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Benjamin Moore Advance – Cabinet Paint Review

Benjamin Moore Advance came onto the market roughly 6 years ago as an answer to the gap between oil and water-based enamels.

Since that time Advance has become popular both with painting contractors and homeowners for its unique properties.

Painted Kitchen Cabinets

But is Benajmin Moore’s Advance what you should be using on your kitchen cabinets? Let’s dive in and find out.

What Is Benjamin Moore Advance

Benjamin Moore Advance

Traditionally oil-based enamels such as Benjamin Moore’s Satin Impervo have been the best quality paint for kitchen cabinets, windows, trim, doors, and furniture.

Oil-based paints are alkyd based use harsh solvents as a carrier, thus making them high in VOCs and odors.

Oil-based paints do have a beautiful finish, they dry hard and durable, have great adhesion, they flow beautifully (self-level), and are easy to apply. The problem, however, is that they have a high VOC content, high odor, cleanup requires solvents, and dry time is over 24 hours.

By contrast, latex (water-based) enamels were easy to clean up, have low odor, lower VOC content, and dry much faster. This is because their carrier of the pigments in latex paint is water.

However, latex paints/enamels lack the quality finished look of their oil brethren, don’t flow as well, and have lower adhesion. Durability is typically acceptable.

This left a gap in kitchen cabinet paints and Advance was Benjamin Moore’s solution.

Benjamin Moore’s Advance is a low VOC Water Reducible Alkyd. This means that Advance is an alkyd that uses water as a carrier instead of solvents.

In theory, this gives us all the benefits of an oil-based alkyd without any of the negatives. They are basically combining the benefits of oil and water-based enamels into a hybrid enamel.

In theory, Benjamin Moore’s Advance has a great finished look, flow, adhesion, durability and cleans up with water instead of solvent, has low odor and VOC, and even dries quickly.

Our Ratings

 Category  Rating
 Flow ★★★★
 Durability ★★★★ 
 VOC Content ★★★★★ 
 Adhesion ★★★★ 
 Sprayability ★★★★ 
 Brushing ★★★ 
 Dry Time ★★★★ 
 Cleanup ★★★★★ 
 Price ★★★★ 
TOTAL 37/45

Advance Specs

Specs  
 Carrier Type:  Waterborne Alkyd
 Volume Solids:  39.0%
 Dry Time Touch:  4 Hours
 Dry Time Recoat:  16 Hours
 Coverage / Gallon:  400-500 Sq Ft. 
 VOC Level:  48

First Thoughts Of Benjamin Moore Advance

Benjamin Moore Advance - Cabinet Paint Review 1
Kitchen Before
Benjamin Moore Advance - Cabinet Paint Review 2
Kitchen After Using Benjamin Moore Advance

I’ve been a painting contractor for nearly 20 years.

Back in 2012 I shifted my business and focused heavily on refinishing and painting kitchen cabinets. Since that time I have painted over 100 sets of kitchen cabinets and developed a unique system that gets great results.

You can read more about painting kitchen cabinet here.

Enameling kitchen cabinets with oil-based paint worked. I was able to get a great looking finish and great results.

However, the homeowners often had to leave their house during the entire process, I had to buy and dispose of solvents for thinning and cleanup, and after years of breathing in high VOC levels, I began worrying about my own health.

This is when I was informed of Advance.

I immediately thought that the concept was too good to be true, so I had to try it out for myself.

Right off the. bat, I love not having to purchase paint thinner for reduction and cleanup.

Next, I love that I don’t need to cover my body like I did when spraying oil. Since oil dries so slow, the droplets of overspray in the air could literally stick to things across the room, so I would always be covered in overspray. I would wear a complete spray suit, mask, earplugs to protect access to my brain, eye coverings (anything that has easy access to my inner workings, I protected).

With the main benefits of safety and cleanup realized, I needed to know if Advance sprays well, brushes well, flows and levels, adheres, has long term durability and does it pass the eye test?

I’ll cover each one of these individually in more detail.

Odor / VOC

Benjamin Moore’s Advance has a lower VOC content that typical alkyd based paints.

This is due to the. fact that its carrier is water and not a solvent.

For comparison, here are Benjamin Moore’s 3 most popular enamels and their respective VOC contents.

  • Oil Based Impervo = 375 grams / liter
  • Water Based Impervo = 135 grams / liter
  • Advance = 47 grams / liter

*NOTE: Low VOC is considered less than 250 grams/liter.

Spraying Benjamin Moore Advance

When I spray kitchen cabinets, I use an HVLP sprayer, which is a High Volume Low Pressure sprayer (I use a Titan Capsray 115).

You can read all about HVLP paint sprayers in my post The Best Paint Sprayer For Every Painting Project.

HVLP sprayers typically require thinner paint than airless sprayers, so I thin Advance down with 20% water before spraying. For me, 20% is the perfect spot to get the paint just thin enough to produce a fine mist when spraying.

I find that Advance sprays really well with my HLVP. It has a really nice flow and lays flat for me. It atomizes really well with the HVLP and I can honestly say that it sprays about as well as any water or oil-based paint that I have sprayed with an HVLP sprayer.

Brushing & Rolling Benjamin Moore Advance

I recently enameled all of the woodwork on the main level in a house using only Advance. I used both their primer and satin topcoat. This included kitchen cabinets, windows, doors, trim, and built-ins.

I sprayed the kitchen cabinets and doors to get a nice glassy look, but I used a brush on all of the base trim.

I find that Advance brushes quite nice with a fine bristle brush. It does tend to form runs quite easily though when brushing. I needed to go back and check my work every 10 minutes or so to make sure that no runs had formed.

Surprisingly, I didn’t experience any runs when spraying. Brushing tends to create heavy spots easier than spraying, which causes the runs.

I would be perfectly happy brushing Advance on doors, trim, or windows in my own home.

TIP: When brushing enamels such as Advance, make sure to use as high-quality brush as possible. A fine bristle brush will lay the paint on smooth and allow it to flow better into an even finish.

Benjamin Moore Advance Dry Times

While the technical specs of Advance say that it dries to the touch in 4 hours and can be recoated in 16 hours, I found that in reality, it dries much faster.

Assuming the humidity in the area you are painting is relatively low, Advance can be dry to the touch within an hour, similar to any water-based paint.

Sanding and re-coating typically takes a bit longer. I’ve found that I can sand and re-coat Advance usually after 3-4 hours.

Cure Times

Curing is different from drying. A cured paint refers to when it has reached it maximum hardness. Most paints typically take anywhere from 7-30 days to be fully cured.

In the real world, a fully cured paint means you won’t be able to easily scratch it. It has reached its maximum durability.

Advance says it can take up to 30 days to reach maximum hardness (full cure), I have found this to be true as well.

Advance Primer and Top Coat Sanding

The ability to effectively sand a primer and topcoat is important, especially when you’re trying to achieve perfectly smooth cabinet doors.

I have found that Advance primer sands and powders decently. Not as good as some oil-based sanding primers, but good enough to achieve a smooth primed surface.

Advance topcoat doesn’t sand as well as the primer, and it shouldn’t, but light sandings between coats worked really well and allowed for a perfectly smooth finish before spraying and brushing the final topcoat.

Touch Up

The ability to touch up an enamel is important. No matter how good of a job you do, you will eventually need to touch up your painted cabinets.

Some enamels touch up terribly. If you try to fix small areas, they stand out like a sore thumb.

I have found that advance touches up quite nicely. Small touch-ups typically blend in within 24 hours and are not noticeable in less prominent areas.

Long Term Durability

The fact that Benjamin Moore’s Advance goes on smooth and has low VOC content is great and all, but what about its long term durability? Will it last in your home with kids, pets, and every day use?

I can only half answer this question.

I do not have my kitchen cabinets enameled with Advance. However, I have probably used Advance on over 20 of my client’s kitchens in the past 5+ years.

Of those roughly 20 kitchens I have painted with Advance, I have received zero callbacks.

If Advance didn’t hold up well and chipped, scratched or marred easily, I would expect a high number of callbacks, especially to homes with kids and pets.

Benjamin Moore Advance Price & Where To Purchase

You can. typically purchase Benjamin Moore Advance for about $55. If your local store is selling it for more, then they are high. Many paint stores run lots of different sales, so you may even find it cheaper.

You can buy Advance at any paint store that is a dealer of Benjamin Moore products.

You can read product data sheets and more here.

Where You Should Use Benjamin Moore Advance

I recommend using Advance in any home where people are currently occupying the home during the work.

If you plan on painting your cabinets while living in your home and don’t want to deal with odors and dangerous VOC levels, then Advance is perfect.

It is also great for painting contractors who must work in occupied homes as well.

Advance is great for any areas where you need a hard durable finish such as kitchen cabinets, windows, doors, trim, built-ins, and furniture.

Tips on Using Advance

  • If spraying, thing Advance using clean water by 10-20%.
  • If brushing, use a high-quality fine bristled brush.
  • Allow Advance to cure a minimum of 7 days before high usage.
  • If rolling, use a velure cover for a smooth even finish.
  • If brushing, pay attention and look for runs.

Final Thoughts

Benjamin Moore Advance - Cabinet Paint Review 3
Builtins and Windows Enameled with Benjamin Moore Advance

If you look around online, you can always find people who dislike any product. The same is true for Advance.

But, when used correctly, Advance is a great product that fills the gap between oil-based enamels and water-based enamels perfectly.

You will have durability and adhesion issues with any paint if you do not properly clean, prep and prime the area, so make sure to take your time and don’t skip the prep work.

You can read more about prep work for painting here.

At the end of the day, Advance has become my go-to enamel when painting kitchen cabinets, doors, windows, and furniture.

Its ease of use, great finished look, low VOC and easy cleanup make it a product that I happy to use and will continue to use for a long time.

Benjamin Moore Advance FAQ

Can You Spray Benjamin Moore Advance

Advance can easily be sprayed using an airless or HVLP sprayer. When using an HVLP, you may need to thin the paint by 10-20%. Airless sprayers will not require thinning.

Can You Brush Benjamin Moore Advance

You can use a brush and/or roller when applying Benjamin Moore Advance. Make sure to pay attention for runs as they happen frequently when brushing.

How Lond Does Benjamin Moore Advance Take To Dry

In a low humidity environment, Advance can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to dry to the touch. Expect 4-6 hours of dry time before you can sand and recoat.

Is Benjamin Moore Advance Durable

Yes. Advance is a durable enamel paint perfect for kitchen cabinets, doors, windows, trim, and furniture.

margo Davis

Sunday 3rd of October 2021

As a homeowner I care about how the paint looks.

I don’t care if it’s easier to use. I am not painting myself.

I care what looks better!

Andrew

Wednesday 15th of September 2021

Really appreciate this thorough run-through on cabinets and the Q&A. A friend who used BM advance (and thinks it did a great job) forwarded the link. Two questions I have not seen answered, if you are still checking this site.

My cabinets were covered with polyurethane which I sanded down to wood pretty thoroughly. A lot of other websites recommend cleaning the cabinet faces with TSP to get any oil or grease off them. If I sanded is this necessary? Then I assume after, wipe with a little water to get the TSP off?

Also you recommend Satin, but almost all the other sites on cabinets I looked at say you need semi-gloss, or gloss for a more "modern" look. I have an old farmhouse 1830s with new soapstone counters (black) and the cabinets will be white. Curious your thoughts?

Again, great info here, also on the primer.

Jelly

Thursday 16th of September 2021

@Ryanc,

I'm getting my kitchen cabinets painted white soon with the BM satin (professional's). I have marble countertops (white w/gray swirls) , eggshell wall & gray floors. Want contemporary look. Any recommendations on color/name of white to use? The samples are to small to really tell. (I realize you do not have pictures). Southern exposure - do lots of light in kitchen. Suggestions - or how do I choose other than looking at those tiny square samples in store? Also, should toe kicks be painted with the BM or stay with the baseboard paint for them? Thanks!

Ryanc

Wednesday 15th of September 2021

Glad you found this useful Andrew. Yes, I still do check, but usually only on the weekends, so you caught me at a good time today.

TSP - You absolutely do not need it. Usually, the only greasy spots in kitchens are over the stove and under the sink. If those areas are a little grimy in your kitchen, wash them with dish soap, then sand everything. If they weren't overly greasy, not washing necessary, just sand.

Here's the thing with content on the internet. 98% of the people writing have never done the thing that they are writing about. TSP, Semi-Gloss and Gloss recommendations were done by someone with little to no experience and then copied by countless writers online. That's just the way it is.

Actually, trisodium phosphate residue left on cabinets is a major cause of failure on finishes. You are more likely to cause issues than help by cleaning with TSP. NOTE: Dish soap can cause problems too, so only use if necessary then wash and sand thoroughly.

I can assure you that Satin is the way to go. You will regret semi-gloss and really regret gloss. At best it will look like a 1960's-80s painted kitchen. It will show every imperfection and brush stroke and it will be ugly. I use satin on every single cabinet job and so does every legit painter I know.

Joe R

Sunday 12th of September 2021

Purchased B.M. Advanced paint for a bookcase project and I want to spray paint the cases using a Graco Ultra cordless sprayer. I'm thinking a Graco spray tip of 313 or 413 without thinning would be correct, but looking for guidance if thinning is needed and a larger orifice like 314 or 414. The Graco sprayer comes with a 514 tip. Thanks in advance for your guidance. PS: I have micro-rolled kitchen cabinets with Advance and it is really nice.

Ryanc

Wednesday 15th of September 2021

Hi Joe,

When spraying things like bookcases or cabinets, a smaller orifice tip is the better way to go. This will cause less paint to come out of the tip and make spraying easier. Bigger tips, when you don't have experience, usually result in lots of runs.

A 313 is pretty good, still, be cautious for runs though. I actually prefer a 311 or 411 for spraying cabinets and bookcases with airless sprayers.

You shouldn't need to thin. Airless sprayers don't need thinning like HVLP sprayers do.

Lew

Tuesday 31st of August 2021

I thought I saw you mention that you had a YouTube channel but I can't find it. Could you please provide a link? Thanks.

Richard K

Thursday 26th of August 2021

Do you recommend the advance primer? I use a sherwin williams primer on my last painting project for base board and doors and it took three coats to make it really look nice. I was painting over varnished. Thanks Richard

Ryanc

Saturday 28th of August 2021

I have used Advance primer and I don't love it. It's a fine primer but I prefer Smart Prime or Stix over it.