Given the staggering cost of new kitchen and bathroom cabinets, it's no wonder that homeowners often look to painting as a cost-effective alternative way to change the look of their cabinets. Not only that, painting gives you complete freedom to exercise your creative potential. No longer are you bound by a set number of cabinet finishes.
While you have leeway as to paint types in other areas of the home, cabinets need paint that is hardy enough to withstand repeated touching, food and liquid splashes, and physical impact.
Choosing standard interior latex for your cabinets may seem like a good idea at first, but you'll find that it lays down in streaks and easily peels.
What you need is a paint that is engineered for cabinets. Here are seven cabinet paint brands that you can count on to produce a rock-hard, smooth, self-leveling surface.
1. Farrow & Ball: Full Gloss
- It Is: Great for creating a mirror-like super glossy cabinet surface.
- Cost: About $115 per gallon.
Formed in England in the waning days of World War II, Farrow & Ball's products are now found in the U.S. at premium paint suppliers, as well as online.
Available in 132 colors, Farrow & Ball's Full Gloss paint is ideal for high impact areas such as cabinets. This zero VOC paint is easy to wipe off or wash, as it comes with a 95% gloss–almost like wiping down porcelain tile or metal (by way of comparison, their flattest matte finish is 2% gloss).
Not only is high gloss functional, it's back in style.
Designers are increasingly using high gloss paints on other surfaces such as ceilings and walls.
2. Benjamin Moore: Advance Interior Paint, Satin
- It Is: A sleek satin paint that is perfect for cabinets and other high traffic surfaces.
- Cost: About $50 per gallon.
Also available in semi-gloss and full gloss, Advance offers a huge palette of over 3,500 colors.
Professional painter Jack Pauhl likes Advance's low viscosity. This means that it is a thinner product that allows for faster painting yet it retains structure after drying. He notes that the edges produce "crisp sharp lines...that homeowners always comment on."
3. Fine Paints of Europe: Eurolux Acrylic
- It Is: A white paint that is guaranteed never to yellow.
- Cost: Between $100 and $120 per gallon.
This family-owned company's products are the best-kept secret of professional door, trim, and cabinet painters. Fine Paints of Europe's (FPE) products are not found in many brick-and-mortar stores (online order is your best bet) and it is expensive. But this Vermont-based paint maker leads the way with its innovative products.
White alkyd cabinet paints tend to yellow over time. Darker conditions such as those found in kitchen and bathrooms actually promote yellowing. So, if a tough white cabinet paint is your desire, FPE produces the cabinet-ready Eurolux Acrylic, which the company notes is "non-yellowing under all circumstances."
FPE is serious about painted cabinets and it addresses the perennial problem of wood grain telegraphing through paint layers with a product called Brushing Putty.
This is a "high-build sanding primer," as the company calls it, which is brushed over the wood and is sanded down to conceal the grain patterns.
4. Valspar: Cabinet Enamel Semi-Gloss Latex Interior Paint
- It Is: A cabinet-specific latex paint that behaves much like oil-based paint.
- Cost: About $50 per gallon.
Valspar's Cabinet Enamel is a hybrid; the company says that it is a latex interior that is "oil-enriched."
Oil is the magic ingredient in paints that helps produce streak-free surfaces. Majority oil-based paints have largely been discontinued since 2005, due to their high Volatile Organic Content (VOC). You can still buy majority oil-based paints in limited, one-quart quantities, though.
Unlike oil-based paints, the Valspar Cabinet Enamel does not require petroleum products such as turpentine for clean-up.
Warm water and soap are all you need.
One advantage of choosing Valspar is its ready availability: you'll find it at your nearest Lowe's Home Improvement store.
5. Rust-Oleum: Cabinet Transformations
- It Is: Not just paint, but an entire cabinet coating kit.
- Cost: Ranging from $60 to $85 per kit (100 square foot coverage).
Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations distinguishes itself from cabinet paints in that it is a multi-layered system that promises a transparent protected surface upon completion.
First, by using Cabinet Transformations Deglosser, you eliminate the need for laborious sanding and cleaning prior to painting. After two bonding coats is an optional glaze, followed by the all-important protective top coat.
6. Behr: Alkyd Semi-Gloss Enamel
- It Is: A paint that helps you control project costs while maintaining quality.
- Cost: About $33 per gallon.
Available in 60 colors, Behr's Alkyd Semi-Gloss Enamel is formulated for surfaces that need durability and washability. The least expensive pick in this list of recommendations, Alkyd Semi-Gloss Enamel is a strong, reliable, self-leveling cabinet paint that is found easily at all Home Depot stores.
7. Insl-X: Cabinet Coat
- It Is: A paint that excels on surfaces that have adhesion problems.
- Cost: About $53 per gallon.
Insl-X's Cabinet Coat is marketed as a trim- and cabinet-only paint, with one significant difference from other paints listed here: its urethane-acrylic formulation that promotes better sticking properties. Cabinet Coat dries to a hard surface, and it even lays down well on difficult surfaces like Formica and melamine.
Cabinet Coat comes in a white enamel that is ready to go or in a tint base that will accept pigmenting at paint stores.