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Best paint for kitchen cabinets 2021: Our pick of the top gloss, matte and satin paints for your kitchen

Natalya Paul
28 Jul 2021
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Transform the look and feel of your kitchen with these paints

Giving your kitchen a refresh needn’t cost jaw-dropping quantities of cash. In fact, the best paint for kitchen cabinets can be relatively affordable, if you know where to look. So why not do-it-yourself and treat your kitchen cupboards to a new lick of paint to spruce things up?

Watching paint dry is nobody’s idea of fun, but painting your own cupboards costs far less than paying a professional and you can still get excellent results, if you choose the right paint. On top of that, you’ll have the satisfaction of basking in a kitchen that would have Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen nodding his head in approval.

So whether you’re doing a full refit or just fancy changing things up, our pick of the best paint for kitchen cabinets has you covered, whatever your style or budget. If you’re new to DIY painting, give our buying guide below a read first for some handy tips. Or, if you’re already in the know, simply scroll on for our top cabinet paint picks.

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Best paint for kitchen cabinets: At a glance


How to choose the best paint for kitchen cabinets

Which type of finish do I want?

Once you’ve selected a paint colour, an equally important consideration is the finish. There’s no right or wrong paint finish to opt for, but certain types do have their advantages in a room prone to sticky fingers and spillages.

The choices are typically matte, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss and high-gloss – a sliding scale of shininess. Although matte can look very chic, for most modern kitchens we’d recommend a satin or semi-gloss so it’s easy to wipe down and keep clean.

How much paint do I need?

This all depends on the size of your kitchen and how many cabinets you’re painting, but to avoid an emergency trip to the shop midway through the job, having too much is always the safest option.

Remember, you might be required to give cabinets at least two coats of paint, and if you’re painting over a dark colour, it could even be more. Even if the tin states that one coat will do the trick, it’s often smart to have extra if you’re not yet satisfied with the finish. A lot of paints will provide a rough estimate of how far one tin will go in square metres, so it’s best to check the label if you’re not sure.

Will I have to do any prep?

A huge chunk of the job is the preparation. First, remove all the drawers and handles on the cabinets, so you don’t splatter paint all over them. If that’s not an option, use masking tape to cover them. Although it might look like your cabinets are ready to meet the paint roller, it’s worth cleaning them thoroughly.

Next, gently sandpaper the surfaces to help the paint stick. This is especially important for laminate or veneer, to roughen the smooth surface. Don’t forget to remove the remaining dust and give all your cabinets a good sponge down to remove any debris, before allowing them to completely dry.

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What about a primer?

Choosing either a multipurpose or specific primer will be the difference between doing an okay job and getting that professional finish you’re striving for. Once your cabinets are dry and clean, find a roller or paintbrush and add the first coat of primer. The primer creates a base coat and will help avoid any future paint chipping – multiple thin layers will build up a hardiness. If your original surface is quite glossy, you might need to paint another even coat of primer.

What else do I need to know?

If you’re removing your cabinets and not just unhinging them, make sure you label them or take a note of what belongs where. This ensures when it comes to putting them back together, you’re not scratching your head, looking like a Chuckle Brother.

Also remember to place a dust sheet on the floor or an even layer of newspaper. Make sure you have all the tools too – a roller, a tray and a few paintbrushes of varying sizes. You should make sure you’re wearing clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, too.

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The best paint for kitchen cabinets to buy in 2021

1. The One Paint Satin Finish: Best multipurpose satin paint

Price: £25 | Buy now from Amazon

Available in 11 colours, The One Paint is a non-toxic, water-based paint suitable for multiple surfaces including woods and laminates. It even claims to complete the task without the need for a primer, making it the ideal choice for the time-poor. However, we’d still suggest using one if you have time.

It takes two hours for the first layer to dry completely and, depending on how the paint is applied, it’ll roughly work out at 12sqm per litre. As this paint is quite thin, you’ll need to be careful not to soak your paintbrush in order to avoid drip, and be sure to work slowly and carefully.

Key detailsOil or water-based: Water-based; Size: 1L; Quick drying: Yes; Multiple colours available: Yes

2. Dulux Retail Cupboard Paint: Best durable kitchen cabinet paint

Price: From £21 | Buy now from Amazon

Celebrity sheep-dog-approved paint can’t be ignored, especially when it’s as hard-wearing as Dulux’s retail cupboard paint. It’s available in barley white, jasmine white, natural hessian and pure brilliant white. And while some might prefer something a touch bolder, this is a fine choice for anyone looking to keep things clean and simple.

The chemical properties of Dulux make it super-durable, but also mean you’ll want to keep the room well ventilated when painting and be sure to check the contents if you’re allergy-prone. To achieve the desired satin finish, apply with a brush and wait around six hours for the first coat to dry. When calculating quantities, Dulux claims the paint will cover 16sqm per litre.

Key detailsOil or water-based: Water-based; Size: 600ml; Quick drying: Yes; Multiple colours available: Yes

3. Johnstones Revive Cupboard Paint: Best quick-drying all-rounder paint

Price: £17 | But now from Amazon

Perfect for melamine or MDF, Johnstones Revive paint will do exactly what it says on the tin – revive your dull kitchen cabinets. It’s available in more than seven shades, most of them neutral, and only takes one hour to dry, which is great if you’re planning to do multiple coats.

As the paint is quite runny, it might look a touch streaky after the first coat. But don’t fret, a second layer will guarantee everything appears sleek and even. As this is a water-based paint, it’s practically odourless too, and it’ll be a doddle to wash off brushes and rollers when you’re ready to call it a day.

Key detailsOil or water-based: Water-based; Size: 750ml; Quick drying: Yes; Multiple colours available: Yes

4. Ronseal One Coat Cupboard: Best hard-wearing cabinet paint

Price: From £19 | Buy now from Amazon

This tough cabinet paint is sure to stand the test of time. It’s designed for melamine, MDF, plywood and chipboard and promises a smooth satin finish, making it ideal for kitchen cupboards. We’d suggest carving out at least a few days to complete the job, as this paint takes 24 hours to fully dry. Despite maintaining on the tin that it’ll only require one coat, it’s wise to consider painting another layer to achieve a professional-looking smoothness.

You’ll also need to keep the kitchen well ventilated, as it does have a strong odour and, given its thick consistency, a roller might be more suitable for the task.

Key detailsOil or water-based: Water-based; Size: 750ml; Quick drying: No; Multiple colours available: Yes

5. Rust-Oleum Gloss Finish Furniture Paint White Frost: Best gloss finish paint

Price: From £20 | Buy now from Amazon

A low-odour, water-based paint from Rust-Oleum will help you achieve a high-gloss finish and brighten up your kitchen cupboards. It can be painted onto any suitably primed surface and is touch-dry in as little as one hour and fully dry within eight. Coverage is up to 14sqm per litre and given its non-toxic credentials and the fact it’s practically odourless, it’s a safe choice if you’ve got little ones in the house.

Key detailsOil or water-based: Water-based; Size: 750ml; Quick drying: Yes; Multiple colours available: Yes

6. Nuvo Cabinet and Cupboard Paint Kit: Best for all-in-one kits

Price: £70 | Buy now from Amazon

This USA-manufactured Nuvo cupboard paint kit suits anyone who wants as little hassle as possible when painting. It comes with two tins of paint, two stir-sticks, two rollers and a paintbrush. There’s even a step-by-step guide to walk you through every stage.

The water-based, acrylic paint is perfect for wood and will work on primed laminate too, covering 9.3sqm per litre. According to the instructions, the whole job is estimated to take eight hours, but that all hinges on how many cupboards you’re painting and how much cleaning is required. As you’re getting tools and the paint in this kit, it’s excellent value – providing you don’t already have the necessary instruments.

Key detailsOil or water-based: Water-based; Size: 1.8L; Quick drying: No; Multiple colours available: Yes

7. Wilko Furniture Cupboard Paint English Sage: Best budget paint for kitchen cabinets

Price: £10 | Buy now from Wilko

We can’t really fault Wilko’s cupboard paint when it comes to value, but there’s much more to it than that. Suitable for wood, melamine and MDF, this paint is touch-dry in only two hours, although we’d recommend waiting longer before applying a second covering of paint.

As this is an oil-based paint, you’ll need to use some sort of mineral spirits or turpentine to clean your brushes and rollers. Although it's available in multiple shades of white and grey, we rate English Sage the most, as it feels fresh and clean.

Key detailsOil or water-based: Oil-based; Size: 750ml; Quick drying: Yes; Multiple colours available: Yes

Buy now from Wilko


8. The Little Greene Paint Company Intelligent Eggshell: Best eggshell designer paint for cabinets

Price: £33 (1L), £68 (2.5L) | Buy now from John Lewis

What’s immediately striking about The Little Greene Paint Company’s offering is the sheer breadth of neutral colours available – 12 in total. These water-based eggshell paints are ideal on wooden kitchen cabinets, especially given that they’re designed to be resistant to steam and condensation.

A stylish, low-sheen finish allows for easy cleaning and it’s even durable enough for exterior wood and metal, should you have some spare. Another boon for DIY decorators is that you’re able to order a tester pot before committing to a colour, so you can see how it looks in situ. The only downside is that the tester pots are only available in the matt emulsion finish, so bear in mind that the finish could look slightly different with the end product.

Key detailsOil or water-based: Water-based; Sizes: 1L, 2.5L; Quick drying: Yes; Multiple colours available: Yes

Buy now from John Lewis


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