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How to Color Match Painted Cabinets

“How do I color match painted cabinets?” Is a question our customers and our podcast callers ask regularly.

Homeowners frequently seek to color match painted cabinets with crown moldings, room trim or architectural elements like fireplaces, tables or island legs. It is extremely important to understand that cabinet paint is VERY DIFFERENT from paint bought at paint stores.  Because of this difference, homeowners should never purchase paint from cabinet companies. 

Color Matched Crown Moldings wrap around the room and this bar area.
Two piece crown molding color matched to Bishop cabinet manufacturer’s painted bar cabinetry.

Cabinet paint is always a conversion varnish and different from the liquid paint homeowners are looking to use.

Because cabinet paint is completely different than other paints, color names are irrelevant! Additionally, the conversion varnish that cabinet brands use dries in seconds. This means that the varnish would not be something a homeowner or a general contractor could apply. Only professional furniture refinishers can successfully apply these conversion varnishes.

The good news is that color matching painted cabinetry is easy!

Simply take a door off one of the cabinets and bring it to a professional paint store. Stores like Sherwin Williams have paint scanners that will color match painted cabinets precisely. After mixing the paint, have the salesperson put a drop of the paint on the back of the door. If the match meets your approval, you are all set. It very rarely requires more than one attempt.  

Moldings all color matched and painted.
The moldings and archway are all color matched in this luxury kitchen.

After painting, color matched painted cabinet crown moldings can be easily touched up.

All wooden moldings expand or contract as they adjust to the temperature and humidity of a home.  Over time, cracks and seams appear due to these adjustments and touching them up keeps everything looking new.

This wear occurs with both pre-finished moldings from cabinet companies or unfinished wood. Unfinished wood painted with color matched liquid paint can be easily touched up. However!! Touching up prefinished moldings from the cabinet company is nearly impossible. This is because the prefinished enamel repels new paint and instantly shows touch ups. 

Moldings in unfinished wood are generally 80% less expensive. Lumber yards and home centers stock them in longer lengths and larger sizes. The longer lengths provide for fewer seams which contribute to a better looking kitchen and lower costs.  

Color matching glaze on this door is easy
Fabuwood Glazed door using a Glazing Pen. Notice the top left corner of the glazing. You can see where the magic marker started and stopped. Duplicating the glazing is quite simple with a steady hand.

Today, many glazed painted cabinets are highlighted with a permanent glazing marker.

The marker used for highlighting glazed painted cabinets like the picture above is simply a permanent magic marker available at art stores or even Staples.  Since the highlighting marker is so easily available, just about anyone can color match painted cabinets and glaze the moldings afterward.

Unfortunately, color matching stains is not this simple. Because matching is more difficult, if you want an exact match with the cabinets then the expensive stains must come from the cabinet company. However, unlike paints cabinet companies can supply you with the same stains they use.

Wrap-up: Color matching is as easy as 1-2-3

  1. Color matching is as easy as taking a cabinet door to a paint store. Remember to disregard color names.  
  2. Glazed painted cabinets are highlighted with a marker that is easily available
  3. Unlike paints, color matching stains need to be purchased through cabinet companies.  

Looking to learn more?  Here’s a related blog –

Call into our helpline and podcast on Fridays 2- 4 pm EST with any other questions. Listen to a podcast episode below:

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