DIY Home

The Very Best Paints to Revamp Your Cabinets, Right This Way

Those 80s-style cabinets never stood a chance.

November 16, 2020
Photo by Rocky Luten

Painting your cabinets, whether they’re in the kitchen, bathroom, or somewhere else, is a totally doable—I repeat, totally doable—DIY project. If you’ve ever painted a wall (or even if you haven’t!) you can paint cabinets. The trick? Put in the proper prep work, and choose the right paint.

I recently interviewed my dad (who’s been a woodworker and cabinet-maker all his life) for a knock-down, drag-out guide to repainting kitchen cabinets, and while professional cabinet-makers use a two-part catalyzed paint finish (which requires a whole host of supplies like a sprayer and paint booth, plus plenty of experience), it is possible to get a quality result on your own.

The verdict on do-it-yourself paint is this:

While regular acrylic latex paint (what wall paints are most commonly made of) work well in other areas of the home, your cabinets need paint specifically made for them, to produce a rock-hard surface that can withstand all the wear and tear they experience in their lifetimes. Traditionally, higher-sheen paints—like semi-gloss and satin—are used on cabinets, because they dry to a hard, durable finish, and can withstand the slamming of doors and scraping of dishes for years to come.

Read on for some of the best paints in the biz.

Classic & Affordable

First up is ol’ reliable: Behr Premium Cabinet and Trim Paint that you can get at your local Home Depot. This is the paint my dad recommends, since it’s accessible for at-home DIYers, a reasonable price (you’re going to need a good amount of paint for cabinets), and the semi-gloss formula dries to a tenacious finish—resistant to fingerprints, scuffs, and scratches.

Accessible & User-Friendly

Another accessible option for home DIYers is PPG Ultra Last in Semi-Gloss Finish, also available at Home Depot. One of my favorite Youtube DIYers, who’s a very cool contractor, Rachel Metz, uses this paint in her kitchen cabinet makeovers to great effect. The semi-gloss finish dries smooth and hard, making it a perfect option for cabinets.

Interior Design Darling

Farrow and Ball Full-Gloss Finish is basically the Cadillac of indoor cabinet paints… it’s frequently used by designers like Sarah Sherman Samuels, and can be found at premium paint suppliers or on their website. It’s definitely pricey, but it’s more eco-friendly than typical paints, because it’s extremely low-VOC. They also have a carefully curated range of 148 colors, and the full-gloss dries down to an ultra durable finish to last for years and years.

Eco-Conscious & Low-VOC

If you’re concerned about VOC-emissions and are looking towards a safer paint alternative, one of our community members highly recommends eco-conscious brand Vermont Natural Coatings. Their formulas use “plant-based binder technology with polymerized whey proteins,” in place of the more toxic ingredients found in commercial paints. They’re low-VOC and have a neutral odor, so you can breathe easier while overhauling your kitchen.

Less Glossy, Still Strong

Another community-recommended paint, as well as a contractor and professional favorite, Benjamin Moore Advance Interior Satin Paint is the happy medium if you’re not into the look of super glossy cabinets. This particular paint is favored for its low-viscosity, so it glides onto cabinets with ease and dries quickly, making the project far less painstaking.

Would you consider painting your cabinets? Let us know in the comments!

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When I'm not writing & editing for Home52, I'm likely to be found DIY-ing a new piece of furniture (or restoring an old one), hanging things on the wall in my apartment, or watching hours of vintage RHONY.