How To Get A Smooth Finish On Cabinets

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When you do something yourself, it often does not end up how you expect it to, and it can be hard to replicate the professionals. This is especially true with cabinets. 


We are often asked how to get a smooth finish on cabinets. 


Well, we are about to unleash some trade secrets. Here are our top tips for getting the ultimate smooth finish. 


The smoothest finish comes when the wood is smooth, and there is no better way to achieve that than sanding it down. This applies to both pre-painting and after painting. 


If the wood is already bare, we always recommend sanding to smooth the wood and achieve a smooth finish when done, but this is especially important if the wood has been finished before. 


The protective coating that is already on the wood is going to prevent the new paint from properly adhering to the wood, and that is going to cause an uneven surface, even if it is only subtle. The previous finish is also going to be apparent under the new finish and that is going to make it uneven too. 


Sanding before painting is also going to remove any particles on the surface that cannot be seen until the paint is on and it is too late. 

After Painting

Sanding between coats is going to give you the smoothest finish possible. Paint will adhere to the surface evenly, but as it dries, some parts can evaporate at different rates and you can be left with almost imperceptible imperfections. 


These imperfections may only be noticeable in certain lights, but they can still be noticeable. For the smoothest finish, sand between every coat and after the final one. 

Sanding Tips

The type of sander you use will make a difference. You can sand by hand if you are careful, but there is a risk of leaving scratches. For the smoothest finish, an orbital sander is recommended. Use a fine grit to gently sand the wood before the next coat. 


Make sure to clean up all of the wood particles before applying more paint. A damp cloth will be more effective than a dry one. If there are wood particles left behind, they are going to be sealed under the paint and become stuck there. 


The type of applicator also makes a difference. Let’s take a look. 


Paint sprayers are expensive, but they give the best finish. The good news, though, is that you can rent one instead of buying one. 


Take your cabinet doors off and spray them outside for an even application of paint. Not only does this method use less paint, but it is also extremely quick too. 

Foam Rollers & Brushes

Sprayers are not always feasible, so you may have to go ahead with rollers and brushes. Rollers can create air bubbles in the paint, and brushes can leave streaks, but there is one way around this. 


If you invest in quality equipment, you are more likely to achieve a smooth finish when you are done. You may have to pay a little more, but that investment is worth the contentment when you are done. 

The Paint

The paint itself can also help you to achieve a smooth finish. 


Some paints contain levelers that help the paint to settle more effectively than others. This self-leveling paint, in conjunction with the tips above, can help to get the best finish possible. 


The quality of the paint also matters. If you invest in cheap paint, you are going to get a cheap finish. Go with the quality paint for a smooth finish. 


The key in all of this is time. 


You can have the best equipment and paint, but you need to put in the time to bring it all together. When you are prepping the cabinets, sanding them, and painting them, make sure to take your time and do it right. 


A steady hand and a few extra minutes spent are going to create the smoothest finish. 

Final Thoughts

Painting cabinets is a moderate-level job, but that does not mean that you cannot achieve it. There is a little skill involved, but the right equipment, preparation, and time go a long way towards nailing this job. 


Invest a few extra dollars and some of your time, and you can achieve a finish like the pros.