Best Paint for Cabinets

Choosing the best paint for cabinets can make all the difference in your kitchen or bathroom renovation project. With so many paint options on the market, it can be overwhelming to figure out which type of paint will give you the most beautiful and durable finish. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know to choose the ideal paint for your cabinet refinishing project.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Paint for Cabinets

When selecting paint for your cabinets, there are several factors to take into account:

Type of Cabinets

  • Wood: For natural wood cabinets, opt for paint labeled for wood. Oil-based paints work best for sealing the wood grain.
  • Laminate: Choose bonding primers and paints designed specifically for laminate surfaces. Water-based acrylic paints adhere well.
  • Thermofoil: Sand to rough up the surface before painting. Use spray paint formulated for plastics for the most durable finish.

Sheen Level

  • High gloss: Provides a shiny, reflective surface that highlights the wood grain. Resists stains and moisture. Shows imperfections.
  • Satin/Semi-gloss: Offers a smooth, velvety look. Easier to clean than flat finishes. Minimizes imperfections.
  • Matte/Flat: Provides an understated, muted effect. Hides surface irregularities well. Needs more frequent touch-ups.

Durability & Wear Resistance

Consider how much use and cleaning the cabinets receive. High-traffic kitchens benefit from tougher paints like:

  • Enamel paint
  • Two-component catalyzed epoxy
  • Conversion varnish

These provide a protective clear coat that stands up to cleaning chemicals without deteriorating.

Ease of Application

Look for paint with an easy spreading consistency that self-levels well. Sprays, brushes, and rollers should glide smoothly without dragging or resistance.

Best Paint Options for Kitchen & Bathroom Cabinets

With an overwhelming array of paints to choose from, here are some top-rated products recommended by experts for cabinet refinishing.

Best Overall: Sherwin-Williams ProClassic Interior Acrylic Enamel

This water-based interior enamel paint provides the leveling and flow of acrylic with the durability of an oil-based enamel. It dries to a hard, stain and moisture resistant finish that stands up to cleaning. The smooth consistency applies easily without drips or runs. It’s ideal for kitchens, baths, and high-traffic areas.

Best Cabinet Paint Brand: Benjamin Moore Advance

Benjamin Moore Advance offers a smooth alkyd-acrylic hybrid formula that levels nicely without brush strokes. It adheres well to glossy surfaces with just light sanding. The hard, durable finish won’t yellow over time. Flows well from sprayers, brushes or rollers. Available in all Benjamin Moore colors.

Best Budget Pick: Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations

For a budget-friendly option, Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations provides everything needed for a DIY cabinet makeover. The kit includes etching primer, decorative glaze and protective clear topcoat designed to work together. Applies easily with a brush and dries in just two hours.

Best for Durability: Sherwin-Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel

This ultra-durable water-based enamel provides a rich, smooth finish that won’t yellow. It flows and levels nicely to give cabinets a smooth painted finish. The hard, scratch-resistant coating cleans up easily without showing wear. An excellent choice for heavy use kitchens.

Best Spray Paint: Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations Spray

For a super smooth finish, Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations spray applies effortlessly with no drips. The paint levels nicely and dries fast. The kit includes primer, color coats, and protective clear topcoat engineered to bond and work together. Just lightly scuff the cabinets, spray, then wait one hour to recoat.

Best Stain-Blocking Primer: Zinsser B-I-N Shellac Primer

For covering dark cabinets or wood grain, Zinsser B-I-N Shellac Primer provides superior stain and odor blocking. The super-adherent shellac-based formula seals in stains from wood, ink, pencil, grease and more. It dries extremely fast, allowing painting in under an hour. Great for preventing tannin bleed through water-based paints.

Best Low-VOC Option: Mythic Paint

Mythic Paint offers an award-winning, ultra-low VOC, non-toxic, odorless paint line. It’s Greenguard Gold certified and recommended by interior designers for sensitive spaces like homes and schools. The durable acrylic-alkyd hybrid formula applies and levels beautifully. Excellent hide and adhesion.

Best High Gloss Finish: Behr Premium Cabinet & Trim Enamel

For a shiny, light-reflecting finish, Behr Premium Cabinet & Trim Enamel provides a durable, scuff and stain resistant coating. The non-yellowing oil-based formula achieves full hardness in 7 days. Flows out smoothly for seamless high gloss coverage. Resists chips, scuffs and household cleaners.

Preparing Cabinets for Painting

Proper prep work ensures the new paint adheres well and provides long-lasting beauty. Follow these tips:


  • Remove doors, shelves and hardware (number pieces to reattach later)
  • Wash with mild detergent and rinse thoroughly
  • Remove grease and wax with mineral spirits
  • Lightly sand glossy surfaces

Repairing Damage

  • Fill any holes, cracks or imperfections with wood filler and sand smooth
  • Fix corners and replace any damaged wood
  • Remove old caulk and re-caulk around sinks or cooktops


  • Prime bare wood with oil-based primer or wood conditioner
  • For laminate, prime with adhesion promoting primer
  • Spot prime patched areas before painting

Painting Cabinet Doors

For a smooth factory-like finish on doors, these techniques help achieve flawless results:

Remove Doors

  • Label each door and hinge to ensure proper reinstallation
  • Fill holes from hinge removals
  • Sand doors lightly to rough up surface

Clean Thoroughly

  • Wipe with paint prep solution or mineral spirits
  • Remove all grease, wax and dirt from door fronts and sides

Paint Door Fronts First

  • Lay doors on sawhorses face side up
  • Apply primary coats to door fronts using high quality brush
  • Spray final coat for a seamless finish

Paint Door Edges Next

  • Use small foam roller and brush to paint sides and edges
  • Extend paint coats 2-3” onto interior door surfaces

Final Coat on Backside

  • Once fully dried, flip and apply final coat to backsides
  • Hang doors to dry before reinstalling

How to Apply Cabinet Paint

Use these techniques for a flawless painted finish:

Prepare Properly

  • Clean cabinets, sand, patch holes, prime
  • Remove doors, shelves and hardware
  • Fill any grain with wood filler; sand smooth

Brush Paint on Carefully

  • Use high-quality bristle or microfiber brush
  • Load adequate amount of paint on brush
  • Apply paint in thin, even coats using light pressure
  • Brush with the wood grain for a smooth finish

Roll on Final Coat Evenly

  • Finish with a smooth foam mini roller
  • Roll vertically in 4’ sections
  • Feather out edges to blend sections seamlessly
  • Don’t over-roll or paint will bubble

Spray For a Seamless Finish

  • HVLP spray systems provide the most factory-like finish
  • Maintain a 6-10” distance and overlap passes by 30%
  • Multiple light coats create better results than heavy coats

Inspect Between Coats

  • Allow proper drying time between coats
  • Sand lightly to smooth drips or rough spots
  • Vacuum and tack cloth between coats
  • Apply at least 2-3 coats for best coverage

Tips for Achieving a Flawless Painted Finish

Follow these pro tips and techniques for stunning painted cabinet results:

Mind the Edges

Use a small trim brush to cut in sharp edges and corners. Don’t rely on roller or spray to get into tight spaces.

Address Drips Quickly

Inspect for drips after each coat and use a small brush to smooth them out before paint dries.

Lightly Sand Between Coats

Gently sand glossy areas or drips before applying the next coat to ensure proper adhesion.

Maintain a Wet Edge

Working in sections, maintain a wet edge where fresh paint meets drying paint to avoid lap marks.

Work Top to Bottom

Paint upper cabinets first, then the lowers. This avoids drips dropping onto freshly painted lower cabinet surfaces.

Check Coverage Thoroughly

Inspect paint while wet at all angles to ensure complete and even coverage. Apply additional paint as needed.

Give Paint Time to Cure

Allow fresh painted cabinets a full 30 days to fully cure and become scratch and stain resistant.

FAQs About Painting Cabinets

Still have some questions? Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about painting kitchen and bathroom cabinets:

Should I remove cabinet doors to paint?

Yes, removing the doors makes the painting process much easier. It allows you full access to paint the door fronts and edges evenly. Lay doors flat while painting.

What sheen is best for cabinet paint?

A satin or semi-gloss finish offers a nice balance of shine and hide. Gloss shows more flaws while flat finishes require more frequent cleaning.

Do I need to sand cabinets before painting?

Lightly sanding creates an ideal surface for paint adhesion. Just a scuff sanding to dull the gloss is needed, not a full sanding to bare wood.

How do I get a smooth finish on cabinets?

Using high quality applicators, applying multiple thin coats, allowing proper drying time between coats, and sanding between coats helps achieve a glass-smooth finish.

What kind of paint brush should I use?

Angle-sash brushes or high-quality synthetic bristle brushes work well. Look for ones designed for smooth paint flow andcoverage in fewer strokes.

Should I spray or roll cabinet paint?

Spraying typically creates the smoothest, most seamless finish like factory-made cabinets. Rolling works well too. Brushing lays on heavier coats.

How long does it take for cabinet paint to cure?

Paint continues to harden for up to 30 days. Avoid cleaning or placing heavy items on painted surfaces during this time.

Achieve Beautiful, Durable Results

The best paint transforms tired cabinets with a fresh facelift. With the right prep work and application techniques, you can achieve results worthy of any luxury home. Invest in high quality primers, paints and tools designed for an ultra-smooth finish. With this guide’s tips in mind, you can tackle your cabinet refinishing project with confidence and enjoy the renewed style and beauty of your kitchen or bath for years to come.