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Raised Panel Kitchen Cabinet Doors Popularity
Raised panel kitchen cabinet doors are often seen in older, more traditional homes. During the 1990s they were extremely popular. The more raised panels and detailing a cabinet door had usually correlated with having a more expensive, higher end kitchen design.
Fast forward 20+ years and many of those traditional, raised panel kitchen cabinets are now looking outdated. A simple, affordable way to update these raised panel cabinets is with a fresh coat of paint and new hardware.
I’m going to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using brushes vs. rollers when painting raised panel kitchen cabinet doors. I will share tips and tricks I learned while painting our 42 cabinet doors and drawers which not only saved me time, but also gave me a professional quality finish.
Painting Raised Panel Kitchen Cabinets vs. Painting Furniture
I’ve been painting furniture on and off for over 20 years now and I’ve learned a lot along the way. However, I found painting kitchen cabinets fell into a totally different category than furniture painting. For one thing, the project was on a much larger scale and it often felt like I was never going to finish. For another, it was mind numbingly monotonous painting the same raised panel kitchen cabinet door design over and over, especially since it was such a tedious design.
The one commonality that both of these share is proper prep is the key to a long lasting finish. You can read more about how I prepped my kitchen cabinets===> HERE.
Tips on Painting Raised Panel Kitchen Cabinet Doors: Brushes vs. Rollers
Below you can see my raised panel kitchen cabinet door. All of the upper cabinets have an arch design while the lower doors are straight.
Tip: Paint order matters! The numbers indicate the order I painted the door in. You can read more about paint order for raised panels doors===> HERE.
Paint Rollers For Large Flat Surfaces
If you have flat panel cabinets without trim around them, then a roller would be your best option in most cases.
Before deciding on the type of roller to use, read the label on your paint can or on the manufacturer’s website. For example, my favorite paint is General Finishes and they recommend using a mohair roller like this:
Rollers come in a variety of sizes and you should choose the size that will not only work the best for your project, but also that will be the most efficient. You wouldn’t want to use these mini rollers on a large flat surface and you wouldn’t want to use a large mohair roller on a narrow surface where the roller might overlap another raised panel.
My Big Uh-Oh!
A word of caution when using a roller with black paint:
I’ve used these mohair rollers with great success on my boys bathroom vanity makeover
and on my General Finishes China Cabinet Makeover
Both of these projects were painted with General Finishes Coastal Blue Milk Paint and either a mohair or a foam roller. The paint finish was nice and smooth; however, when I used the rollers (I tried mohair and foam rollers with very similar results) on my kitchen cabinets I felt the results were subpar.
I rolled 8 drawer fronts and backs along with a couple of doors. The paint looked nice and smooth when it dried; however, when the black paint was top coated with a flat sheen sealer, teeny tiny air bubbles were visible. I was devastated and couldn’t believe the amount of time and energy I had just wasted.
Needless to say, I redid the entire lower section of one wall of cabinets. I sanded down to an even finish, did a coat or two of paint with foam brushes, and then 3 coats of sealer using a foam brush.
Tip: I recommend trying your paint color, sealer, and technique (brushes vs. mohair roller vs. foam roller) from start to finish on one door or drawer before tackling the kitchen in its entirety. I had issues with the foam and mohair rollers leaving visible air bubbles. I also chose a satin top coat originally and hated how it looked.
So what size of foam brushes do I recommend for painting raised panel kitchen cabinets?
General Finishes recommends using high quality foam brushes with their paint, stain, and sealer. I tried the cheap brushes from Home Depot and the slightly more expensive version at Sherwin Williams but both brands became floppy within 15 minutes of painting. The floppy foam brush was like painting with a rag.
My local Woodcraft store recommended Jen Manufacturing Foam Brushes. These brushes can hold up to hours of painting.
Tip: After finishing a coat of paint or sealer, I would place my foam brushes in a large ziplock bag and put them in the refrigerator until I came back a couple of hours later to do another coat. Always, always, always check your foam brushes after removing them from the ziplock bag to see if the paint or sealer has dried on the brushes or if there are any globs of paint or sealer that needs to be wiped off before using them again.
If, however, you don’t have a Woodcraft store close by, then hit up Amazon to get these foam brushes. This is a multi pack containing a 1 inch, 2 inch, and 3 inch foam paint brush; however, for kitchen cabinets I recommend buying 2 sizes of the foam brushes in bulk.
Yes, you heard me right. Buy them in bulk. I promise it will be the best money you’ve ever spent.
I used this 1 inch brush for getting into the narrow spaces between raised panels.
The other size I buy in bulk is the 4 inch foam brush.
The first reason is quite simple. You’ll be using these foam paint brushes for both painting and sealing your cabinets. Once you notice the paint isn’t going on as smoothly as before, or that the sealer isn’t leveling out like it had before, then you toss the brush and start with a fresh one.
The second reason is that we’re going to cut the larger brush down to size to fit the raised panels along the edges of our kitchen cabinet doors.
For my raised panel kitchen cabinet doors I used 3 different brush sizes. (See pictures below for a better explanation).
Cutting your foam brush down to the size of the raised panel
For each section of the door I used a different size brush. I used the 4 inch foam brush for the middle raised panels and the 1 inch foam brush was used on the beveled portions between the raised panels. I cut a 4 inch brush to fit the width of the side panels.
The raised side panels were wider on the back side of the door and required a different size of brush. The brush I have pictured below was actually for the other side of the door which means it was too wide for this side.
The black line in this picture shows how much more I would trim off this brush in order to get the perfect width for these panels.
The picture below shows the 4 inch brush on the bottom. The top foam brush started out as a 4 inch brush and I used scissors to trim it down to the size I needed. You can see the extra foam I cut off laying beside the brushes.
As you can see, the 1 inch brush is way too small for this panel which means you would have to do a lot more brush strokes to cover that area which requires more time.
A brush that is too wide will overlap and come into contact with the other raised panels. You don’t want to accidentally touch your brush to paint (or sealer) that’s already in its drying stage because it will leave an a visible “oops!” that you will have to touch up once the paint has dried.
The mohair roller, the foam roller, and the foam brush are all excellent tools to have in your arsenal. From my experience, paint color and the type of furniture I’m painting generally determines which is the better option. For my raised panel kitchen cabinet doors, I found the foam brush to give the best finish without leaving brush strokes, air bubbles, or roller marks. The largest drawback to using the foam brush was the lack of efficiency. It took much longer to brush the paint and sealer on than it would have taken with a roller. Hopefully with the information I have given you’ll now be able to choose the best tool for your project.
Have any questions? Feel free to comment below or send a message. I’ll be happy to help!