Asked on Feb 28, 2017

HELP! Painting kitchen cabinets - they look streaky afterwards!

by Jane

My husband is painting kitchen cabinets in our home. He sanded them, wiped them down, put on a primer, and then paint with primer. But it looks streaky! What are we doing wrong?

Thanks. Jane

  27 answers
  • Nancy Nancy on Feb 28, 2017

    Did you use a primer, ligthly sand and then paint, lightly sand and then second coat? My first thought is that you used a paint with Primer as your second coat that may be incompatible with original primer. Check with your paint store. Sometimes, primers need to dry very well or cure before the first paint coat is applied. This often depends on the weather and humidity.. Were both cans of paint - latex? Also a very expensive brush eliminates this problem altogether.

    • Jane Jane on Mar 01, 2017

      Thanks for your advice! The primer is water based and the paint is latex. Is that a problem? Will be buying a very expensive brush, too.

  • William William on Feb 28, 2017

    Seems he did most of the process correctly. Lightly sand to remove any gloss. Prime with a stain blocking primer ( I like to use Zinsser 123), then paint with your color. Seal with at least three coats of a water based polyurethane (doesn't yellow). I also use a small foam roller and a foam brush for a smooth finish. No paint brush streaks.

  • Hillela G. Hillela G. on Mar 01, 2017

    I agree, you might need another layer of sealer. Good luck- you're doing great!!

  • Margie Hood Margie Hood on Mar 01, 2017

    if you are using a real glossy paint that would be the problem too..try going over it with semi-gloss..very easy fix

    • Jane Jane on Mar 01, 2017

      We are using a satin finish paint. Should be OK, right?

  • Tam 15076171 Tam 15076171 on Mar 01, 2017
    What grit sandpaper is he using? You want to use a real fine grit and keep your brush real wet with paint if you let it get to thin with paint it will look like it has streaks( kind of like if you were using a roller and you didn't keep enough paint on the roller) I also like to use an angled brush it seems to me that the different sized bristles go over each other and it looks smoother to me. Also I had a man at a paint store to tell me ( I don't know if this is true or not) that paint with primer has to stay stirred or it will look streaked ( again I don't know if that is true or not)
    • Jane Jane on Mar 01, 2017

      Thank you for your comments. He is using a fine grit sandpaper. He also just bought a (mostly) dust-free electric sander that seems to be working out pretty well. I will pass along the rest of your advice. Thanks!!!

  • Alix Alix on Mar 04, 2017

    From my personal experience in turning honey oak hollow-core doors into a nice cottage white, the only way to truly get rid of all streaking is to use a paint sprayer. It DOES take practice, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be thrilled with the results.

  • Jane Jane on Mar 04, 2017

    Thank you! I just posed another question about painting the cabinets b/c we are still having problems getting a true white. I will tell my husband about your suggestion. Thanks again!

  • Wendyrama Wendyrama on Mar 04, 2017


    In the midst of painting my cabinets also.

    Paint conditioner! Floetrol. Gives you more time to work the paint and enhances the leveling properties. Trust the paint will level and step away. Down, up, down, and stop.

    Pant brush. Purdy. Don't be frugal here.

    And lastly, big fan of Benjamin Moore Advance for cabinets and trim.

    best of luck. people who say painting is easy are welcome to paint my place. ugh.

  • Jane Jane on Mar 04, 2017

    Thank you for the advice! We've already spent a ton on this project but I will definitely tell my hubby to buy a Purdy paint brush. He's got all of the trim work done - just needs to paint the cabinet doors. Will have him run to Home Depot or Menard's to find the brush.

    Thanks again.

    • Laura Laura on Mar 04, 2017

      I have a similar post about my bathroom vanity..... I did the same clean...good quality primer, good quality paint....Purdy paint brush....and I have streaks everywhere...they look terrible! I am at " my wits end " I have listened to the advice given on here...figured I was going over the work too many times....or too much paint...not enough paint.... I still can't get them to look good. I am ready to pack it in. My kitchen WAS going to be next...but it don't think I can handle another "FAIL". (plus that's 27 doors and 20 drawers.....bathroom was 4 doors and 5 drawers). Guess I was not made to paint....sorry I am NO help.....just sharing my story. Good luck !

  • Swinnen Lisette Swinnen Lisette on Mar 05, 2017

    I had the same problem with my kitchen doors. I ended up sanding the doors down until the streaks were gone. I bought a little foam roller, only 6 cm wide. I rolled the paint more streaks !

  • Jane Jane on Mar 05, 2017

    My husband just recently used a foam roller too. It does make a difference! Thanks for the advice!

  • Cheryl Cheryl on Mar 06, 2017

    I agree about the small foam roller. They can make a big difference.

  • Gail Gail on Mar 06, 2017

    Foam rollers or foam brushes are the way to go. I've done some furniture painting projects and always used a traditional paint brush (A good quality one). I always had streaks and brush marks. My friend is a perfectionist and HATES streaks/brush marks, and he uses foam brushes and rollers. I started using them, and won't go back to a brush. It made the difference!!

  • Jane Jane on Mar 07, 2017

    Thank you. My husband is using them now.

  • Jeannie Walker Jeannie Walker on Mar 10, 2017

    Does it look better ? Want to do my cabinets but have not due to fear of this very thing !!

  • Jane Jane on Mar 11, 2017

    Yes, it does look better. However, we had to sand, wipe down, apply a primer and then 2-3 coats of paint. The last coat was done with a foam roller.

    It takes time but they look great!!

  • Loretta Loretta on Mar 13, 2017

    Even just regular rollers should eliminate streaks, but yes those foam rollers do rock!

  • Dpbeee2 Dpbeee2 on Mar 14, 2017

    Clean really well and sand before priming. Light sanding betwen every coat, let dry completely between coats this could take days but worth it. At least two coats to three after primer.

  • Jane Jane on Mar 14, 2017

    That's basically what we are doing now, and it's working! Thanks for the advice!

  • BJ Lyn BJ Lyn on Mar 16, 2017

    You can also use Floetrol in your paint. It slows down the dry time, but it helps allow time for the paint to settle and flatten. I use it any time I'm using glossy paint.

  • Jane Jane on Mar 16, 2017

    Thanks for the tip!

  • Cop27657248 Cop27657248 on Jan 01, 2018

    I suggest using a foam roller, rather than a brush. They are available everywhere (Home Depot, Walmart) and make a nice smooth finish. No brush marks/streaks. If I am doing a project and need to stop for the day, I just put the whole roller in a plastic zip close bag, with the

    handle sticking out. I can reuse the same roller for more than a few days. They cost less than a buck each and the ones I use are about 6” wide. I use them for all my painting, they are great for walls, too!

  • Gracie Gracie on Jan 01, 2018

    Foam rollers work best. Paint them and then go over lightly in one direction the length of the cabinet.

  • Margie Hood Margie Hood on Feb 23, 2018

    i would go with a semi doesnt show every roll or stroke

  • Joy30150932 Joy30150932 on Feb 23, 2018

    If you are removing too much paint from either your brush or foam applicator this will leave streaks, but you also have to be careful about the runs. A good primer is the key and then a compatible final coat which can be either latex or a matte or semi-gloss. Semi-gloss will wear longer.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Dec 28, 2022

    Try using a small roller instead of a brush and using an Eggshell finish paint for a more professional look.

  • Mogie Mogie on Jan 01, 2023

    I would use a paint with a more matte finish and perhaps try a roller instead of a brush for less noticible marks.