Top 8 Best Paint for Kitchen Cabinets – A Buyer’s Guide In 2022

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Are you planning to renovate your kitchen and give it a whole new look? Then you must be on the lookout for the best paint for kitchen cabinets as cabinets are the essence of any kitchen – modern or traditional.


Finding the right paint can sometimes be a bit tricky, especially when there are quite a number of options to choose from. You might be in need of paint that is durable, shiny, and available in many colors, but what other factors must you consider?


The kitchen cabinet experts tell us that the best paint for kitchen cabinets is one that offers a semi-gloss or satin finish. Moreover, it should be able to reflect light and should also be washable.


It is also recommended to use acrylic paint instead of vinyl for painting kitchen cabinets. This is because acrylic latex-based paint is not only washable but it also quite durable and long-lasting. So, there you go.


If you are ready to discover some of the top-rated paints available on the market in this category, keep reading on. In this article, you will learn why it is important to paint your cupboards, and what types of paints are available to choose from.


So, let’s get started.

Top 8 Best Paint for Kitchen Cabinets – A Buyer’s Guide In 2022

What You Need to Know Before Painting Cabinets?

Kitchen cabinets come in many different materials. It is usually easy and straightforward to paint wooden and metallic cabinets without having to worry about the results. However, plastic laminate cabinets may not be that simple to paint.

If you have plastic laminate cabinets, it is recommended that you took the advice of a professional paint dealer. This is because different paints have different results on these types of cabinets. So, it would be better to first test a sample of the paint and then decide depending on its result.

Let’s look at some of the pre-requisites of painting kitchen cabinets.

1. Clean and Prep the Cabinets

It’s not possible to just start painting your cabinets as it is. Your existing cabinets must be in a good condition overall to respond properly to any kind of paint you plan on using. So, first of all, check the existing paint and see if it needs to be brushed off using an abrasive pad. And finally, use a vacuum cleaner to eliminate dust particles completely.

2. Choose the Right Paint

There is a huge variety of paints available on the market. From acrylic milk paint and enamel-based paint to chalk and velvet finishes, the choices are quite diverse. To choose the right paint, you need to take into account the material your cabinets are made of, and the finish you have in mind.

Choose acrylic over vinyl and make sure you follow the instructions on the can regarding cure time especially when it comes to using latex paints. We have a complete section on how to choose the right paint for your cabinets because this requires further elaboration, so keep reading on.  

3. Keep Your Expectations Realistic

Before you choose to paint or start painting your kitchen cabinets, it is highly recommended that you check the condition of your cabinets. If they are outrageously damaged or chipped, applying paint on them is not going to do any good.

Also, keep in mind that it’s not going to be a one-day job or something you can achieve quickly or without any hassle. Keep your expectations realistic so the results would match with them and not with the images you drool over every day on Pinterest and Instagram.   

4. Use a Primer

Make sure you use a primer before applying paint to your kitchen cabinets. Not only will it cover the imperfections but will also provide a suitable surface to accept the paint more readily and make it stick. Once the primer dries off, you can sand the surfaces that are flat.

A primer particularly offers a good base for water-based paint with a semi-gloss finish. Never go for a cheap or low-quality primer-sealer just to save money because this is an important step and you cannot expect to have perfectly painted cabinets without priming them first.  

5. Set Up a Temporary Kitchen    

And last but not least, you need to have a makeshift kitchen ready for use when you start painting your kitchen cabinets. This is because the process might take longer than you expect, particularly if you’re doing it for the first time. And therefore, you need an adjacent room to use as a temporary kitchen till you’re done.

Different Types of Kitchen Cupboard Paints

We thought this topic requires a complete section so here it is. Choosing the most suitable paint for your cabinets is important to achieve the desired results. So, here are a few suggestions including tips and tricks to make the job easier for you.   

Alkyd Enamel Paint

The kitchen cabinet experts recommend using Alkyd enamel paint, which is water-based and offers all the benefits of an oil-based paint with extra features and durability. But it is advisable to use a primer first if you plan on using this type of paint. If you have unfinished wooden cabinets, use a primer-sealer that blocks wood tannins.

When using Alkyd paint, there is no need for a topcoat. Moreover, it is easy to clean with any type of solvent or cleaner since it is water-based. All major brands nowadays offer alkyd enamel paint for kitchen cabinets including Behr, Valspar, and Benjamin Moore.

Out of these, Sherwin Williams ProClassic is the most expensive and Behr is the least expensive paint. You can choose any one of these brands depending on your budget as they all have been tried and tested and offer great results.

General Finishes Milk Paint

Another expert suggestion for painting kitchen cabinets is General Finishes Milk Paint. It is recommended to lightly scuff the cabinets using 220 grit sandpaper if you plan on using this type of paint. While many people would not recommend sanding, professionals always advise it.

You don’t need to apply a primer though and that’s probably the biggest advantage of General Finishes. But unlike Alkyd paint, you would need to apply a topcoat to achieve the desired level of sheen ranging from extra flat to high gloss.

GF milk paints take about 2 to 3 weeks to cure completely. This type of paint is recommended if you are aiming for more depth in color and a low luster finish. It is commonly used by designers who want to lend a vintage or “worn out” look to their furniture.

Chalk Paint

Chalk Paint is best for wooden kitchen cabinets and is recommended if you want to give your kitchen a refresh at the minimum possible cost. It is advisable to use a flat brush for applying chalk paint over your cabinet doors and drawers. Before painting a second coat, let the first coat dry.

When you’re done painting all the cabinets, let the paint dry and then wax the doors using Clear Chalk Paint Wax. If you leave it overnight and then buff it with a cotton cloth the other day, it gives a perfect polished finish.

Chalk Paint holds up really well with absolutely no chipping even after months. And the best thing is, you don’t need to prep your cabinets before applying this type of paint. So, it’s perfect for small DIY projects or renovations you want to achieve without seeking professional help.

You Can Read More: best chalk paint for furniture.

Tips on Painting Kitchen Cabinets the Proper Way

Painting cabinets can be a messy job especially if you are painting them for the first time. There will be backsplash and drips to clean after the job is done. So, you need to know how to carry out this DIY project safely and properly.

Follow these tips to paint your cabinets the way professionals do.

  • You can use rosin paper to cover and protect the countertops and the floor. It is inexpensive and quite useful.
  • It is recommended to remove cabinet doors and drawer fronts before painting them. This way you will get a much neater result and avoid slopping the interior of the cabinets and drawers with paint.
  • Before you start the job, label each cabinet door and make a rough sketch on paper to understand where each part will go once the job is done.
  • If your cabinets are old and greasy, de-grease them first using phosphate-free cleaner. Some people also use simple and handy dishwashing liquid for this step but getting a professional solution is better if you want the best results.
  • The next step is to sand the cabinets. This step is required to make sure the paint will easily grip to the surface. If there are bumps and other imperfections on your cabinets, it is recommended to use coarser 100-grit sandpaper. Otherwise, 120-grit sandpaper used for light sanding should be adequate.
  • Remove the sanding dust completely before you start applying the paint. Use a vacuum cleaner for this job and afterwards use a tack cloth to pick up remaining particles of dust.
  • If the paint you have chosen requires a primer, choose a fast-drying product. Oil-based enamel primer is the recommended choice for optimal results. It not only levels well but also sands easily.
  • If your wooden cabinets come with holes and dents, use wood filler to fill them up before applying the first coat. You can use a flashlight to illuminate imperfections that are less noticeable. Use filler that sticks well and re-prime the areas you have just repaired. 
  • Many painting experts advise sanding lightly between coats to remove dust that settles in while the paint is drying. You can use 220-grit sandpaper for this step. Again, use a vacuum cleaner and a tack cloth afterwards to remove all dust particles before applying the next coat of paint.

Top 8 Best Paint for Kitchen Cabinets

Here is our review of the top 8 best paint for kitchen cabinets based on customer feedback and their suitability for painting different types of kitchen cabinets.

1. INSL-X Cabinet Coat Semi-Gloss Paint – Best for Beginners

INSL-X CC560109A-01 Cabinet Coat Enamel, Semi-Gloss Paint, 128 Fl Oz (Pack of 1), White

This paint is perfect if you don’t have any prior experience of painting your cabinets. It doesn’t require much of an effort on part of the painter and still gives the desired results. Its ultra-smooth finish is great for kitchen and bathroom cabinets.

It is recommended to use an angled sash brush to apply this paint. It may require multiple coats to reach the desired consistency and you will have to wait for about 6 hours before applying a second coat. Moreover, it may not wipe off as easily as other paints do. So, be prepared for this kind of extra work.

Some people may find the paint a bit pricey but since it’s great for beginners the price shouldn’t be a concern. If you don’t prep the cabinet before using it, it may chip easily. Always follow the instructions on the label to achieve the best possible results.

Features

  • Urethane-acrylic cabinet paint
  • Ultra-smooth finish
  • Meant for interior use only
  • Water-based paint
  • 6 hours drying time
  • Easy to work with and great for beginners

What We Like

  • No priming required if the surface is spick and span
  • Easy to clean and wash
  • No streaking

What We Don’t Like

  • Sanding required in between coats
  • Not meant for exterior use
  • A little more expensive than other products

2. Rust-Oleum Multi-Purpose Enamel Paint – Best for Quick Drying

Rust-Oleum 1993502 Multi-Purpose Enamel Paint, 32 Fl Oz (Pack of 1), Semi-Gloss White

Rust-Oleum is a brand trusted by most homeowners and professional painters. The company offers a wide range of acrylic paints for interior and exterior items. This particular water-based enamel paint by Rust-Oleum provides a semi-gloss finish and resists chipping.

It is also a recommended choice for concealing imperfections in your cabinets. However, before using this paint, you need to sand the surface using either 180 or 200 grit sandpaper. This may increase the overall time required to complete your project but the quick-drying feature of this paint compensates for that time.  

It is advisable to use a base primer before applying this paint. Also, if you try to paint two thick coats instead of multiple thin layers, the result might differ from what you expect. So, it’s a good idea to go through the instructions on the can before using this paint.

Features

  • Semi-gloss smooth finish
  • Water-based latex paint
  • Easy to apply 
  • Good for different surfaces including wood, metal, and ceramic
  • Requires two bonding coats and a topcoat

What We Like

  • Dries in half an hour
  • Easy to clean and wash
  • Available in a number of attractive colors

What We Don’t Like

  • Without using a primer, the paint doesn’t provide desired results
  • Extremely drippy
  • It may harden your paint brush

3. Giani Granite Nuvo Cabinet Makeover Kit – Best for Fast Results

Nuvo Titanium Infusion 1 Day Cabinet Makeover Kit

This makeover kit has received great reviews from customers as it does not require a lot of time and it is also quite easy to use. Nuvo cabinet paint has been formulated to be self-leveling, which means the brush strokes will not be visible after you are done. The result is an extremely smooth and satin finish, which is perfect for kitchen cabinets. 

To paint dark cabinets white, you will have to sand them using 300 to 330 sandpaper first and then use multiple coats for full coverage. You will be able to start using your kitchen again after a few hours of application and that is why it is best for fast results.

There is no need to remove the cabinets to paint them using this product. This kit can be compared to the famous Rust-Oleum makeover kit in terms of features and price. Both are DIY-friendly but Nuvo is even better suited to beginners because it is self-leveling. If you want a more professional finished result, then go for Rust-Oleum.

Features

  • Acrylic water-based paint with primer
  • Satin finish
  • Low odor and free from VOCs
  • A single coat takes about two hours to dry completely
  • Ideal for wooden, laminate, vinyl, and metal cabinets
  • Available in a number of beautiful colors

What We Like

  • It comes with a primer in it
  • Can be used on multiple surfaces including thermofoil
  • Offers a 24-hour cabinet makeover system
  • Finish is durable and requires no protective topcoat

What We Don’t Like

  • The rollers that come with the kit are not very efficient
  • It is a bit pricey for DIY projects

4. INSL-X Cabinet Satin Sheen Paint Set – Best for Professional Look

INSL-X CC5501099-1K Cabinet Coat Enamel, Satin Sheen Paint, 5 Piece Set, White

If you are looking for a complete cabinet painting kit that will offer factory-like results, choose this paint. All that is required is to clean and dry the surface completely before applying this paint. It doesn’t require a primer and is therefore easy to use.

However, if you want to hide stains and marks, use a primer for best results. You can use a primer from the same supplier. The paint can be applied with a sprayer and there is no need to thin it down. However, keep in mind that you may need up to four coats to reach your desired level of color and texture.

The instructions recommend light coating but you can also use heavy coating depending on your requirements. The paint is self-leveling and does not leave brush strokes. The recommended recoat time is six hours.  

Features

  • Urethane-acrylic paint formula
  • Ultra-smooth durable finish
  • Does not require a primer
  • Works well on previously painted cabinets
  • Good for multiple surfaces

What We Like

  • Resists chipping and staining
  • Is known to last for many years
  • No odor  
  • Easy to work with

What We Don’t Like

  • May require up to 3 gallons to paint the entire kitchen due to thin consistency
  • May cause streaking in some areas

5. Rust-Oleum Protective Satin Enamel – Best for Durability

1 qt Rust-Oleum Brands 7777502 Black Stops Rust Protective Enamel, Satin

Although formulated for outdoor furniture, this paint works well on all types of surfaces including wood, concrete, and metal. It’s an oil-based formula, unlike the other paints we have discussed in this review. It offers a protective top layer to protect the cabinet against abrasion, fading, and chipping.

The paint can be thinned out using a paint thinner especially if you want to use a sprayer. However, thinning is not required if you plan on using a brush or roller. The paint is self-leveling and smooths out on its own. So, it’s good for beginners.

The result of this paint is very different from what you get with water-based latex paint. The colors are rich and the finish is absolutely beautiful and ultra-smooth to the touch. It can be used to paint just about any surface including ceramic in the bathroom, outdoor metal furniture, or wooden cabinets and drawers.

Features

  • Available in nature-inspired colors
  • Low-sheen satin finish
  • Oil-based paint formula
  • Good for indoor/outdoor use
  • Offers excellent resistance against rust and chipping

What We Like

  • Quick drying
  • Does not fade easily
  • Durable and protective against chipping and cracking
  • UV resistant

What We Don’t Like

  • Strong and unpleasant odor
  • Some people may find it thick and not easy to work with

6. Rust-Oleum Transformations Cabinet Refreshing Kit – Best for Complete Renovation on a Budget

Rust-Oleum 298060 Transformations Cabinet Refinishing Kit, 143 Fl Oz (Pack of 1), Pure White

The best thing about this painting kit is that you don’t need to sand or prime your cabinets. However, some people have mentioned that if you use a primer before applying this paint, you may not need three or more coats to achieve the desired results. So, it’s your own decision if you want to use a primer or not. 

Once you’re done painting your cabinets, they would have completely transformed. The system offers a multi-layered protected surface that will last for many years to come. It comes with a deglosser so you don’t have to spend hours prepping and sanding the cabinets.

It also offers a glaze paint in the kit, which is optional to use. After two bonding coats, you may use a third glaze layer and then finally a protective topcoat. A lot of people have found the results to be extraordinary and very pleasing. 

Features

  • Perfect for laminate cabinetry
  • Durable and professional results
  • Acrylic water-based paint
  • Easy to clean with water and soap
  • May work well without priming

What We Like

  • No sanding or stripping required
  • Absolutely no odor
  • Great for DIY projects on a budget
  • One kit is sufficient for a small kitchen

What We Don’t Like

  • May require multiple coats for full coverage
  • You have to buy the complete kit even if you don’t need the glaze paint

7. General Finishes Water-Based Milk Paint – Best for Inexpensive Makeover

General Finishes Water Based Milk Paint, 1 Gallon, Antique White

This paint is highly recommended for cabinet refinishing and therefore we added this to our list of best paints for kitchen cabinets. It is known to cover really well so even if you have old and highly stained cabinets, you can safely use this paint to give them a completely new look.

A gallon of this paint would be enough to paint a kitchen, which is average in size. The paint is thick in nature and therefore only a couple of coats would be enough to reach your desired color. Nevertheless, keep in mind that it won’t be possible to use a sprayer because it wouldn’t thin down.

If you want to use a protective or semi-gloss topcoat, choose General Finishes semi-gloss top layer paint. It will give the flat finish a glossy look, which is recommended for kitchen cabinets.  

Features

  • Water-based milk formula
  • Flat finish
  • Simple and easy to apply
  • High quality and high coverage paint
  • Quick drying

What We Like

  • Can be applied with a roller, brush, or sprayer
  • Extremely durable
  • Easy to clean
  • Does not leave brush marks  

What We Don’t Like

  • A topcoat may cause yellowing when you’re using white color due to reaction with the substrate
  • May chip without a topcoat

8. Rust-Oleum Milk Paint Finish – Best for Matte Finish 

Rust-Oleum 331052 Milk Paint Finish, 32 Fl Oz (Pack of 1), Eclipse

If you want to give your cabinets a unique brushed effect with a matte finish, choose this paint. It is perfect for achieving that antique look some people desire in their décor. It is a pre-mixed formula and therefore there is no need to use a primer before application.

The result is a semi-transparent look, which gives a modern touch to your cabinets. You can mix multiple colors and apply a number of coats to create your own custom texture. Some people choose to lightly sand it after application for a distressed and antique appearance.

It is recommended to wait half an hour before applying a second coat. The paint is available in a number of beautiful colors including navy, highland blue, and Venetian yellow. Since it doesn’t need priming, it is easy to work with. If you want to make the result look a bit glossy, you can use a clear gloss over it.

Features

  • Beautiful modern matte finish
  • Non-toxic and safe to use
  • Water-based milk paint formula
  • Lightly textured in nature
  • Can be layered for a different customized look 

What We Like

  • Dries in about half an hour
  • Good for new and old cabinets alike
  • No need for a primer
  • Low odor formula

What We Don’t Like

  • May need several coats to reach your desired color
  • May scratch and chip easily

How to Choose the Right Paint For Cabinets?

Now, this is the tricky part. With so many options available on the market and mixed reviews on each of those products, it sometimes gets difficult to decide which one is best suited to your needs.

Here is a step-by-step guide to choosing the best paint for kitchen cabinets.

Step 1 – Consider your budget

There are many types of paints available on the market and to choose the best paint for kitchen cabinets, you have to consider your budget first. Instead of buying two or three gallons together, first, buy a quart and do a patch test to see if it’s the right color and the right finish.

Sometimes painting kits are more cost-effective than buying individual supplies. This is because these kits are designed to get the job done quickly and are often quite reasonably priced.

Step 2 – Read the label

This is an important step because you need paint that has been specially formulated for woodwork and cabinetry. Moreover, check the finish the paint offers and choose semi-gloss or a satin sheen because it is easy to achieve even for beginners.

If you choose a highly glossy finish, you might need to prep and sand your cabinets very precisely; otherwise, the desired results will not be achieved. 

Step 3 – Make sure it’s easy to work with

Paints that are too thick and require thinners in order to be able to level out on their own are not easy to work with. If you haven’t painted cabinets in the past, make sure you buy paint that already contains all the substances needed and is easy to work with.

Step 4 – When in doubt, go for acrylic urethane

Many people out there might not have any idea about the type of paint to use for their cabinets. So, when you are unsure, simply go for acrylic urethane because it sticks quite well to almost any type of material. You can also opt for acrylic urethane as a primer and any other paint for topcoats.  

Step 5 – Read user reviews

This might sound obvious but some people tend to ignore the negative reviews a product has received. If more people are dissatisfied with a particular paint or brand, try to find a substitute in the same category.   

Final Thought

Updating kitchen cabinets can tremendously enrich your old and boring kitchen. However, not everyone can afford to replace their cabinets entirely. The best way to spruce up your kitchen on a budget is to update your kitchen cabinets with fresh paint. Remember, any surface that can be scraped with sandpaper is good for painting.

However, it’s important to find the best paint for kitchen cabinets depending on their overall condition, the material they are made of, and the final result you are looking for. Always choose high-quality paint because it’s a job that requires special skills and a lot of effort and you definitely wouldn’t want all that to go wasted.

Use this article as a guide to help you choose the right paint for your cupboards and get yourself ready for the job! 

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