Architectural Home Designs & Decorating Ideas

Do You Need to Paint Both Sides of Kitchen Cabinet Doors?

Gabriela Connell
4 minute read

If your kitchen cabinets are looking a bit dated or worn, painting them is an affordable way to give them a fresh, updated look without the cost of a full remodel. While it may seem obvious to focus all your effort on making the exterior fronts of the cabinet doors look good, you shouldn’t overlook the importance of also painting the inside of the doors for a fully professional finish.

Painting just the fronts of cabinet doors will certainly provide a facelift for your kitchen’s appearance. However, leaving the backs of the doors unfinished means missing out on some key benefits of painting both sides. Keep reading to learn why you should paint both sides of cabinet doors, as well as how to prep and execute this project like an expert.

Should You Bother Painting the Inside of Cabinet Doors?

When embarking on a kitchen cabinet painting project, it’s understandable to want to focus your time and effort on the exterior facing side of the doors. After all, this front side will be the part that’s predominantly seen when the cabinets are closed. However, there are some clear advantages to taking the extra time to paint the backside too:

It Provides a Fully Finished Look

do you paint both sides of kitchen cabinet doors

When your freshly painted cabinet doors are open, guests will be able to see the backs of them. Having one side neglected while the other shines with new paint can look disjointed or sloppy. Painting both sides lends a seamlessly polished look.

In addition, if you are significantly changing the color from the previous finish, only painting the fronts will allow the former color to peek through when opened. Doing both sides eliminates this issue for a completely cohesive new cabinet color.

It Better Protects from Moisture

Without paint to seal it, exposed wood on the backside of doors is more vulnerable to moisture damage over time. The inside of cabinets can be prone to condensation issues, so covering both sides in a protective coat of paint helps prevent warping or deterioration.

Reasons You May Opt to Only Paint the Fronts

While addressing the backs of doors is ideal, there are some scenarios where focusing solely on the visible exterior side makes practical sense:

To Save Time and Effort

It takes significantly more time and physical effort to flip each door and paint both sides. If you have a large kitchen with many cabinet doors, doing both sides could add hours of work. Only painting what shows may be the more efficient route.

The Backs Won’t Be Seen as Often

If your cabinet doors spend the majority of time closed, the backs will rarely be visible. For some homeowners, the extra effort of two-sided painting isn’t worthwhile if the insides will seldom be seen.

You Can Achieve Flawless Fronts

Taking the time to properly prep, prime, and paint just the fronts means you can focus your effort solely on making the exterior facing sides look absolutely perfect.

Follow These Prep Steps Before Painting

However many sides you ultimately decide to paint, properly prepping your cabinet doors is crucial for achieving professional looking results. Here are some must-do steps:

Remove Doors and Hardware

It’s much easier to paint doors when they have been detached from the cabinets and laid flat. Be sure to remove hinges and hardware like knobs to fully paint behind them.

Clean All Surfaces

Give doors a thorough wipe down with a degreasing cleanser to remove any grimy residues or oils that could impede paint adhesion. Rinse thoroughly after cleaning.

Lightly Sand for “Tooth”

Giving all sides a light sanding helps rough up the surface so paint can grip better. Wipe away any dust with a tack cloth when done.

Fill Any Holes

Inspect for any screw holes leftover from previous hardware installations and fill with wood filler so they won’t show through the new paint.

Apply Primer

A primer designed for painting cabinets helps the new paint better adhere to slick surfaces like laminate or wood. Oil-based primers offer superb adhesion.

Tips for Painting Technique

Once prepped, use these tips to brush or roll on cabinet paint like an expert:

Brush for Frames, Roller for Panels

Use an angled trim brush to neatly paint door frames and a mini foam roller for large center panels. Roll in small sections and maintain a wet edge between loads.

Start with Insides First

If painting both sides, start with the cabinet interiors first. Let the back fully dry before flipping to paint fronts.

Apply Multiple Coats

Two to three coats ensures thoroughly even coverage and true color representation. Lightly sand again between coats.

Let Each Coat Dry

Give ample drying time between coats – let each coat dry overnight before adding the next.

Complete Your Fresh Look

Once your cabinet paint has fully cured, you can admire your work and put the finishing touches on your upgraded kitchen:

Reinstall Hardware

Carefully reattach the hinges, handles and other hardware you removed prior to painting.

Touch Up Any Sloppy Spots

Use a small paintbrush to tidy any drips or uneven edges where paint may have seeped.

After all that effort, be sure to stand back and enjoy your kitchen’s fresh and updated look! Painting the cabinet doors has given the space a whole new lease on life.