Choosing the right paint for your kitchen is one of the most important decisions you’ll make during a kitchen update or remodel. The paint color and finish can dramatically transform the look and feel of your kitchen. While there are many paint options available, not all types of paint are well-suited for high-traffic, high-moisture areas like kitchens. This comprehensive guide will walk you through how to select the best kitchen paint, prep and prime your surfaces, and properly apply paint for a smooth, durable, and beautiful finish.
Selecting the Right Type of Paint for Your Kitchen
When choosing paint for your kitchen, you’ll want to consider:
Your kitchen paint needs to stand up to regular cleaning, moisture from cooking, grease splatters, and more. The most durable options are:
- Enamel paint – Provides a hard, glossy finish that is easy to clean. Popular for use on kitchen cabinets.
- Epoxy paint – Extremely durable two-part paint that creates a plastic-like coating. Used to paint floors and countertops.
- Acrylic latex paint – Budget-friendly option that holds up well on walls and trim. Look for mold/mildew resistant acrylic latex paints.
You’ll be cleaning your kitchen often, so the paint needs to be washable and scrubbable. Latex and enamel paints clean up easily with just soap and water. Flat or matte paints are harder to clean.
Kitchens have lots of humidity from cooking and running the dishwasher. Choose mold and mildew resistant latex or enamel paints. Epoxy paints are also highly moisture resistant.
While lighter, brighter colors are trendy, consider how the color will look with spills and wear. Darker or neutral shades may hide flaws better over time.
Higher sheen paints like satin or semi-gloss are ideal for kitchens. They are more stain resistant and easier to clean than flat and eggshell finishes.
Prep and Prime Kitchen Surfaces for Painting
Proper prep and priming ensures the paint adheres well and provides maximum durability:
Remove all grease, dirt and soap residue from walls, cabinets and trim prior to painting. Clean with an all-purpose cleaner or TSP substitute and rinse thoroughly.
Sand glossy surfaces
For smooth enamel or epoxy paints to adhere, scuff sand any existing glossy surfaces. Use 220 grit sandpaper to rough up the finish.
Fix chips, cracks, holes, and uneven surfaces with spackling paste or wood putty. Sand smooth when dry.
Priming creates a uniform surface for paint to stick to. Use oil-based primers for laminate cabinets and enamel paints. Latex primer works for drywall and acrylic paints.
Fill any cracks or gaps around trim, counters, and cabinets with painters caulk. Allow to dry fully before painting.
How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets
Follow these steps for a smooth, professional looking kitchen cabinet paint job:
1. Remove doors and hardware
Detaching the doors and hardware allows for easier painting. Number doors to keep them in order for reinstallation.
2. Clean and sand
Wash cabinets with TSP or grease-cutting cleaner. Lightly sand glossy finishes.
3. Fill holes and imperfections
Use wood filler for any holes or flaws. Let dry completely and sand smooth.
4. Apply primer
Use oil-based primer for laminate or wood cabinets. Allow to dry overnight before painting.
5. Paint cabinets
Apply two coats of enamel or epoxy cabinet paint, allowing proper drying time between coats.
6. Replace hardware and doors
Once the final coat is dry, put doors back on cabinets and reinstall hardware.
7. Seal with protective clear coat (optional)
For added durability, apply a clear acrylic sealant over painted cabinets.
How to Paint Kitchen Walls
Follow these tips for great results painting your kitchen walls:
1. Prep the walls
Fill any holes or imperfections with spackle. Sand smooth and wipe away dust.
2. Mask edges and trim
Use painters tape to cover baseboards, window frames, trim, and ceilings.
3. Apply primer
Priming helps the paint stick. Use a latex primer for drywall. Allow to fully dry.
4. Paint the walls
Use a high-quality acrylic latex paint in a satin, semi-gloss, or gloss finish. Add a non-slip additive if painting near a sink or range.
5. Apply two coats
For best coverage, apply two coats of paint. Allow the first coat to dry fully before adding the second.
6. Remove painter’s tape
Carefully remove masking tape before the paint fully dries to avoid chipping the edges.
Painting Kitchen Ceilings
Kitchen ceilings need washable paint that can withstand cooking splatters and grease. Here are tips for painting them:
- Use a satin or semi-gloss latex ceiling paint. The higher sheen is easier to clean.
- Look for paint with mold and mildew resistance. Kitchens are prone to moisture.
- Acoustical ceiling paint helps muffle noises and echoes.
- Opt for bright white paint to make the space seem larger and brighter.
- Before painting, fill any cracks or holes with spackle and sand smooth.
- Apply painter’s tape around edges and lighting fixtures.
- Prime first if painting over an oil-based paint. Use a latex primer.
- Apply at least two coats of ceiling paint, allowing proper drying time between coats.
How to Paint Kitchen Countertops
Epoxy paint creates a glossy, seamless finish on countertops. Follow these application tips:
Clean and scuff sand
Countertops must be cleaned of grease, soap residue, and wax. Scuff sand to help the epoxy bond.
Tape off edges
Use painters tape around the edges of the countertop. This helps create clean paint lines.
Combine the epoxy resin and hardener according to package directions. Mix thoroughly to activate.
Apply coloring (optional)
Stir in paint colors if desired. Most epoxy paints come in basic colors like black or white.
Spread epoxy evenly
Use a roller or brush to apply the epoxy over the entire countertop surface. Spread evenly.
Remove excess epoxy
Before curing, wipe away any drips or runs with a disposable brush or cloth.
Allow to cure
Epoxy paint takes 8-12 hours to fully set. Do not use countertops during this time.
Apply second coat (optional)
For extra gloss and protection, apply a second coat of epoxy and allow to cure fully.
Once fully cured, reinstall the sink and other countertop fixtures. Avoid dragging anything heavy across the surface while the epoxy continues to harden over the first week.
How to Paint Kitchen Floors
Like countertops, kitchen floors also demand an extremely durable epoxy paint finish. Here is how to apply it:
1. Clean and etch concrete
For concrete floors, clean thoroughly and etch with an acidic etching solution first. Rinse well and allow to dry.
2. Tape sections
Tape off sections of the floor to paint one area at a time. This prevents lap marks between sections.
3. Mix and activate epoxy
Combine epoxy resin and hardener according to package instructions. Thoroughly mix together.
4. Add non-slip additive
For safety, stir in colored quartz grains or sand to create traction.
5. Apply epoxy paint
Use a roller to apply an even coat of colored epoxy paint over the floor. Spread smoothly.
6. Repeatedly roll surface
Roll over the wet epoxy frequently for 15-20 minutes to help release air bubbles. This creates a smooth finish.
7. Use spiked shoes
Wear spiked shoes to walk on the freshly painted floor without marring the surface before it dries.
8. Allow proper curing time
It takes 24-48 hours for epoxy paint to fully cure and harden on floors. Avoid walking on the surface during this time.
9. Apply second coat
Once cured, tape off sections and apply a second coat of epoxy paint for maximum durability.
Kitchen Paint Colors – Popular Ideas
When selecting a color palette for your kitchen, consider the following popular paint color choices:
Crisp white paint keeps kitchens looking clean, bright, and spacious. Use on cabinets, walls, ceilings, and trim. Add visual interest by pairing white with accent colors.
Soft, neutral grays work well on walls, cabinets, and larger kitchens. Gray paint colors include Foggy Day, Heathered Grey, and Thunderhead.
For a bold, dramatic look, paint lower cabinets navy blue. Pair with white uppers and brass hardware. Navy also pairs well with woods like oak or maple.
Earthy sage greens complement natural materials like stone and wood. Use on walls or on lower cabinets with warm wood or white upper cabinets.
Adding a red accent wall or painting a kitchen island crimson creates visual impact. Reds like scarlet or vermillion inject energy into traditional kitchen designs.
Sunny shades of yellow bring light and warmth into kitchens. Softer yellows work best for painting walls, cabinets, and ceilings. Try buttercream or lemon chiffon.
Paint Sheen Guide for Kitchens
Choosing the right sheen is key for kitchen surfaces. Here’s an overview of paint sheens from flat to glossy:
- Flat – Provides no shine and hides imperfections. Avoid for kitchens due to difficulty cleaning.
- Eggshell – Low luster sheen. Washable but shows flaws. Best used on walls and ceilings only.
- Satin – Subtle sheen and easy to clean. A good choice for walls, trim, and cabinet doors. Provides a velvet-like appearance.
- Semi-gloss – Shiny but not overly glossy. Ideal for cabinet boxes, trim, ceilings, and high-moisture areas.
- Gloss – High-shine finish. Very stain resistant and easy to clean but shows flaws. Best for trim and high-wear areas.
- High gloss – Ultra shiny, glass-like surface. Used for cabinet doors and furniture-like finishes.
Paint Finish Options for Kitchens
In addition to sheen, also consider these paint finish options:
Glossy, hard finish great for painting cabinets, trim, and doors. Provides a smooth, glass-like look.
Extremely durable, plastic-like finish ideal for countertops and floors. Waterproof and chemical resistant.
Budget-friendly option for walls, ceilings, and trim. Flexible finish and easy soap and water cleanup.
Fast drying and very durable. Used as a clear top coat over stained wood cabinetry.
Matte acrylic latex paint great for creating a distressed, vintage look on cabinets and furniture.
Painting Kitchen Appliances
Follow these tips when painting kitchen appliances:
- Clean surfaces thoroughly and lightly sand for paint adhesion.
- Use appliance epoxy spray paint formulated for metal surfaces like refrigerators.
- Apply thin coats, allowing proper drying time between coats. Thick coats can bubble or crack.
- Let paint cure fully 72 hours before regular use of appliance.
- Reapply annually as needed to maintain fresh painted finish with no chips or scratches.
- Hire a professional if removing doors or disassembling unit to paint.
- Avoid painting over rust – sand down to bare metal and prime rust spots first.
- Mask off adjacent surfaces like walls or floors to avoid overspray.
- Work in a well ventilated area – avoid inhaling spray paint fumes.
Safety Tips for Painting Your Kitchen
Painting your kitchen safely involves protecting yourself and your belongings:
- Ventilate the room by opening windows and doors to allow fumes to escape.
- Wear protective gear like gloves, goggles, and a face mask or respirator while painting.
- Cover nearby surfaces like floors and countertops with a drop cloth.
- Use a paint tray rather than a paint can to avoid spilling when loading your roller or brush.
- Work carefully on ladders or step stools to avoid falling.
- Keep painting supplies and fresh paint cans sealed and out of reach of children and pets.
- Never leave paintbrushes soaking in paint thinner unattended due to fire risk.
- Clean brushes and rollers outside if using oil-based paints. Wash latex paintbrushes in warm, soapy water.
- Store solvent-soaked rags in an airtight, metal container to avoid combustion.
- Properly dispose of all soiled drop cloths, rags, roller covers, and brushes after completing the paint job.
FAQs About Painting Kitchens
What type of paint finish is best for kitchen walls?
A satin or semi-gloss latex paint is ideal for kitchen walls. The subtle sheen is easy to clean and maintains its appearance over time. Flat and matte paints are harder to keep clean.
How do I choose what color to paint my kitchen?
Consider the size of the space, the style of your cabinets and decor, and the amount of natural light when selecting a color. Neutrals like white, gray, and beige work well in almost any kitchen. Limit bright colors to accents.
Should I take cabinet doors off before painting kitchen cabinets?
Yes, removing the doors makes painting easier and provides a more professional looking result. Lay doors on a flat surface and detach all hardware. Number doors to keep organized.
Can I use the same paint on kitchen walls and trim?
You can use the same satin or semi-gloss acrylic latex paint on both walls and trim. Just be sure to cut in the edges with a brush and maintain a wet edge when transitioning from walls to trim.
What’s the best way to paint behind a kitchen stove?
Turn off the stove and pull it out from the wall several inches. Use painter’s tape, a small roller, and angled brush to paint behind it. Avoid using spray paint behind appliances.
How long should I wait to use kitchen appliances after painting?
Allow new paint on walls, cabinets, and ceilings to cure for 2-3 days before use. For painted countertops or floors, wait 5-7 days before placing appliances to avoid damage to the finish.
The right paint can make all the difference in transforming a tired, dated kitchen into a fresh, stylish space. Follow the recommendations in this guide to select kitchen paints designed to withstand heat, moisture, and heavy activity. Proper surface prep and application techniques will also ensure your new paint job stands the test of time. Investing in high-quality kitchen paints and painting smartly will provide years of beauty and easy washability. With a stunning new paint color and finish, your kitchen will become a space you’re proud to spend time in and entertain in for years to come.