Architectural Home Designs & Decorating Ideas

How to Choose the Best Paint for Kitchen Cabinets

4 minute read

Giving your kitchen cabinets a fresh coat of paint can make a dramatic difference in the look of your kitchen. Painted cabinets are an affordable alternative to replacing your existing cabinets with new ones. With the right prep work and paint selection, you can change the color or give a facelift to worn or dated cabinets.

When taking on a kitchen cabinet painting project, using a high-quality cabinet paint is key for a smooth, durable finish. With so many options on the market, choosing the best paint for your needs requires careful consideration of the types of paint, finishes, preparation needs, and application techniques. Read on for a complete guide to selecting the ideal paint to transform your kitchen cabinets.

Proper Preparation is Crucial

While the painting itself may seem like the biggest task, proper prep work is truly the most important part. Taking time to correctly prepare your cabinets will help the new paint adhere properly and give a smooth finish. Don’t skip these important steps:

best paint to use for kitchen cabinets

Thoroughly Sand Cabinets

Lightly sanding with fine grit sandpaper roughs up the surface so the paint can grip. It also smooths out any existing bumps or imperfections. Be sure to sand inside drawers and on cabinet doors as well. Wipe away dust with a tack cloth when finished.

Degloss and Clean Surfaces

Deglossing using a liquid deglosser or sandpaper removes shiny gloss so paint adheres better. Clean thoroughly with a degreasing soap and water solution, then let dry completely. For stained wood cabinets, stripping the existing finish is ideal to completely remove the old stain color.

Use a Proper Primer

Priming cabinets before painting is highly recommended. Quality primers like Zinsser Smart Prime provide a uniform surface for painting, improving adhesion and helping paint last longer. Primers also block stains, seal the wood, and prevent tannins from bleeding through paint.

Picking the Best Cabinet Paint

With prep work complete, now comes choosing the right cabinet paint. There are a few major types of paint to consider based on the durability, finish, and ease of application you need.

Oil/Alkyd Based Paint

Alkyd paints contain resins that add to their hardness and durability. They dry to a harder, more scratch resistant finish. Types like Benjamin Moore Advance have self-leveling properties to prevent brush strokes and runs. While alkyd paint dries slower, the end result is extremely durable and smooth.

Acrylic Latex Paint

If you need a paint that dries faster, acrylic latex types like Behr Cabinet & Trim Paint dry quicker and are easier to apply. They can also be thinned with water for spraying cabinets. However, acrylics are not as hard and durable as alkyd finishes.

Enamel Paint

For very durable results, enamels like Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations are ideal for kitchens. The hard finish resists chipping, scuffs, and stains. Most enamel paints require a primer coat for proper adhesion. While pricier than acrylics, the near industrial-strength finish is worth the cost.

Applying Cabinet Paint

Now for the painting itself. Having the right tools and techniques makes all the difference:

– Use a quality angled sash brush for the best coverage and getting into corners. Foam rollers speed up application on flat areas. – Apply paint in thin, even coats. Too much too fast can create drips and lead to brush marks. – Allow ample drying time between coats as recommended by the paint manufacturer. Second and third coats provide better coverage and sheen.

Slow, even brushstrokes with a lightly loaded brush gives the smoothest finish. Sand lightly between coats to remove any dust particles or imperfections.

Choosing the Right Sheen

Paint comes in a variety of finishes from flat matte to high gloss. For cabinets, many homeowners prefer satin, semi-gloss, or gloss to give a smooth, subtly reflective surface that’s easy to clean. Considerations for sheen include:

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some of the most common questions about the best practices for painting kitchen cabinets:

What type of paint works best for kitchen cabinets?

High quality enamel and alkyd-based paints are best for the durability and harder finish needed for kitchen cabinets. Brands like Benjamin Moore Advance or Sherwin Williams ProClassic give professional grade results.

How should I prepare stained wood cabinets for painting?

For stained cabinets, remove the existing finish with chemical wood stripper or by thoroughly sanding. Degloss and prime using bonding primer to block stains before painting. Oil-based primers work best on stained wood.

Is primer necessary for painting cabinets?

Primer improves paint adhesion and durability, helping it last longer. It also provides a more even finish. On stained cabinets, primer blocks tannins in the wood from discoloring the paint. Using at least one coat of primer is highly recommended.

How long does cabinet paint need to cure?

Most quality cabinet paints take 2-3 weeks to fully cure and harden. Oil-based paints take the longest. Avoid heavy cleaning or replacing cabinet hardware during the curing period. Check manufacturer guidelines for recommended cure times.

The right paint selection and application techniques allows you to give your kitchen cabinets a new look affordably. While the process requires careful prep and patience during painting and curing, the refreshed look of your kitchen will be well worth the effort. Properly painted cabinets not only look great but will provide a durable, quality finish that makes your kitchen shine for years to come.