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What Is the Best Paint To Use on Kitchen Cabinets?

kitchen cabinet painter What Is the Best Paint To Use on Kitchen Cabinets?

If you're thinking about kitchen cabinet painting (and who could blame you?), it can be easy to focus on details like color, style, hardware upgrades, etc. Those are fun considerations!

But before you can get to the finish line, you need to make sure you're making the best possible choices along the way, setting your cabinet project up for success. Painting kitchen cabinets can be an awesome investment if it's done right, delivering tangible value right along with that fresh style.

Let's break it down with a few key questions about the products and process we use for kitchen cabinet painting.

Do You Need Special Paint for Kitchen Cabinets?

In short, yes. Most of the horror stories you hear about cabinet painting gone wrong are due to well-intentioned do-it-yourselfers buying a color they like off the shelf, but not really considering if it's the right type of paint for their cabinets. The wrong paint ruins the whole process.

Your cabinet paint needs to be beautiful, but it also needs to be a durable finish that can stand up to heavy use, washing, and more. Many of the standard paint products from your local home improvement store aren't designed for that - even the "premium" brands.

What Do Professionals Use To Paint Cabinets?

What is the best paint to use on kitchen cabinets? What Is the Best Paint To Use on Kitchen Cabinets?

Our first recommendation is to find a painter who is deeply experienced with painting cabinets, and doesn't just offer it as a side service. How can you tell the difference? Ask for photos of their past work, see if they can provide referrals, and ask questions about what they will use to paint your cabinet doors, cabinet frames, drawer fronts, etc. A professional cabinet painter can answer the tough questions without hesitation, using the opportunity to share details about their process and approach.

Trust us: that's the kind of pro you want handling your kitchen makeover!

With that said, different cabinet refinishers will have different products that they stand by: Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore, Kelly Moore... Each offers specific cabinet colors and cabinet finishes that they like to use.

Here at MB Jessee Painting, we typically use Kelly Moore DuraPoxy HP Acrylic Urethane, or Kelly Moore Epic (another enamel cabinet finish).

Kind of a mouthful, right?

Here's a breakdown of the benefits:

  • Fast-drying, with a factory-like finish for the smoothest cabinet doors and drawers (always nice to reduce that cure time!)
  • Ultra-durable (perfect for your hardworking cabinet pieces)
  • Dirt and mildew resistant
  • Hard finish (enamel is TOUGH!)

What Is the Most Durable Paint for Kitchen Cabinets?

The quality of the cabinet paint itself is important, but so is the sheen and the finish. For cabinet painting, it's really tough to beat an enamel paint. Since kitchen cabinets experience such extensive wear, the hard, almost shell-like surface that enamel offers is ideal. It gives your kitchen cabinet that factory-grade finish too, making your new color look like it was there since installation.

As a side note, don't be afraid that you're locked into glossy finishes for your kitchen cabinets either. The products we use are available in several sheens without sacrificing any durability for your paint job.

How To Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Bay Area kitchen cabinet painting What Is the Best Paint To Use on Kitchen Cabinets?

So, what will your kitchen cabinet painting project look like?

Depending on the cabinet refinisher you work with, here's what you can (and should) expect:

  • Thorough in-home estimate
  • Clear proposal
  • Extensive prep of the space (masking, protecting surrounding rooms and surfaces, etc.)
  • Drawer fronts and cabinets doors are removed
  • Deep clean to remove grease, dirt, and residue
  • Light surface repairs, as needed (wood filler, caulking, etc.)
  • Sanding all surfaces, including the cabinet boxes
  • Multi-stage priming and finish coat (we use high-quality spray equipment for an ultra-smooth finish without brush strokes or roller marks)

If you're covering a heavily-grained surface, like Oak cabinets, we can also use a stain blocking primer that ensures there is zero bleed-through. Refinishing cabinets is all about the details, laying the groundwork for a smooth color transition and durable finish.

Kitchen Cabinet Painters in Oakland, CA

Have any more questions about painting cabinets? Contact us at MB Jessee Painting! We would love to discuss your project with you.

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Customer Reviews

“My entire experience with MB Jesse was very professional. The crew were very friendly and super accommodating of my ridiculous schedule and geriatric pets in the house. The finished product, which was pretty much my entire house, far exceeds my expectations. Would definitely work with them again!”

— Heather Jordan

“Matt, Julie & Ricardo, I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank the three of you for the wonderful job you did in hosting the SFBA NARI Chapter Meeting on Wednesday evening. Everything was perfect from beginning to end. Members and guests alike walked away with a truly positive experience. The "painter for a day" and the cookies in the paint cans were an absolute brilliant touch and received rave reviews. What a wonderful way to do such positive marketing. Thanks again for a truly memorable experience for our members and guests. You are valued as a NARI member.”

— Judy Tufo, SFBA NARI Executive Director

“Hello Matt,Just another notice of thanks to your wonderful crew, Rigoberto, Javier and John. They did fantastic work, with Rigo providing meticulous and conscientious attention to the details and excellent woodwork finishing, as evidenced by the beautiful fireplace. Javier did a fantastic job in the bathroom especially, it looks "brand new," and John always does quality work, both with the interior and exterior. I can tell they care about what they do. Rigo's "punch out" was very thorough, too. I will call again when I need some more work and will definitely recommend your company and fine crew. I also felt as a homeowner, I could leave my house in their good hands during the day and that took a lot of worry from me, they were honest, prompt and reliable. They were also very kind, respectful and clean in their work, very professional. Thank you.”

— Beth Marx & Melissa Kirsch

“M.B. Jessee painted the exterior of my Spanish house over 9 years ago, and they did such an incredible job that they are still getting referrals from me today. The paint is holding up perfectly -- there is absolutely no peeling chipping or any other deterioration. I still remember that my final walk-through list consisted of items written on one side of a 3x5 index card (and I'm REAL picky about my house!) However, when Matt and I did that walk-through over HALF the items were no longer an issue, as his team had noticed them first and they had already been resolved.”

— JoAnn Newcomb

“I love the article in the paper on your company. Thank you for supporting our community by painting at the Claremont Middle School. Thanks!”

— Carla Banks

“I cannot imagine finer painters--and I have worked with many. They work exceptionally hard. It is a joy to see their workmanship!”

— Alicia R.

“The kitchen looks NEW! You guys are amazing.”

“Awesome work by highly experienced, professional painters. They were: Conscious about the amount of time it would take. Ours had a lot of pre-work and took 3 weeks. Accommodating when we added a few last-minute changes Understanding when a heatwave hit and we remove some of the plastic sheeting over windows, which they had to put back up the next day. Accessible, especially the on-site crew (Hi Jose & Victor!) -- always answering questions and checking in. The end result is a perfect paint job that makes our 94-year-old house look brand new. I would definitely hire MBJ again”

— Stacey R.
Oakland, CA

“It was a great experience working with MB Jessee. The crew was careful and thorough as they painted the house, sealed stucco cracks, repaired dry-rotted wood, stained the deck, etc. Robert, Gersson, Jose, and all of the people involved in the process from the estimate to the job completion were friendly and professional.”

— Mike C.
Livermore, CA

“I loved working with M.B. Jessee from start to finish on a relatively small paint job that grew a bit. I felt in very good hands from the moment Matt Jessee came out to give me the estimate and talk about my job. He was very easy to talk to and he handled my changes very well. Then the actual work done by Rigoberto and Mario was impeccable. They were neat and meticulous and the paint job looks beautiful. I could not have asked for more and when I did, they accommodated me 100%. I will not hesitate to call M.B. Jessee again and to refer them to friends.”

— Nancy Kurkjian

“The painters at MB Jesse are top notch! Cesar's team was super friendly and helpful. They were very polite and accommodating. Their expertise in everything painting related was evident in their attention to detail and efficiency painting tricky spaces. The apartment looks brand new!”

— Adam Swisher

“MB Jessee painters are stellar! As a designer I've worked with numerous companies over the years, and MB Jessee is a top-notch firm. From the first phone call to the final clean up, every person is courteous, professional, and hard working. The owner, Matt, is a charitable leader who has instilled his team with integrity and honesty providing the customer with a first class experience at a fair price with a paint job that is guaranteed to last. I highly recommend MB Jessee. Thank you Matt and your STAR crew-Daniel, Rigoberto, Vicente, Edy, Pedro, and Mario, for a job well executed! Cynthia Brian, ASID, Starstyle® Productions, llc”

— Cynthia Brian
Morgan, CA