Painting your cabinets is one manageable project that will have a big impact on your kitchen. The question is, what’s the right type of product to use?

With painted cabinets, you can choose either paint or enamel. Here are the main differences between the two:

  • Enamel cost more
  • Enamel will be shiner, harder, and last longer
  • Enamel is easier to apply
  • Oil based enamel has more VOC’s
  • Clean up for oil based is much harder

What exactly is enamel?

What’s known to painters as “enamel” doesn’t fit a hard and fast definition. We understand it to be a harder, shinier, more durable product that almost creates a membrane or shell when applied. Traditionally, enamel is oil-based, but nowadays there are other options. Oil-based enamel is still available, but it’s typically used only by professionals (mainly because its hard to clean up).

Your alternative is a hybrid enamel, which is a water-based product meant to mimic the performance of oil-based enamel. So does it? It gets pretty close – close enough, judging by the fact that hybrid enamels have become popular in recent years.

When to use paint and when to use enamel

There’s nothing wrong with using good, old-fashioned, water-based paint. It’s the cheapest option, and cleanup is easy. There are fewer VOC’s than in oil-based enamel, which means it’s legal to use in every state. A cheaper product also makes sense if you like to change colors often.

However, if you want a paint job that will remain beautiful for several years, you can try an enamel.

Hybrid enamel vs oil enamel

A hybrid enamel won’t be as hard or shiny as your traditional oil based enamel, but will be harder andshinier than paint.

However, hybrid is typically going to be your most expensive option. A price test at the local paint store of all three options from the same line shows a difference of $10-20 per gallon between hybrid and oil.

This may be well worth it to those who want the performance of enamel, but are concerned about VOC’s. The price difference is almost insignificant if you only need one gallon of paint to do your cabinets.

However, if you intend to do all the cabinets in your house, you might need more than one, at which point the cost difference adds up.

Consulting a professional will help you make the most informed decision

An experienced sales associate at the local commercial paint store will be able to walk you through the specifics of painting your cabinets and decide on the best product for your situation. If you’re contracting a professional painter, you can consult them about choosing the best product for your needsand your budget.

IF you’re in the Twin Cities area, you can contact Cedartone Painting for cabinet painting services.

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