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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

“The people at M.B. Jessee are great – from the painters to the office staff to Matt. Talk about leadership from the top.”

— Kevin Ames, Mark Becker Homes

“Julie, by the way, I have never been so impressed with the service of a painting job before! It was like magical elves came and painted our walls without us having to do a thing! It looks amazing and just wanted to let you know how happy we are. Thanks”

— Anja

“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.

“We just wanted to let you know how pleased we are with the work of MB Jessee Painting and your employees. Everything turned out beautiful. Our foreman was great! He was punctual, professional, neat and very accommodating ... and went the extra mile. We will definitely recommend you to our friends and family.”

— Michelle & Rivers Gee

“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

“Matt, We are very happy with how all of the painting worked out. We were extremely impressed with the quality of the work in the bathroom. I liked working with Victor, he and Marvin were extremely conscientious about doing a great job, not just the minimum. I know the front door took a lot longer than you'd expected. But they did it PERFECTLY. We never thought it could turn out like that! Thanks again for the great work. We'll be calling you again in the future!”

— Craig
Alameda, CA

“I just wanted to thank you all for doing such a phenomenal job on our recent house painting. We are very happy with the outcome and can't say enough good things about the crew. Everyone working on the project was outstanding and made it a great experience. Thanks to everyone.”

— Daylan

“Today I received a beautiful bouquet from your company. It was totally unexpected and very much appreciated--a lovely surprise. Also today, your crew finished my job. I am so pleased with all their fine work. Richard is absolutely amazing and a total delight to work with. He was also extremely helpful during the paint color process. The interior work in my home far exceeded my expectations. A big thank you to you and the crew for an outstanding job. Thank you, thank you for a terrific job!”

— Barbara

“Just wanted to let you know that the crew was great to have around the house for the past two weeks. All three of them were professional, courteous, and attentive to my thoughts/concerns and were extremely knowledgeable. They paid great attention to the detail and it shows.”

— Mark & Roberta Gross

“In September, MBJessee finished painting two sides of our 3-story condominium building (six owners). We were impressed by the professionalism of the company and every one of its workers, Matt Jessee couldn't have been more helpful in planning the project. His painters were well-trained, easy to communicate with and eager to please. In addition to painting the stucco, they made extensive repairs on windows and frames, which will save us considerable money in the future. They finished earlier than anticipated, with as many as five men working on the job, and the scaffolding came down the next day. All of us were delighted with the results. Now my husband and I are looking forward to having MB Jessee paint our own apartment later this month. Matt and Gustavo (who will be our crew leader again) have explained how they will work to make the painting proceed smoothly while we're living here, and they have been endlessly patient with our protracted decision-making process. If you look at their website, you'll learn that MB Jessee is an exemplary company that takes good care of its workers as well as its customers, and contributes public service projects to the community. All in all, we can't recommend MB Jessee highly enough.”

— Jayne W.
San Francisco, CA

“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

“Many thanks to Rigoberto and Damon and the extraordinary team who transformed my castle in the skies.They are magicians. I appreciate their work very much.”

— Kathleen A
San Francisco