What Finish of Paint for Kitchen Cabinets Should You Choose?

Transforming your kitchen doesn’t have to involve an arduous, expensive process. You can touch up a few visual elements to give the heart of your home an updated look.

One of the most influential factors in a kitchen space is the cabinetry. Your cabinets fall victim to spills, scratches, and other types of damage, leaving them looking ragged, dull, and outdated. At Cabinet Creations, we specialize in cabinet services and kitchen remodeling in Michigan. We’ll discuss what finish of paint for kitchen cabinets works best to protect the surfaces while making them attractive.  

How Paint Finishes Impact Your Overall Kitchen Design

Paint on any surface or feature can transform a room’s overall vibe. A dark paint color makes a space appear smaller, while a lighter does the opposite. Using contrasting shades on accents and other details can warm or cool the atmosphere. 

However, you can’t focus solely on the color and its aesthetic influence. Explore how your paint preference affects your cabinetry’s durability and indoor environment. Like other homeowners, you might be surprised that something as seemingly superficial as paint can have broader effects. 

Different types of paint influence the air you breathe and whether you can easily maintain the painted surface. Modern paint products use diverse formulas and finishes to ensure the desired results. Moving forward with a paint job without considering these variations is one of the most prevalent kitchen cabinet painting mistakes.

Which Paint Formula Works Best?

First, you need a formula that can withstand the wear and tear. With all the options available, choosing one can seem challenging for the average homeowner. Which formula can withstand time, regular cleaning, and spillage? Explore the most common options below. 


Many homeowners reach for vibrant, durable cans of oil-based primer and paint when touching up their kitchen cabinets. After painting your cabinetry with oil-based products, you can wipe down and scrub the surfaces as often as needed without worrying about the coat losing its integrity. While these formulas readily withstand everyday wear and tear, they come with a few concerns that might put you off from using them.

Some of the problems with oil-based paint include:

  • Drying time: Are you prepared to use a makeshift kitchen for a day or two? Oil-based paints can take days to dry, especially in areas with little circulation. Cabinet contents will populate other living spaces as a result. Plus, you must avoid the area during drying time to ensure a flawless cure. 
  • Yellowing: Oil-based formulas can develop a yellowish dinge as the years pass. This discoloration is especially noticeable with light shades in low-light environments. If you want a color that retains its richness, you might need a different formula. 
  • Volatile organic compounds: Finally, oil-based formulas release VOCs into the atmosphere. These compounds can irritate your sinuses and other membranes and contaminate food items and utensils. Consider different options if your kitchen lacks circulation. 


If you adore the enamel finish offered by oil-based products but want to avoid discoloration, you might appreciate alkyd water-based options. Alkyd paints provide a similar finish but boast more rugged durability than their counterparts. Additionally, these products dry smoothly, disguising any brushstrokes. 

However, alkyd formulas are still imperfect. They, too, release VOCs into the surrounding atmosphere, negatively impacting your indoor environment. Each coat becomes more brittle with age, making it more prone to chipping and cracking with hard impacts. 


Finally, latex formulas, such as water-based acrylic paint, offer an alternative to oil-based and alkyd products. It doesn’t release as many VOCs into your indoor air, allowing you to breathe a little easier as it dries. It readily adheres to cabinets already sporting a coat of paint, unlike other options that won’t readily spread and stick. 

Unlike the previous formulas, latex paint also dries quickly, allowing you to return to your regular kitchen use within a day. Still, its reputation for subpar durability sometimes precedes it. But your remodeling team can choose a tougher formula that withstands scrubbing and washing for years. 

What Finish of Paint for Kitchen Cabinets Should You Choose?

Next, you need to determine what finish of paint for kitchen cabinets works best in your cooking environment. Most people think of the aesthetic effects of various finishes. For example, matte finishes offer a deep, textured look that resembles velvet, while flat has a more subtle appearance. 

Don’t base your decision based on aesthetics alone. Consider how the finishes listed below respond to a kitchen environment before choosing: 

  • Matte: Matte finishes don’t work well in a kitchen environment because of their texture. They aren’t as easy to wipe down as other options since food particles and spills cling to the surface. However, this finish may look beautiful on cabinetry details and accents to add additional depth. 
  • Flat: Like matte, flat finishes resist quick cleaning efforts. They also succumb to consistent scrubbing and add little to the overall aesthetic.  
  • Eggshell: This finish works slightly better than flats and mattes. It resists stains and dirt and boasts better durability. However, it, too, works best as an accent or detail paint if used at all. 
  • Satin: Satin finishes sit comfortably between semi-gloss and eggshell. It offers a higher reflectiveness than eggshell but doesn’t gleam like semi-gloss. While you can apply it on less-used surfaces, avoid it on cabinets that frequently catch spills. 
  • Semi-gloss: A semi-gloss finish is among the best options to make your kitchen area feel cozier without the other options’ hallmark maintenance issues. You can easily wipe down each cabinet surface without damaging the paint. 
  • Gloss: If you want more reflective surfaces that make the room feel bigger, select a gloss finish. You can cleanly wipe dirt and spilled substances off the surface while enjoying a rich, opulent color. 

How Paint Colors Transform Cabinets

You now know that a semi-gloss to gloss latex paint is the best choice for most cabinetry, especially for the surfaces closest to cooking appliances like stoves. The last step involves choosing a color that suits the space and your kitchen habits. 

For example, brilliant, white cabinets seem like a good idea to many homeowners, especially those with smaller kitchens that need to feel bigger. If you are prone to spilling liquids or dropping sloppy food pieces, you might want something darker to hide the stains. Otherwise, you’ll either end up with cabinets that look dirty or spend an untold amount of time keeping the surfaces immaculate. 

That said, if you go too dark, you could make the area feel closed off and inhibited. Striking the perfect balance is key when painting cabinets. 

Adding Finishing Touches

Finally, adding embellishments brings everything together. Details like recessed cabinet panels, trim, and hardware offer opportunities to elevate your entire kitchen design. With assistance from an experienced remodeler, you can diversify the finish textures and paint colors your cabinetry sports. 

Although matte or eggshell finishes may not work well for bottom cabinets or frequently used surfaces, they might add appealing variations for upper cabinets. Two-toned cabinets have risen in popularity and provide an outlet for more design creativity. In short, you have endless possibilities when rethinking the impact of your current cabinetry. 

All you need is the right professional to achieve the desired aesthetic. 

Explore Endless Colors and Finishes with Cabinet Creations

What finish of paint for kitchen cabinets should you consider? Although latex gloss works best in most environments, painting laminate cabinets and other materials might require other formulas. Call Cabinet Creations at 248-618-3332 to combine style with function when rethinking your cabinet’s impact.

Kirk Richardson
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