Choosing a paint color for your kitchen cabinets can be an exciting yet daunting task. With so many paint options to choose from, it can be overwhelming trying to select the perfect shade that will give your kitchen the new look you desire. There are a few key things to consider when selecting a paint color for your kitchen cabinets.
Consider the Amount of Natural Lighting in Your Kitchen
The amount of natural lighting your kitchen receives should play a role in choosing cabinet paint colors. Here are some tips:
- Well-lit kitchens – If your kitchen is flooded with natural light thanks to generous windows, then you have more flexibility when selecting a paint color. Darker or bolder paint colors will stand out nicely in a bright kitchen. Consider deep tones like navy blue, forest green, burgundy or even black.
- Poorly-lit kitchens – If your kitchen is darker with limited natural light, opt for lighter paint colors for your cabinets. Shades like light gray, cream, light blue and soft yellow work well. They will brighten up the space. Avoid very dark paints as they can make your kitchen feel claustrophobic.
- Northern light – North-facing rooms tend to have cool, blue-tinged natural light. Cabinet colors that coordinate well with this include grays, greens and blues.
- Southern light – Southern light is warm and yellow-toned. Cabinet paint colors like reds, oranges, yellows and terra cotta complement this light.
Choose a Tone Based on Your Desired Mood
The tone or mood you want to convey can also influence your kitchen cabinet paint color selection. Here are some examples:
- Inviting, cozy – Soft white, warm taupe, pale yellow
- Sleek, modern – Glossy white, charcoal gray, black
- Elegant, formal – Cream, navy, dark red
- Cheerful, casual – Mint green, sunny yellow, sky blue
- Rustic, earthy – Sage green, brown, terracotta
Complement Countertops and Backsplashes
You’ll want your new cabinet paint color to coordinate well with any existing countertops and backsplashes.
- Neutral countertops like white marble, granite, quartz or wood species can work with nearly any cabinet color.
- For colorful solid surface or patterned tile counters, choose a paint shade that ties into that main color. Soft blue cabinets are perfect for coordinating with a mosaic tile backsplash in shades of blue and green.
- Butcher block countertops look great paired with sage green, navy, black or white painted cabinets.
If you’ll be replacing countertops as part of your kitchen remodel, select cabinet and countertop materials together that have compatible tones.
Consider the Door Style of Your Cabinets
The door style of your kitchen cabinets can impact your color selection. Here are a few examples:
- Shaker cabinets – Their simple, flat panel design means they can handle both light and dark paint colors equally well. Deep hues give them a sophisticated look.
- Country or cottage cabinets – Their decorative door style pairs best with light, airy paint colors like cloud white, antique white, pale blue or mint green.
- Sleek modern cabinets – Their clean lines lend themselves perfectly to bold shades including black, navy or dark gray for drama. Glossy white is crisp.
- Traditional cabinets – Look stately in cream, light gray, navy and sage. Softer tones suit their carved details.
Samples Are Key
Never select a paint color sight unseen. Lighting conditions in the store can distort colors. Instead, bring home several paint samples and test them out. Paint large swatches on cabinets doors or pieces of cardboard to get an accurate impression. View samples at different times of day when lighting conditions change. Store sample boards together for easy comparison.
Factor in Personal Preference
While considering all the points mentioned above, don’t forget to pick a color you simply love. Choosing a favorite hue that makes you smile whenever you enter the kitchen is most important. You’ll be looking at your kitchen cabinets multiple times a day for years to come. Selecting a paint color you adore will ensure you enjoy the new look for years to come.
Most Popular Kitchen Cabinet Paint Colors
Now that you know how to approach selecting a paint color for your kitchen cabinets, let’s explore some of the most popular, timeless, on-trend and unique paint colors to consider:
An absolute classic, white kitchen cabinets project a clean, bright and fresh look. White paint comes in a variety of shades and undertones:
- Bright white – Clean and crisp, great in modern kitchens. Can feel sterile.
- Antique white – A warm, slightly yellowish classic white. Provides a soft, welcoming vibe.
- Dove white – Quiet and elegant. No yellow or gray undertones.
- Alabaster white – A light tan white with just a hint of cream.
- Buttermilk – Slightly yellow base makes this a perfect warm white.
White cabinets pair beautifully with any color countertop or flooring. Their neutrality provides a lovely backdrop. White reflects light well in darker kitchens. Glossy or high-sheen white cabinets have extra visual impact.
Gray is currently one of the most sought-after kitchen cabinet paint colors. Like white, gray offers many different undertones spanning cool to warm:
- Cloud gray – Very pale, almost white gray. Airy and illuminating.
- Oyster gray – Subtly blue-green gray. Works with cool color schemes.
- Driftwood – Has faint brown undertones. Warm, beachy vibe.
- Onyx – Deepest charcoal gray. Striking and bold.
- Pepper gray – Charcoal and black blended with white.
Gray kitchen cabinets are versatile and sleek. They blend seamlessly into eclectic color schemes or accent pops of color.
Long reserved for edgy modern kitchens, black cabinets are increasingly popular. Black paint can be glossy, matte or somewhere in between:
- Soft matte black – Slight sheen is softer than flat black. Chic sophistication.
- Glossy black – Reflective sheen has lots of glamorous visual impact.
- Chalkboard black – Ultra-matte, deep black. Makes a statement.
Black kitchen cabinets lend a signature look and create contrast against light walls. They work best in brightly lit kitchens. Pair with light counters to prevent a cave-like feeling. Stainless steel and chrome hardware pop against black.
Navy continues to increase in popularity for kitchen cabinets and can range from soft to bold:
- Hazy blue – Barely blue, quiet and misty. Lovely subtle touch of color.
- Stormy blue – Classic navy, versatile, pairs with many colors.
- Midnight blue – Deeper blue with a hint of black. Dramatic and moody.
Navy kitchen cabinets offer a sophisticated nautical vibe. Coordinate with whites, natural woods, stainless steel and chrome. Avoid pairing navy cabinets with other blues. Navy also pairs well with yellows for a beachy contrast.
Green kitchen cabinets bring nature indoors and come in light, medium and deep shades:
- Seafoam green – Soft, airy pale green. Perfect for coastal, cottage kitchens.
- Pistachio green – Vibrant light green. Cheerful and energetic.
- Sage green – Earthy, calming gray-green. Complements woods well.
- Forest green – Deep gem tone green. Rich and traditional.
- Clover green – Vivid green with yellow undertones. Makes a bold statement.
Green cabinets suit many styles from modern to farmhouse. Pair them with natural woods, black hardware, white marble counters and brass fixtures. Green cabinets can work with red brick backsplashes.
A sunny yellow kitchen instantly brightens a space. Consider these warm, welcoming tones:
- Buttery yellow – Rich, creamy yellow. Inviting and cozy.
- Mustard yellow – Zesty, spicy yellow. Funky and fun.
- Sunflower yellow – Clean, daisy yellow. Cheerful and friendly.
Yellow kitchen cabinets pair perfectly with white subway tiles, stainless steel appliances, natural wood floors and accents of blue like mosaic tile backsplashes. Avoid matching yellow countertops with yellow cabinets, as it could feel overwhelming.
While less common than many cabinet colors, red makes for a bold, beautiful statement. Red cabinet options include:
- Fire engine red – An intense, flashy true red. Makes a dramatic splash.
- Apple red – Warm red with orange undertones. Uplifting.
- Burgundy – Deep, sophisticated red. Classic and elegant.
Red kitchen cabinets make sense for traditional kitchens, Tuscan spaces and farmhouse decors. Pair red with whites, natural woods and black/white countertops like marble or butcher block.
In addition to classics like white and gray, consider unique cabinet colors that display your personality:
- Robin’s egg blue – Playful retro blue-green. Adorable cottage character.
- Lavender – Lovely muted purple. Delicate and gentle.
- Canary yellow – Vibrant, nearly neon yellow. Cheerful and fun.
- Sea glass green – Mix of blue, green and gray. Relaxing zen color.
- Coral – Fresh, energetic orange with red undertones. Tropical vibe.
- Terracotta – Earthy red-brown. Great for Tuscan, farmhouse and rustic decors.
The key to successfully using unique colors lies in choosing one focal color while other elements like countertops and backsplashes remain neutral. This allows the unique hue to shine.
Kitchen Cabinet Paint Finish Options
In addition to color, consider which paint finish will look best on your cabinets:
- Matte – Totally flat with no shine. Shows fewer imperfections. Subtle and classy.
- Satin – Minimal sheen. Most popular choice as it resists marks.
- Semi-gloss – Medium gloss with some subtle sheen. Looks crisp and clean.
- Gloss – High-shine and very reflective. Great for a slick modern look or vibrant color. Shows all imperfections.
- Distressed – Intentionally worn and weathered. Perfect for a cottage, vintage or farmhouse aesthetic.
Sample different finishes to choose what complements your cabinet style and desired aesthetic best.
Hire a Professional or DIY?
Once you’ve selected the perfect paint color and finish for your kitchen cabinets, decide whether to hire a professional or tackle the painting as a DIY project. There are pros and cons to each approach:
Professional Painting Benefits
- Super smooth results – Professionals have the skills, tools and expertise to prep cabinets correctly and apply paint flawlessly. No brush strokes!
- Perfect finish – Professional spray equipment allows for an ultra-consistent, attractive finish. Much harder to achieve at home.
- Efficient – A complete kitchen can be painted in just a couple of days rather than stretching out for weeks.
- Warranty – Many pro painters offer warranties on their work in case of chips or other issues down the road. Peace of mind!
DIY Painting Benefits
- Cost savings – Buying paint and supplies yourself costs significantly less than hiring professionals.
- Customized results – You can take your time and customize the finish exactly how you envision.
- Satisfaction – Some homeowners find a big sense of pride and accomplishment in DIY painting.
- Color control – No issues with colors being unavailable if you wait to buy paint until ready to start.
If you opt to paint kitchen cabinets yourself, be sure to thoroughly research proper preparation, priming and application techniques to achieve the best end result. Allow plenty of time for the project and have back-up help available.
How to Prepare Kitchen Cabinets for Painting
To ensure your painted kitchen cabinets stand the test of time, proper prep work before painting is crucial. Follow these steps to get your cabinets paint-ready:
- Empty all cabinets and drawers completely. Remove doors, drawers and hardware. Label pieces for reinstallation.
- Thoroughly clean cabinet surfaces, sides, frames and doors with a degreasing agent like TSP. Rinse well.
- Sand surfaces lightly with 120-220 grit sandpaper to rough up the finish so paint can adhere properly.
- Fill any holes, gouges or cracks with wood filler and sand smooth.
- Prime all surfaces with a high-bonding primer formulated for painting cabinets. Allow to fully dry per manufacturer instructions.
- Install painters tape around cabinet frames where they meet walls and tile backsplashes for crisp paint lines.
- Use tack cloths to remove all dust before painting.
- Work in a well-ventilated space with drop cloths laid out.
- Follow all safety precautions when using chemicals and paints.
Proper prep leads to smooth, durable painted finishes!
How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets
Once your cabinets are prepped, you’re ready to apply paint. Follow these tips:
- Always paint doors horizontally laid flat if possible for minimal drips. Let dry fully before moving.
- Use high-quality applicator tools – mini paint rollers, brushes and an airless sprayer if possible.
- Apply paint in thin, even coats allowing proper dry time between coats. Thick coats can bubble or sag.
- Work methodically from the cabinet interiors out to the frames/sides and ending with doors.
- Use angled brush strokes rather than broad strokes for the smoothest finish on doors and frames.
- Paint hinges separately before reinstalling doors for full coverage.
- Install hardware only after the final coat is fully cured – often 48-72 hours. Allow 1-2 weeks curing before hanging heavy contents to prevent damage.
With patience and care, your painted kitchen cabinets will turn out beautifully!
How Long Does Painted Cabinet Paint Last?
The longevity of painted kitchen cabinets depends on several factors:
- Preparation – Properly prepped and primed cabinets enhances paint adhesion and durability.
- Quality paint – Premium cabinet paints specifically formulated for kitchens last significantly longer than generic wall paints.
- Application – Professional sprayed finishes often hold up better than DIY brushwork. Thin coats are better than thick.
- Cleaning habits – Gentle cleaning helps maintain painted finishes versus harsh scrubbing or abrasive cleaners.
- Wear and tear – Kitchens with small children or frequent messy cooks see more deterioration. Delicate use keeps cabinets like new.
- Sunlight exposure – Direct sun fading can shorten paint life. Keep blinds partially closed.
With the right prep and painting approach, high-quality painted kitchen cabinets can maintain their like-new look for 5-10 years before needing a refresh. Proper care should help you avoid chipping, yellowing or marks.
Kitchen Cabinet Paint Colors: FAQs
Can you paint Thermofoil cabinets?
Thermofoil cabinets have a plastic laminate coating and require extensive sanding and priming with bonding agents to accept paint properly. This labor-intensive process is best left to professionals. Often, replacing Thermofoil cabinets with new MDF versions is comparable in cost for a superior end result.
Do you have to sand cabinets before painting?
Proper sanding before painting cabinets is highly recommended to degloss and rough up surfaces so the paint can adhere properly. Start with 120-150 grit sandpaper and finish sanding with 180-220 grit for a smooth foundation for painting. Always wipe away dust after sanding before priming.
How do you paint cabinets white that were stained wood?
Follow these key steps for the best results:
- Clean thoroughly then sand well to remove existing finish.
- Prime with a bonding primer formulated for glossy surfaces.
- Caulk corners, joints and nail holes for flawless finish.
- Apply at least two coats of quality satin or semi-gloss cabinet paint in your chosen white shade.
What sheen is best for cabinet paint?
A satin or semi-gloss finish offers the ideal blend of subtle sheen and easy cleaning for cabinet paints. Satin is most popular as it resists fingerprints and water spots well. Matte is too flat and gloss too shiny for cabinets.
How long does it take cabinet paint to cure?
Most quality cabinet paints take a full 7-14 days to fully cure and harden. Wait this long after the final coat before hanging heavy items in newly painted cabinets. Touch dry in just 1-2 hours but curing takes much longer.
Painting your kitchen cabinets can make a huge impact by changing the entire look and feel of your space. Use these guidelines to select cabinet colors that complement your existing decor while also reflecting your personal taste. With proper preparation and application, enjoy your updated kitchen for years to come!
Choosing a new paint color for your kitchen cabinets is an exciting project! Evaluate the existing elements like lighting, counters, cabinet style and your desired aesthetic. Select from popular classics like white and gray or make a statement with a bold, unique color. Ensure proper preparation so your painted cabinets stand the test of time. Whether you opt to hire a professional or tackle the painting yourself, take your time and follow best practices for a smooth, durable finish. Coordinating your cabinets, counters, backsplash and floors creates a cohesive, welcoming kitchen space for family and friends to enjoy for years to come.