How To Paint Semihandmade Cabinet Doors

This is a pretty long, technical post, so we’re jumping right in for this one without much of an intro: if you want to know how to paint Semihandmade Doors for Ikea cabinets, we’ve got EVERYTHING you need right here!



  • PPG Breakthrough 250 in Satin, or “V50” finish
  • PPG Sealgrip Primer thinned with water to your sprayer’s standards
  • Paint sprayer
  • Spray shelter
  • Respirator
  • Paint thinner (to clean spray gun)
  • Paint strainers + empty gallon container to strain paint into
  • Orbital sander + sanding block + 80, 120, 220 grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloth + putty knife
  • Good weather. The above PPG products need to be sprayed/cured at around 75 degrees with about 50% relative humidity to get the best results. If you’re spraying inside, I wouldn’t really recommend relying on your heating/cooling system to maintain this temperature because it’ll just circulate the truly ~awful~ smell of this paint throughout your house. So we chose to spray inside, and waited until temperatures could support us leaving our HVAC system off for a week while it cured.


When I called PPG to ask them to estimate this for me, they balked at the question. Because obviously this seriously depends on your sprayer, your spray technique, etc. etc. etc.

First of all, you need to calculate the square footage of your cabinet doors. I did this using a simple excel spreadsheet with the measurements of each door from our Semihandmade order. For doors + drawers, I included square footage of the front and the back (since both need to primed + painted), and for panels I only included square footage of the fronts. That number told me how much square footage I’d need to cover in my one coat of primer. I multiplied that number by 2 to get the number of square footage I’d need to cover with both coats of paint.

You can see our total SF for both primer and paint above. I used about 3 gallons of primer (just one coat of primer), and 4.5 gallons of paint (2 coats of paint).

Is it worth it to order extra paint? Well, it depends. But the main factor to consider here is the shelf life of your paint. The shelf life of PPG Breakthrough is short. If it’s sealed and unopened, about a year. If it’s opened and partially used, about 3 months. So we don’t keep any on hand for touchups. In a few years, maybe I’ll grab a gallon and touch up then.


First, before you start painting on day 1, prep your painting space AND your drying space. I painted in one upstairs bedroom, and laid cabinets to dry to little blocks of wood in another bedroom + bathroom.

If you’re painting inside, set up large fans pushing air OUT of the rooms that you’re painting AND drying in. This paint smells really awful, even while it’s curing.

Also – make sure you sand in an space that is away from your painting/drying space. Dust will wreak havoc on your sprayer + on your paint finish.

  1. Sand all doors/drawers with 80, then 120, then 220 grit sandpaper. (Dust your doors off using canned air on an air compressor, and then wipe your doors down with tack cloth.)
  2. Thick coat of primer on backs + sides (let dry for a day)
  3. Thick coat of primer on fronts (let dry for a day)
  4. Sand fronts + backs with 220
  5. Thick coat of paint on backs + sides, let dry for 4 hours
  6. Thick coat of paint of backs + sides, let dry for 24 hours
  7. Thick coat of paint on fronts, let dry for 24 hours
  8. Sand fronts only with 220
  9. Thick coat of paint on fronts
  10. Let your doors cure at the proper temperature + humidity for the recommended cure time!
  • Why paint both coats of paint on the door BACKS first? Because the Breakthrough 250’s recoat time is 4 hours. We had 35 doors/drawers to paint, so by the time I finished the first coat on the back of the 35th door, I just took a little break and started again with the 1st door! We chose not to sand between coats on the backs of our doors/drawers, so this worked well. Also, it ensures you don’t damage the fronts of your doors and drawers while they lay on their drying apparatus.
  • Why should you paint the sides of the doors when you’re paint the backs of your doors (not the fronts)? So you don’t accidentally drag your clothes/the hose of your spray gun through wet paint on the only coat of paint that actually matters: the two coats on the fronts of your doors.
  • Do I really need to sand between coats? YES. We did not sand between coats on the BACKS of the doors + drawers (because, frankly, we just didn’t care that much) and the difference in finish is noticeable. It doesn’t bother us at all, but it does prove that sanding between coats of paint makes a huge difference!


For us, here’s how long everything took:

  • Priming door backs + sides: 3-4 hours
  • Priming door fronts: 3 hours
  • Sanding doors (front and back): 4 hours
  • Painting backs + sides: 3 hours
  • Painting backs + sides: 3 hours
  • Painting fronts: 3 hours
  • Sanding fronts: 2 hours
  • Painting fronts: 3 hours

By the time you factor in cleaning the gun (which is a pain), setting up and tearing down every day, measuring/thinning/straining your paint, and moving cabinet doors between the painting/drying/sanding areas, I’d estimate that this took about 45-50 hours

One thought on “How To Paint Semihandmade Cabinet Doors

  1. Such an awesome blog! All the information provided by you is really helpful for all. I agreed that tack cloth is the best cleaning tool than any other, it is really helpful for removing tiny dust particles over any surfaces. A good tack cloth makes your work easier. Thank you for sharing this article. Keep posting!

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