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Best Cabinet Paint for Kitchens & Bathrooms

Choosing the right cabinet paint for your kitchen and bathroom can be a daunting task. You will know exactly what to use by the end of this post!

There are so many different brands, finishes, and types of cabinet paint available that it can be difficult to choose which one is best for your kitchen or bathroom cabinets.

I’ll break down some of the most important questions to ask when choosing cabinet paint for your kitchen or bathroom – like what type of finish do you want and how durable will it be?

Plus provide helpful links to resources where you can find out more about cabinet paints in general and how to paint cabinets too!

What type of cabinet paint finish do you want?

Finish by definition is the actual sheen of the paint.

What is sheen you ask? It is how light reflective or shiny the paint is when fully dry.

Primary Paint Sheen Levels

  • Flat/Matte
  • Eggshell
  • Satin
  • Semi-Gloss
  • Gloss

Each manufacturer has their own basic names for sheens, but they all follow this general pattern.

Sheen is not only how reflective a paint is, but each sheen or finish delivers different characteristics that influence your decision on which paint to choose for your cabinets.

For example, higher sheens tend to be easier to clean, have a harder finish, and more resistant to dirt than a flat sheen.

Have you ever tried to scrub a flat paint and it left a shiny spot on the wall? Me too!

Paint-Sheen-Guide-Benjamin-Moore

You can guess that flat paint is the LEAST durable of all the sheens.

Flat paint hides imperfections and why it’s primarily used on ceilings and walls.

So as you move up on the spectrum of paint sheens the durability and scrub-ability increases as you get to a gloss finish.

Best Paint Sheen for Kitchen and Bathroom Cabinets

Mid-range sheens are most commonly used for painting cabinets.

A mid-range sheen would be a satin or semi-gloss finish.

They give you a nice balance between being easy to clean and also resisting scratches or other damage, but without being too shiny.

Too low of a sheen will not be as durable against scratches and general wear which is important for kitchen and bathroom cabinets.

semi-gloss-best-sheen-kitchen-bath-cabinets
My bathroom cabinets in a semi-gloss sheen in direct sunlight.

Final answer: Choose a semi-gloss sheen for kitchen and bathroom cabinets!

Plus low sheen paints can’t be cleaned, which would be a DISASTER in a kitchen or bathroom where being able to wipe the surface is so important.

While higher sheen, also known as a gloss finish, could be a good choice due to how hard the finish is a gloss sheen may be too shiny in a kitchen or bathroom.

A semi-gloss paint is the best mix of durability with an easy to clean surface for kitchen and bathroom cabinets.

semi-gloss-best-sheen-kitchen-cabinets
My kitchen cabinets in semi-gloss sheen in natural light.

What is paint type is best for cabinets? Oil, Acrylic Latex or a Hybrid Enamel

Both acrylic latex and oil paints can be used on cabinets, but which one is better?

In general for a beginner painter, latex paints are better than oil-based paints. Why is this?

Latex paints dry quickly and brushes and rollers can be cleaned with soap and water.

Latex paints are low to no VOC too, which means they have very little odor and are better for the environment.

Even though latex paint is more user-friendly some pro painters still like to use oil-based paints.

They like them because they form a hard, tough surface and level out nicely to hide brush and roller marks.

Why I personally don’t use oil paints EVER…

You have to clean oil paint off of rollers and brushes with mineral spirits, which I can personally tell you is a pain!

Oil based paints take forever to dry and can yellow over time. Plus they are high in VOCs or fumes bad for the environment and your health!

So which one is better for kitchen and bathroom cabinets?

Guess what? There is a paint that is the best of both latex and oil paints.

how-to-hand-paint-bathroom-and-kitchen-cabinets

Let’s talk about WHAT I RECOMMEND FOR PAINTING CABINETS: hybrid enamel cabinet paint.

The best paint for kitchen and bathroom cabinets: Hybrid Enamel or Cabinet Enamel

There is a fairly new paint technology that is a hybrid of latex and oil called an alkyd oil enamel paint. Or a hybrid enamel.

What this means in plain terms is that it’s a latex water based paint that has been modified with oil molecules to enhance its durability.

This means that once the paint dries and cures, it ends up being as tough as an oil based paint!

Plus it cleans up with soap and water like an acrylic latex paint.

Nice right?

The top 10 reasons why I love this alkyd oil enamel

Another benefit is a hybrid enamel paint won’t yellow over time like an oil cabinet paint.

This is REALLY important if you plan to paint your cabinets white.

It’s not just about the best type of paint, it’s also a question of how much you want to spend on your project.

Kitchen and Bathroom Cabinet Paint Cost

Generally speaking, an alkyd oil enamel or hybrid enamel can cost more than twice as much per gallon than a latex paint.

That’s because hybrid enamels are SO special!

A latex paint is around $20-30 per gallon and my FAVORITE cabinet paint Valspar Cabinet & Furniture enamel is over $50 per gallon.

To me spending the money on a hybrid enamel is worth it, because of the durability and smooth finish.

It flows and levels better than a latex paint to hide brush marks, so you can get a professional finish without being a pro painter!

Valspar-Cabinet-Furniture-Enamel-Application-Tips-Porch-Daydreamer

But if you’re on a budget a semi-gloss latex paint is an alternative for cabinets, but not my personal recommendation based the fact you need to apply a top coat.

Without a clear polyurethane top coat, an acrylic latex paint won’t be as hard or scrubbable.

If that is important in your bathroom and kitchen spend the extra money on a hybrid enamel.

If you paint your kitchen or bathroom cabinets (even furniture) with Valspar Cabinet & Furniture enamel instead of a latex paint, you won’t have to apply a clear polyurethane top coat.

That saves time and MONEY, so at the end of the day a hybrid enamel isn’t that expensive 🙂

PIN IT FOR LATER!

What is re-coat time and why it’s important when painting cabinets?

First, what is the definition of paint re-coat time?

Re-coat time is how long you MUST wait before applying the next layer of paint.

Not when it is dry to the touch or to handle.

Latex paints because they are mainly water can be recoated in about 2 hours.

Re-coat times get more complicated with hybrid enamel cabinet paints due to the inclusion of oil or urethane molecules.

using-a-foam-roller-to-apply-valspar-cabinet-enamel-paint-on-bathroom-kitchen-cabinets

Each manufacturer will state the exact re-coat times on the can, so please READ THIS BEFORE YOU START PAINTING.

If you apply that 2nd coat too quickly, the paint will stick to itself and not the surface leaving you with a tacky and sticky finish.

The technical term is called “blocking” and it can be difficult to correct.

Your paint may never fully dry.

Try this to fix blocking or tacky/sticky paint :

  • Run a heated oscillating fan over the cabinets or furniture overnight to see if you can force the paint to dry.
  • If that doesn’t work, lightly sand the finish with 220 grit sandpaper, clean the dust off completely, and apply one coat Valspar Bonding Primer.
  • Then apply the cabinet enamel according to the manufacturer’s re-coat instruction times.

RE-COAT TIMES FOR THE MAJOR CABINET Enamel BRANDS

So now you know which kitchen and bathroom cabinet paint I recommend plus the other brands to consider.

Now let’s talk about the best application tips for cabinet enamels.

How-to Get a Smooth Finish When Painting Cabinets

If you are new to painting cabinets, I’ll share some simple tips ensuring you get the best finish possible.

Plus I have several posts on how to paint cabinets, so PLEASE read those prior to painting.

Contains hand selected products, with affiliate marketing links where I may make a small commission if a purchase is made. {full disclosure here}

Tips When Painting Kitchen and Bathroom Cabinets

  1. Regardless of what the can says please always apply one coat of a bonding primer prior to painting. I recommend Valspar Bonding Primer. You can sand it smooth if needed.
  2. Use a high quality nylon polyester brush and FOAM rollers to avoid brush marks.
  3. Don’t over apply and instead apply cabinet enamel in thin coats following the re-coat times.

I hope ALL of this information helps you as you venture down the road to paint kitchen and bathroom cabinets.

There are a LOT of paint tutorials on my site, so click that link to see what is available!

Good luck and cheers to beautiful results on your painted kitchen and bathroom cabinets.

Please consider following me on InstagramPinterest, or Facebook for more inspiration and helpful advice.

Until next time…

PORCH DAYDREAMER

Tracey

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