    A work table set up in the garage for the project.

  3. Thoroughly clean the work space
  4. Create a dust-free environment by cleaning and vacuuming the floor, walls, table and surrounding areas. Cover the table surface with newspaper, drop cloth, cardboard or other covering to prevent damage from paint over spray and drips.

  5. Assemble required supplies, tools and paint
  6. You will need prep materials including a sanding block, rags, tack cloth, a primer paint and a finish coat paint. I used an alcohol (shellac) based primer — Zinsser® B-I-N — for its fast drying, high coverage qualities. The alcohol base also provides excellent “bite” and adhesion. For the finish, I used Benjamin Moore’s® Satin Impervo® oil (alkyd) paint. I cannot stress enough the importance of using high quality paint if you want high quality results. To the Impervo, I added Penetrol® paint additive by Flood to improve paint flow and finish leveling.

    Shellac based primer Zinsser's B-I-N used to prime kitchen cabinet doors.

    Shellac based primer Zinsser® B-I-N.

  7. Remove cabinet doors and arrange on work table
  8. If painting existing, in place cabinets and doors, remove and paint the doors first. Prior to removing doors, mark the doors in a hidden area (back) and make a diagram of there location before removal. Save hardware in zip lock bags or similar for reassembly. Move doors to work area.

  9. Prep cabinet doors by lightly sanding and cleaning
  10. Using a medium to fine sanding sponge or similar (I used a 3M fine grit sanding sponge), working in the direction of the wood grain sand the surfaces of the cabinets. Use care not to round off edges when sanding. If the cabinet doors you are painting are not new, be sure to thoroughly clean the surface of the doors prior to sanding. Use a solvent based de-greaser if the cabinet doors have been in service for some time, as kitchen cabinet doors tend to accumulate oily deposits.

    Use an alcohol dampened microfiber cloth to wipe away residue sanding dust. Finish the cleaning process with a clean tack cloth.

    Cabinet door after initial sanding.

    Clean, sand, and prep surface of cabinet doors prior to applying primer coat of paint.

  11. Apply primer paint coat
  12. Prior to painting, it is a good idea to vacuum the work space and work surface to remove residual dust from the sanding process. Once the work area is clean, arrange the clean, sanded cabinet doors for application of the first primer coat of paint.

    For primer application I found using spray can formulation of the Zinsser BIN primer to provided easier application and better results compared to brush application. As always, with spray applications of paint, it is preferable to apply several lighter coats of paint rather than one heavy coat.

    I sprayed one side at a time, allowed to dry for one hour, then sprayed the opposite side. Once both sides were covered, I allowed the doors to dry overnight before applying a second coat.

  13. Apply second primer paint coat
  14. After drying overnight, each door was very lightly sanded to remove any high primer spots. After sanding, I again used an alcohol dampened microfiber cloth to remove sanding dust and finished the clean up with a tack cloth.

    I then applied a second coat of primer to each side, allowing each side to dry for an hour before painting the next. Once both sides were covered with the second coat, I allowed the doors to again to dry overnight before starting the finish coat application.

    After the second coat of primer, I again lightly sanded the primer and cleaned with a microfiber cloth, followed by a clean tack cloth.

    Sanding second coat of primer with 3M fine sanding sponge.

    Lightly sanding after second coat of primer.

    Removing sanding dust from primed kitchen cabinet door with tack cloth.

    Take time to thoroughly remove sanding dust using tack cloth.

  15. Apply finish paint coat
  16. For the finish, I used Benjamin Moore’s Satin Impervo Alkyd low-luster paint. This paint is expensive ($75 + / gallon), but it is an exceptional paint that has excellent leveling qualities. Beware that this is an oil based product and lighter colors may yellow with time.

    Prior to applying the finish coat, I added the paint additive Penetrol to help provide a smooth finish without brush marks. Penetrol is a petroleum based solvent that when added to oil based paints lengthens drying time and helps level the finish.

    To keep the finish paint “stock”, I only added Penetrol to individual small batches mixed for each painting session. Mix these batches in disposable plastic one pint containers, using a new container for each painting session to avoid dust and debris contamination.

    If you return any paint to the original can, pour it through a fine paint filter to remove any dust accumulated during use.

    To apply the finish coat of paint, first roll the paint on the door to obtain a uniform layer, then use a brush to level the finish. When using the brush, I found that using a very low brush angle helped avoid brush marks in the finish.

    After one side was finished, I lifted the door and carefully painted the edges. Each coat of the Penetrol spiked Impervo needed at least 48 hours to dry, so I painted only one side at a time.I allowed the doors to dry resting flat to help prevent paint runs. Once one side was dry, the doors were flipped and the opposite sides painted. The doors were then allowed to dry for several weeks.

    Cabinet painting supplies for finish coat - 3 inch foam roller, high quality china bristle / ox hair brush and Benjamin Moore's Satin Impervo Alkyd paint in white chocolate.

    Ready to Finish: a Corona China bristle / ox hair brush, a high-quality foam roller, and Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo Alkyd in white chocolate with Penetrol added.

    Finish coat for the cabinet doors - using roller to apply initial level coat of paint.

    Cabinet drawer finish coat back brushing.

    Finish coat application to the cabinet doors using Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo by first rolling then brushing the finish.

    Finish paint for the cabinets - Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo.

  17. Lightly sand the first finish coat and apply a second coat (optional)
  18. Using very fine emery cloth or sanding block, very lightly sand the dry first finish coat to remove any dust contamination or surface irregularities.  Wipe clean with microfiber cloth and finish with tack cloth.  You can wipe the surface one more time with a clean microfiber cloth dampened with mineral spirits. Then, using the same techniques as the first finish coat, apply a second finish coat and allow to dry.

  19. Polish the finish (optional)
  20. I wanted a rather soft, matte finish, so after letting the final finish coat cure for several weeks, I very lightly polished the painted surface with polishing compound (Cyclo Industries No.7 white) and a soft cloth. I buffed the surface just to soften the finish and level the paint.

    After polishing, I washed the doors thoroughly with soapy warm water. (Beware that this and many polishing compounds have a mild solvent odor that may take a few weeks to fade from the polished surfaces.)

    Soft matte finish of Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo oil finish (in the color White Chocolate) on kitchen cabinet doors - a detailed step by step DIY guide.

    Soft matte finish of Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo oil finish (in the color White Chocolate) on kitchen cabinet doors.

  21. If painting cabinet bodies as well as the doors
  22. If you are painting the doors and the cabinet bodies, follow the above sequence to paint the cabinet boxes in place. Tape off and cover walls, counters, appliances and anything else at risk of getting splattered with paint. Consider rolling or brushing on the primer instead of spraying if painting the cabinet bodies in place. You may want to alternate door painting with cabinet body painting during drying periods. Protect each area (door painting area and kitchen cabinet painting area) from sanding dust contamination from the other during prep periods.



  • Sean September 14, 2018   Reply →

    I have been a painting contractor for 30 years and from my view, you did an amazing job!! I always us benjamin Moore’satin impervo oil finish. nice job, We hang the doors then spray them.

  • Kerry March 20, 2018   Reply →

    Hi – I am reading this thread with interest and am based in the UK – can you tell me how your painted units have stood the test of time and being used everyday and knocked. Has any paint come off? and do they wipe down well.
    Many thanks.

    • Cabin DIY March 20, 2018   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Kerry,
      The painted cabinets have held up well – no chips or paint loss. I do wipe them down with a damp cloth every few weeks, but otherwise they have been maintainence free and look as good as new!

  • Base Cabinet December 7, 2017   Reply →

    Hi ,
    Loved this post Painting Kitchen Cabinets . Sharing it on my Facebook and Pinterest profile.

  • Michelle Aguilar-Wells June 17, 2015   Reply →

    We are adding on a new great room and I am buying an Ikea kitchen and want to paint the cabinets myself. I want simple slab fronts (easy to clean, nothing to catch in crevices) so was thinking of buying the Veddinge (which may have taken the place of Applad) as it is described as MDF with painted finish. I am just going to paint the fronts and edges as my color is a pearl gray and white insides are fine as they only will show when open and will match the white interior. My questions is: does MDF hold up and would I follow the same or similar steps that you described for painting. I have only painted wood/plywood cabinets before and even with a not so careful job and using Behr paint they are holding up great and still looking fresh two years later. I just wipe them off to clean.

    I looked into some of the make to order cabinets (semihandmade, schere(?) and Kokeena , but they are either fairly expensive and would either need professional painting or I still would have to paint, so am back to maybe using Ikea doors and painting them. Thoughts.

    • Cabin DIY June 18, 2015   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Michelle –

      Congrats on the new addition. As far as the Veddinge cabinet doors, from my quick read of the Ikea site, it sounds like they may be resin finished which may complicate your ability to paint them. From Ikea:

      Product description
      Fiberboard, Acrylic paint, Polyester paint

      If they are finished with a polyester resin, you may have difficulty getting standard paints to stick to them. I would investigate with Ikea and maybe consider a different door. And yes, MDF holds up well and is very commonly used in cabinet construction and should paint well.

      Good Luck!

  • Laurel February 10, 2015   Reply →

    They look fabulous. We too ended up with IKEA’s brown-black cabinets and wanted creamy white. Penitrol says that it is for exterior use ONLY. That’s usually because it isn’t safe to breathe the fumes in an enclosed space. Wasn’t there something that works for inside applications?

    • Cabin DIY February 11, 2015   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Laurel,


      I agree, I suspect the Penetrol warning is related to solvent off gassing as you suggest and maybe related to recent changes in U.S. VOC regulations. I know many use it for indoor painting. I did let my doors dry for several weeks (in the basement) before putting them up. I haven’t noticed any issues with odors, etc.

      I did some searching and interestingly, I found this page from The Flood Company (the makers of Penetrol) Australia, endorsing its’ use indoors.

      Thanks for the comments and using our site!


  • Lindola February 3, 2015   Reply →

    Hello, I am very impressed with how much time and care you took for this project. We chose IKEA Lidingo cabinets. My husband built and installed them. They turned out amazingly as we also hired a contractor to do the finishing touches, electrical, plumbing and our crown moulding. Now after all of his hard work, I accidentally used an adhesive tape/hook which took off a square inch of finish on a top cabinet! This is a side panel and I’m wondering if I should cover the entire panel with paint, or just apply enough to “patch” the area? your advice would be greatly appreciated.!

    • Cabin DIY February 3, 2015   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Lindola,

      Thanks for using the site and congrats on your new kitchen!

      Sorry to hear about your issue with the cabinet finish. I didn’t catch if you had them painted? If so, do you know what type of paint was used to finish the cabinets? If you could upload a photo of the damage, it may help myself and potentially other readers respond with some suggestions.

      Without any information of the finish used, my first thought would be to first try and fill in any deficit caused by the finish removal. I would use some type of filler to bring the deficit flush and then finish with the same finish used on the cabinets. You would likely need to smooth the filler with graded sand paper finishing with something fairly fine (300 – 400). Be careful not to involve too large of area when sanding. You will need to “blend” the repair into the surrounding finish, but keep it as small as possible.

      These are just some initial ideas. The best answers will rely on knowing more about the type of material the door is made of and the products used on it.


  • Etty October 29, 2014   Reply →

    Thank you for great tutorial, I am also planing to paint my Ikea doors. My question is : You mentioned above that you left the doors to dry for several week after applying the penetrol spiked impervo which you stated that it takes 48 hours to dry (part 10). Is it correct or is it a mistake ? Thank you for replying to me.

    • Cabin DIY October 30, 2014   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Etty –

      I allowed the Impervo coats (I used two coats of the Impervo) to dry for 48 hours prior to handling or recoating. This was enough time for the Impervo to be dry to the touch and allow me to flip the doors and paint the opposite sides and to apply a second coat. The paint needs additional time before it is entirely dry and has “cured”.

      According to the Benjamin Moore website, Satin Impervo can be washed after two weeks. This is from their site:

      Dry Time @ 77°F – To Touch 4 Hours

      (25°C) @ 50% RH – To Recoat **Overnight

      Painted surfaces can be washed after two weeks. High humidity and cool temperatures will result in longer dry, recoat and service times. ** If a second coat is required, allow an overnight dry, lightly sanding between coats. Under normal drying and curing conditions, Satin Impervo® reaches its final low lustre finish in five to seven days.


  • Shirley June 24, 2013   Reply →

    Hi there, they look great! Thanks so much for the step-by-step instructions. We are about to paint our Tidaholm cabinets as well (like you, we bought them a few years ago intending to paint over them). How have the cabinets held up since you painted them? Any chips or peeling?

    • Cabin DIY June 24, 2013   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Shirley,

      Thanks for the comments. The cabinets have been in service for around two years and have held up very well. No chips, peeling or other issues with the paint. I would highly recommend the products we used and for sure would use them again.

      • Shirley August 17, 2013   Reply →

        I just saw your reply… Thanks so much – very reassuring! We will probably end up posting our painted cabinets on our occasional blog after we’re done (hopefully sometime in the next month or two, but I’ve also got to get my husband on board the time frame…), and when we do I will be sure to link to you. Thanks again!

        • Cabin DIY August 18, 2013   Reply →
          Cabin DIY

          Great, I would love to see your photos of the completed project.

  • Cabin DIY May 29, 2013   Reply →
    Cabin DIY

    Hi Ryan,

    Thanks for the comments.

    We would have preferred to purchase cabinets finished in our desired color, but the stock offerings at Ikea in white were laminated particle board or some type of plastic resin — we wanted a rustic wood door.

    The Ikea oak Tidaholm doors seemed perfect, but were only offered in the dark brown-black that you see above.

    So, we painted them. This also allowed us to get the exact color to match the rest of the interior.

  • Ryan Hart May 28, 2013   Reply →

    Thanks for sharing your step-by-step instructions. I think it’s interesting that you purchased new cabinets and then decided to paint them. It’s not the most common approach but the cabinets turned out great!

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