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The Best Cabinet Paint You Need to Know About

Are you searching for the best cabinet paint to use on your kitchen or bathroom cabinets? Here is the only cabinet paint I recommend that is smooth, durable and doesn’t require a top coat!

It’s true you could use any paint to paint cabinets, but the reality is cabinets take a beating more so than other areas you paint – especially in kitchens and baths.

The paint you choose is critical to how durable the finish will be long term. Plus the right cabinet paint can also provide a smooth finish even for the novice painter.

Plus we are all busy and want the paint project to take the least amount of time. That’s why I looked for a paint that doesn’t require a topcoat for durability.

Why Shouldn’t I Use a Regular Paint for Cabinets?

First and foremost, I worked for the Valspar paint company for almost 5 years and tested a LOT of paints!

The group I worked in sold to the Lowe’s Home Improvement corporate buyers and trained the store staff.

We studied paint technology and knew what made one paint better than another for a specific project. 

So when I tell you I dug in to find the best paint for cabinets, I know from first hand knowledge!

READ: Valspar Cabinet & Furniture Enamel: What You Need to Know

porch daydreamer painting with behr blueprint lr

Why latex satin or semi-gloss paints aren’t the best option for cabinets:

  • Latex paints were designed primarily for walls and trim and cure to a softer finish
  • If you were to use a regular latex paint on cabinets, you would need to top coat with polyurethane for long term durability and washability
  • Polyurethane top coat means you can’t touch up nicks or scratches easily

In the past, paint contractors would have recommended an oil based semi-gloss paint for cabinets and that would have provided a hard durable finish.

Just so you are aware, due to VOC (volatile organic compounds) regulations, oil paints are hard to find now. Why don’t I like oil based paints?

They yellow over time, are high in VOCs (volatile organic compounds), have a very strong odor, and require cleaning up with mineral spirits. 

Using a water based paint is going to be best for the air in your home and easy to clean up.

Hopefully, this helps you think hmmm Tracey there may be a better cabinet paint option out there that I didn’t know about!

Best Cabinet Paint: Valspar Cabinet Enamel 

What is this seemingly perfect cabinet paint?

It is Valspar’s Cabinet Enamel!  Shocker it is a Valspar paint 😉

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

It may seem a little pricey at $54 per gallon, but for the finish you get it is TOTALLY worth the price!

Why I am a fan of Valspar Cabinet Enamel Paint: 

#1 reason I LOVE this cabinet paint: NO TOP COAT NEEDED!

  • This is paint technology that acts like an oil and cures to a hard tough finish
  • Water based, which means soap and water clean up
  • Low odor, low VOC (gasses)
  • Available in almost all of Valspar’s paint colors (2,000+) plus custom tintable into other manufacturer’s colors
  • Flows and levels beautifully, which means virtually no brush marks!
  • Dries to a durable semi-gloss finish that’s easy to wipe clean
  • Non-yellowing like the old oil paints
  • Can be sprayed or hand applied for a smooth finish. (NEVER THIN TO SPRAY)

Valspar Cabinet Paint Technology

This really is a new paint technology called alkyd oil. What that means in plain terms is there is a molecule of oil trapped inside the latex paint.

So once the paint dries and cures, it ends up being as tough as an oil based paint without the yellowing or environmental concerns. Cool!

I’ve used this paint on my master bathroom cabinets = TWICE.

The first project I painted over stain to a mint green and then repainted over that to the white you see here as part of my master bathroom remodel. 

bathroom-cabinets-painted-with-valspar-cabinet-enamel-in-benjamin-moore-decorators-white

You can see in the close up how SMOOTH and hard of a finish is provided by the cabinet enamel even in direct sunlight.

smooth-finish-of-valspar-cabinet-enamel-best-cabinet-paint

This vanity is on my side and I am rough on it – banging hair driers, a flatiron, and brushes. This is how the cabinet enamel looks on a cloudy day.

close-up-of-valspar-cabinet-enamel-paint-bathroom-cabinets-polished-nickel-hardware

Post contains hand selected products, with affiliate marketing links throughout {full disclosure here} 

Shop the Master Bathroom Remodel

The good news is that if I ever get a nick or scrape, I can easily repair it with a fine grit sandpaper and more paint.

valspar-cabinet-enamel-bathroom-cabinets

This color was the previous version and all that was required was a new coat of paint to change the look entirely!

I didn’t have to prime over a polyurethane saving days of work and dry time.

To get the smoothest finish possible, I spray my cabinets with an airless sprayer but you can hand apply and get great results. 

As part of my office makeover to cover over the original espresso stain, I painted the cabinets with Valspar Cabinet Enamel white and a deep blue.

office-cabinets-painted-with-Valspar-Cabinet-Enamel-Swiss-Coffee-and-Indigo-Streamer

durable-cabinet-paint-valspar-cabinet-enamel-office-cabinet

cabinet-painted-in-valspar-cabinet-paint

I like this paint so much I use it on furniture too! Valspar Cabinet Enamel holds up well on both vertical and horizontal surfaces.

Pin It for Later!

best most durable cabinet paint that doesn't require a top coat close up of white cabinet

General Valspar Cabinet Enamel Application Tips

  1. IMPORTANT do not shake the can of paint! To mix ONLY STIR. 
    1. If you do shake it, don’t use the paint until it settles.
    2. Little air bubbles will get trapped in the paint and will leave marks on the surface of the paint.
  2. When hand applying, use only a FOAM roller and nylon/polyester brush
  3. When spraying, DO NOT THIN OR OVER APPLY!
  4. Be prepared prime first when going over stain and apply 2 coats of paint
  5. Let every coat of paint dry OVERNIGHT, before applying the next coat.
  6. Don’t replace cabinet hardware for 2 days following the final coat – trust me.

Here are the best of the best Valspar Cabinet Enamel paint tutorials:

Valspar Cabinet Enamel Paint Tutorials

All of my best Valspar Cabinet Enamel paint tutorials! Learn that you don't have to sand before painting, the best furniture paint to use, what is better hand painting or spraying, and how to get a smooth paint finish on cabinets every time!

NO Cabinet Paint is Indestructible

While Valspar Cabinet enamel is really tough even on furniture surfaces, it isn’t indestructible.

The good news? Since a top coat isn’t required with Valspar Cabinet Enamel, it’s easy to touch up when blemishes happen!

My little 5 lb. Maltese Mick LOVES to scratch my office cabinets to get my attention to pick him up, when I am on work calls (and can’t yell at him). 

dog-nails-will-scratch-painted-cabinets

He’s done some damage! Someday, when I get annoyed enough, I will lightly sand with 220 grit sand paper and use a foam roller to apply another coat.

Easy fix that won’t take any time at all!

Good luck in your next painting adventures. I have a great paint project resource guide that can be found here teaching you all about the best paint by project, applicators, sheen guides, and even faux finish techniques.

As my FREE GIFT to you, with email sign-up a detailed paint sheen project guide! 

You will know the right sheen for every project…

free-paint-sheen-download-porch-daydreamer

I’d love if you followed me on Pinterest and Instagram for daily inspiration and lots of pictures of my home!

Until next time…

Porch Daydreamer

Tracey 

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41 Comments

  1. Hi – your blog is so informative. I missed what shade of white did you use in your office. Will it look good on kitchen cabinets?
    Thanks for the great article

    1. You are the 2nd person to point this out and I stand by my many projects, training, and smooth cabinets plus furniture projects using a foam roller. I may just do a video to test out a regular roller against a foam roller to show people the difference! Not sure WHY they say this…I don’t work there anymore or I would correct them 😉

  2. I have been using this paint now for several weeks. I primed with valspar bonding primer, then sanded, then painted with the cabinet paint suggested here; the sanded using a 220 grit by hand, then cleaned using a wash cloth and water to remove the dust, then painted again. I did this process 4 times ( just not the initial primer bond). I am not sure why I am needing to add so many coats. I started out using a brush, then decided the brush wasn’t giving me an even coat and left me brush strokes so I switched to a foam roller. That did help a lot but seemed to go on a bit thinner. The can says 2 coats I believe. Am I sanding too much? Am I using the wrong grit? Wrong technique? I have already had to completely strip, and clean the first botched job (hired the wrong guy to do it. He didn’t know what he was doing so the paint never adhered to the cabinets) leaving me completely exhausted and done with the project before even starting over. Do you have any suggestions? Solutions for me? Thank you in advance!

    1. Hmmm, sorry it’s hard for me to tell exactly what the issue is you are experiencing. I typically don’t sand between coats of paint unless there are rough areas (there shouldn’t be). Also, if it is a dark color it will take up to 3 coats. Definitely brushing will apply the least amount of paint. You can roll and brush too much pulling up the paint. Watch the video in this post where I demonstrate the basics: https://porchdaydreamer.com/valspar-cabinet-furniture-enamel-review/

  3. You said that you used Valspar Cabinet Enamel on your Master Bath, but when I downloaded your PDF, it listed Benjamin Moore as the paint! What’s going on? I wanted to know the color of the Valspar, but then got another pain entirely. Seems like click bait, and I’m not happy about it.

  4. Hi! Looking for some advise. I used this product on my bathroom vanity, which was just builder grade honey oak. I did not prime as the product said you didn’t need to.
    I love the result, with one exception. When reinstalling the cabinets I noticed the scratched and the pain came off very easily. Does this get better with time or should I be using a top coat to seal? I was looking forward to doing my kitchen over with this product but an feeling nervous now that I see how easily the paint can chip off.
    Please help! 🙂

    1. Amy, I wish they wouldn’t show that you don’t need a primer with this product but it’s best practice. If it’s scratching off, the paint hasn’t adhered to the cabinet. Any layer you add on top will scratch off too. For your kitchen, definitely clean the cabinets really well and primer with bonding primer first.

      1. Hi, I just painted my laminate countertops with the valspar white cabinet enamel. I used a bonding primer after sanding down the laminate and then painted two coats of the valspar on top. Do I need a sealer on top? I’m concerned about yellowing over time if I use a sealer, but I wasn’t sure how tough this paint was.

        1. Good for you! The paint is tough, but since it is a countertop getting regular use I would say yes add a top coat. To avoid yellowing, use a water-based polyurethane like Polycrylic from Minwax. The oil polys are the ones that yellow.

    2. never believe what the can says …. scuff and prime any glossy surface …. I have no idea how these paint companies get away with lying on the cans

    1. Bill, it doesn’t need to be “rated” for kitchen and is safe to use for kitchens and baths. My kitchen makeover currently underway is getting sprayed with Valspar Cabinet Enamel and my bathroom has cabinets painted with it as well.

  5. I have 1980’s laminate cabinet doors. The cabinet boxes are wood (thankfully). Would this cabinet enamel adhere to the laminate doors (inside and out)? Would I need a primer first? Thinking of white uppers and dark lowers (navy or dark grey). Thanks!!

  6. Hi, My kitchen cabinets are painted with a semi gloss acrylic paint. I would like to use the Valspar Cabinet paint to re-do them. Do I need to sand them first before painting, or can I go over existing paint with the Valspar?

      1. Hi there! The link to download the colors isn’t working. Could you please tell me the white you used???

        1. Hi, Kelli! Thanks for letting me know. I fixed it, so it should be working now. I have several colors in that post so I am not sure which you need. Also, you can look through my home tours for paint colors as well

          1. No problem! I think I’m confused. The post is about Valspar cabinet paint, but you used a Benjamin Moore color? How does that work? I want that beautiful white that you used in your bathroom for the cabinets!

          2. Ah yes, and I explained that in one of my posts during the remodel 🙂 Lowe’s has all of the tint formulas in their database, so you can have the Valspar Cabinet Enamel tinted into a Ben Moore color. I always ask for a sample first, to make sure it’s a match. Make sure you find a paint associate who has been in the department a while, they will know how to look up and use the right formula.

  7. Hi there! I took the plunge and painted my cabinets with Valspar enamel- but no matter how I’m applying it, I’m getting little bubbles everywhere! They look like air bubbles, maybe? I stirred the paint, brushed, rolled, and sprayed…all result in the same problem!
    Do you have any thoughts on why this happened? I want to try again (for the 3rd time) but not until I know the root cause!

    1. Hi, Caite! What is happening when the paint dries…do you see them? Lots of things can cause air bubbles. Shaking the enamel versus stirring or stirring too vigorously, over applying, using the wrong roller (not foam), and spraying to closely. I haven’t had this happen, so I’m sorry I can’t be of more help. Make sure you don’t shake the can before applying. It’s best to stir gently.

  8. I have previously painted cabinets ( painted with Interior semigloss in a horrible bright turquoise color) can I use the valspar enamel on it? Do I need the binding primer? Also did you use the semigloss or the satin on yours?

  9. Hi! I’ve just finished my second coat of Valspar Cabinet Enamel on our cabinets/vanity in our bathroom. It looks great! I know you said in your article you don’t need a top or finishing coat. But, in our bathroom, we have a cabinet right next to our sink. Would you recommend a top coat to protect against water? My initial thinking was Polycrylic. Would this help or hurt?

    1. Hey, Greg! Nope, not necessary to add a top coat. I only suggest it on horizontal surfaces like kitchen or playroom tables. My cabinets have been painted with the Valspar Cabinet Enamel for years and I am rough on mine. Not issues…other than when I dropped a glass bottle and it hit one of the decorative pieces and chipped the paint. It’s easier to repair with no top coat too. You just sand the small chip, clean, apply bonding primer, and two coats of paint.

  10. Do you have any recommendations for a glaze to use on painted cabinets? I am trying to get by with trying to repaint a few of my kitchens cabinets which were painted white with a pewter glaze. I went to Lowe’s but did not find a very knowledgeable person. I am not finding anything on internet. Also went to Sherwin Williams. I was told they don’t sell a glaze.

  11. Thank you so much for the in-depth color combos for choosing cabinet colors and also all of the handy tips you gave I have a galley kitchen and have been thinking of two tone
    color combos for cabinets. You gave me some very good ideas.

  12. I am painting my dining room table white and I have several coats of white paint over it but its not holding up.. If I sand, do you think this cabinet paint would work for a kitchen table? If it’s durable enough for cabinets, I am thinking it might? thoughts?

    1. Denise, Absolutely! If you click on the “Best furniture” paint tutorial linked in this post you can see all of the furniture I’ve painted with Valspar Cabinet Enamel. It wears beautifully, but you do need to dry a little longer before placing items on the surface. If you have failing paint underneath, your idea to sand is dead on the mark. Good luck!

  13. I took your advice and used this paint on an armoire and a laminate bookcase. This paint is the best and I think I am going to repaint the kitchen cabs in one of our rentals with it. The rental is for sale and for some reason it hasn’t sold. I’m going to change the color of the cabinets as well as all the walls.

    Thanks for your great information and I love your blog.

  14. Your cabinets look amazing! Would this paint work over builder’s grade cabinets? They have a wood look finish, but aren’t wood stained–it looks like more of a sticker, if that makes sense?

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