Custom Doors for IKEA Cabinets


June 11, 2014 by Sarah

Painting and staining cabinet doors is a very time consuming process, but by ordering custom doors for IKEA cabinets and doing it ourselves we were able to save a whole lot of money and get exactly what we wanted.

scherrs cabinet doors

We purchased the cabinet boxes from IKEA and assembled/installed them ourselves. While we liked the simplicity of the boxes, I really wasn’t in love with any of the doors choices they have there.  I wanted a simple shaker style door that didn’t look plasticy.  The ADEL door style was an option, but I just didn’t like the feel of the door or the weird ridges between the stiles even though it comes in the 2 colors I wanted:

When purchasing from IKEA, the doors are actually one of the biggest expenses and we were able to get custom wood doors and paint/stain them ourselves for just about the same price as the ADEL doors.

$112 for a particle board door. Not going to happen.

$112 for a particle board door…Sorry friends, not going to happen.

We ordered out doors and drawer fronts from Scherr’s in Minot, North Dakota.  It was insanely easy. Like, seriously.  I just emailed them the list of cabinets that we bought (the cabinet number from the IKEA cabinet brochure), and they did the rest.  No measuring was needed.  They even boared the holes for the hinges that we purchased at IKEA. (IKEA has really great door hardware, FYI)

We had several options of door style, wood species, grade of wood, edge profile, etc.

We decided on a shaker door with a cross rail in the middle (Style 409)

scherr shaker door style

The uppers are paint-grade poplar rails with MDF panels. I specifically asked for MDF panels after doing a ton of research.  MDF takes paint very well and is very stable (don’t expand and contract as much as wood does). We stuck with solid wood rails for strength, although we did consider MDF rails as well.

The lowers are quarter-sawn white oak. We had the option to upgrade to premium, but it would have cost about $1k more, so we chose not to do it.  They are the same shaker style with the cross rail in the middle.  The drawer fronts are matching.

quarter sawn white oak

Quarter-sawn White Oak

square-sawn white oak cabinet doors

The edge profile is the same on all pieces and is very simple. (Style M) at was no additional cost.

scherr door edge profile

The small cabinets at ceiling height will have glass fronts.  Scherr’s does not supply the glass so I still need to figure out where to get glass.

custom cabinet doors glass insets

They do however supply a vinyl retainer to hold the glass in place.

vinyl glass retainer

The cabinets came few weeks after I gave my final approval. I was very impressed with the packaging. Not a single thing was damaged.

scherrs custom white oak doors

Scherr’s does do custom painting with any Sherwin William color or clear finish of your choice.  We decided not to go this route as it would have cost us an additional $2k to have it done when we could DIY it for about $200.

For the uppers I used one coat of Zinsser Smart Prime and two coats of Benjamin Moore’s Advance line in Paper Mache both purchased from Hirshfield’s.

BM Paper Mache

BM Paper Mache

benjamin moore advance

Benjamin Moore Advance in Paper Mache from Hirshfield’s

Zinsser Smart Prime

Zinsser Smart Prime from Hirshfield’s

Both were great.  Both were expensive.  I would recommend both.

primed cabinets

Cabinets and trim after a coat of primer


Cabinets and doors after primer and 2 coats of paint

The lowers will be a bit more complicated to say the least.  I choose a “Stickley” Mission Oak finish recipe that I found online. It will much more involved than slapping some stain and poly on the doors and calling it good.

The recipe calls for a dye, sealer, gel stain, then finally a satin urethane to really make the grain pop. All were purchased from Rockler.


Step 1: TransTint Dye in Brown Mahogany diluted  1oz dye : 2qt water


general finishes seal-a-cell

Step 2: General Finishes Seal-A-Cell in Clear

General Finishes Gel Stain in Antique Walnut

Step 3: General Finishes Gel Stain in Antique Walnut

general finishes arm-r-seal

Step 4: General Finishes Arm-R-Seal in Satin

You can find the Stickley style recipes by Jeff Jewitt here.

jewitt stickley finish

Jeff Jewitt Stickley Finish options via here

I could not be happier with the quality of these doors and how they look so far. The upper could not have come out any better.

custom cabinet doors for ikea cabinets

kitchen remodeling

I am a little nervous to start in on staining the lower doors, but after doing a lot of research on finishes I think they will look great. I have taken an entire week off from the day job so I should have time to get this done then–no excuses.  I will definitely be documenting the entire process for you all.

Has anyone else out there tried the Jeff Jewitt finishes? Anyone order custom doors for IKEA cabinets from Scherr’s?  I would love to hear about your experiences. We liked it so much we ordered another couple doors for a cabinets that we plan to put in the back entryway…

back kitchen entryway


Wish us luck.

*Yoo-hoo…..Today is the 2-year Anniversary of my blogging with St. Paul Haus. I can hardly believe it has been that long. Here’s to another great 2 years and many more completed projects! Cheers!



39 thoughts on “Custom Doors for IKEA Cabinets

  1. dmbloomq says:

    Looks great! Sounds like you’ll have your hands full with the staining and alI. I just got my design back from the place I’m looking to get cabinets through so the kitchen might be happening soon over here too!

  2. Meryl rose says:

    Those look awesome! We might be doing Ikea boxes at a property of my brother’s, not sure about the fronts though. I’m trying to convince him to go completely custom with a local cabinet place 🙂 Surprisingly I don’t think it’s actually going to cost much more

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks Meryl. I think we probably could have got the doors made for cheaper by local cabinet people but this way was just so easy. No measuring and possible mismeausing. Good luck at your brothers property.

      • meryl rose says:

        Yeah, I’m a little nervous about the mismeasuring. I could reallllyyy f**k things up. And that would suck hard. That’s so awesome that you just sent off the boxes you got and they took care of the rest, TOTAL stress relief.

  3. Bryce Raduenz says:

    Hey Sarah, love your projects! I know you’re up in the cities and probably plenty of places to get glass cut but if you have troubles there is a guy in Jordan named Rodney Riesgraf that does glass work. You may have heard of him or know him but he’s a really nice guy and does good work and was pretty reasonable the last time I had him cut me some glass. If you’re interested I can get you his number. Good luck and great work!

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks Bryce! I am sure I could get a really good price from Rodney–I should look into that. I wonder if he has any old glass laying around. I didn’t say so in the post, but I want pre-1920 glass for these cabinets so it matches the rest of the house.

  4. Meg says:

    Oak stains beautifully, you’ll have no trouble! As for the glass, if you are up for a little work and want old wavy glass call some of the local window replacement window places – it’s usually easy to find one that will let you pick up sashes as they remove them (since they have to pay to dispose of them), just tell them you’re looking for a pre-1910 or so house.

    • Sarah says:

      That is a great idea Meg! I shall do just that. Of course I want old glass–which is why I didnt to just go down to the local hardware store to get the glass done. 🙂

      • Meg says:

        If you go that route don’t bother messing with the glazing to get the glass out, just carefully knock apart the window rails (and salvage the hardware if it’s pretty), it’s soooo much faster, and the more rotted with window, the better!

  5. Dawn McQuillan says:

    Sarah and Adrian, the more I read of this the more impressed I am. I showed Dad your blog, he was impressed as well. You might want to ask him about the stain as I know he’s had tons of practice. He might be able to help you with your glass sourcing as well, at least possibly ideas for cutting it. But heck, I think with a little practice you could pull that off as well!

  6. Maria L says:

    I am thinking of ordering alder doors w/ a clear finish from Scherr and birch boxes from Ikea, and I am concerned that they won’t match. Can you see the birch box when the cabinet is closed? When they are open, do the 2 different types of wood look funny? Also how difficult was it to order the Ikea boxes w/ the drawers, shelves, hinges, etc.? In addition to telling Scherr the Ikea cabinets that you were choosing, did you have to tell them anything else like size and amount of filler? Thanks

    • Sarah says:

      The alder and birch wont match completely of coarse, but I dont think it will be noticable at all when the doors sre closed. In some areas i can see a small amount of the box behind the doors, but it doesnt bother me. Some people have painted the front of the box black so it isnt as noticable. The doors and drawers adjust up and down and side to side so it is easy to cover most of the box front. I dont think it looks funny when opened-but maybe i am used to it? It wasnt difficult to order from ikea at all. They are used to people not ordering the doors there so know what to do. It was just a click of a button to remove the doors from the order but keep all the hinges/drawers/etc. The only thing i told Scherrs was the cabinet number because they already know the sizes. The filler strips i did ask for specific sizes. I got pieces larger than I needed so i could cut them to fit perfectly myself. I hope this helps.

      • Maria L says:

        Yes, that was extremely helpful! What size filler did you use? Or how did you calculate what size to order? I was thinking of doing the same thing – ordering larger than I needed but I am not sure how much to allow for clearing the handles and wiggle room. I am guessing it was easy to cut down the filler and make it look good?

        • Sarah says:

          I ordered some 1×4 for filler strips. I will scribe and cut those with a circular saw so they fit perfectly. For baseboard I will be using 1×5 since our floor is really out of level. 1×4 would probably be fine for most applications. I allowed about 3in on each side for cabinet swing. I believe 3 is recommended by IKEA but you can get away with much less if needed. I think 3 is a little wide. If I did it again I would probably only do 2in..purely for esthetic reasons. The 3in does allow to the door to open much wider.

  7. Hasan Murtaza says:

    I’m sorry, but it’s not clear from the blog post…did you paint over quartersawn white oak?

    • Sarah says:

      Absolutely not! That would be a travesty! I see your concern. The oak was stained in a Stickley type finish (lower cabinets) and the uppers were paint-grade poplar/MDF. Sorry I wasn’t more clear.

  8. John Webb says:

    Great blog. They look great. I wanted to put my two cents in about a good option for prefinished Custom Ikea Doors. Dendra Doors has natural wood, laminates and painted doors ready to be installed with the hole drilled. My company has used them several times with great results. We install 10-20 ikea kitchens a year. Well done on yours. Looks Great. John

  9. Marie says:

    Hi, Your kitchen looks beautiful!! I’m in the process of ordering doors from Scherrs and I’m super nervous!!! Did you guys order a door sample before you put your order in? Did you wait until you put your Ikea boxes together and installed them before you ordered your side panels for the upper white cabinets? I noticed you said you didn’t have to measure anything but Scherrs told me I’d have to send him exact dimensions…which I wasn’t such a nervous Nelly!! I’m worried about making a mistake! Hope you don’t mind the questions…

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you Marie! I did not order a sample door because I just knew exactly what I wanted. If I was trying to decide between a few styles or wood species I probably would have ordered samples. For the upper cabinets I did not order side panels. We just ordered ones for one of the base cabinets. I made my own panels for the uppers out of lattice strips. In your case, I would install the cabinets then measure and order the side panels later in an additional order. I did get an estimate for the upper panels, and they did ask that I meausure for those. For the base side panels I did not have to measure; they had the measurement for that already on hand. I was really nervous about it too, but it all worked out perfectly. Just make sure to double and triple check the order before it goes into production. Like I said we had no issues and everything looks great. Good luck on your project!

  10. Alison says:

    Can you show pictures of finished kitchen? Thanks!

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Alison. I would love to show you photos of the finished kitchen, but unfortunately we are still working on it. We are hoping to have the project completely by fall. I do have some updated photos on my most recent post. Feel free to check those out. Thanks. -Sarah

  11. Annetta says:

    Hi! Thank you for this post. We learned from you about using Ikea frames and ordering doors from Scherr’s. We just received our Scherr doors and we love them! We may have to paint them ourselves because we were quoted $1700 from a local company just to paint them….no way! I’m wondering how has the paint held up? Any chipping? How long did it take to dry? Did you sand between coats? Did you use a sprayer, brush, or roller? (Sorry for so many questions )


    • Sarah says:

      They are holding up beautifully. No chipping. I did sand between coats and used a brush. One coat of primer and 2 coats of paint. I used a self-leveling paint and it worked great. There are very few brush marks. I waited 24 hrs between each coat.

  12. Connie says:

    Did you choose the 1/4″ panel or thicker solid panel for your oak doors? How thick was the MDF inset panel?

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Connie, The panels the oak doors at 1/4″ thick. I believe the MDF was the same. They do offer 1/2″ plywood panel upgrade if you wanted a thicker panel. I didn’t price that options out so I am not sure what the cost difference would be. I have been really happy with the quality of the doors and haven’t had a single issue with the 1/4″ panel. Hope that helps.

      • Connie says:

        Thank you for your response! I’m just ready to place my order, and am second guessing myself like crazy (did I make any mistakes in the measurements, paint/no paint, panel choice…). I’m too late to have them paint the doors b4 Christmas. Scherr’s has been awesome to deal with – considering my procrastination and lack of commitment to choices – thank goodness.

        Have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!

        {since I have your eyes, so to speak, let me share this with you…I send a little girl in Uganda to school, which guarantees her one meal a day. My girlfriend runs the program and knows all the kids. My ‘Patricia’ wrote me about how she looks forward to Christmas because they usually can have a nice meal after church. She asked if we had chickens in our country…she last tasted chicken 2 years ago. (Their meals generally consist only of what they can grow – if the weather cooperates). She hopes to be able to raise one and eat it some day. Can you imagine! How very lucky we are. Just felt I needed to share – hope you don’t mind. Again, have a Happy Thanksgiving.}

  13. TJ says:

    Hi Sarah,

    This post has been so useful; I keep referring back to it. Did you compare Sherr’s to Semi-handmade? Also, did you have the Renlig dishwasher or did you get a different panel ready dishwasher?

    Thank you so much,

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks TJ! We didn’t compare pricing to semihandmade, but I did look at their site at one point. Scherrs had more options in traditional styles that I was looking for and their customer service was great. We did get the Renlig dishwasher. There other panel-ready dishwashers were a little out of our price range. We have been happy with it so far though.

  14. Alan says:

    The cabinet doors look amazing! I have a few questions for you…..
    For the uppers did you brush on the BM Advance? How was it to work with? Did it lay flat or can you see brush strokes? More details would be great!

    The lower QSWO doors look great. I can appreciate how much work that is to get a finish like that!
    Do those lower doors have the 1/4″ plywood panel or a solid wood one? Might be ordering some of this style soon.
    Seeing as this is a few years old, are you still satisfied with the quality of the doors from Scherr’s? Thanks!

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks so much! We still love them 2 years later.

      I did brush on the BM Advance with a good quality brush. The paint is self-leveling so most of the brush marks disappeared. If you look closely you can see some here and there but overall they are quite smooth. I actually prefer that look over perfectly smooth-it feels more real/handmade to me. I wanted that look rather than a factory finish. I did lay them flat to paint. Since the paint is self-leveling it does take longer to dry, 4hrs to the touch and a full 24-48 to recoat, so keep that in mind. I found the extended working time helpful.

      The QSWO doors have a plywood 1/4in plywood panel standard, but you can upgrade to 1/2in plywood. I dont believe they do soild panels in QSWO, but you would want to ask. I think it helps that I picked a style with the cross rail in the middle. They feel very sturdy. Very good quality doors. I would order from Scherr’s again in a heartbeat.

      I hope that helps.

      • Alan says:

        Thanks for the reply. I would think that the cross piece would really help the 1/4″ panel be more solid just like you said. Good to know that they are still holding up well.

        Lastly, what was the sheen on the uppers with the BM Advance?

        Thanks for all of the info!

  15. I keep referring back to this page! Thanks for all of the painting info in the comments. We’re doing the same thing, just all white.

    Also tempted about doing the painting with a sprayer:

Comment or I'll hate you forever.

Sarah&Adrian @ StPaulHaus

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