May 6, 2021

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The home veterans

The best paints for kitchen cabinets – the expert guide to getting it right

7 min read

Are you tired of your kitchen but can’t bear the upheaval – and cost – of replacing it? Are the cabinets in good condition but you just don’t like the color or the dull wood shade? Then why not overhaul them with one of the best paints for kitchen cabinets? It’s one of the easiest modern kitchen cabinet ideas to do, and with the right preparation could make you fall in love with your kitchen all over again. Here is what the professionals say  to get the best results.

The Best Colors for Kitchen Cabinets 

green kitchen cabinets

Kitchen designed by Day True

(Image credit: Day True)

Although whites and grays are still the go-to for most kitchens, there is huge interest in green as one of the best paints for kitchen cabinets this year with search increases up by more than 250% for sage green kitchen ideas and 300% for forest green kitchens.  

This is borne out by architect, interior designer and founder of designer cabinet handle company, Buster + Punch, Massimo Buster Minale, who says “You are going to be living with your kitchen for a long time, so opt for timeless colors such as mid-greens, dark blues, light grays and off-blacks. I usually lean towards either a ‘high-contrast’ kitchen where darker cabinets are next to light walls with contrasting hardware, or a ‘no-contrast’ look where I would paint cabinets a similar colour to the walls and then complete the look with metal hardware in the same palette i.e steel handles on light grey walls.” 

Life Kitchens blue kitchen cabinets

Kitchen designed by Life Kitchens

(Image credit: Life Kitchens)

But blue is still a popular choice, particularly Hague Blue and Stiffkey Blue from Farrow & Ball. Interior designer Benji Lewis, founder of virtual interior design advisory service, Zoom That Room says, “If you are going for this ‘blanket’ color it’s best to choose a soft blue rather than one on the chilly side, Indigo by Edward Bulmer is a good choice, but leave the ceiling white and choose a lighter timber floor.” 

Dulux pink kitchen best paints for kitchen cabinets

Kitchen painted in Dulux paints

(Image credit: Dulux)

Or why not have a complete revamp and go for one of the best paints for kitchen cabinets in a bold statement color? Marianne Shillingford, Creative Director of Dulux says “The kitchen is the beating heart of any home, so why not wear it on your sleeve rather than hiding it away? A bold, juicy splash of colour on the base units can work wonders at transforming a tired kitchen into the centrepiece. Try layers of your favourite strong colour for a unified look, which means picking the boldest shade for the base units and different tones and shades from the same colour family for other units, walls and accessories.”

The best paint finishes for kitchen cabinets

kitchen paint cabinets

Little Greene Intelligent Finishes. Walls: Apple 137 matt emulsion £53 for 2.5L. Wall Unit and Tiles: Bone China Blue Deep 18, Satinwood £75.50 for 2.5L and Eggshell £68 for 2.5L.  Lower units Drummond 16. Floor: Dock Blue 252 All Surface Primer, £2 for 2.5L and Floor Paint £74 for 2.5L

(Image credit: Little Greene)

General advice for choosing the best paints for kitchen cabinets is to use eggshell, which has 10 – 25% sheen so it’s not too shiny and is easy to clean, although matt finishes have improved enormously in recent years and give a lovely finish. Ruth Mottershead, Creative Director at Little Greene explains  “Choosing a durable finish is key to getting the look you want. Our water-based Intelligent Satinwood is ideal for kitchen cabinets. It’s extremely hard-wearing with a scrubbable finish and able to withstand the many knocks and scuffs a kitchen is prone to. It dries to a beautiful mid-sheen, so it’s not too glossy and is dry within four hours. However, if you want a glossier finish, choose Intelligent Gloss which has a sheen of 85% and is also quick drying and easy to clean.”

green paint kitchen cabinets

Emerald Green Kitchen Paint, Crown

(Image credit: Crown)

Some of the innovations are multi-purpose paints such as Crown’s new Kitchen Paint with easyclean technology, from £20.50 for 2.5L, which can be used on walls, ceilings, wood and metal, so you only need one paint to do everything, it’s a budget-friendly way to transform your existing kitchen and is designed to resist grease and allow everyday cooking stains to simply be wiped clean. Dulux have a similar product Easycare Kitchen Matt £30.0 for 2.5L.

Annie Sloan kitchen cabinets

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

We can’t talk about the best paints for kitchen cabinets and paint finishes without mentioning Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint, which has revolutionised painting furniture in the last few years. It’s appeal is that there is little prep, just use soapy water and a wire brush, then you simply paint it onto any surface, including laminate.  Once you are satisfied, finish with Chalk Paint Wax, or Lacquer in gloss or matt for a hardwearing finish. .

The Best white paint for kitchen cabinets

Farrow and Ball Clunch

Cabinets painted in Clunch by Farrow and Ball

(Image credit: Farrow and Ball)

Many people opt for making their kitchen the brightest, lightest place in the home, but this doesn’t mean there isn’t a choice of subtle whites each offering a different atmosphere. Joa Studholme, Farrow & Ball Colour Curator says “If you are looking for a timeless look then try School House White on the walls and Drop Cloth on the cabinets, while Wevet walls and Ammonite cabinetry is perfect for those who want a classic grey look. Both of these schemes can be used in reverse too, with the stronger colour on the walls and the lighter shade on the units.”

Benjamin Moore kitchen cabinets

Paper White Regal Select OC55, from £23 for 0.9L, Benjamin Moore

(Image credit: Benjamin Moore)

Choosing a white paint for your kitchen should be simple, but whites can look very different, dependant on which shade you choose and the available light in the room. Helen Shaw, Creative Director of Benjamin Moore UK says “Some whites will have a pinky undertone, some will have yellow/green, so it’s essential to try different shades in the room.” The easiest way to do this is by painting a large block on a piece of A4 paper and moving it around the room at different parts of the day. Helen says “As a rule of thumb, remember that reds and yellows harmonize with warmer whites, while greens, greys and blues synch with cooler white colors.” 

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