The Best Paints to Use on Wood Pantry Shelves

Updated January 17, 2018

Choosing the best paint for a task is often more time consuming than painting. Overwhelming options in an array of colours, bases and finishes tend to make the decision more difficult. To help narrow the choices, consider your lifestyle and what is most important to you. Many types of paint are appropriate for wood pantry shelves, but one should shine brighter than the others as the best choice for your home.

High Gloss

High-gloss paint, whether oil-based or latex, is the most carefree finish because it dries shiny. It resists stains and wipes clean better than flat paint. A shiny finish needs a smooth foundation, so sand the shelves before painting for best results. Large or small imperfections will likely be amplified by the shine, explains Apartment Guide. Sand with medium-grit sandpaper first, then switch to fine grit for smoothing out remaining bumps. It is best to seal the shelves before painting using wood sealer or primer that's compatible with your paint. Compare the labels to be sure. Sealing or priming allows the first coat of paint to dry smoother. Apply two coats of high-gloss paint over the sealer for better coverage. After the paint is dry and shelves are in place, routine clean-up is as simple as wiping with a damp sponge.

Low or No VOC Emissions

Many people prefer products with less environmental impact than traditional products. Volatile Organic Compounds, commonly called VOCs, are a hazard with traditional oil-based and latex paint. VOCs are released as gases into the air from wet and drying paint. Low-VOC paint emits less gas than traditional paint, and is safer around children and pregnant women. No-VOC paint is an even better option, according to expert Bob Vila. Low and no-VOC paint are part of an emerging industry, but many manufacturers offer a wide range of colours and finishes. Always choose satin, semigloss or high-gloss finishes to help with cleaning chores.

Oil-Based or Latex

Although some traditionalists may argue that high-gloss oil-based paint is the most durable, there are other factors to consider before making a decision. Oil-based paint dries with a hard finish, but it is also prone to chipping. Latex paint is more flexible than oil, helping it resist chips, and it retains colour longer. Because a pantry is usually a place where food is kept, the potential for mildew growth is another factor. Some oil-based paint may encourage mildew growth, but latex paint often contains mildew inhibitors. Clean-up is another topic to consider. Latex rinses away with water, but oil-based requires solvents. Oil-based and latex paint have pros and cons, and each provides a lasting, durable surface. Choose according to what is important to your family.

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About the Author

Carole Oldroyd, a writer based in East Tennessee, has authored numerous DIY home improvement, Human Resources, HR and Law articles. In addition to holding a degree in paralegal studies, she has more than 10 years of experience renovating newer homes and restoring historic property.