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Best Paint for Kitchen Cabinets

Best Paint for Kitchen Cabinets

If you’re looking to give your kitchen a quick and affordable facelift, painting your cabinets is a great option. The key to success is choosing the best paint for kitchen cabinets that will give you a clean and durable finish.

When it comes to paint color options, the sky’s the limit. You can choose a bold color to add some personality or go with a classic white for a timeless look. However, regardless of the color, it’s important to choose the right paint to ensure the best results. For a professional finish, spraying the cabinets is recommended, but using a paintbrush can still produce a great finish.

If you’re unsure which paint to choose, check out our list of best paint for kitchen cabinets. Updating your cabinets with the right paint can transform the look of your kitchen and give it a fresh, updated style.

Oil vs. Latex vs. Alkyd Paint

Are you unsure whether to use oil paint or the more widely-available latex paint when painting your kitchen cabinets? Find out more about each option and the pros and cons of each.

Oil-Based Paint for Cabinets

Oil-based paints are well-known for their durability, so they might be the first thing you consider when choosing the right color for your kitchen cabinets. Also, oil-based paints are easy to clean. You can clean a cabinet easily with your sticky or greasy hands. This will not result in the paint being damaged or the surface becoming duller. However, oil-based paints can have flaws that are difficult to overlook when painting cabinets.

Oil-based paint can take up to 16 hours to dry between coats. This is because it applies smoothly. Lacking good air circulation, which can be difficult to find in a kitchen, you could end up waiting days for your paint to dry. Many people don’t want to have to deal with the inconvenience of having cabinets left empty while paint dries between coats. Oil-based paints can leave a yellowish tint to surfaces over time, especially in low-light situations. Because of this, your cabinets might look old.


Oil-based paints emit more volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than other options. VOCs can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, throat, and stomach, as well as headaches and dizziness. Particularly dangerous is the use of paint with high levels of VOCs in close proximity to enclosed food, spices, or kitchen utensils.

Oil-Based Paint: The Pros

  • Can withstand scrubbing and cleaning
  • Excellent coverage, better than wood grain
  • Durable finish

Oil-Based Paint: The Cons

  • VOCs at higher levels
  • Low light conditions can cause yellowing
  • Dry time of up to 16 hours between coats

Latex Paint for Cabinets 

Oil-based paints are a strong choice because they have a reputation for being easy to apply and can be cleaned easily. However, latex paint is a better choice for kitchen cabinets as it has lower VOCs and is faster drying.

Water-based paint formulations have made it easier to use latex paint on kitchen cabinets. Latex paints can be cleaned easily and are more durable than ever. This is an essential feature for kitchens, so make sure you choose a paint that can be washed or scrubbed for your cabinets.

Painting wood cabinets requires that you prepare the surface properly before applying latex paint. Oil-based paint can be applied smoothly to wood surfaces. However, latex paint will show variations in texture and grain. To achieve an even finish, you will need to prepare your project.

You can use latex paint if your kitchen cabinets have been painted instead of natural wood. If you aren’t sure what kind of paint your cabinets have, water-based latex is the best option. Also, latex paint that is oil-based won’t stick well to latex paint but it can be used on oil-based latex paint as it can bind with any surface.

Latex Paint: The Pros

  • Quick drying
  • Formulas with low or zero VOC
  • Attach to surfaces that have been previously covered with latex or oil paint

Latex Paint: The Cons

  • Some formulas don’t hold up well enough to be scrubbed
  • More prep work is required to achieve an even finish

Alkyd Paint for Cabinets

Alkyd paint is a water-based paint that has an enamel finish, similar to oil paint. However, it does not contain oil and behaves differently from oil. It is more durable than oil-based paint and leaves a semi-glossy finish that is long-lasting without the need for a top coat. Alkyd enamel is self-leveling. This means that it will look very smooth as it dries. You won’t be able to see any brush strokes with alkyd paint once it is dry.

If you are looking to paint your kitchen cabinets like a professional, Alkyd paints will be your best choice. Although it is not recommended for use on walls, Alkyd paint can be used on metal, wood, and cabinets. Because it is durable and hardy, alkyd paint makes a great choice for custom cabinetry. For best results, paint over the alkyd with another oil-based or alkyd-based paint.

Warning: These paints can be dangerous if they are not used in a well-ventilated area.

Because of its low maintenance requirements, hybrid enamel paint is often the best choice for kitchen cabinets. Hybrid enamel paints don’t emit as much fumes or VOCs, and they are easier to clean with soap and water. They are also very adhesive and don’t require any prep work and don’t need to be sanded.

Alkyd Paint: The Pros

  • Scuff resistant
  • Everything goes smoothly, even when it gets rough
  • One coat gives you a thicker cover
  • Uses hybrid formulations that are more friendly to the environment and easier to clean up

Alkyd Paint: The Cons

  • Can get brittle
  • VOCs at a high level
  • Longer drying time

Different Types of Kitchen Cabinet Surfaces: Which Paint Is Best?

When you decide to paint your kitchen cabinets, the material that your cabinets are made of is the first thing you should consider. Are your cabinets made of solid wood or wood veneer with particle board? Are your cabinets made of MDF or laminate? The type of paint you choose will depend on which material you use.

Wood Cabinets

Paint sticks best to a rough surface. This makes true wood cabinets an excellent candidate for painting. Sanding helps prepare the surface for paint. It also results in a smoother finish and a stronger bond. If your cabinets have glossy or stained wood, this is a must. This finishing layer will need to be removed using sandpaper, or a liquid deglosser.

Wood cabinets that are made from natural, bare wood will not require much sanding. They will however absorb a lot, especially if you use water-based latex paint. To ensure that the paint is evenly distributed and complete, a primer can be used.

Wood Veneer Cabinets

You must sand wood veneer cabinets (a thin layer of hardwood that is pressed over an existing material) before you paint them. Before you start to sand or paint the veneer, make sure to inspect it for any loose edges, chips, or cracks. These should be repaired first using wood glue. Don’t sand too hard. You’re only trying to get the surface rough enough for the primer and paint to stick.

MDF Cabinets

As long as you are familiar with how to prepare MDF kitchen cabinets, it is easy to paint them. Two priorities should be considered when painting MDF cabinets: sealing the edges and using an oil-based primer. MDF cabinets are porous and will need to be sealed with a drywall compound. This will prevent moisture from swelling and prevent it from cracking during painting.

It is important to use an oil-based primer. Water-based primers may cause the MDF to swell due to its porous nature. Apply an oil-based primer as the first coat. Then, paint the kitchen cabinets using water-based latex paint.

Laminate cabinets

This type of kitchen cabinet can be painted, but it is more difficult than painting wood or MDF cabinets. Laminate is a printed plastic material that is attached to a base layer (usually a combination material). Laminate is very slippery so it’s important to do the necessary prep work in order to achieve a high-quality finish.

A laminate-specific primer and paint can be used to help. These products are specifically designed to bond to the laminate’s shiny surface. To avoid damaging the laminate’s surface, you will still need to sand it before and after priming. Use fine sandpaper to do this.

The Best Finish for Kitchen Cabinets

It is important to choose the right finish for your kitchen cabinets. This will affect the longevity of your cabinets over time. Cabinet doors and drawers can be touched, pulled, and slammed. Objects are often slid in and off shelves. You can reduce the risk of painted cabinets becoming chipped or scratched by selecting the right paint finish.

  • Semigloss or Satin: Semigloss paint is best for kitchen cabinets. Semi-gloss paint has a sheen that helps reflect light. It is also more durable over time, which is important in kitchen environments. Semi-gloss paint can be washed easily and is more resistant to being scrubbed clean. Semi-gloss paint and satin are very similar. However, semi-gloss paint has a higher sheen than satin. Semi-gloss paint will reflect light better from lamps and windows than satin or eggshell.
  • Gloss paint – This is another great choice for kitchen cabinet painting. It’s the shiniest paint option. This paint is great for bold colors and modern kitchens. Gloss paint is also more durable, as more resins and binders are required to make glossy paint. This gives the paint a harder “shell”.
  • Flat finish paint or eggshell: Do not use these finishes for kitchen cabinets. Flat paints and eggshell paints aren’t as easily washable as semigloss and gloss finishes. You may have to re-paint your cabinets a second time.

Best Overall Kitchen Cabinet Paint: Waterborne Alkyd

Achieving a perfect finish for your kitchen cabinets can be a daunting task, but with the right type of paint, it can be a breeze. If you’re unsure of which type of paint to choose, consider using either hybrid alkyd enamel or waterborne alkyd. These two options are both excellent choices for painting all types of kitchen cabinets.

Hybrid alkyd enamel is a cutting-edge type of alkyd paint that offers superior performance and durability. Its versatility allows it to be used on various surfaces, including kitchen cabinets. On the other hand, waterborne alkyd paint is also an excellent option that is easy to clean up and provides self-leveling capabilities. Although this type of paint is more expensive than traditional alkyd paint, it has lower VOCs, making it an eco-friendly choice.

In Need of Custom Kitchen Cabinets?

Are you tired of your outdated kitchen cabinets? Do you find yourself constantly struggling with limited storage space and awkward layouts? The French Refinery is here to solve all your kitchen cabinet woes with our custom cabinet services in the Tampa Bay area.

Our team of experts understands that every kitchen is unique and requires a personalized touch. We work closely with you to create a custom cabinet design that not only meets your aesthetic preferences but also maximizes your storage space and functionality. Whether you’re looking for sleek modern cabinets or classic rustic ones, we have got you covered.

Our commitment to quality craftsmanship ensures that your new cabinets are not only beautiful but also durable and long-lasting. We use only the finest materials and techniques to bring your vision to life. From design to installation, our team is with you every step of the way, ensuring a seamless and stress-free experience.

Don’t settle for a lackluster kitchen anymore. Let The French Refinery transform your space with our custom kitchen cabinet services in the Tampa Bay area. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and get started on creating the kitchen of your dreams.

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