Latex as Cabinet Finish?

Some new formulas of latex paint spray almost as easily and hold up almost as well as pigmented varnishes. April 19, 2011

I am aware that the standard finish for cabinetry is usually lacquer, conversion varnish, polyurethanes, and newer water based finishes. My question is this: does anyone professionally finish cabinets in a big-box store interior latex paint like Behr or Valspar? I have seen the occasional homeowner on a tight budget try to repaint their old cabinets with cheap latex paint, and it usually looks like crap in a blender. What are the pros (if any) and cons of trying to finish brand new cabinets with latex paint?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor A:
There are no pros to latex only cons. Search the Knowledge Base for more information. These are 100% acrylic interior house paints that are similar to the pro wb stuff.

From contributor R:
Like Contributor A mentioned already, cheap and plain latex paint stinks for cabinet finishes. If you want good results with paint look into 100% acrylic paints like SW ProClassic.

From contributor P:
Cons: Stays soft forever, doesn't lay out smoothly, objects on painted shelves may stick to the paint, difficult to refinish with anything other than latex, looks like crap in a blender.

Pros: It's not expensive, readily available, and can be applied by brush.

From contributor O:
I'd say pro's don't use/buy finishing products from big box stores, including their paints. However basecoating cabinets in a 100% acrylic paint can work very well, but you'd have to be a real pro to brush it well.

From contributor J:
Don't write off latex paint. There is a big demand for green finishes and the new latex paints are in high demand by the best decorators. I have sprayed all kinds of finishes, and a lot of latex lately with an adapted MX Kremlin gun connected to a Titan airless. I spray Benjamin Moore Aura latex paint, unreduced. It looks great. You will miss the boat if you don't get on board.

From the original questioner:
When you say green finishes do you mean the color green, or do you mean environmentally friendly finishes? I donít dispute the fact that latex paint can look good, but I have big concerns about the durability of the latex. I have personally not tried to put latex on cabinets, therefore I have no idea how it reacts or holds up to daily wear and tear. From my observation, latex never really gets hard and seems slightly tacky even after itís had sufficient time to cure. Do the Benjamin Moore paints that you use have this characteristic?

From contributor J:
The Benjamin Moore Aura line has sprayed out well for me. I use the Aura over a 220 scuff sanded ML Campbell Clawlock primer. I use an adapted MX gun with the Titan airless, but Kremlin also makes stronger pumps capable of spraying latex. I think latex never will harden as strong as a post catalyzed product, but it's what the decorators want. It's their green, as in environmentally green, solution.

In the past most cabinets were finished with a pigmented conversion varnish, or 2K poly, today I see more latex and oil base (Ben Moore Satin Impervo). Maybe it's just our customer base, but I see a trend away from the high build plastic looking finishes. As far as durability I think the Aura product will stand up to regular household use.

From contributor P:
Like Contributor A said, the acrylic latex paints (Satin Impervo, Aura, Muralo Ultra, others) are a different animal than the old school latex paints. They spray and lay out better, dry faster, and the resulting finish is closer to a professional grade spray finish. So assuming you have good spray equipment and access to the pro products, why wouldn't you use them?

From contributor U:
I donít like latex because it takes forever to dry. I use vinyl primer, and enamel which my supplier will mix to any solid Wilsonart color laminate sample. I then top coat with CV for durability. By the way, the vinyl and the enamel dries in about ten minutes.

From contributor T:
Contributor U if you don't mind me asking, what vinyl primer? What enamel are you mentioning - enamel can be water or solvent based. Also, is your CV solvent or water based?

From contributor C:
I have spayed cabinets with SW ProClassic. It dries hard and is not subject to the old soft finish problems related to latex paint. If brushed it will flatten like a sprayed finish and does not look brushed. However, I live in So. Cal. and because of the Air Quality Board, ProClassic has been reformulated as an oil based acylic. I hope it is just for S.Cal and I can pick up some water base on my next trip to Las Vegas. I would highly recommend water based ProClassic for a homeowner who was buying unfinished or building their own cabinets. I don't think Impervo dries as hard as ProClassic water base. I use SW Kem Aqua for my spray finish on cabinets. Can't get it at a big box store but I achieve great results with it.

From contributor U:
I use Mohawk, I think it says ''E-Z vinyl'' on the can. I use Chemcraft cv. Itís solvent based.