Is Enamel Paint Good for Cabinets? Pro Painter’s Perspective

Enamel Paint Can

Yes, enamel paint is good for cabinets. It offers durability, a smooth finish, and is easy to clean.

Selecting the right paint for your kitchen cabinets is crucial, as it significantly impacts the appearance and longevity of the cabinets.

As a professional kitchen cabinet painter, I’ve had the opportunity to work with various types of paints over the years.

In my experience, enamel paint checks all the boxes for cabinet painting needs.

In this article, I’ll share my personal experiences and feelings on why I believe enamel paint is the best choice for your kitchen cabinets.

What is Enamel Paint for Kitchen Cabinets

Enamel paint is a type of paint that dries to a hard, glossy finish. It offers excellent durability, which is essential for high-impact surfaces like kitchen cabinets.

There are three main types of enamel paint: water-based, oil-based, and lacquer-based enamels. Each type has its pros and cons, but all provide a smooth, durable finish that is easy to clean.

Why is Enamel Paint Good for Kitchen Cabinets (Pros)


I have found that enamel paint creates a hard, long-lasting surface that can withstand daily wear and tear in the kitchen. The paint hardens over time, providing additional durability to your cabinets. This is especially important in busy households where cabinets are frequently opened and closed.

Easy to Clean

Enamel paint creates a smooth surface that is easy to clean. In my experience, this is a significant advantage in a kitchen where dirt and grease can accumulate over time. The smooth surface prevents dirt buildup and allows for easy cleaning with just a damp cloth.

Aesthetic Appeal

The glossy finish of enamel paint gives kitchen cabinets a luxurious and professional appearance. There is a wide variety of colors and sheens available, allowing you to choose the perfect look for your kitchen. In my opinion, enamel paint provides the best balance between aesthetics and functionality for kitchen cabinets.

Types of Enamel Paint for Cabinets

Water-Based Enamel

I have found that water-based enamel paint is a more eco-friendly option due to its low VOC content. However, it has lower durability and finish quality compared to other enamel paints. Additionally, it can be difficult to apply smoothly, which may require more skill and patience.

Oil-Based Enamel

Oil-based enamel paint offers better durability and a smoother finish than water-based enamel. It is also easy to clean, making it an excellent choice for kitchen cabinets. However, it has a higher VOC content and longer drying time. In my experience, oil-based enamel may also yellow over time.

Lacquer-Based Enamels

Lacquer-based enamels provide the best finish beauty and durability. They dry quickly, making them a popular choice among professional painters like myself. However, they have the highest VOC level and are difficult to work with, making them not recommended for DIY projects.

Top Enamel Paint Brands for Cabinets

As a pro painter, I’ve worked with a variety of enamel paint brands, and these are my top picks for kitchen cabinets:

Sherwin-Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel

This high-quality enamel paint provides a smooth, durable finish that resists wear and tear. I’ve found it to be an excellent choice for high-traffic kitchen cabinets, offering a long-lasting, low-maintenance solution.

Valspar Cabinet Enamel

Valspar Cabinet Enamel is a water-based, non-yellowing paint that provides a smooth finish and excellent durability. I appreciate its low VOC content, which makes it more environmentally friendly and safer to work with.

PPG Breakthrough

I used Breakthrough! 250 for a few years in my custom cabinet business. Although the local PPG dealer closed down due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I still consider this paint a reliable option for its hard-curing properties and smooth finish.

I’ve used PPG Breakthrough for several projects, and I found it to be a great option. However, it can be a bit runny when spraying.

Recently, I’ve switched to using Scuff-X, which I find easier to spray and work with.

Benjamin Moore Advance

After switching to Benjamin Moore’s Advance, I found that it sprays out nicely and offers a beautiful satin finish. However, it doesn’t seem to cure as hard as the Breakthrough! 250, so I occasionally drive the extra 30 miles to get it for specific projects requiring a harder finish.

Behr Urethane Alkyd Satin Enamel

This paint delivers a smooth finish and excellent durability, making it a suitable choice for kitchen cabinets. It’s also easy to clean and maintain.

Potential Cons of Enamel Paint on Cabinets

While enamel paint has many benefits, there are potential cons to consider:

Difficulty working with enamel paint

Enamel paint can be more challenging to work with than other types of paint, requiring more skill and preparation to achieve a smooth finish. As a pro painter, I’ve developed techniques to overcome this challenge, but DIY enthusiasts may find it difficult.

See more: How to Paint Enamel Cabinets: A Professional’s Guide

Higher cost compared to other paint types

Enamel paint is generally more expensive than acrylic or latex paint, which could be a consideration for those on a budget. However, I believe the long-lasting and low-maintenance properties of enamel paint justify the higher cost.

Possibility of chipping and peeling if not properly prepared

If cabinets are not properly prepared or receive a lot of wear and tear, enamel paint can chip or peel. To avoid this, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and ensure proper preparation before painting.

Compare Enamel Paint to Other Paints

In my experience, enamel paint offers better durability, color payoff, and a smoother finish than acrylic or latex paint. It’s particularly well-suited for high-impact surfaces like kitchen cabinets. While the cost of enamel paint is typically higher, the long-lasting and low-maintenance properties make it a worthwhile investment.


In conclusion, enamel paint is good for cabinets as it provides a durable, smooth surface that is easy to clean and maintain. As a pro painter, I’ve found enamel paint to be the best choice for kitchen cabinets when compared to other paint types. However, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons, and consider factors such as cost, skill level, and project requirements before making a decision.

Proper preparation and application are crucial to achieving a beautiful, long-lasting finish. If you’re unsure about using enamel paint for your cabinets or need assistance, don’t hesitate to consult a professional like myself for advice or guidance.

In the end, selecting the right paint for your kitchen cabinets depends on your specific needs and preferences. By considering the benefits and potential drawbacks of enamel paint, you’ll be better equipped to make an informed decision that leads to a stunning and functional kitchen.