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The Best Types of Paint for Kitchen Cabinets

Painting your cabinets doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when you pick the best paint for the job!

The best brands and types of paint for kitchen cabinets

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One of my most popular posts lately has been How to Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets Without Sanding, so it got me to thinking of all my blogger friends who have painted their wooden kitchen cabinets over the years.

Deciding what type of paint to choose when embarking on painting your cabinets can seem quite daunting but there’s several options that will yield really great results. Of course, which paint you choose depends on the type of cabinets you have, their current condition and how durable a finish you want.

Let’s see what some of my blogger friends have used to paint their cabinets, shall we?

Which paint is best for your cabinets will depend on a few factors, so let’s delve into each of these paint types.

Alkyd Paint That Mimics Oil-Based

In terms of purchasing traditional paint for your cabinets, there’s two products that you will need to purchase: a primer and then actual paint.

From my experience, professional painters will strongly recommend either going the oil based route (cons: smelly & messy, long cure time) or using an alkyd paint like Benjamin Moore’s Advance Waterborne Alkyd Paint, available in both a primer and paint that act like oil-based without the stink or clean-up.

Below you can see how Laura from Inspiration For Moms painted her kitchen cabinets with Benjamin Moore’s Advance line and used a sprayer to get amazing coverage.

If you’re comfortable using one, a sprayer really gives a smooth, flawless finish. This is also something you can get done professionally and relatively inexpensively compared to the cost of brand new cabinets.

The Best Paint for Cabinets - Benjamin Moore Advance Waterborne Alkyd Paint
Source: Inspiration For Moms

Diane from In my Own Style opted to use the Sherwin Williams Alkyd formula and can testify that it has excellent adhesion abilities, flow and leveling to lessen the look of roller and brush marks as well as the fact that it is non-yellowing (which is super important if you’re painting your cabinets white).

How to Paint Cabinets - The best paint for your kitchen cabinets
source: In My Own Style

Diane also talks about the importance of using a stain blocking primer, especially when you are dealing with older wood cabinets that may have tannins that will eventually bleed through.

This has happened me in the past and trust me, it’s not a good look. So whatever paint you decide to use, if your cabinets were previously stained, you will really want to use a primer first.

Instead of a separate primer on your cabinets, use a paint additive like Oil Bond

If your cabinets have been previously painted using a oil-based paint but you want to paint with latex, try using a paint additive like Oil Bond.

I’ve personally used it and it has really impressed me. By wiping it over your cabinets, it works as a deglosser (so no sanding required!) and by adding it to latex paint, it allows the paint to correctly adhere to a previous oil-based surface.

 My favorite way to use it? Use the Oil Bond to degloss and then use Hard Coat (by the same company) as an additive in your paint. It creates a rock-hard finish that ensures your cabinets won’t chip or peel.

When you’re painting something that is opened and closed (and kicked and scuffed) several times a day, the last thing you want is peeling and chipping paint! You can read more about Oil Bond here and and then check out how I painted my doors using Hard Coat.

The best paint for cabinets may include a product like oil bond or hard coat

Enamel Based Paint

My friend, Carrie, from Lovely Etc. did an amazing job painting her oak kitchen cabinets using an enamel-based paint along with a stain blocking primer.

She’s a perfectionist by nature, so I can assure you that the finished product is beautiful. Not only have her cabinets held up really well but she also figured out a trick to hide that unsightly grain!

Enamel based paints are known to give a rock-hard finish and while Carrie used Deco-Art, a traditional enamel based paint like Sherwin William ProClassic® Interior Acrylic Latex Enamel paint, which is mostly used as an interior trim paint, is another excellent choice for a really durable finish.

Head over to Carrie’s blog, read her entire process and decide if enamel-based paint is the right one for your kitchen cabinets!

High Quality Acrylic Milk Paint

Tasha from Designer Trapped in a Lawyer’s Body successfully painted her oak cabinets with milk paint, without sanding or priming (but she did de-gloss) and they are not only beautiful, but holding up perfectly several years later. She used a high quality Milk Paint followed by a very durable top coat – all the details and brands are contained in her blog post.

Milk paint - the best paint for kitchen cabinets
source: Designer Trapped in a Lawyer’s Body

Tasha has several posts that will walk you through her process as well as a video that shows how her cabinets are holding up several years later. Like Carrie, she also had the issue with the wood grain in oak cabinets so be sure to read the comments in her posts to see what she decided to do!

Go The Chalk Paint Route

If a matte finish is what you’re after, using a chalk-style paint might also be an option for your cabinets.

Chalk paint adheres remarkably well and as long as it is sealed correctly (don’t use wax in a kitchen!), it should last well.

I’ve personally only painted furniture using chalk paint – and everything has held up perfectly – but I cannot attest to whether it will eventually chip or flake. Saying this, many bloggers love their Chalk Painted Kitchen Cabinets and the paint seems to be holding up very well.

A kitchen with beige upper cabinets with glass pane inserts and grey lower cabinets with solid wood doors
Chalk Painted Cabinets – Sincerely, Sara D

Try Velvet Finishes

Full disclosure, I’ve used Velvet Finishes many times in the past and I’ve loved it. I’ve painted a dresser, rocking chair and my coffee table and the paint has never chipped or flaked off any of them. But I’ve never painted a kitchen cabinet.

My friend, Jenna from Rain on a Tin Roof went as far as to use Velvet Finishes paint on her kitchen cabinets. She didn’t sand or prime, but did use the line’s deglosser.

A kitchen with white upper cabinets, dark blue lower cabinets and a tall, white table as an island, with dark green metal stools

source: Rain on a Tin Roof

She has since sold that home, but said they held up really well! I know my coffee table has stuff throw on it and we always rest our feet on it and it has NEVER even scuffed so I can definitely personally recommend this paint line! See the full before and after as well as Jenna’s process over on her blog.

Can I Use Satin Paint on Kitchen Cabinets?

Absolutely! For cabinets, doors and trim a satin finish gives a more modern look. If you cabinets are older, using a satin sheen instead of a semi-gloss will also help to downplay any imperfections in the wood.

So which product should you choose to paint your cabinets?

You have several options to help you decide what type of paint to use for your kitchen or bathroom cabinets.

At the end of the day, if you want a rock-hard surface that doesn’t show brushstrokes or roller marks, the professional level paints, in particular the Alkyds, are probably the best way to go for a long-lasting result.

But many people have had success with other products such as milk paint and chalk paint.

Whatever type of paint you end up choosing, make sure you research the process used by others. Ensure your cabinets are clean before applying any products, sand and de-gloss if necessary and don’t forget to apply a stain blocking primer.

On the other hand, if all of this seems too daunting maybe you should consider other options. If your cabinet boxes are in good shape, cabinet refacing is also an excellent and cost-efficient option to getting the look you want. You can read about how we refaced out kitchen cabinets here and see the full before and after.




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The best paint for painting kitchen cabinets. Get this first step right and you're on the right track to beautifully painted cabinets! #paintedcabinets #kitchen

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