Painting Ikea Kitchen Cabinet Doors & Drawer Fronts

September 12, 2011 — 14 Comments

Painted Cabinet Door w/ matching painted trim (still waiting on final touch up on crown molding)

So are you thinking about purchasing Ikea Kitchen Cabinets and having the doors and trim custom painted? Below are some things to consider if you are headed down this path. The good news is that it can be done beautifully. The bad news is that it take preparation, organization, patience and finding a good refinisher. Here is a link to a good article from Carol Reed on this very subject. Also Sarah Richardson has used this method on several of her episodes before including on Sarah’s House (the farmhouse series).

Installed Painted Cabinets and Trim. I think you would be hard pressed to know that these are Ikea cabinets!


-You can have cost effective cabinets, with a custom color to your liking. Typically the painter can match any paint swatch you provide.

-Because the boxes on Ikea cabinets are never exposed, you don’t have to paint them, and can even start installing them while everything else is at the painters.

-By having the cabinet doors professionally spray painted, you will get a durable finish. The last thing you want to do is hand paint new cabinets and then have the finish wear off in a couple of years.

-Because you are having a custom finish applied, you don’t need to use Ikea crown molding for the cabinets. We chose larger molding for Andi and Neil’s kitchen.  Also if you are mixing Ikea cabinets with some custom millwork, you can have them all painted together for a seamless look.

Cabinet doors, just delivered (good sides facing inwards)


-Plan for the extra time it takes to have these painted (typically 2-4 weeks). The good news is that you can typically start installing the boxes from the cabinets while you wait for the doors, drawer fronts, trim, baseboard and panels.

-Professionally painting is not cheap. Plan on spending $35-60 a door to sand, prime & paint. Plus the cost of paint ($100-200) and possibly a set up charge. Also keep in mind that you also need to have all of the panels and trim painted as well. For a medium size kitchen, plan on spending $1000-2000 on painting. You will probably also want to pay to have a sample panel painted to make sure you are happy with it before you commit to ALL of the pieces. Try picking up an extra panel in the As-Is section at Ikea. Then you can have it painted while you wait for your cabinets to arrive.

-You will need to divide your Ikea order into 2 piles, boxes and doors and trim. Then either you will have to have the pieces to be painted dropped off or picked up. The Ikea delivery people are not going to help you in this. With Andi and Neil’s delivery, we tried to divide the boxes as they were coming in the door (then had to double check after they left). Before you send this off to the painter, triple check that all of the right parts are there! Also make sure to remove any miscellaneous hardware from the boxes before sending it off. We had to hunt down some missing attachment brackets at the last minute that we misplaced.

-You will need to match the paint for inevitable touch up (particularly on trim pieces).

Tidaholm Upper Cabinet

Tidaholm Lower Drawer Cabinet

Adel Door

Ramsjo Door

Lilje Door

Door Style Selection:

This is one of the most important steps in determining whether it makes sense to use Ikea cabinets. We chose the Tidaholm Oak Cabinet (in a clear finish) for our starting point. This cabinet has now been discontinued! This is very unfortunate, because it has a simple shaker look with solid oak frames and jointed corners. Currently Ikea is offering the Adel, but the joint in the frame is a v-groove which doesn’t look as high end. Also the frame proportions feel too wide. They are also offering the Ramsjo which is beach and the Lilje, which is an oak door with a raised panel. Unfortunately the Lilje only comes in a dark stain, which will make paint coverage more difficult. I haven’t seen the Ramsjo in person, so I can’t comment on it, but it looks like it might have some potential (even in its original color).

Andi and Neil's Cabinet Paint Color Options


If you are going to go to the expense of having your doors professionally painted, you should choose a color that is unique, but timeless enough that it won’t look dated in a few years. For me, the go to for paint color inspiration is Sarah Richardson (from Sarah’s House, Sarah 101…). We used her own cottage kitchen as our inspiration for Andi and Neil’s kitchen. We decided to use Benjamin Moore Wedgewood (one of the colors that she used on some of her accent cabinets).

Different types of wood take paint and stain better than others. Our doors are oak and the refinisher warned us that we would not get a totally opaque finish with the oak, and should expect to see some variation. We actually preferred that since we still wanted the cabinets to look like wood. Typically a beech or maple will take the paint more evenly.

We used Delaware Valley Furniture Restoration (in Kennett Square, PA) and they typically charges $30-50 a door to refinish. They required drop-off but delivered the painted doors and trim. They wrapped the doors well (keeping the good side protected).  Also they were good about keeping the paint, so that we could have additional pieces painted, which was very useful since we ended up needing several extra pieces painted, due to several issues during construction.

Final Thoughts:

After going through this process and seeing the result,  I don’t know any other way of getting this look at this price point. If you are up for the hassle of getting the cabinet painted you too can have a custom look for a fraction of the cost of custom or even semi-custom cabinets.


14 responses to Painting Ikea Kitchen Cabinet Doors & Drawer Fronts

  1. I’m looking to have some Applad doors painted and I’m wondering a few things. Did the person you have do the painting have to sand the doors or just apply a primer over the existing finish? Also, do you know what kind of paint was used? Thanks for the help.

    • Sean- I can’t remember what paint he used exactly (I will to ask and get back to you on that) but it was definitely a special paint designed for spraying. I know that it was a newer product that has lower VOC than the old laquer paint that was traditionally used. They did a quick sand to remove some of the finish and help with the adhesion, it probably didn’t remove 100% of the finish but enough to allow the paint to stick.
      Good luck!

  2. Hello,

    Im so happy I found this post because right before I was a out to purchase an entire Ikea kitchen I realized the Adel white cabinets are actually off white and not bright white like I was wanting. At Ikea they said we probably couldn’t paint this style, but could probably paint the Ramsjo. I don’t like the style of Ramsjo as much so I just wanted to make sure that I can paint the Adel cabinets. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Hayley and Welcome! I would generally agree that painting the Ramsjo (which are birch) should work well. I haven’t tried painting the Adel (it is listed as Fiberboard, Foil, Melamine foil) which means that it could be more difficult to paint. The advantage of the wood is you can give it a quick sand and there is stable wood underneath to take a new finish. If you try painting the Adel you would need to be really careful prepping and possibly using a liquid sandpaper in lieu of actual sandpaper. However it could delaminate. If you were going to try the Adel I would recommend picking up a sample door (maybe from the as is section) and try a couple of different painting methods and then test out to see how it wears before buying a whole kitchens worth. Good luck!

  3. Hello there – I ran into this site researching painting my idea cabinets. I would note that the Adel white is laminated white and not painted as you state – However Adel Birch is a wood door. I know that for a fact as I have trimmed mine just a touch on one panel – Now the side panels are laminated birch but not the door panels.

    I am looking to paint mine – going to be some work – Wife is skeptical but I think they will come out great.

    Using a de-glosser – followed by 220 grit sand – Primer then paint.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘1659366840 which is not a hashcash value.

    • Charles,

      Good luck! The Ikea doors are all over the place in terms of what is wood and what is “simulated wood” but not actually wood. I would recommend choosing one that is at least wood frame rather than the white ones which are almost never wood. We just painted our Ikea PAX closet doors. We went with a pine, so that we could get the color we wanted (a bright white). Unfortunately they only make one PAX door that is actually wood. The rest are laminate.

  4. sarah philippon August 29, 2013 at 7:14 am

    We too just bought and installed the IKEA Ramsjo white doors. Wanted the solid door, not the foil finish. Do not care for the pink tint that comes through but plan on painting them at some point over the winter. Deglazing gel I used on a sample door and then 2 coats of sup white by Ben Moore to see the results – came out great. I know this will void the warranty of the doors by painting them but who cares.

  5. Hi,

    This is such a nice blog and It is really helpful for me, But i am looking for the kitchen cabinets
    related post,So please suggest and share if you have.


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