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Which off-white paint would you recommend for kitchen cupboards?

Listed under Blog, forum Posted Jun 16 2019

Which off-white paint would you recommend for kitchen cupboards? That’s one question among thousands we receive from readers.

With thousands of kitchens under our belt, it is safe to say that for homeowners choosing the right colour for their hand painted kitchen is a big question!

And for a kitchen painter there is nothing quite so important as being able to use what they consider the best paint possible for each job.

So this is a really good question.

Which off-white paint is recommended for kitchen cupboards?

I’m looking for some cream or off-white coloured paint that is suitable for kitchen cupboards. What would you recommend?


Traditional Painter members tend to use either Tikkurila Helmi, Benjamin Moore Scuff-X or Mylands eggshell. These are all tough water-based mid-sheen furniture paints, and can be mixed in most colours.

We try to offer any colour you like in the paint we like. If you have seen a particular off-white that grabs your fancy, a kitchen painter should be able to specify the paint system they think is best suited to your project, and get it mixed in the colour you want. There are only a few instances where that option is not feasible.

Painted by Ron Taylor who covers Warwickshire. The wall and lower units around the sides of the kitchen were painted with Tikkurila Helmi in a colour similar to Oxford Cream. Out of shot is a 3m x 2m island painted a very dark, almost black, grey.

For instance, Benjamin Moore Scuff X is a really good kitchen quality paint, but you cannot have it any colour you like. Whilst they have a huge colour range of their own, they don’t offer custom colour matching. Therefore you would need to find the closest off-white in their range. To be fair they have an extensive colour swatch, so you don;t have ot compromise by much.

Same paint different colours

Please bear in mind that light does not fall equally in a room, especially a kitchen. For instance, an off-white base unit door can sometimes look completely white with the sun shining on it. At the same time adjoining surfaces at a different angle, or in the other corner of the room could look brown.

Another example, when you turn your lights on at night, the choice of bulb can completely throw off your original colour idea.

The main criteria is choosing a colour that works as part of the whole kitchen space, tying in different colour elements, and maximising the visual impact of your cabinets.

Lee Simone who covers Yorkshire is one of many Traditional Painters who has worked out how to minimise colour selection woes. He will paint pieces of lining paper in the colour(s) that clients have chosen, and tape them around the kitchen. He leaves you to live with the paint swatches for a few days to see with your own eyes how colours look at different times of day and night. That cuts out lots of awkward conversations later on.

“Oh that’s not the colour I chose, its darker than I remember.” I can assure you it is the colour you chose!

“Oh, I don’t like that blue can you paint it green?” I can, but I’m afraid this is the last coat, so I will have to charge you extra to change the colour.

Those are genuine real world conversations we have had, something to bear in mind when choosing the perfect colour. (Examples here on lining paper samples.)

Paint and colour mixing have come a long way in recent years

Photo by Steve Johnson from Pexels
I’m nearly there, just need a little extra touch of green, I mean orange, doh

The paint we specify in the colour you want. That concept reflects a big change, a big awakening, from the old days of painting. Not that long ago a client’s colour choice dictated the paint we would use. The assumption was, if you liked the colour Lovey Dovey (made up name) from Brand X you had to use Brand X paint. Often professional painters found themselves in a difficult position about how to square an impossible circle:

  • painters might not think that Brand X had the best paints for the job but the client wanted that Brand X colour
  • the tinting technology at merchants was so hit and miss
  • painters needed/need to give assurances that their work will last, and the client obviously want a good job done with assurances…

The conversation would go back to the top, hands meet tied, compromises all the way. As a customer, did you have your walls painted in a great paint but not quite the colour you had in mind? Or would you have the right colour in a poor quality paint, expensive in the long run?

The advances in colour mixing and matching have been a godsend for the professional painter.

  • We need to specify the paint that we believe meets the technical requirements of the job
  • We need to have it mixed accurately to almost any paint sample or colour swatch on the market.

Bingo. Developments have gone even further than matching paint. The colour matchers at Holman Specialist Paints in Swindon take pieces of fabric and exactly match and mix.

Progress is good, in this case

State of the art colour mixing machines don’t come cheap. It is hard to imagine the man hours that colour mixers around the country must have invested, to get competitive. Nowadays there are formulae for cross referencing any colours. It is all worth it.

I think that the advances in colour matching have put the pressure on all paint brands to up their game, and rightly so. Those manufacturers with questionable quality paint can not hide behind a great line of colour names. The hard core chemical heads at high tech trade paint companies have to open up to the idea that colour choice really does matter.

Picture the scene when Lovey Dovey paint has marked in minutes or is lying peeled on the floor. Rest assured the client is no longer interested in the name of the paint. And which client (or painter) wants their choices of grey limited to Battleship Grey or Light Grey? Nowadays we head for the paint brand across the street with 50 shades of grey.

Colour name trademark

Back in the day there was a lot of unclear thinking about copyright issues. How do you square the difference between a colour name trademark infringement and the freedom of choice to mix whatever colour you like?

I am not a lawyer, but I have spoken with people who have consulted legal eagles. We can mix whatever colour we like, just as artists and painters and kids have done since the times of our caveman ancestors. However we cannot give that mix a name that has been trademark protected by a company or individual.

I cannot imagine what was going on in the mind of the owner of a general hardware store I stumbled across in Cheshire years ago. The owner had tinted a fairly average quality trade paint to approximate Farrow and Ball colours. Fair enough. Well, it was OK until they decanted the paint into jam jars and labelled them “Farrow and Ball Elephant’s Breath”. For good measure, to really hang themselves every which way legally, they put a price tag on them. Wot, trademark, what’s a trademark?

Anyway, back to answering the original question.

please bear in mind that we would consider the above paint brands primarily because they tick the technical boxes and offer a well proven painting system. Once the surface has been well prepared, you would generally apply a primer / undercoat. If you tint the top coat colour, your base paint will not only provide a good key but also a solid colour background for the topcoats.

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Check articles for answers

The Traditional Painter website has hundreds of how to articles on all things kitchen painting. All the content has been indexed by DuckDuckGo. The search bar at the top is by far the quickest way to find out if we have covered your question in an article. Which off-white paint would you recommend for kitchen cupboards? It takes milliseconds to find a list of relevant answers we have written.

Which off-white paint would you recommend for kitchen cupboards? That's one question among thousands we receive from readers.

You may or may not not know what or who DuckDuckGo is. Just think of DuckDuckGo as Google with principles! In this age of blatant user privacy violations and questionable use of personal data, DDG do not track you around the internet. Contrast that to searching with Google who use your search history to attempt to deliver adverts wherever you go online.

Check forum for answers

traditional Painter forum
Which off-white paint would you recommend for kitchen cupboards? That’s one question among thousands we receive from readers. We are contacted via the forum and website and more

I set up a “Discourse” forum a few years ago. The aim was to make a resource that was more like a library than a builder’s break-time shack. That worked! Many thanks to readers and Traditional Painter members who have since contributed thousands of questions and answers relevant to kitchen and furniture painting and general decorating. No flannel and lols, just straight info. It is a great resource for anybody with an interest in painting to a high standard, regardless of experience. People who pass by to browse the tips and tricks and advice read about 500 pages a day. Forum is here

If you haven’t come across Discourse, it is Open Source forum software that is very different to the norm. All threads are in chronological order so you can easily keep up with a thread you started or have contributed to. To find a topic that interests you, the search function is brilliant. And loads more user friendly features

Email me

I receive a regular flow of email enquiries from homeowners who are trying to get their head around what is involved with painting their kitchen. Some are trying to prepare themselves mentally before asking a professional kitchen painter to give them a quote. Others are keen DIY making sure they have it clear in their mind what is involved before they get started. Some people just want to talk paint!

Thanks for reading Which off-white paint would you recommend for kitchen cupboards? That’s one question among thousands we receive from readers. If you have a question, please search this site first for relevant articles, or go to the forum. Where you don’t feel like signing up to the forum to ask a question, you can always email me.

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