Painting your own kitchen cabinets to create a professional finish is totally possible with the right type of paint! This post describes the best type of paint for cabinets. It includes the best brands of paint for kitchen cabinets, the cost of various brands, and where to purchase paint for kitchen cabinets.
This post was originally published in August 2019. Updated in June 2022 with information on new brands of paint available for painting cabinets.
Spoiler – I’m not a professional painter. BUT, I have personally used each of the paints listed in this post. Plus, I’ve painted several different sets of kitchen cabinets, and hundreds of different furniture pieces. I’m a DIYer, but I assure you I refuse to write about topics I don’t have experience with and knowledge about.
Kitchen cabinets are a high use item and need special paint that is able to withstand lots of use and cleaning. All paint is not made the same. There are definitely certain types of paint that I have found work best for cabinets. Thankfully, these paints are readily available at many stores – perfect for those of you that want to paint your own cabinets!
Even if you are hiring a contractor to paint your kitchen cabinets, I would still highly recommend that you request for them to use alkyd paint on your kitchen.
Best Paint for Cabinets: Acrylic Alkyd Enamel Paint
One of my favorite types of paints for painting cabinets is a hybrid alkyd paint. It’s a fairly recent development in the paint industry made to mimic oil-based paint without all the harmful VOCs and nasty clean up. Acrylic Alkyd Enamel is now a water-based paint which allows for easy clean up, but still creates an extremely durable finish without the need for a topcoat.
Here are those positive benefits to alkyd paint that make it the perfect paint for cabinets:
- Levels beautifully – Basically, it levels when it dries, which means that you won’t be able to see any brush strokes once the paint dries.
- Dries to a tough, durable finish – Because the enamel finish is durable, it is easy to clean, which is essential in a kitchen.
- No need for a topcoat – The tough finish means that you don’t need a topcoat. Even if you choose a matte finish in alkyd, it is still tough enough to be wiped clean without a topcoat.
- Easy water clean-up – This paint is water-based and all supplies can be easily cleaned with water.
Where to Buy Paint for Kitchen Cabinets
A few years ago, there were only two paint companies that manufactured this type of paint in a water-based finish. Now, every major paint manufacturer has a version of this alkyd enamel paint. You can find it at all of the major home improvement stores. See the image below to determine which major stores carry the different brands of alkyd enamel paint.
Cost of Kitchen Cabinet Paint (Alkyd Paint)
Please be aware that with all of these benefits, alkyd based paints will be more expensive than traditional “wall paint”. Of course, there are different price points between the different brands, so you can save money there if you’d like. Also, a lower sheen will be less expensive as well. *Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore paints are the other ones that come in a flat/matte sheen in alkyd paint. The other, less expensive brands only offer satin, semi-gloss, and gloss as finish options.*
|Brand of Paint||Approximate Cost per Gallon – prices updated in 2022|
|Sherwin Williams ProClassic||starts at $85 (but they often have sales for 25% off making it around $70)|
|Benjamin Moore Advance||starts at $70|
|Valspar Cabinet and Furniture Paint||starts at $60|
|Dutch Boy Cabinet, Door and Trim||starts at $50|
|Behr Urethane Alkyd||starts at $45|
DIY Kitchen Cabinet Painting – Common Questions
The most common questions people ask me through my blog are often about painting furniture and painting cabinets. I’ve tried to write more comprehensive posts about
Do I Need to Sand and Prime My Cabinets Before Painting?
I would highly recommend sanding (and possibly priming) before painting your cabinets, no matter what type of paint you are using.
I know, I know, there are plenty of people on Pinterest who say you can paint your cabinets without sanding or priming (which you can, of course, do, because ultimately you can do whatever you want), but I would never recommend painting such a high use piece without first sanding, at the very least. I always, always give my cabinets and furniture a light sanding before I paint. Always. Then, I almost always prime my cabinets before painting.
Alkyd paint adheres best (and for a long period of time) if a primer is used first. It’s well worth the little bit of extra time you’ll put in to keep your cabinets looking beautiful! If your cabinets are prefinished (meaning not unfinished wood) or painted, you can use any type of primer for this step. If they are unfinished wood, or made of cherry or mahogany, you’ll need to use a primer that blocks wood tannins. This post describes the best types of primer for furniture and cabinets and will give you all the details you need to choose the best primer for your project.
Which Alkyd Paint Do You Personally Recommend?
If you’re looking for my personal favorite of all of these brands, I would have to choose Sherwin Williams ProClassic paint. Of course, it’s also the most expensive. With that being said, I’ve used all of these other brands and have been extremely pleased with all of them. This type of paint is pretty incredible!
If I had to pick a favorite of the more budget friendly paints (between Valspar, Behr, and Dutch Boy) I would choose Behr. I used the Behr alkyd paint on my own kitchen cabinets and am very pleased with how well they’ve held up for 3 years. Below is a video I made after one year to show how well my kitchen cabinets painted with Behr Urethane Alkyd were holding up.
Quick note on Valspar Cabinet and Furniture Paint. I used it on a small piece of furniture and was pleased with it as comparable to the other lower cost alkyd paints. I recently noticed it has received very mixed reviews. With this in mind, I would recommend it with a word of caution. It seems that some people have not been able to achieve consistently good results with this paint.
I have my paint, now how do I actually paint my kitchen cabinets?
Legit question that makes me laugh every time. This post gives all the details on how to paint kitchen cabinets with all of my tips and tricks for a successful, professional-looking finish. I can’t, however, help you pick out a color. (The hardest part, IMO!)
Kitchen Cabinets and Furniture Pieces Painted with Alkyd Paint
I’ve used these paints in a variety of ways. In these posts, I share specific tips and tricks for the specific type of paint and project. You can fin all of the specific paint colors used on these pieces listed in these posts as well.
Words to Look for in Cabinet and Furniture Paint
Paint has come a long way in the last ten years! Manufacturers are coming up with new blends and formulas that are easy to apply and give the best finishes. For example, interior wall paint used to be primarily latex, however now most are an acrylic-latex blend. Oil-based paint has become almost obsolete because they’ve created paints that have the benefits of oil-based in water-based finishes. (“Alkyd” was always an oil-based type of paint, but now these modified alkyds are water based.) With all of that being said – most paints are a blend of something. Instead, look for key words when selecting paint for cabinets or furniture, and avoid others!
Words to look for when painting cabinets, furniture, and trim:
- enamel – This paint will dry to a tough finish, and you shouldn’t need a topcoat.
- acrylic – I’ve found that acrylic paints (without latex) tend to adhere to finished wood (i.e. cabinets and furniture) much better. They also don’t peel or flake away from the surface over time nearly as much.
- urethane and/or alkyd – These paints were traditionally used for industrial or automotive applications because they are tough, but now with some of the blends that have been created, components are being integrated for easy use in the home.
Words to avoid when painting cabinets, furniture, and trim:
- latex – If it has latex, it means that some of the binders are vinyl resins and the paint peels and flakes more easily. (Remember, we’re talking about painting cabinets and furniture here; latex-based paint is still totally okay for walls, though.)
- oil-based – They can’t be disposed of, need solvents to clean up, and are highly flammable. Plus, they tend to yellow over time – yuck!
If you want to dive deeper into this topic, this website breaks it all down way further than I could ever begin to comprehend.
Cabinet Refacing and Painting
I updated our outdated 1970s kitchen at our cottage by replacing the doors with new, wood doors and painting them. Rather than ripping everything out, I installed new doors and painted the entire space to give it a new look on a small budget. You can see how to replace kitchen cabinet doors in this post, or clicking the images below.
Thanks for much for being here! I can only hope this post was helpful to you in one way or another. Best of luck on your upcoming kitchen painting project. You’ve got this!
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