Professionals explain which type of paint is best for kitchens

Choosing between finishes can be confusing – here, paint experts explain which are best suited to this high-traffic area

blue kitchen with round dining table
(Image credit: Future PLC)

If selecting the perfect paint color for your kitchen wasn't difficult enough, there are also the best types of paint to consider.

Out of all the paint finishes available, the most popular for kitchen walls is satin paint. This, just like the silky fabric, has a slightly shiny appearance and is favored for its durability and easiness to clean. 

Whether or not you follow the crowd and opt for satin depends on how you intend to use the space (how much culinary chaos occurs), the orientation of the room, availability of natural light, and your preferred aesthetic.

Which type of paint is best for kitchens?

Take note of these comments from paint professionals before indulging painted kitchen ideas or painting kitchen cabinets to avoid any renovation regrets and keep this busy area looking its best for years to come.

orange and black kitchen

(Image credit: Future PLC)

1. Satin for the best of both worlds

Painted walls anywhere near the sink or stove need to be wipeable and able to withstand cooking splatters, coffee spills, and scrapes from small appliances and utensils. Because satin paint is slightly glossy, it is generally straightforward to clean and hides scuff marks well. 

'For kitchen walls, satin all the way,' says Jon Christensen, a paint expert at Bidmii. 'It's durable and easy to clean. It has a slight gloss, which adds a nice aesthetic appeal. It also holds up well to scrubbing, making it a practical choice for high-traffic areas.'

When considering satin vs matte paint, the biggest positive of satin is how practical it is. It's also a middle ground between matte and gloss while offering some reflective qualities to help brighten up a space. 

jon christensen
Jon Christensen

Jon is an expert in paint and the CEO of Bidmii, a platform that helps homeowners find contractors. The website aims to streamline the renovation process, allowing homeowners to post renovation jobs and pick between contractors, who bid on jobs and are paid within 48 hours of their work being completed.

2. Gloss/semi-gloss – for a sleek, wipeable finish

Glass window and sky light, black staircase

(Image credit: Found Associates/French + Tye)

Matt Hagens, a general contractor and the founder of Mr Kitchen Faucets, describes gloss paint and semi-gloss as the 'heavy cream' of kitchen paint.

'Not only do they look sleek and shiny, but they're also durable and pretty darn good at shrugging off splashes and stains,' he shares. 'So you can go ahead, get that tomato sauce simmering, and your walls will still look fabulous!'

He also says that while matte emulsion creates a nice soft look, in the hustle and bustle of a kitchen, it may not be the best choice. Why? Because it isn't the most moisture-resistant or stain-resistant finish. Even if you love the aesthetic it offers, it could be more susceptible to mold and mildew, and show marks. Another downside is that matte paint can rub off when cleaning walls, so overall, it may not stand the test of time as well as other options.

3. Chalk for a matte look

If you love the appearance of a matte finish, Jon Christensen suggests chalk paint instead. 'This type of paint allows you to achieve the look you're aiming for, often without the need for a primer,' he explains.

It usually needs to be sealed with a wax or a top coat, which might make it more high maintenance over time. The top coat also needs to be applied correctly so you do not diminish the matte look you have in mind. Chalk paint will work well alongside modern rustic and farmhouse kitchen schemes, with its textured finish and visible brush marks.

Wall paint and satin paint color card | was $2.00 now $0.00 at Annie Sloan

Wall paint and satin paint color card | was $2.00 now $0.00 at Annie Sloan
32 colors are available as part of a satin paint range, with pigment-rich, three-dimensional colors

dark blue kitchen with rail

(Image credit: Future PLC)


Is matte emulsion okay for a kitchen?

There are a lot of drawbacks, as we have mentioned, and it also comes down to how much you are able to spend – after all, some premium matte paint is durable enough to be used in any room. According to Gregg Cantor, CEO at Murray Lampert home remodeling, matte is absolutely not suitable for kitchen surfaces.'It is a very flat finish and is commonly used on interior surfaces that need to be touched up due to wear and tear,' he says.

Is satin or eggshell better for a kitchen?

Chiana Dickson, Homes & Gardens' junior writer and DIYer says that either will work, but satin is easier to clean. When painting a kitchen, it is more important to have specialized kitchen paint (or bathroom paint) that stands up well to moisture to prevent mold growth and peeling paint.'

With proper preparation, priming, and quality paint, eggshell or satin will be durable while bouncing light around and making cleaning the kitchen easier.

Pick up paint color samples at Backdrop Home; paint sample charts, at Benjamin Moore or color cards from Farrow & Ball to help you decide and, if in doubt, go for something hard-wearing so that scuffs and stains on kitchen walls are one less thing to worry about day to day. 

Millie Hurst
Section Editor

Millie Hurst is a freelance lifestyle writer with over six years of experience in digital journalism. Having previously worked as Solved Section Editor at Homes & Gardens and Senior SEO Editor at News UK in London and New York, Millie has written for an array of homes brands including Livingetc and Real Homes and was formerly Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home. She has written and edited countless features on home organization, decluttering and interior design and always hopes to inspire readers with new ways to enjoy their homes. She lives in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, and loves to weave nature-inspired decor and nods to time spent in Italy into her own home.