This post is sponsored by General Finishes Milk Paint and contains affiliate links. All opinions are mine. These are products I have personally used and believe in 100%.
Yesterday I finished painting my kitchen cabinet doors and I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders. From the beginning, I knew this kitchen makeover was going to be a chore and I knew it would take me 6+ weeks to get it done, but honestly, knowing it and living through it are two totally different things.
Do I regret doing it? Not at all, but it wasn’t easy or fun most of the time and I do regret the time I missed with my family. For the most part, I only painted while the boys were in school, but the exhaustion, the messy house, etc. invaded our down time together.
During this kitchen makeover my poor family has had more pizza, cereal, and sandwiches than you could ever imagine. A couple of nights ago, I whipped up some lemon garlic shrimp and garlic bread and you would have thought I had served a gourmet meal.
Remember that y’all. Starve your family for 2 months and they’ll appreciate every mediocre meal you serve after that.
Before you start second guessing yourself about painting your kitchen let me tell you that I do love my “new” kitchen and it was worth all of the work I put into it. For the first time since we moved in 2 1/2 years ago, our kitchen feels like a happy place. A place where I want to cook and hang out with family and friends. A place that now has style. One that no longer looks like any other cherry cabinet kitchen with busy granite. The black cabinetry with soft, antiqued brass cup pulls and knobs has a classical feel that should stand the test of time.
Are you ready to learn how to paint raised panel kitchen cabinet doors so you can transform your own kitchen? Well, let’s get started.
Tools Need To Paint Raised Panel Kitchen Cabinet Doors
After doing a lot of research into painting kitchen cabinets, I decided I wanted to use General Finishes Milk Paint which is a furniture grade paint. It goes on easily and dries extremely quickly. It also has some of the best self-leveling properties I’ve ever seen which means you won’t have those streaky, annoying brush marks that other types of paints leave.
Here’s what the front side of my upper cabinets look like. As you can see, it has raised panels, recessed areas, and beveled edges which makes the painting process more tedious and time consuming.
General Finishes recommends using foam brushes or mohair rollers with their milk paint products. I picked up some cheap foam brushes in a variety of sizes from one of the local big box stores and they became floppy within 10-15 minutes of use. At that point it felt like I was painting with a rag instead of any type of brush.
I then went to a specialty paint store and picked up a mini mohair roller. These rollers really increased my productivity and I was super excited. The paint looked smooth until I put the top coat on. Then to my horror I noticed the paint hadn’t really leveled out and it wasn’t as smooth as it normally was so I chose to sand all of those doors and drawers and repaint them.
Two things that possibly went wrong with the mohair roller:
1.) I was using black paint which is the hardest color to paint with. Brush strokes are very noticeable with black paint even when using a superior product like General Finishes. So if you’re using a lighter color then I would give the roller a try on one door and then top coat it to see how it looks. If you’re satisfied with the results then I would use the roller on the rest of the doors and drawers.
2.) Human error may have been the culprit. Maybe I needed more paint on my roller. Based on other jobs I’ve done with this type of roller I haven’t had any issues, but I won’t rule out that my technique was faulty. Again, by all means give this a try and see if you have better results than me.
After having poor results with my cheap foam brushes and the mohair rollers, I went to my local Woodcraft store and talked with the guys there. If you’re in Knoxville I highly recommend stopping by there. These fellas are a font of knowledge and they patiently answered all of my questions and gave me some of the best tips on using General Finishes products, plus they are the only store in town that carries General Finishes products.
So what’s the best foam brush to use with General Finishes products? It’s the Jen Mfg Foam Brush!
I also highly recommend buying these two sizes in large quantities and I’m going to tell you why.
Obviously the 4 inch brush can cover lots of space at one time and the 1 inch brush can get into the smaller recessed areas, in addition to painting the small beveled edge around the door, but how about all of those panels that are in between sizes?
As you can see in the picture below, the 4 inch is too and it would be practically impossible to paint the side panels without touching the raised panels in the middle.
The 1 inch brush is too small for the outer raised panels. This would create more work to cover the area and it would also make it much more difficult to get clean, straight lines down those very long side panels.
To complicate matters, the raised panels on the back side of my doors are a different size than the raised panels on the front side of the door, so I would essentially need to buy 4 different sizes of brushes if I want to make the work as efficient as possible with the neatest and cleanest lines.
So here’s a handy trick I picked up at Woodcraft. Buy a large pack of the 4 inch foam brushes and then cut them down to the size that fits your raised panels.
Note: The foam is wrapped over stiff plastic but it’s easy to cut with regular household scissors. Even though you could cut these larger brushes down to a 1 inch size I wouldn’t recommend it because it would leave the plastic exposed on the sides of the brush which could scrape against other areas when working in tight spaces (the beveled recessed area pictured below).
The foam brush on the right side is too wide for that raised panel and I cut it down to fit it before I started painting.
Here’s the difference when cutting them:
I always pour a small amount of paint or top coat into a small storage container. This prevents the entire can of paint or top coat from getting thicker as it is exposed to air and if for some reason it gets contaminated with dust, pet hair, etc., then I haven’t wasted a large quantity of paint.
You can rinse the storage containers and reuse them or start with fresh ones when they start getting gummed up. And the same goes with the foam brushes. I typically tossed them out when I noticed the paint was not going on as smoothly as it normally did. I know that sounds wasteful, but in the big scheme of things you want your cabinets to have the best finish possible and paying for a few extra brushes is well worth the cost if it means your cabinets turn out looking like they were painted by a professional.
I found painter pyramids are a must have for painting kitchen cabinet doors. They keep the doors off your tarp and makes it easier to paint around the edges.
Tip: Our kitchen cabinet doors are made from a soft wood and the pointy pyramids left dents int the wood. To solve this problem, I placed felt tabs on top of the little points.
Paint Order For Painting Raised Panel Kitchen Cabinet Doors
I always start with the back side of the kitchen cabinet doors. I do all of the coats of paint on the back side with proper dry time in between coats before moving to the front side.
As you can see, we left the hardware on. It was Stew’s suggestion and since he was roped into my project, I decided I could work around the hinges if it made his life easier. Denatured alcohol will remove any paint that gets on the hardware.
On the back side of the doors, I started with the recessed areas in the middle followed by the beveled edge around the outside of the door.
Tips: Keep a small craft brush handy for those hard to get into corners.
Any paint that gets onto the raised panels needs to be smoothed out so you don’t end up with a lot of build up in those places.
Always paint in the same direction as the wood grain.
For the front side of the doors I recommend painting the panels in this order:
and the bottom portion of the same door:
I applied the General Finishes top coat in the same order for both sides of the door and I used my handy dandy foam brushes for the top coat, too.
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If you have any questions feel free to comment and I’ll get back to you shortly!