Kitchen Cabinet Paint

The paint you use for your kitchen cabinets is crucial for maintenance and long-lasting durability.

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Gilles Mingasson/Getty Images

Gilles Mingasson/Getty Images

Did you know that in addition to providing varying levels of protection and durability, different types of kitchen cabinet paint can actually enhance colors as well as the tone and style you want to convey? Yeah, I didn't either.

Kitchen Cabinet Color Options: Ideas From Top Designers

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John Colaneri

Gibbs Smith, Barry Dixon Interiors, Brian D Coleman, Edward Addeo (photographer) Photo Credit: Edward Addeo View original photo.

Gibbs Smith, Farrow and Ball, Brian D Coleman, Edward Addeo Edward Addeo View original photo.

Gibbs Smith, Farrow and Ball, Brian D Coleman, Edward Addeo (photographer) Photo Credit: Edward Addeo View original photo.

2012 BRIAN KELLOGG PHOTOGRAPHY 2012 BRIAN KELLOGG PHOTOGRAPHY View original photo.

The type of paint you use seems like it would just be an afterthought in between the fun of choosing the color and the work of painting it onto the surfaces. They're all the same, right? Turns out, this couldn't be further from the truth.

For a high-traffic area like a kitchen, long-lasting durability and easy clean-up are important. There are three types of paint to choose from, each with different characteristics to be considered.

If you plan to keep your kitchen for many years, long-lasting durability would be your priority. In that case, you'd want to consider an oil-based paint. It provides a beautiful finish that will withstand wear and tear the longest. The only downsides to using an oil-based paint are the cleanup during the painting process and the ventilation that's necessary. Alkyd oil-based paints need a solvent to clean up any mistakes, and the chemicals require a lot of ventilation. The result is a very high quality finish that can withstand any punishment thrown at it.

If easy cleanup and a non-toxic paint that can be around small children and pets are more important to you, and you aren't as concerned with long-term durability, or don't mind re-painting sooner, an acrylic latex paint is a great choice. Color quality is superior to that of some oil-based paints, and a water-based lacquer-like spray-on finish will make it more durable and longer-lasting. Tinted shellac is a really great choice if your intention is to get a more color-stained look instead of a full-out solid opaque, though it is the worst in terms of long-term maintenance.

Once you know the type of paint to use, you can decide if you want a semi-gloss, gloss or a high gloss look that shines like glass. The more gloss content there is in the paint, the tougher and more durable it is. The amount of gloss reveals the style as well. For an ultra-contemporary look with bright, bold colors, you'd want the highest gloss possible to give it a glass-like finish. For a retro, throwback look, go with a slightly lower gloss. For a more traditional, classic look, use a semi-gloss. Because of the volume of traffic in your kitchen, you don't want to go with less gloss content than a semi-gloss or the cleanup and long-term maintenance would be problematic.

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