Choosing the best paint for your kitchen walls isn’t as simple as popping to B&Q and picking up a couple of tins of emulsion paint like you would if you were to paint, say, your living room walls.
Your kitchen, full of grease, food and moisture, is a unique environment in your home and as such you should be choosing a paint that can cope with the demands of such an environment.
But how do you know which one to choose?
Fortunately, as a professional decorator, I’ve personally tried and tested multiple paints and have compiled a list below so you can choose what’s best for you based on your own specific needs.
For example, do you find that your kitchen walls often need cleaning? Crown Clean Extreme might be the right choice for you. Or if you’re looking for the most aesthetically pleasing kitchen wall paint then perhaps Farrow & Ball’s Modern Emulsion might be suitable.
With that being said, let’s take a look at the best paint for kitchen walls based on factors such as durability, resistance to stains and moisture, how washable they are and of course aesthetics.
Best Type of Paint for Kitchen Walls
Before we get into the specific products, I just wanted to quickly touch on what I consider to be the best type of paint for kitchen walls.
For consumers, there are really only 3 options available to use and they are matt, silk or eggshell. I’ve been asked many times whether matt or silk is better for kitchen walls and I always say the same thing: silk paint has a consistency that makes it difficult to apply for amateur DIYers and frequently results in cracking somewhere down the line.
With that in mind, I would discount silk paint straight off the bat. Matt paint not only looks better in a kitchen but it’s also easier to apply.
Before deciding on going with matt, it’s worth mentioning eggshell finishes as they typically have more durability than matt paints. The drawback is that they have a soft/mid-sheen finish which doesn’t hide imperfections as well as matt paints.
Best Paint for Your Kitchen Walls
1. Crown Clean Extreme: Best Kitchen Wall Paint Overall
For me, nothing beats Crown Clean Extreme when it comes to kitchen wall paint. And countless other professional decorators agree.
In terms of coverage, there really isn’t any better washable or scrubbable paint out there. Typically, you can expect to paint at least 3 coats when using scrubbable matts but Crown Clean Extreme has such a high opacity that it never needs more than 2 coats. I’ve had jobs where I’ve covered kitchen walls in 1 coat over a mist-coat with this gear such is its covering power.
Of course, even if you think 1 coat is enough it’s always best to apply a second because that is what really drives its durability.
What I really like about Crown Clean Extreme is that it can go on straight from the tin. I’ve used paints such as Diamond Matt by Dulux which needs to be watered down before application. For DIYers, this can cause problems as you’re relying on getting the paint-to-water ratio perfect and if you don’t, you might end up having to apply more coats than you otherwise would’ve needed.
In terms of the finish, it has a very slight sheen but not so much as to show imperfections on your kitchen walls. The white is very nice but Crown Clean Extreme really excels when it comes to colours. The dense pigmentation of the paint means you get very full colours. I can attest to how great the colour is – I once did a job and the paint was still visible on my scuttle months later!
It goes without saying that the paint has fantastic durability and has a 10,000 scrub rating which essentially means you can wipe the paint 10,000 times before it starts to wear down. This is especially handy if you find that your kitchen walls get dirty often or if you have mucky kids getting ketchup all over the wall.
It’s also worth mentioning that Crown Clean Extreme is also very forgiving when touching up bits that you’re not quite satisfied with. I know that some cleanable paints can flash when touching up and make it obvious where your mistakes were made. This is a perk for both professional decorators and DIYers.
Some people will be wondering whether you can apply this to kitchen ceilings as well as walls. I would personally recommend not using it on kitchen ceilings. As mentioned earlier, it has a slight sheen to it so isn’t ideal for use on ceilings, especially if your ceilings aren’t in impeccable condition and you get lots of light in your kitchen.
- Never needs more than 2 coats
- Paint goes for miles straight from the tin
- Forgiving for touch-ups
- Can withstand around 5 years’ worth of cleaning
- Can’t be used on ceilings
Paint specs: coverage: 14m2/litre, touch dry: 1-2 hours, re-coatable: 4 hours, application: roller, brush or spray
2. Johnstone’s Cleanable Matt: A versatile kitchen paint
Next up on my list is Johnstone’s Cleanable Matt which, for me, is one of the most versatile kitchen paints you can buy. Not only does it go on kitchen walls, but you can also create a uniform colour by applying it to the ceiling and even the woodwork in your kitchen (although I’d probably avoid using it on kitchen cabinets). Furthermore, if you have some left over, the matt finish means it can be applied to other areas of your home too so it won’t go to waste.
Interestingly, if you had asked me about this paint after the first time I used it, I would probably have said not to bother. My first experience using the Cleanable Matt yielded less than favourable results. It was thick, skinned in the scuttle and dragged when applying it over cut-in sections.
However, having spoken to a Johnstone’s rep and advised to ease it down with a drop of water, it totally transformed the paint.
With the paint thinned down, I noticed that the flow was perfect and the covering power was outrageous at over 15 square metres.
In terms of durability, I’ve been back to jobs and found that the Cleanable Matt stands the test of time even in the most testing kitchen conditions. This is ideal if you frequently cook with lots of sauces or use the frying pan a lot.
The finish is what really sets the Cleanable Matt apart. Ever so slightly shinier than a typical matt, this paint covers imperfections and overall looks a little bit nicer than comparable paints (including Crown Clean Extreme).
My tips for using this paint:
- Use a liner in the roller tray/scuttle
- Don’t fill your paint kettle with too much paint
- Water down the first coat and the second coat will glide over it perfectly
- Dries to a very sightly matt finish
- Stains can easily be cleaned without scratching or wearing away the paint
- Can be applied to ceilings and woodwork (if using an appropriate primer)
- Can sometimes skin
- Darker colours are easier to mark than comparable cleanable paints
Paint specs: coverage: 15m2/litre, touch dry: 1-2 hours, re-coatable: 4 hours, application: brush, roller or spray
3. Zinsser Permawhite: Superb for durability
Ask any professional decorator worth their salt how good Zinsser paints are and they will tell you that they’re one of the most reliable brands in the industry. With that in mind, I’ve decided to include Zinsser Permawhite Interior on my list of best kitchen wall paints.
Due to the fact that it’s mould resistant (I believe it contains a fungicide that inhibits the growth of mould), I would personally use this if your kitchen struggles to extract moisture. I actually used this paint in my mother’s kitchen as she’s frequently boiling food on the hob and has a terrible extractor fan.
Whilst the opacity is good, it’s not the best so you will probably need at least 3 coats, especially if you’re covering a darker colour than white.
- Inhibits the growth of mould which is essential if you have moisture issues in your kitchen
- Never fails – it’s one of the most reliable paints on the market
- It sticks to almost any surface so your preparation doesn’t need to be perfect
- Doesn’t have the best opacity
- Only comes in white – you will need to tint it if you want a different colour
Paint specs: coverage: 10m2/litre, touch dry: 1-2 hours, re-coatable: 2 hours, application: brush, roller or spray
4. Isomat Bath and Kitchen: Best for high-moisture kitchen environments
Having heard rave reviews about Isomat Bath and Kitchen over the last few months, I recently decided to give it a go. And I was very impressed.
Isomat Bath and Kitchen has been formulated for use in high-moisture environments but if you think that means it would have a high sheen, you’d be wrong. It’s actually a lot flatter than most of the paints on this list whilst not compromising on durability.
My only issue with it was that it seemed to get tacky rather quickly which means if you decide to go for this paint, you should be adept at applying paint quickly.
- It withstands 20,000 scrubs once fully cured (wait at least 6 weeks before scrubbing it)
- Perfect if your extractor fan struggles with steamy meals as it’s moisture-resistant
- One of the flattest durable paints on the market
- Goes tacky fairly quickly
- Doesn’t have the best coverage
Paint specs: coverage: 12m2/litre, touch dry: 1-2 hours, re-coatable: 4 hours, application: brush, roller or spray
5. Farrow and Ball Modern Emulsion: The undefeated king of colour
Whilst I wouldn’t personally ever choose to use Farrow and Ball paint on kitchen walls, if a customer supplies it, I wouldn’t have any issues. Mostly because Farrow and Ball are simply unbeaten when it comes to colour choice.
There is a caveat, however. Farrow and Ball don’t have a reputation for formulating the most durable paints so unless you have perfect ventilation and don’t cook messy meals, you could encounter some problems.
From a purely decorative point of view, it is simply the best available. With that being said, you’ll need to ensure you do a perfect job the first time around because it’s almost impossible to touch up without leaving visible marks on the wall.
- Looks amazing
- Isn’t durable and can’t be cleaned/scrubbed vigorously
- Will need an undercoat, driving up the overall cost of the job
Paint specs: coverage: 12m2 per litre, touch dry: 2 hours, re-coatable: 4 hours, application: brush, roller or airless sprayer
6. Dulux Easycare: The retail kitchen paint with trade quality
When I heard lots of noise about a retail paint that matches up to trade paints, I was a little bit sceptical. But having used Dulux’s Easycare for kitchens a few times and conducted my own cleaning tests, I can safely say I would recommend it, especially if you’re working with a small budget.
Take a look at this test I did where I used a marker pen and attempted to wipe it off with a damp cloth. One side was painted with Dulux Easycare, the other with Armstead Trade Durable Matt.
The result after wiping with a damp cloth?
As you can clearly see, Dulux Easycare lived up to its name – it was far easier to clean the marker pen off vs Armstead Trade.
In terms of application, it isn’t the smoothest paint to apply. My advice would be to not overwork it, be a bit gentle and it should go on nicely.
Whilst some people swear by using 2 coats, I would recommend applying 3 as this paint does have a tendency to flash, especially if exposed to critical lighting and in the corners of the kitchen. The third coat will give it that extra opacity to avoid any flashing issues.
In terms of colour choice, there’s a pretty good selection. I personally like the Egyptian Cotton colour which is off-white. I’ve found that the regular white colour doesn’t offer much and doesn’t have great opacity.
- Very easy to clean without affecting the paint finish
- Solid range of colours available
- Similar standard to trade paint but much cheaper
- You can’t overwork it when applying
Paint specs: coverage: 13m2/litre, touch dry: 2 hours, re-coatable: 5 hours, application: brush or roller