Painting cabinet doors

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Forum topic by rut posted 08-17-2012 01:34 PM 2927 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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62 posts in 2410 days

08-17-2012 01:34 PM

I’m at the point that I’m considering the best way to paint my new raised panel doors. I’m unclear as to the best method, painting before assembly or after?

I’ll be using a hvlp sprayer. My concern with spraying before assembly is keeping paint off all of the glue areas on the stiles/rails.

I also considered painting the raised panel before assembly then painting the remainder after assembly (taping the panels so they don’t get repainted.

My concern with painting after assembly is will I develop paint cracks where the stiles/rails meet? I’m assuming I would only see this if for some reason the joint failed and the wood separated a bit but I’m not sure.

Any suggestions appreciated.


6 replies so far

View JesseTutt's profile


854 posts in 2138 days

#1 posted 08-17-2012 01:40 PM

When I spray finish a cabinet door I always spray the raised panel before assembly. This makes sure that when the wood shrinks the parts of the raised panel that become exposed have finish on them.

-- Jesse, Saint Louis, Missouri

View rut's profile


62 posts in 2410 days

#2 posted 08-17-2012 01:42 PM

Thanks. So I assume you tape around the panel after assembly to paint the stiles/rails. Do you have problems removing the tape after you finish?

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3312 days

#3 posted 08-19-2012 11:46 AM

rut, When I’m painting doors (whether it’s a MDF panel or solid wood), I like to prime the panels before I assemble the doors. sand the panels smooth and have them ready for top coat. I assemble my doors, run my outside profile, drill for hinges and do my final sanding. I spray my primer on the stiles and rails and do my final sanding on everything before I spray my top coats. If I’m using a color instead of white, I like to have my primer mixed to the same formula as my top coat. I also use spacing balls when assembling my doors to keep the panels snug and centered. I mostly spray pre-catalyzed lacquer, but do spray oil base and latex paints now and then. Good luck and hope they turn out great.

-- John @

View bruc101's profile


1200 posts in 3569 days

#4 posted 08-19-2012 12:08 PM

We spray only the door edges where they’ll extend into the door frames and give them plenty of drying time before we glue up the doors. We do this to keep from messing up the belts on our sanders when we run them through the sanders to flatten them.

We would still do it this way if we didn’t have big sanders to use to flatten the doors. I’ve enclosed a photo of the edges with a couple costs of clear on them and after they had been ran through a sander to flatten them. All we have to do now is run the door edges, do the final sanding and then spray the finish on the doors. We do painted doors the same way. We also use no mdf in our shop.
We get a much more even and level finish all across the completed doors and arch panels this way.

-- Bruce Free Plans

View rut's profile


62 posts in 2410 days

#5 posted 08-20-2012 02:10 PM

Thanks for the info. For painted doors do you use a clear coat on top of the paint? I purchased this.:\

If so do you need to wait an extended amount of time for the paint to dry before applying the clear coat?

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3312 days

#6 posted 08-20-2012 02:40 PM

rut, What type paint are you using for your top coat? It should tell you on the product label if a clear coat should be put over the paint. I doubt you would need to, but that would be up to you as far as how much protection you feel your cabinet doors would need. As long as you let it dry to the manufacturers recommended time you should be able to spray over the top of your paint with no problems. I would try a sample piece first to make sure there are no surprises.

-- John @

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