We’ve been planning our kitchen remodel, and one of the big non-design decisions was which paint to use on the cabinets.  All of my research told me that oil-based paints are the absolute best for cabinet applications.  Unfortunately, they also take a LONG time to dry, aren’t recommended for indoor applications due to the fumes (and I don’t have an outdoor area to paint in), and are quite difficult to clean up.  I keep a running pros/ cons sheet on everything I do, so I figured my findings might be useful to others that are planning on painting their cabinets and want a low VOC alternative to oil-based paints.  I ended up choosing General Finishes milk paint with their Polyacrylic Topcoat, but I also considered Annie Sloan’s chalk paint, Benjamin Moore’s Advance, and Rustoleum’s Cabinet Transformation kit.

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Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint and Wax

I’ve used this product before on my bedroom dresser, and I absolutely LOVED it.  Full disclosure:  I absolutely regret not using this product.  The entire time I was painting my cabinets, I cursed myself for straying away from this product.


  • Covers anything in 1-2 coats (a little goes a LONG way)
  • QUICK dry and cure time
    • In my experience: 20 minutes between coats
  • No stripping, sanding, priming
  • Low VOCs (perfect for working indoors)


  • Pricey (Depends on your stockist, but I paid $36 per quart.)
  • Comes in limited colors (many colors aren’t modern/ bold enough for my taste)
  • It’s recommended to rewax your furniture every year.  I haven’t actually done that with my dresser, and I’ve had it for three years now.
  • Finger prints: I wonder if my wax coat is too thick, but I see finger prints on my waxed furniture that I have to wipe down frequently.


Benjamin Moore’s Advance

This paint is especially formulated for furniture and cabinets.  I’ve read hundreds of other bloggers use it for their cabinets, but these people also had dedicated work spaces to prep and paint their cabinets.


  • Requires 1-2 coats
  • Available in thousands of colors
  • Does not require a top coat
  • Can be cleaned with just water but has the holding power of an oil-based paint


  • Cures in 60 days
  • Not great for spraying
  • Requires a full day between coats
  • Is incredibly tacky as it is drying, so it MUST be in a separate area (I had to paint in my living room… with my cats around… NOT HAPPENING)
  • Is difficult to spray on
  • Requires sanding and priming beforehand


Rustoleum’s Cabinet Transformation Kit

I’ve never used this product, but I know two people that have and LOVED it.  I’ve personally been in their kitchens (inspecting the work meticulously), and I was really impressed with the coverage and resistance of the product.


  • Easy to use
  • No stripping or sanding (unless using lighter colors over dark wood)
  • Includes almost everything that is needed for the project (deglosser, cloths, glaze, etc.)
  • Only 12 hours of dry time required until you can hang the cabinets and 24 hours before normal use


  • Comes in VERY limited colors (11 total)
  • MANY steps required

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General Finishes Milk Paint

I read about this product through many bloggers that swore it was the best for furniture applications.  I also read that the polyacrylic from this line is the best since it doesn’t yellow whites like other polyacrylic topcoats do.


  • No stripping, sanding, or priming required (although we did sand and prime to be extra safe)
  • I personally liked their color choices best (although it’s still a small range).
  • Professional smooth finish with a hard, durable top coat
    • Self-leveling paint
  • Fast drying time (the directions state 2-4 hours, but mine was completely dry after 1)
  • Great reviews from people that have sprayed it on

CONS (No one else seemed to mention these cons, as there were NO cons besides price when I was researching.)

  • Required MANY coats.  I had read up to 3 coats from other reviews, but it took me around 5 plus touch ups
  • It needs constant mixing (the solid particles kept settling to the bottom for me).
  • Perhaps this is a side effect of it being self-leveling, but it was extremely runny.  I had to constantly go over pieces as runs would form several minutes after I had painted it.

***This isn’t really a negative, just a note.  This paint is NOT like other paints in which you should apply thin layers that gradually build.  Instead, you need to apply thick layers (they’ll self-level nicely), but you need to continuously wipe up any drips.  Between coats, you need to lightly sand it with a 320 sanding block to create a smoother finish.

If I could do it again, I would NOT buy this paint.  For the price, it did not cover as well as other paints.  Chalk paint is still my absolute favorite.  In fact, I almost gave up on my paint altogether and repainted the whole thing with leftover chalk paint from another project.  It was THAT frustrating to work with!  That being said, I might be saying something completely different had I used a sprayer with this paint.  I’ve heard it’s completely different with a sprayer.  In any case, I’m just glad this project is DONE!!!!

UPDATE:  I’ve gotten a lot of questions about this post and thought I’d do a quick update.  After living with my kitchen cabinets for 2 years, I am really happy with the paint choices we made for the most part.  We used green milk paint (tinted with some blue acrylic to give it a deeper tone) on the lower cabinets.  We topped the green with wax from Annie Sloan’s line.  They have held up beautifully to getting wiped down frequently, banged shut, scraped against, etc.  They still look STUNNING.    The milk paint was a pain to apply, but it’s held up beautifully.  On the upper cabinets we used Annie Sloan’s chalk paint covered with General Finish’s polyacrylic (yes, we didn’t things a little backwards). The upper cabinets have also held up very well to general wear.  They aren’t abused nearly as much as the lower cabinets, but they still look great with ONE exception.  The polyacrylic DID, in fact, YELLOW considerably, despite having read many reviews that claimed otherwise.  If I could re-do this project, I would have just used wax on all of the cabinets after painting them.  You live and you learn! 🙂