Best Benjamin Moore Paint for Cabinets: An Honest Review of BM Advance

I’m breaking down everything you need to know about Benjamin Moore’s Advance Paint line and why I believe this is hands down, the best paint choice for painting cabinets!

Best Benjamin Moore Paint for Cabinets: An Honest Review of BM Advance

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Before I dove into painting my bathroom cabinets a few years ago, I wanted to get some advice from the experts! I consulted with a group of professional painters to figure out what type of paint would get me the best results for a durable finish. And let me tell you, I had ALL the questions for these pros. 

I’ve used everything from latex paint to chalk paint for cabinet makeovers. And I had some huge reservations that there was any DIY-friendly paint on the market that would truly hold up to the everyday wear these pieces take on. But that was before I found Benjamin Moore Advance! 

Read on for my full review to see if Benjamin Moore’s Advance is the right paint for you.

What Is Benjamin Moore Advance?

Benjamin Moore advertises their ADVANCE paint line as a premium-quality interior paint that is ideal for doors, trims, and cabinetry. What makes this paint such a great product and truly unique isn’t just a marketing gimmick. It’s what’s known as a waterborne alkyd paint. To avoid turning this into a science school paper, I’ll offer a simpler explanation.

You may be familiar with oil-based paints and the advantages and disadvantages that come with them. One significant disadvantage is the odor involved and its environmental unfriendliness. Despite these issues, oil-based paints are still often used because of their durability and appearance.

Water-based paints have fewer issues in terms of odor and are easier to clean up than oil-based paints, but their performance is not as strong. Benjamin Moore wanted to find a way to offer some of the best qualities of both of these paint types, and their solution was Benjamin Moore’s ADVANCE.

Benjamin Moore Advance is kind of a hybrid of these two paint types, offering an easier cleanup and less troubling smells, while still promising a beautiful and durable appearance.

Another important note, right now it’s mostly suggested for interior use. I used it for my own cabinets, and most other people that I know who have used it used it inside as well. They may have more exterior-focused paints in the future, but for now, this works best inside your home.

Odor / VOC

You may think the smells associated with paint projects are annoying and a bit strong, but something you can power through if necessary. But the strong odor related to painting products comes from compounds known as VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), and they can pose health issues if inhaled too much.

I mentioned before how oil-based paints are known for that strong smell, and that is why, ideally, using water-based paints especially indoors is the preferred option to avoid the harmful presence of VOCs. By creating the ADVANCE line of paints, Benjamin Moore has achieved just that, offering oil-based performance, but removing a lot of the harsh VOCs involved with oil paints.

Removing VOCs altogether would be difficult to achieve while maintaining such high performance, but what Benjamin Moore has done is a significant improvement, and classifies their ADVANCE paint line as low VOC. For comparison, other alkyd paints, which the ADVANCE line is trying to emulate, have around 250 to 500 grams of VOCs per liter. Benjamin Moore Advance only has around 50 grams per liter by comparison!

With this lower amount of VOCs, painting this indoors should pose less of a risk to you and your family. To help get rid of the small amount of VOCs that are present, you should ventilate the rooms where you are painting. Opening some windows and/or doors and letting some fresh air in can help those VOCs go away faster.

Do I need a primer with Benjamin Moore Advance paint?

 There are a lot of paint + primer options on the market right now, however, Benjamin Moore ADVANCE is not one of them. That being said, Benjamin Moore does offer an ADVANCE series primer that you can use to go along with your paint, so you don’t have to go on an extensive search to find the right primer for your project.

Some people feel that they don’t need primer and that it’s not a necessary step for their painting project, but I strongly advise against this. Primer is an extremely helpful step in preparing your cabinets or any other area for their final coats of paint. And using primer is the best way to help extend the lifespan of the appearance of your paint and ensure that the paint adheres well to surfaces.

Without primer, the paint may become tacky and refuse to stick to your cabinets, and stains can become a huge issue for your lighter paint colors. A lack of primer can also cause a greater risk of the paint peeling off down the road, so I always advise you to prep your surfaces with primer, and Benjamin Moore’s ADVANCE primer is a great choice to pair with these ADVANCE paints.

If you have never used a primer before, don’t be afraid, it’s used in the same way that paint is. You can apply it with your typical brushes and rollers, but as I’ll talk more about later, I recommend using a paint sprayer for your projects.

What type of finish should you select?

Personally, I prefer a satin finish for my cabinets, but Benjamin Moore offers many finishes through their ADVANCE line, so you have many options to explore.

If you go on their website, you can see that they offer ADVANCE paints in the following finishes: Matte, Satin, Semi-Gloss, and High Gloss. How do you decide what the best option is for your home? While personal preference is of course the primary concern, there are some things you can consider about their various finishes that can help you with your choice.

Matte

A matte finish or lower sheen for your kitchen cabinets might be something to avoid, mostly due to cleaning concerns. Matte finishes are absolutely beautiful in the right context, but with a surface like kitchen cabinetry, which will see a lot of interaction and wear, this matte finish can show signs of wear very quickly and is not as washable as other finishes.

Satin

Satin is one of the most common interior paint finishes, and as I mentioned before, it is the finish I prefer for my own cabinets. Satin appears with an extra touch of gloss over the matte finish, reflecting a bit of light and helping to hide small imperfections that may affect your cabinets. It is also more durable and easier to clean than matte finishes, making this a nice middle ground between shiny high gloss finishes and a duller matte finish.

Semi Gloss

Semi-Gloss is a great finish if you have some vibrant colors that you really want to make pop in your kitchen or bathroom. This is because semi-gloss, as you can expect, is highly reflective and all the light really draws your eyes into the color. A downside of this is that glossiness can also emphasize any imperfections on your cabinets. If you do prefer this gloss, make sure that you thoroughly investigate your cabinet surfaces and can fix any noticeable dings or scuffs.

High Gloss

If your main concern is being able to easily clean your cabinet surfaces, then high gloss may be a great option for you. High gloss emphasizes imperfections like the semi-gloss finish does but is extremely reliable with cleaning. Homes with children find that this finish is a good decision, as sticky fingers and frequent stains are less of a headache.

Before making a final decision on the finish that is right for you, try to grab a couple of different samples and do some tests in the areas of your home where you will be painting. You may find the high gloss finishes to be too shiny in some areas, or just what you need to make the most of a room.

Sanding Benjamin Moore Advance

Sanding is another practice that you should use to ensure the best results for your painting project. Benjamin Moore themselves advises multiple rounds of light sanding throughout the painting process to achieve a smooth finish, and I’ll break down their advice here. (Also, my advice for sanding will assume that you are using a primer as well, as I recommended before it is essential for a great looking result for your cabinets!)

Before you even apply primer, you should sand down the cabinet surfaces to allow the primer to adhere better, and to remove some small imperfections here and there. Benjamin Moore recommends medium sandpaper (100 to 150 grit) and I think that’s a pretty good suggestion. After this is done and the cabinet surfaces are clean and sanded, and your area is prepped, you can apply your ADVANCE primer.

After the primer is dry, it’s a good idea to sand again. Here, Benjamin Moore recommends fine-grit sandpaper (220 grit) or sanding block, to lightly go over all surfaces. Especially focus on evening out your cabinets and removing any more imperfections.

When you’re satisfied with this sanding job, you can then begin to apply your ADVANCE paint. Just like with the primer, you must let your paint dry before moving on to the next (and final!) sanding step.

After this first coat of paint, you can go over your cabinets with a fine (220 grit) sandpaper again, just like you did after applying the primer. This should be the last time you need to sand. With this sanding done, you can then apply another coat of your Advance paint, and after it is fully dried you can enjoy a job well done.

Should you use a paint sprayer with Benjamin Moore Advance?

While painting your kitchen cabinets is an entirely possible DIY project, there are ways to make the result look truly professional and one of the most significant ways is to use a paint sprayer. Professionals and paint experts often recommend using a paint sprayer to achieve a beautiful finish for your cabinets.

I recommend this process as well, and I personally use the Wagner Control Pro 130 for all my paint spraying projects. I even have a full review on why I feel it’s the best airless paint sprayer for DIY projects. Check it out before starting your own cabinet project!

DIY projects can be tiring, but also incredibly fun and rewarding. Looking over at a newly painted room and knowing that it was the product of your own hard work is an amazing feeling and any frustrations I had during the process are quickly overshadowed by my satisfaction with the result. That being said, while I love DIY projects, I want the results to mimic a professional clean look as much as possible.

Paint sprayers are how professionals achieve their quality finishes and finding the right one and using it properly can enable you to achieve the same results. But on top of providing a high-quality appearance, paint sprayers can also save you time and money for your painting projects.

If you expect to paint many different areas of your home, or just want to move on from brushes and rollers, then I highly recommend investing in a paint sprayer. You should also get some practice on smaller areas first and get used to using the sprayer before diving headfirst into a large project.

I also know that saving money wherever possible is always preferred, but this is one area where making a more economical choice may not be the right one. I have plenty of experience using subpar tools that were cheaper, and in the end, the time and money I spent to redo their poor job were more than it would have cost to go with the superior but more expensive option. For a high-quality result, you will need high-quality tools, high-quality paint, and patience.

Brushing & Rolling Benjamin Moore Advance

If you must use brushes and rollers for Benjamin Moore ADVANCE, then you can still achieve a nice result for your cabinets. Benjamin Moore specifically recommends that for large areas like cabinet doors, you might prefer to use a foam or microfiber paint roller instead of a brush. This is a great way to help save time with the process.

Comfort level is important with a project as particular as painting, so don’t feel pressured into using any one certain technique. If you have found a process that works for you and you are happy with the results, then that’s the most important thing. Some people use a combination of rollers and brushes, applying broad sections of paint with the roller and then touching it up with a brush to minimize brush strokes.

Experiment if you can and see how others have achieved the result you want for your cabinets.

How long does Benjamin Moore Advance paint take to cure?

When you are working with Benjamin Moore ADVANCE, you can expect it to be dry to the touch in around 4-6 hours. If you are looking to apply another coat of paint, then you should wait at least 16 hours for it to cure.

The dry time can change a little based on humidity and how well-ventilated the area is, but these are the times that I followed, and it worked out well. However, “cured” is not as simple as it is dry.

A paint being fully cured means that it has completely hardened and fully bonded to the surface it was applied to. Paints like ADVANCE could take up to a month to fully cure. This long time doesn’t mean you can’t touch or move things you painted, but heavy use is not advised until they have fully cured.

Does Benjamin Moore Advance paint need a top coat?

Benjamin Moore Advance is such a high-quality, high-performance paint product, which should not typically need a topcoat. After allowing it to dry and cure, and if you have applied the paint correctly, the result is a beautiful hard finish unaided by an extra topcoat.

Even after viewing the results, you might feel that you want to add a top coat anyway, but I would recommend doing a test run of this first. Applying a topcoat over a paint like Advance could cause some yellowing or even cracking in the topcoat. This isn’t a sure bet, but the risk is there, so check out other examples or do a small test to make sure you will be happy with the larger result.

You may have used a topcoat in previous projects, and been happy with the outcome, but before you add the extra cost of purchasing a topcoat, check out the results when just applying ADVANCE. Chances are you will be more than satisfied and avoiding the extra cost of a topcoat is another reason why ADVANCE paints come highly recommended.

Where to buy Benjamin Moore Advance cabinet paint?

If you would like to purchase Benjamin Moore ADVANCE paints, then you have a few different options on where to go.

Shopping online has become more convenient, and Benjamin Moore does offer an online paint store where you can browse their products. Ace Hardware is another large retailer where you can browse Benjamin Moore Advance paints online and schedule to pick up in-store or set up delivery if available in your area.

For physical locations, you can always check for Benjamin Moore stores in your area. Benjamin Moore offers a store locator on their site. Here you can find Benjamin Moore stores and other retailers including independent sellers who may have ADVANCE in their stock.

Conclusion

Throughout the years of decorating my home and working on projects to revamp and revitalize different areas, I have come across a lot of different products and made a lot of mistakes. Reviews like these are how I can share my own experiences and knowledge to help others avoid these mistakes and hopefully make the best choice the first time around.

Painting any area of your home can be a costly process in terms of time and money. So, for this especially, I want to recommend ways that people can make the most out of their painting projects and be happy with lasting results.

Benjamin Moore ADVANCE is a wonderful premium paint option that has been used in many homes across the country, including my own. In my own experience, this paint option has had beautiful lasting results, and even the process of applying it was less troublesome than paints I have used before. With lower VOCs, easier cleanup, and a durable formula that provides a beautiful appearance, Benjamin Moore ADVANCE is a paint line I will continue to use in the future.

For other home design tips, recommendations, and reviews, check out the rest of my blog. I hope this review has helped you with your decision-making process, and best of luck with your own painting project!

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