Cabinet paint needs to be particularly durable. The most common types of cabinet paints are either enamel or oil-based paint and those are high in offgassing.
Painting your cabinets yourself isn’t an easy project but these are the non-toxic, low, and zero VOC paint options that work beautifully.
I would not consider using just a regular acrylic paint that isn’t formulated for cabinets, trim, and furniture since it’s not durable enough.
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1. AFM Safecoat Ecolacq
Ecolacq is an acrylic lacquer that works particularly well on cabinets. This is really the go-to low-VOC paint for cabinets and is the one that is most trusted by chemically sensitive folks.
The Ecolacq line has a primer as well. To get a totally professional look on cabinets it’s meant to be sprayed on.
2. Annie Sloan Chalk Paint
Chalk Paint works particularly well on cabinets – and it usually doesn’t need prep or primer (though you really should sand first). You do have to finish it with a topcoat. Wax is actually the most durable of the topcoats but there are water-based synthetic options as well.
I look more deeply into Annie Sloan in my mineral paint post.
Chalk Paint is also a great paint to go over shellac if you use shellac as a sanding sealer to block tannins from bleeding through.
If you want to paint over Chalk Paint then Farrow and Ball primer plus paint works well.
3. Farrow & Ball
Farrow and Ball Full Gloss Paint works well on cabinets. This is my favorite zero-VOC paint brand.
It is easy to wipe down and wash with a 95 percent gloss.
4. C2 Paint with PolyWhey
This is a urethane-modified acrylic paint made with whey from Vermont Natural Coatings. I personally really like Vermont Natural Coatings’ products, so I would be interested to try this paint.
They have a cabinet and trim paint that looks like an oil-based finish.
It’s listed as low-VOC.
5. Milk Paint
If you wanted to go with a 100% natural option you should consider Milk Paint. Milk Paint is essentially odorless and it’s the only paint that is made from 100% natural ingredients. The only challenge is that it needs a very durable topcoat to be considered for use in the kitchen.
Tung oil is a very durable oil that can be used as the topcoat. Though it does change the color of the paint substantially. You can see photos of what that looks like here.
If you are extremely chemically sensitive or are dedicated to a totally natural option you could consider this combo. Check out this photo of cabinets painted with Milk Paint for inspo, though in this case they top coated it with conversation varnish (which is not exactly non-toxic).
6. Linseed Oil Paint
Another completely natural option is a linseed oil-based paint (with no solvent). AFM Naturals, Earth and Flax, and Allback are brands that you can buy in North America.
Since cabinetry can be a combination of wood types (often plywood and hardwood fronts for example) a shellac primer can be helpful to create a consistent substrate for the paint, it will hide the differences between the different materials.
Wiping on the paint versus brushing it on can help to avoid brush strokes.
Natural oil paints are very durable.
Corinne Segura is a Building Biologist Practitioner with 8 years of experience helping others create healthy homes.