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

Listed under Blog Posted Jun 16 2019

With thousands of kitchens under our belt, it is safe to say that for homeowners there is nothing quite so important as choosing the right colour for their hand painted kitchen!

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

So this is a really good question.

Question

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

Answer

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

In other words, 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. If they aren’t saying that, you need to push them to find out why.

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. It is from the US and whilst they have a huge colour range of their own, they don’t offer custom colour matching. Therefore you have to decide if the closest colour from their extensive swatch is going to work for you.

Same paint different colours

Please bear in mind that light does not fall equally in a room, especially a kitchen. Whilst an off-white base unit door can sometimes look completely white with the sun shining on it, in the other corner the cabinets in the shade could look brown.

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 will paint pieces of lining paper in the colour(s) that clients have chosen, and tape them around the kitchen so they can live with them for a few days to see with their 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.

Genuine real world examples, things 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 reflects a big change, a big awakening, from the old days of painting, when a client’s colour choice dictated the paint we would use. For instance the assumption was, if you liked the colour Lovey Dovey (made up name) from Brand X you had to use the paint from that company. 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
  • painters couldn’t solve the problem by getting their preferred paint accurately colour matched at their local merchant because the technology 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 but need to repaint more often than you would like?

Nowadays with advances in colour mixing and matching, the professional painter can invariably specify the paint that they believe meets their technical requirements, and get it mixed to accurately match almost any paint sample or colour swatch on the market. And it has 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 and it is hard to imagine the manhours that must have been invested by colour mixers around the country to come up with the formulae for cross referencing colours. But 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, and 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, when the paint brand across the street has 50 shades of grey?

Traditional Painter, Lorna, covers SE London and had this to say on colour. “Green has been popular for the last year but it’s about to make it even bigger as we haven’t lost our love of all things botanical or it’s calming effect. Green is all about bringing nature into our homes. Think about Dulux – Night Watch. And a good match with green? Try earthy tan, clay and terracotta colours. These will give a sophisticated, luxury feel when used in combination with forest and moss greens

Colour name trademark

Back in the day there was a lot of unclear thinking about the difference between a colour name trademark infringement and the freedom of choice to mix whatever colour you like. As I understand it, we can mix whatever colour we like, 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” etc – and for good measure, to really hang themselves every which way legally, 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 that is also tinted to the top coat colour, your base paint will not only provide a good key but also a solid colour background for the topcoats.

Search website or forum for more answers

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 and the search bar at the top is by far the quickest way to find out if we have covered your question in an article.

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 liberties being taken with our 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

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, thanks to readers and Traditional Painter members who have since contributed thousands of questions and answers around kitchen and furniture painting and general decorating. No flannel and lols, just straight info that anybody interested in painting to a high standard, regardless of experience, can make good use of. About 500 people a day seem to pass by to browse the tips and tricks and advice. 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 listed chronologically 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 get 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!

If you have a question, please search this site first for relevant articles, or go to the forum. But if your question is not quite addressed and you don’t feel like signing up to the forum to ask one question, you can always email me.



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