The cost to renovate a new kitchen or bathroom with new cabinets can be in the thousands. Sometimes, tens of thousands.
Painting your cabinets can make a huge difference and save you a boatload of money. For example, going from dark wood cabinets to white wood cabinets is a huge trend right now. So is a pop of color on the island.
If you ever get tired of a color, painting cabinets is an easy, low-cost way to change the look and feel of a room.
While you are free to experiment with any paint for your furniture, cabinets are different because they do the ‘dirtiest’ job. For example, kitchen cabinets are prone to food stains. Bathroom cabinets may be splashed with water more than cabinetry in other rooms of your house.
This means you should provide extra protection for wood cabinets to help them withstand all the use they get. Choosing the right kind of paint for your cabinet is crucial to ensuring the painting job isn’t only easy but looks great when you’re done.
I always suggest asking at a specialty paint store, like Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore. Lately, I’m partial to Benjamin Moore because Sherwin Williams really shot themselves in the foot by firing an employee who was doing amazing things for their business on social media for free. (That really made me mad.)
When it comes to colors, you can pretty much choose any color you want, but you want to make sure the paint is reliable and durable. That’s where this blog will help. (But still, I suggest asking the experts in a paint store when you begin your project.)
The Best Paint for Wood Cabinets
1. Benjamin Moore Advance Interior Satin Paint
This advanced interior satin paint comes in matte to a high gloss. The higher the gloss, the less likely you’ll be able to see marks or stains from frequent touches. Even fingerprints won’t show on the surface.
If you want to be more creative than white, the company offers a massive palette of over 3,500 colors.
The best part of this product is that it retains the structure of your cabinet after drying, and the edge remains precise, sharp, and crisp. To clean your cabinets after painting, all you need is warm water.
To watch a video on how to paint your cabinets with this paint, click here.
2. Valspar Cabinet Enamel Semi-Gloss Latex Interior Paint
Valspar’s Cabinet Enamel Semi-Gloss Latex behaves like oil paint, although it is not – so don’t let the word latex in the name throw you off. Most paints are enriched with oil to give the wood a streak-free surface.
This paint is ideal for use on bare wood, previously painted wood or metal, or properly prepared laminate.
If you buy this paint from Lowes, you can choose from more than 1,000 colors.
3. INSL-X Cabinet Coat
If you know you want white cabinets, then grab this deal on Amazon for $21 by clicking here. You can choose from satin or semi-glass.
This is described as the ultimate acrylic cabinet paint for a “factory-like” finish when refurbishing kitchen and bathroom cabinets, shelving, furniture, trim, and crown molding. It delivers an ultra-smooth, durable finish.
You don’t need to use a primer before painting with this. The finish also resists chipping, scuffing, food stains, grease & water.
4. Farrow and Ball
Before you get to painting, you’re going to want to choose a water-based primer and undercoat here.
This is a unique brand. Not only is it more expensive than others, but most paint stores do not carry Farrow and Ball paints on their shelves and it can take up to 2 weeks to receive the paint.
You have to use their primer for their warranty and the dry times are longer than you’d expect. Like, days longer.
Click here to choose from more than 150 colors.
If you want some kitchen cabinet inspiration from their site, check this out. (I’m kind of digging the duck green.) That page will also break down how to paint kitchen cabinets with their paint.
5. Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations
You really can’t go wrong with this brand and this product is made specifically for transforming cabinets. Differing from the ones mentioned above, this one doesn’t change the color, just the wood tint – like if you want to make your oak cabinets darker, for example.
This is a perfect do-it-yourself coating system that creates a premium cabinet finish. The best part? It requires no stripping, sanding or priming.
If you want dark cabinets, you can buy an entire kit on Amazon for just $70 here. This kit can be found in 11 tints and covers up to 200 square feet.
6. BEHR Alkyd Enamel
You can find this paint at Home Depot or by clicking here. For less than $40, it’s perfect for use on prepared interior and exterior metal and wood surfaces like doors, trim, molding, cabinetry, and more.
You can get it in satin or semi glass and choose from a range of 60 colors.
Ingredients in Wood Cabinet Paint
Before we move on to how to paint wood cabinets, here is a little vocabulary lesson on some of the ingredients in paint. There really is no right or wrong paint to choose, but there is a right and wrong way to prep and apply. This may help.
Paints made with urethane were traditionally used for automotive and industrial construction because of their sturdiness. Now, they are blended so they can be used at home.
The enamel helps the paint to dry faster and become tougher. If your most preferred color is not made with this component, you may want to reconsider your choice… or be patient and be careful.
Acrylic paints adhere to finished wood better than others. They don’t flake or peel from the surface quickly. A second coat is always recommended for a smooth finish.
If the paint is made with latex, chances are it will peel off easily if the surface you’re painting isn’t completely bare and clean first, so be mindful of that when choosing latex paint for cabinets.
Oil-based paint is easy to apply and provides a harder, more durable finish than others, so you may not needs as many coats of paint (and still look like a crew of professional painters came in!)
How to Paint Wood Cabinets at Home Step-by-Step
Yes, you can hire someone to do this. They’ll do it quickly and you don’t have to worry about it, but in my experience, some painters half-ass the job because they don’t need to look at it every day.
If you want to have fun tackling the job yourself, here are some tips for painting wood cabinets at home.
Again, it’s best to consult with the person you’re buying the type of paint from for a step-by-step tutorial with their painting supplies. These are some tools you may need:
- Sander to prepare the surface
- Primer and/or paint
- Square brush to use on flat panels
- Paint sprayer for a smooth topcoat (best finish) without the appearance of brush strokes
- Angled brush for those hard-to-reach corners
- Foam roller to ensure you don’t see brush strokes (it’s the best way!)
Now that you have your tools ready, it’s time to get to work!
1. Prepare the room
First, you want to empty the cabinets and clear the counters. Relocating things to another room in your house, placing a tack cloth, and taping areas you don’t want to paint is a great thing to do in preparation. Then, you can set up a workspace for drawers, shelves, and painting doors.
2. Remove the drawers, door, and shelves
Removing the parts of the cabinet, screw by screw to ensure you’re painting everything thoroughly. This also means removing the hardware to put back on when the paint is dry for best results. (Trust me. It’s easier than painting around it.) Or, just get new hardware!
3. Clean all the surfaces
Your cabinets should be sanded and completely clean and bare of any dirt, dust, or debris for a smooth finish. Keep a damp cloth nearby in case you miss a spot or accidentally go over an edge with paint.
4. Prepare yourself
Today, most paint isn’t harmful, but just in case or if you’re sensitive to potentially toxic smells, open a window or put on a face mask. I also like to wear old clothes… inside out.
5. Prime the cabinets
If your cabinets are stained, use a stain-blocking primer. In some cases, you may not need a stain-blocker because an acrylic or latex primer would do the job. Many paints also come with primer, so priming most likely won’t be necessary but double-check to be sure.
6. Paint the cabinet on the wall
Now that you have everything in place, it is time to paint! Work from top to bottom using the square brush. Apply the paint evenly to both the inside of the cabinets (if you want) and the exterior parts of the cabinet. Take your time with this process.
7. Paint the cabinet doors
You can paint the cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and shelves just the way you did the cabinet. The only difference is that you are doing it on a table and can move it around to get all sides.
You can get creative here and use chalk paint or whiteboard paint if it’s a lower kid’s cabinet, too. It’s a good option for flat surfaces and a DIY project for kids.
8. Assemble all the pieces back together
Finally, after everything is dry, it is time to put it all together. Install the hinges, knobs, hardware, and hang them where they should be.
Then, you can step back and admire the finished product… because it is a lot of work! To do this, you need to be fueled by the motivation to do things for yourself. There’s nothing like grabbing high-quality paint with a satin finish and finishing with a fresh coat of paint (no brush strokes) the first time.
If you’ve painted your cabinets before, please find me on Instagram at @ChristinaAllDay and share your before and after photos with me. Let me know what your favorite paint color is for walls and cabinets. Maybe you use a different color inside the cabinets. What new paint are you using? Let me know what I should add to this blog post to help you give your entire kitchen a new look with white paint… or the best color for you in your space.
For my favorite home DIY project to date, click here. It’s my background for video calls and a visual love of reading! Here’s the wall transformation in a :30 Instagram reel.
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