Unfinished cabinet doors

How to paint unfinished Cabinet Doors and get a professional-quality finish.

You've just received your new Unfinished Cabinet Doors and are ready to start painting. Here are a few tips to get an attractive an attractive and durable finish on those new doors.

Don't stress-out about the painting process, even if you are an inexperienced painter.

Painted doors are not like stained doors where a disappointing stained finish can ruin your day. If you don't like your painted finish just scuff the doors a little by re-sanding and paint them again.

First, unpack the new doors and inspect them front and back for any scratches caused by shifting during shipping. Smooth these scratches with 180-grit sandpaper and brush off the dust with a fine brush. Sand in the direction of the wood grain to avoid making cross-grain scratches on your doors.

The better the prep-sanding the better the painted finish will be so take some time making sure the sanding is as good as you can make it.

Next, lay the cabinet doors flat and either wipe them with a clean cloth or blow them with compressed air to remove the last traces of dust. Laying the doors flat makes paint runs less likely and makes it easier to see your progress from the same angle.

Now the painting process starts. Raw wood needs a primer coat before painting and there are a few primer tips that will be helpful: Always match the primer to the type of paint you plan to use.

If you intend to use water-base (or Latex paint) then use a water base primer and if you are using an oil based paint then use an oil based primer.

In my experience Latex paints have advanced over the past decade to the point where they produce both appearance and dependability equal to their oil based counterparts, especially for indoor applications.

These advancements coupled with the water clean-up and environment-friendly disposal are worth considering when choosing your finishing materials.

While buying your primer and paint, also get a brush or two. You don't need to buy the $20 super brush, but don't get the $1 special either. A 2-3" fine brush should be about $5.

You may also want to buy a small 3-4" fine roller.

Now for the priming: Lay the doors out flat on some kind of dropcloth. Newspaper works fine for this. It will reduce your anxiety to start with the doors face down. That way you will be finishing the backs first so as you get better at painting your best work will be on the fronts, and your learning experience won't show.

Use the roller to apply a lite coat of primer to the panel and the inside detail of the stiles and rails. Now use the brush in those deep recesses to get the primer to cover all the machined surfaces. Use the roller again to coat the flat surfaces followed by the brush to give a smooth, even coating. After the primer is dried (follow the drying time instructions on the primer can) sand by hand gently with 220-grit paper, just enough to remove any fibers the primer raised, and to restore the smooth finish. Now turn the door over and repeat on the front.

After the primer is dry and lightly finish sanded, repeat the process with a second coat or primer.

Once the primer is dry you are ready for the paint.

The paint basically follows the same steps as the primer operation. Follow the instructions on your paint can to determine if you should sand between coats or not.

After the paint is dry you are ready to install the hinges.

If you are using hidden hinges, like our Blum Clip-tops, try not to get paint into the 30mm hinge cups. The hinges will be a snug fit into the cups and if you get paint into the holes you may need to sand it out to get the hinges into the cups.

Once you get started you'll see that the process is really not difficult at all, and you will be able to obtain results that will impress your family and friends.

Clicking on any of the cabinet door category pictures below will show you the doors we make in that category...and all those doors are available Unfinished in Paint-Grade Poplar.