How To Paint A Door Without Brush Marks? (7-Step Guide)

Last Updated On August 25, 2023

Are you trying to repaint your cabinet doors like a professional?

You've come to the right place!

In this guide, you'll learn:

  • What you need to know about painting a cabinet door with no brush marks
  • Supplies you'll need to paint your cabinet doors properly
  • The exact steps you need to take to paint without brush marks

And much more!

How To Paint A Door Without Brush Marks? (7-Step Guide)

So, before you dive into repainting your cabinet doors, keep reading to learn how to do so without leaving unsightly brush marks everywhere!

What Do You Need To Know About Painting Cabinets Without Brush Marks?

Before you dive into painting cabinets, it's important to note that cabinets are a bit more of a difficult paint job for the average DIY painter.

Kitchen cabinets, and specifically cabinet doors, are a prominent feature of your kitchen, and if poorly painted, they're going to be an eyesore. They're not just a fun home improvement project to take on for a weekend if you're not familiar with more involved painting projects like this.

That's why it's so important to adequately prepare yourself to undertake this project.

Does that mean you can't start painting kitchen cabinets by yourself? No!

It just means you'll need to take your time and ensure that you use proper preparation and technique to lay down the paint so that it'll look like a professional did it for you.

When using a brush, this is even more important. Because brushes are the least forgiving medium when it comes to painting.

This is because it's much easier to leave behind a messy trail of evidence (a.k.a brush marks) that make it obvious how and where the cabinet doors were painted.

Essential Techniques

That said, there are a few key techniques you can implement when painting cabinet doors with a paintbrush to ensure the cleanest results.

First things first, make sure you're loading up your paintbrush the right way. You need to get familiar with the brush you're using and figure out how much paint is ideal for each stroke.

Do this by dipping the brush into the paint can or paint tray and tap or wipe the edges on the paint can to get rid of the excess paint.

That excess paint is perfect brush mark fodder! Get rid of it if you want to avoid unsightly drips, drabs, and brush marks.

Next, make sure you're not completely submerging your entire paintbrush into the paint. Ideally, you only want to immerse about half of the paint bristle into the paint, leaving plenty of room between the top of the paint and the bottom of the ferrule (the metal bracket of the paintbrush). 

Other Things To Note

There are many different styles of paintbrushes out there, but choosing the right one for your project is going to depend on how you like to paint, as well as the type of paint you're working with.

I personally would go for a sash angled brush because it's going to give you the best control over where you're laying the paint.

However, if you already have a paintbrush on hand that you're used to, go ahead and use that (as long as it's not a big thick, straight brush because that's probably not ideal for this project).

You can learn more about paint brushes and choosing the right one for the job at the article below. 

Did you know: The first known origin of paintbrushes was in 300 B.C. in the Qin dynasty of China. However, the first mention of a paintbrush in history didn't happen until Tuscan painter Cennino Cennini documented it.

Read More >> What Are The Best Paint Brushes Out There?

What Supplies Will You Need For Painting Your Cabinet Doors Without Brush Marks?

Now that we've covered some basic techniques, let's dive into some of the essential supplies you're going to need to do this project right.

  • Sanding sponge or sandpaper
  • Paintbrush
  • Drop cloths
  • Cabinet paint
  • Mask or respirator
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Paint tray or paint cup
  • A clothing rack or hanging rod and some hangers

Sanding Sponge or Sandpaper

A sanding sponge is an obvious choice for this job because it's much easier to create a smoother, even sand with the right amount of pressure.

In a pinch, something like a 220 grit paper will do. However, I caution you to be very careful just using sandpaper because it's easier to apply too much pressure and create uneven sanding spots.

You could also go in with a sander, but again that might be a little heavy-handed for this type of project.

Ultimately, you just want to take a smooth surface and rough it up a little bit so it's ready to accept your cabinet paint.

Just make sure you use a mask or respirator to avoid inhaling any sanding dust.

A Quality Paintbrush

Choosing the best paintbrush for the job is going to be essential for this job. As with most DIY projects, you can completely make or break your finished product by choosing and using the best tools for the job.

I'd recommend going with a big name brand for this particular project to ensure that you're getting the best paintbrush for the job, so go with something like a Wooster Brush or a Purdy to make sure you're not going to have bristles shedding all over your paint job.

However, do consider using a paint roller as well for the larger surface areas.

This can not only save time and energy, but it's a lot easier to avoid leaving roller marks than it is to avoid brush marks on a larger surface like a cabinet door.

Cabinet Paint

Choosing the right paint is equally (if not more) important to the outcome than the paintbrush is.

I'd highly recommend choosing something like Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore as a quality paint and something like Zinsser for a primer to ensure you're getting the best quality finish possible.

Drop Cloths

Trust me on this: you NEED drop cloths.

When you paint cabinets, it's really easy to get paint everywhere, and drop cloths are going to not only protect your cabinet doors from any dust or fibers in the room but also protect your floors and walls from paint.

Read More >> How Do You Properly Clean A Paint Brush?

How To Paint A Door Without Brush Marks (7-Step Guide)

  1. Prepare the area & sand the doors
  2. Remove all hardware
  3. Apply your primer and sand it down
  4. Apply the first coat of paint
  5. [Optional] Hang doors to dry
  6. Lightly sand the paint between coats
  7. Apply the second coat or topcoat and let dry

Step 1 - Prepare The Area & Sand The Doors

Before you get started, it's important that you properly prepare the area to avoid giving your floors and walls an unexpected makeover.

This means laying down your drop cloths and ideally taping them down so they don't shift on the surface you're working on.

If you have a kitchen island or a workbench, that would be the best place to put them. But if you must lay them on the floor, that'll do as well.

Then, before we dive into priming and painting, it's time to do a light sanding job on the doors.

That's because we need to create a smooth surface that is also clean and ready for paint to adhere to.

So, take your sanding sponge (or another sanding method) and just do a light sand job on all the doors you'll be painting.

Then, clean the surface of any dust or fibers that may be lingering. I like to use an air compressor to blow off all the dust before moving on to the next step.

Note: Natural cabinet doors may need to be caulked and sanded before you paint them for the best results. Otherwise, the small holes and corner parts won't fully take the paint.

Use a wood filler to fill in any small holes, and after the spackle has dried, lightly sand them with a sanding sponge. 

Step 2 - Remove Any Hardware

Now before you go any further, it's important to remove any hardware like handles and hinges.

Usually, all you need to do that is grab a screwdriver and unscrew any hardware there.

Make sure you keep all the hardware for the doors in a baggie or container so you don't lose any screws or pieces if you plan to reuse the same hardware again.

Alternatively, you could take the hardware, but I find that makes it much harder to avoid creating brush marks around the edges of that hardware and it's harder to create perfect coverage around those hardware pieces.

Step 3 - Apply A Quality Primer & Sand It Down

No matter if you're painting doors that have been painted before or you're working on bare doors, I think it's absolutely essential to use a high-quality primer.

If you want to create the cleanest finish and you've already invested in a quality paint, please don't skip this step.

I love the Zinsser Bulls-Eye primer because it's easy to lay down and it creates amazing paint adherence.

But as long as you choose a good quality primer and apply it correctly (and sand it down afterward) you'll likely get a much smoother finish on your kitchen cabinets.

Then, once you've gotten the primer down, make sure you let it dry and then go in and lightly sand the surface.

Some primers will tell you there's no sanding required, but I like to give it a light sand job just to ensure maximum adherence.

Step 4 - Apply The First Coat Of Paint

Now on to the fun part: laying down paint!

For cabinets, I'd recommend using a high-quality semi-gloss like this one from Benjamin Moore to ensure the best quality finish on your cabinets.

Now, before you start laying down paint, I'd recommend cutting in the edges first with a paintbrush and then going over the larger parts of the cabinet door with a paint roller.

Ideally, cutting those edges in first is going to make it easier to get as close to those edges as possible with the roller, which should eliminate any brush marks left behind by cutting in.

As I said above, it's much easier to avoid roller marks, but the best way to do that is to use enough paint on the roller cover and to create an overlap each time you start a new line of paint.

Once you've laid down the first layer of paint, just make sure you check your work to ensure there aren't any paint drips or glaring brush marks left behind.

Step 5 - [Optional] Hang Doors To Dry

This step is optional, but I promise it's going to make it so much easier to avoid leaving marks on your cabinet doors.

If you have a clothing rack or a rod somewhere where you can hang your doors to let them dry, that's absolutely ideal. You can check out the video below to see what I mean and see if that's a possibility for you.

However, no matter how you let your doors dry, ensure that there's very little airflow (do not stay in this room as the paint fumes are toxic) to make sure your doors don't gather any dust or filaments while the paint is drying.

This is a much safer method that just letting them dry on a workbench or on your countertops, but those methods will work if you have no other options. Just make sure to keep any other people (or pets) out of the area if possible.

Step 6 - Lightly Sand The Paint

Always, always, always go in for 2 coats of paint! Especially when painting something as prominent as your kitchen cabinets.


Because even if you got excellent coverage out of the first coat, giving it that topcoat is going to give it a much smoother, shinier finish.

But, before you dive into that second coat, it's important to go back in and sand down that first coat of paint a little bit.

This is a great opportunity to soften any errant brush marks that you didn't catch and create a smooth surface so that your next coat of paint goes on completely smooth.

Step 7 - Apply Your Second Coat or Top Coat and Let Dry

Now it's time for the finishing touch! 

Apply your second coat (and/or topcoat) of paint, being extra mindful of any brush or roller marks that you might be leaving behind.

This step is probably the easiest step, but it's also the most important for creating a pristine, professional finish without any apparent brush marks. So take your time with this.

Then, either hang or lay your doors out to fully dry, put the hardware back on, hang them up, and revel in your own handiwork!

Other Valuable Resources on How To Paint A Cabinet Door Without Brush Marks 

Honestly, what's really the best way to paint a door without brush marks? Spray paint it! 

Using a paint sprayer is one of the best ways to create a truly professional finish on your cabinet doors.

Read More >> What Are The Top HVLP Sprayers For Painting Cabinet Doors?

Handheld HVLP Sprayers Are Amazing For Painting Doors

HVLP sprayers and airless paint sprayers come in handy when painting things like doors, the bathroom cabinets, and much more. Plus, they are ridiculously easy to use and clean, and you can buy them for a price that won't set you back on sites like Amazon. 

Because the cost of an HVLP sprayer is so low in the modern-day, it's sometimes even cheaper to just buy a sprayer than all the paint rollers, roller handles, and paintbrushes that are required. 

Plus, you won't have to worry about brush marks when using a paint sprayer! But you will have to worry more about overspray and masking the job correctly. 

Note: Paint conditioners like floetrol mixed in with your paint makes the paint go on smoother. It's not 100% necessary to use floetrol but give it a try if your paint is too thick.

As always, good luck and happy painting!

Meet Your Pro Paint Corner Author

Madison Rude

Madison Rude

I’m kind of a painting nerd. My mom taught me how to paint when I was nine, and since then I’ve painted rooms, name it. I’ve written technical advice for Wagner sprayers, and I’ve spent a lot of time DIYing my own home. I’m no expert, but I love to learn. And here at ProPaintCorner, I learn more about painting every time I work with one of our painting pros to bring you the best product reviews and How To advice available. Together, let’s make your next painting project the best it can be!

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Madison Rude

Madison Rude

I’m kind of a painting nerd. My mom taught me how to paint when I was nine, and since then I’ve painted rooms, name it. I’ve written technical advice for Wagner sprayers, and I’ve spent a lot of time DIYing my own home. I’m no expert, but I love to learn. And here at ProPaintCorner, I learn more about painting every time I work with one of our painting pros to bring you the best product reviews and How To advice available. Together, let’s make your next painting project the best it can be!

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