A fresh coat of paint can give old cabinets a new modern look without the cost of new cabinets. But with all the different finishes available, choosing new paint can be daunting.
Painting kitchen cabinets can be a costly and overwhelming endeavor due to material costs and the vast selection of paint choices available. Picking out the right paint for your kitchen cabinets from among the crowd of possibilities at the paint store can prove very difficult without any recommendations or knowledge of what to look for in a suitable cabinet paint.
When painting kitchen cabinets, it’s important to choose durable, reputable, and low-VOC paint. The best paint brands include Valspar, Behr, Glidden, Sherwin-Williams, Benjamin Moore, and others. Valspar Cabinet and Furniture Oil-Enriched Enamel Paint is one of the best paints for kitchen cabinets.
Having so many kitchen cabinet paints can seem overwhelming, but it means there are paints out there for nearly every situation and budget. The tricky part is sifting through all the noise to find the best kitchen cabinet paint that meets all your needs, is in your price range, and is accessible in your area.
Choosing the Perfect Kitchen Cabinet Paint for You
You must consider many factors when choosing the paint for your kitchen wood cabinets. But to get you headed in the right direction, here are three of the most critical considerations: paint base, finish, and your budget.
Most paints contain the same basic ingredient categories, but the specific materials used in each role vary depending on the intended purpose of the paint and the brand. Generally, almost all paints contain liquids, pigments, additives, and binders.
Often called its base, a paint’s binder is the ingredient that holds the formula together and determines many of its application, cleanup, and durability qualities. Most paints fall into one of two primary paint types:
- Oil-based (which often includes alkyd paint)
- Water-based (which often includes latex and acrylic-based paints)
The reflectiveness level of a paint’s surface is referred to as the paint’s finish. Some paint companies measure their paint’s finish on a slightly different scale, but in most instances, there are five different paint finish options to choose from when selecting paint:
- Flat or Matte Finish
- Eggshell Finish
- Satin Finish
- Semi-Gloss Finish
- High-Gloss Finish
Professional painters a satin or semi-gloss paint as the best finish for kitchen cabinets . While there are times when a matte or high-gloss finish makes sense, choosing a finish somewhere in the middle of the scale strikes a nice balance between the two extremes.
Another crucial consideration is your budget for painting your kitchen cabinets. The size of your kitchen, the paint quality you choose, and how much of the work you do yourself largely determine how much the project costs.
While prices fluctuate drastically based on various factors, expect to pay $3 to $10 per square foot to paint kitchen cabinets. Price is often a significant concern for homeowners, so it’s important to note that sometimes the cheapest paint isn’t the best option. Choosing mid-range paint will often provide a much longer-lasting coat and more durability for a reasonable price.
Qualities to Look for in a Good Kitchen Cabinet Paint
The paint used on kitchen cabinets is very different from the paint commonly used on walls and ceilings. People constantly slam and touch kitchen cabinets, and they experience lots of exposure to moisture and cooking splatter. For paint to withstand all of that without deteriorating or discoloration, it must possess some hardy qualities.
Below are some of the ideal qualities you should look for in paint when choosing which brand and can to use on your kitchen cabinets.
- VOC Emissions – Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemical off-gasses from paints that you should avoid as much as possible because they can cause severe health risks. Oil paints have a more desirable finish, but they often produce a strong smell and significantly more VOC emissions than water-based paints.
- Durability – Cabinets experience tons of wear and tear from regular use, so cabinet paint must be extremely durable. Oil-based paint is generally the best for resisting scratches and scuffs, but you must consider its potential downsides, such as increased VOC emissions. High gloss paint also is more durable and resistant to wear than more flat paint finishes.
- Moisture Resistance – Out of all the areas in your home, the kitchen is one of the places that experience volatile temperature and moisture levels. Cabinet paint must be highly resistant to these changing environmental factors to not bubble, peel, or otherwise deteriorate. Paints specifically formulated for these conditions work best, and mid to high-gloss paint finishes are excellent at repelling moisture.
- Wear Visibility – In addition to a paint’s resistance to wear and tear, it’s also important to consider how visible scratches and scuffs on the surface are once they occur. Matte finish paints do a much better paint job than glossy finishes at concealing surface blemishes and signs of wear.
- Touch-Ups – Kitchen and bathroom cabinets must withstand lots of use and human contact, and eventually, the paint will sustain damage in one form or another. Some paints are much easier to touch up than others, as the patch blends perfectly into the rest of the surface without much effort. Generally, flatter finishes hide touch-ups more effectively than higher gloss paints.
Best Paints for Kitchen Cabinets
There is no single paint or brand that outshines all its competition in every situation, so the best paint for you is highly individualized. Because there are so many different paints and paint brands out there, it’s just a matter of looking through the options to find the perfect one for your needs. Below are a few categories and the best kitchen cabinet paint for each:
- Best all-around kitchen cabinet paint: Valspar Cabinet and Furniture Oil Enriched Enamel Paint
- Best budget kitchen cabinet paint: Glidden Premium Interior Paint and Primer
- Best water-based kitchen cabinet paint: Behr Dynasty Interior Stain-Blocking Paint and Primer
- Best oil-based kitchen cabinet paint: Sherwin Williams All Surface Enamel Oil Base Paint
Now that you have a rough overview of what to look for when deciding on cabinet paint and the major winners for some categories, let’s look more in-depth at thirteen of the best paints for kitchen cabinets.
|Rust-Oleum||Transformations Cabinet and Trim Paint||$|
|Diamond Brite||Oil Based Enamel Interior/Exterior Paint||$|
|Glidden||Premium Interior Paint and Primer||$|
|Behr||Dynasty Interior Stain-Blocking Paint and Primer||$$|
|Behr||Premium Enamel Interior/Exterior Cabinet, Door & Trim Paint||$$|
|HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams||Acrylic Door & Trim Paint||$$|
|Kilz||Complete Coat, Door, Trim, and Cabinetry Paint||$$|
|Glidden||Trim and Door Interior/Exterior Oil Paint||$$|
|Sherwin-Williams||All Surface Enamel Oil Base Paint||$$|
|Benjamin Moore||Advance Interior Paint||$$|
|Beyond Paint||Furniture, Cabinets, Countertops All-in-One Paint||$$|
|Valspar||Cabinet and Furniture Oil-Enriched Enamel Paint||$$$|
|PPG||Break-Through! Interior/Exterior Door, Trim, and Cabinet Paint||$$$|
1. Rust-Oleum Transformations Cabinet and Trim Paint
The Transformations Cabinet and Trim Paint by Rust-Oleum are specifically formulated for use on nearly any cabinet material. You should always correctly prep all surfaces to get the best adhesion. It is an exceptionally durable paint and does an excellent job hiding imperfections, and can withstand lots of wear and tear.
This paint is easy to clean up with just soap and water due to its acrylic base. Its drying and curing time is also very short. However, you’ll likely need to do at least two coats to get adequate coverage.
Thanks to this paint’s acrylic base ingredient, its VOC emissions are extremely low, at 0.41 pounds per gallon. You should have no trouble using this paint indoors with a few windows open and some portable fans running to help remove some of the harmful gasses.
2. Diamond Brite Oil Based Enamel Interior/Exterior Paint
The Oil Based Enamel Interior/Exterior Paint by Diamond Brite is an excellent option for kitchen cabinets as it adheres well to most common cabinet materials. It’s also highly durable and able to withstand even the extreme wear and tear that many cabinets experience.
Because this is an oil-based paint, it has a very strong and smooth surface. Coverage could be better with this paint, and some customers have reported needing to use more than one coat to achieve a desirable professional finish.
As you would expect from oil-based paint, this one has relatively high VOC emission levels at 2.39 pounds per gallon. With such high VOC levels, it’s best to paint and let your cabinets cure outdoors if possible, or improve ventilation significantly and stay away from the area until the toxic fumes subside.
3. Glidden Premium Interior Paint and Primer
The Premium Interior Paint and Primer by Glidden is an excellent paint for cabinets made from nearly any material. Kitchen cabinets notoriously have to deal with grease splatter and other grime from cooking, and this paint’s finish allows easy cleaning by just wiping it down.
There are a few potential downsides to consider with this paint. Namely, it tends to have problems with adhesion and peeling if you don’t prepare the surface properly. On the upside, cleanup after cabinet painting only requires some soap and water because this is water-based paint.
More specifically, this is latex paint. VOC emissions are virtually non-existent, so you should have no problem painting indoors, though it’s still good to open some windows and turn on some portable fans if you have them. Tints and additives to the paint can increase VOC off-gassing, so be careful.
4. Behr Dynasty Interior Stain-Blocking Paint and Primer
Behr’s Dynasty Interior Stain-Blocking Paint and Primer is an excellent paint for cabinets in high-traffic areas that must withstand lots of use. The paint is exceptionally durable, and its glossy finish allows you to easily clean up any dirt or marks.
This paint’s drying and curing time is rapid, sometimes too quick. It dries so fast that some customers report it leaving roller and brush marks that didn’t have time to settle into a smooth finish. You may also need multiple coats of this paint to achieve full coverage.
This paint is acrylic-based, making it easy to clean up with soap and water during painting and giving it low VOC levels. VOC emissions levels come in at 0.38 pounds per gallon. That’s relatively low and typically safe to use indoors with adequate ventilation.
5. Behr Premium Enamel Interior/Exterior Cabinet, Door & Trim Paint
Behr cabinet paint is their Premium Enamel Interior/Exterior Cabinet, Door, and Trim paint is another great paint specifically formulated for cabinets. This paint can withstand the near-constant use that cabinets experience, and its surface is super easy to clean by just wiping it down.
Though this paint has excellent flow and leveling when applied to a surface, it is a relatively thin substance. This paint’s coverage is not the best and can easily leave brush marks if you’re not careful.
As you would expect from water-based paint, more specifically acrylic-based, this paint is super easy to clean up and has low VOC emissions. Painting indoors with adequate ventilation should not be a problem with VOC fume levels as low as 0.04 pounds per gallon.
6. HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams Acrylic Door & Trim Paint
The HGTV Home Acrylic Door and Trim Paint by Sherwin-Williams is an extremely popular cabinet paint, and for a good reason. It has an incredibly durable finish, is easy to wipe down without leaving streaks, and lasts a long time while retaining its color. This paint also prides itself on its non-yellowing formula, so over time, it holds its color well.
There are some potential downsides to consider with this paint, though. Most concerns regard the paint’s consistency and coverage. Some customers report needing to use multiple coats to achieve a desirable finish and having problems with the paint streaking.
You should have no problem using this paint indoors on cabinets as it has very low VOC fume levels due to its acrylic base. Regardless, it’s crucial to have proper ventilation when painting cabinets.
7. Kilz Complete Coat, Door, Trim, and Cabinetry Paint
The Complete Coat, Door, Trim, and Cabinetry Paint by Kilz is another great paint specifically formulated for use on cabinets in high-traffic areas. Kilz is not quite a household name, but they have quite a positive reputation that makes them worth consideration.
This paint has excellent qualities, including high durability, a long lifespan, easy touch-ups, and a surface finish that allows you to wipe it down easily. One potential downside is its poor coverage ability, meaning you may need to do more than one coat to get a desirable finish.
This acrylic paint has easy cleanup and low VOC emission levels like any water-based paint. With VOC levels at 0.38 pounds per gallon, you should have no problem using this paint indoors as long as your home has adequate ventilation.
8. Glidden Trim and Door Interior/Exterior Oil Paint
The Trim and Door Interior/Exterior Oil Paint by Glidden is very durable and provides a very smooth application. It has Glidden’s Gel-Flow technology to help smooth out brush strokes and streaks.
Because this paint is oil-based and has additives to improve its ease of application, it is quite a thick formula. Some customers report it being too thick for easy application, while others like the control you get with the thicker consistency.
Another potential downside you must consider is the higher VOC emissions from oil-based paints. This paint has 3.37 pounds per gallon VOC emission levels, which is quite high. Ideally, you should paint and allow your cabinets to dry outdoors or improve indoor ventilation and vacate the area to avoid exposure to potentially toxic fumes.
9. Sherwin-Williams All Surface Enamel Oil Base Paint
The All Surface Enamel Oil Base Paint by Sherwin-Williams is, just as advertised, perfect for nearly any cabinet material you can imagine. It is also highly durable and able to withstand the constant use cabinets often experience.
This paint does have a few problems as well, namely tricky application. It reportedly does not flow very well and often leaves brush or roller marks if you’re not careful. This paint does have an excellent finish, though, due to its oil base.
VOC levels for this paint are very high, coming in at 3.42 pounds per gallon. While that’s no surprise for oil-based paint, you should be extremely careful when painting indoors to avoid inhaling potentially harmful emissions. Ensure your home has adequate ventilation and avoid the area while the paint dries and cures.
10. Benjamin Moore Advance Interior Paint
The Advance Interior Paint by Benjamin Moore is great for use on kitchen cabinets due to its high durability. It’s also easy to apply, provides a smooth finish, and allows you to simply wipe down your cabinets when they get dirty without fear of paint deterioration.
Some customers report the paint being too thin and requiring multiple coats to achieve full coverage. For oil-based paint, this is relatively unusual but largely depends on whether you’re using a roller, brush, or sprayer.
This is an alkyd-based paint with low VOC levels considering the base ingredient. VOC levels for this paint are 0.36 pounds per gallon, which requires proper ventilation to ensure you don’t inhale the fumes but isn’t too high to cause serious worry for indoor use.
11. Beyond Paint Furniture, Cabinets, Countertops All-in-One Paint
The Furniture, Cabinets, Countertops All-in-One Paint by Beyond Paint is a great option for kitchen cabinets. While Beyond Paint doesn’t quite have the same recognizability as other name brands on this list, they have a very positive reputation that at least warrants considering them when choosing a paint for your kitchen cabinets.
This paint touts easy application, minimal brush marks, and a super quick dry time. YOu may need multiple coats, and some have reported the final texture being a bit chalky, but overall this is an excellent paint.
As you would expect from acrylic-based paint, VOC levels are very low. You should have no problem using this paint indoors as long as you open a few windows and turn on some portable fans to help move some of the fumes out of your home.
12. Valspar Cabinet and Furniture Oil-Enriched Enamel Paint
The Cabinet and Furniture Oil-Enriched Enamel Paint by Valspar is one of the overall best paints for kitchen cabinets that you can find. It’s an oil-enriched latex-based paint, giving you the low VOC emissions of water-based paints while also providing the smooth finish of oil-based paints.
It’s extremely durable and can withstand the extensive use that many cabinets experience. This paint dries very quickly, has a long lifespan, and only requires soap and water to clean up. When using this paint, you may have some difficulty with brush marks and streaks, but those are minor and outshined by its many other good qualities.
As a latex-based paint with oil enrichment, its VOC emission levels are relatively low at 0.42 pounds per gallon. You get many oil-based paint qualities without the high VOC emissions, making it safer to use indoors when painting kitchen cabinets.
13. PPG Break-Through! Interior/Exterior Door, Trim, and Cabinet Paint
Last but not least, the Break-Through! Interior/Exterior Door, Trim, and Cabinet Paint by PPG. It’s extremely durable and provides one of the best application experiences with its smooth finish and limited brushmarks. You can use this paint on nearly any cabinet material and its dry time is very quick.
This paint is one of the best for kitchen cabinets, but it comes at a pretty steep price. If your budget allows, this is an excellent option. However, many other paints on this list offer better value for the money, with many of the same great characteristics.
As an acrylic-based paint, it has very low VOC emissions. Additives and tints may increase VOCs, but using this paint indoors with proper ventilation is typically not a problem.
There are so many paints for kitchen cabinets out on the market that choosing one can quickly become overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s essential to keep your primary paint needs in mind when deciding, including your budget, desired finish, and paint base.
A paint’s VOC emission levels should also be a significant concern, especially if you intend to paint your kitchen cabinets indoors. No matter what paint you decide to go with, ensure your home has proper ventilation to prevent you from inhaling toxic paint fumes.
Additionally, paint colors are equally important, if not more, than the exact paint type you choose. Make sure to go with colors that complement each other and fit the mood you’re trying to set in the space. Neutral colors such as beiges, whites, and light blues are safe options but don’t shy away from trying something bold.