The Absolute Best Paint For Sprucing Up Your Kitchen Cabinets

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The kitchen is often a focal point of any home, whether you're living in a mansion or in an apartment. It's where we gather to spend time cooking meals and eating food with our loved ones. When you spend so much time in one room, it's reasonable to want it to look good!

Cabinets can honestly make or break your kitchen décor. If they're a nice color and are well-painted, they can make your kitchen look incredible. On the other hand, if they look rough, then your entire kitchen can take on the same vibe. A simple and affordable solution to making any kitchen cupboards look better is by painting them — even the most outdated cabinets can give off a whole new ambiance with a fresh coat of paint!

So, how do you get started with painting kitchen cupboards? What paint should you use and does the type of paint make a difference?

Picking paint colors

Selecting the best paint for kitchen cabinets

Painting anything is seemingly simple. Just run to the hardware store, pick your color and come home and slap a coat or two of paint on, right?

Wrong! Different kinds of paint have different functions and cabinet paints need to serve a different purpose than the paints you use for your finger painting project. On top of different paint types, there are different cabinet paint brands that can suit your needs, depending on what they are.

For example, kitchen cabinets need to have easy clean-up properties and stain resistance since food can get on them easily. Bathroom cabinets, however, need to withstand lots of water and humidity.

Here's what you need to know to find the best paint for kitchen cabinets.

Painted cabinets

What's the difference between cabinet paint and regular paint?

As mentioned previously, cabinets need to have durable paint to keep them looking nice for a long time. The paints you use for crafting, like acrylic paints, chalk paint and even milk paint will be different from the paint that you put on wood cabinets. You need something with a furniture-grade finish that doesn't chip easily and won't rub off or bubble and warp if a little bit of water gets on it.

However, you don't need a special paint that's extremely rare or expensive — though it probably isn't as cheap as your typical chalk paint from the craft store. There are paint companies that make the type you need and you can easily find them at paint stores for an affordable price.

And these paints come in many finishes, just like the stuff you put on walls — everything from semi-gloss finish to matte finish and everything in between.

Cabinet paint brands

Two common brands known as the best kitchen cabinet paint are Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore — both of which you can find at practically any hardware store. These brands are often used by professional painters when painting kitchen cabinets and at the end of the day, either brand will get you the results you want.

Boasting 3,500 colors to choose from, Benjamin Moore won't disappoint. The brand also offers different sheens (semi-gloss, high-gloss, satin, etc.) and they have hybrid enamel options.

Another known brand of cabinet coat is Sherwin Williams, which is similar to Benjamin Moore in terms of paint offerings. Sherwin Williams has all finishes available, whether you want semi-gloss or matte. It doesn't quite have as many color options, but still has a wide range of 1,700 colors to pick from, which is more than any human truly needs.

Painting cabinet door

What kind of paint is most durable for kitchen cabinets?

There are different types of paints, each with its own properties that make it better or worse for kitchen cabinets. You touch your cabinet doors all the time, you spill food on them and it's easy to accidentally bump up against them, so you want them to have a durable coating that won't flake off easily. Here are the best types of paint for kitchen cabinets.

Oil-based paint

Oil-based paint was historically known as the best paint for kitchen cabinets for multiple reasons. It has a durable finish and results in a smooth finish, which is what the goal is in a place like a kitchen. However, it isn't as common anymore because it's not good for the environment and dangerous to use. Use toxic mineral spirits to thin the paint, which you'll be exposed to during the painting process, and disposing of things containing oil is difficult and wreaks havoc on the climate.

Latex paint

On the other end of the paint spectrum, there are latex paints. Unlike oil-based, these water-based paints are much less harmful to the environment and won't leave so many toxins floating around in the air. Latex paint isn't quite as durable as oil-based, but it will still provide a durable coating that will withstand most things.

And, if easy clean-up is something you're worried about, latex paints are much easier to clean up than oil-based paints. The bad part? It dries quickly, so if you're not using a paint sprayer, you'll likely see brush marks

Hybrid enamel

Right in between oil-based and latex paints are hybrid enamels. These hybrid paints combine the best of both worlds — the durable finish of oil-based paint and the environmental-friendliness and easy cleaning properties of water-based paint. Hybrid enamel is a water-based acrylic alkyd, so it looks and behaves like an oil-based paint (which is what alkyd paint does, just without the oil), while not yellowing over time (an acrylic paint property). This is arguably the best type of paint for kitchen cabinets.

A brush may not be the best way to go when painting cabinets.

The best method for painting kitchen cabinets

Painting your kitchen cabinets requires more than just choosing paint and slapping it on the cabinet doors with a paintbrush. You'll want to prep and make sure you have the proper tools handy so you can do a stellar job. After all, you don't want your cabinets to have sloppy, noticeable brush marks and an uneven surface. Here's how you can give your cabinets a smooth finish that looks like professional painters did the dirty work.

Get permission

Make sure that before you do anything in your apartment, you get permission from your landlord. Your lease should specify what modifications you can or can't make to your apartment, so read through that to start off. Then, reach out to your landlord or property management to ensure you're allowed to paint your kitchen cabinets or you could end up in trouble down the line and end up foregoing your deposit when you move out.

Begin with a very clean surface.

Clean the cupboards

Start off by cleaning the cabinet surfaces you'll be painting. You can use something strong like TSP (trisodium phosphate) to really get the grease off. Or, if you'd rather use something milder, grab a rag and use warm, soapy water to wipe all of the dust and dirt buildup off (you may need to use a little more elbow grease with this method). Make sure the surface is completely dry before painting.

Grab your tools and start painting

Now that you've got clean cabinets, it's time to paint! There are different ways you can paint that require different tools, so make sure you do the proper research to make sure you're using the most effective method for the tools you're using. The method you use to paint may also depend on the type of paint you choose.

If you use a paint sprayer, you'll need to dilute the paint with some water and cover everything you don't want the paint to get on (which is everything but the cabinets!). Using a sprayer will give you a smooth finish and no visible brush strokes. Plus, it will take less time for the actual paint job — but the prep time is usually longer since you want to make sure you've covered everything but the cabinets in plastic to protect them from unwanted painting.

If you're on a tight budget and don't want to invest in a sprayer, the safe bet is to use a paint roller or paintbrush. If using a roller, you'll still need to use a small brush to get in all the corners and edges. But, if you're using a paintbrush alone, you'll probably want a couple of different sizes — a small brush for the corners and tight spaces and a large brush to cover the big areas (so you don't spend an eternity trying to cover the front of a cabinet with a tiny paintbrush).

Take a look from different angles

Once your cabinets have their first coat of paint on, let it dry completely, then take a look at the paint job from different angles. When the paint dries, you may find spots where you accidentally painted against the wood grain and it sticks out in bright lighting. Or, if you used high-gloss or semi-gloss paint, you might find a spot that doesn't look as glossy. Once you've taken a look and made note of spots that need a little extra help, then move forward with your second coat and pay special attention to the places to fix.

Don't ruin them by using them too early.

Let the paint dry before using your cabinets

The paint is on the cabinets and they have a flawless finish! But don't get too excited and start using them just yet — you'll want to let them dry for at least 24 hours or longer. Even if the paint looks like it's dry, there can still be spots where the paint isn't all the way set and it can smudge or crease if you're not careful. Once you've waited for at least a day, then you can start using your cabinets again!

Enjoy your "new" cabinets

You now know everything you need to get started with sprucing up your kitchen cabinets. So, keep all of this information in mind as you choose the absolute best paint for your kitchen and get to work! Whatever color and finish you choose, whether it be a semi-gloss beige or a neon green matte, you can make your kitchen reflect your personal style.

The post The Absolute Best Paint For Sprucing Up Your Kitchen Cabinets appeared first on Apartment Living Tips - Apartment Tips from

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