My Review of Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane on Cabinets
Emerald Urethane Paint
For many years, the paint I've used the most for cabinets has always been Pro Classic semi-gloss (acrylic) from Sherwin Williams. I've had good experiences with this product, but one thing I've always disliked about the paint is that it sags easily when sprayed. I've also found the finish of Pro Classic to be slightly soft and rubbery. I wanted to upgrade to a paint that would dry harder for long-term durability, especially for use on cabinets.
I recently used Emerald urethane to spray paint oak cabinets and I was very satisfied with the results. This product should not be confused with the regular Emerald interior paint. The urethane version is a water-based, modified alkyd, best for use on trim, doors, and cabinets. I was actually skeptical about using this product because I'm not a fan of the regular Emerald interior paint, but the two paints are completely different.
Does the Paint Level Good?
When spraying cabinets and doors, using a paint that levels is a must. If a non-leveling coating is used, the material won't lay out over the surface, causing uneven paint build-up and imperfections to dry exactly how they look when sprayed on.
I spray painted oak cabinets with this product and found it to level exceptionally well over two sanded coats of BIN shellac primer. The first coat leveled better than the second coat. I found that the second coat had to be sprayed heavier to build up the paint for even leveling. Spraying the second coat too fast would result in texturing that wouldn't level much.
Compared with the leveling quality of Pro Classic, I found Emerald urethane to perform the same, if not better. I sprayed and stored the cabinet doors horizontally, using the Door Rack Painter racks, and the paint leveled on the doors uniformly without any drips.
I should also mention that I use Aqua Coat grain filler before priming and painting oak cabinets with this paint. The filler, combined with two coats each of primer and paint, achieves a really smooth finish.
One of the reasons I wanted to try this product on cabinets is because it's supposed to dry harder than basic trim paint, and using a urethane paint would make the surface more durable for cleaning. No need to top coat the paint with a clear coat.
Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane does dry noticeably harder than Pro Classic. The paint isn't gummy, or soft, once cured. When I remove cabinet doors to spray them, I number the back side and stick a small piece of blue tape over it. Removing the tape from the doors at the end of the job was difficult. I had to carefully scrape the tape pretty hard to get it out of the dried paint.
The re-coat time for this paint is four hours. The paint was dry to the touch in about that time. The final coat of paint dried somewhere between four and six hours. I let the doors sit on my drying racks in my work space for several days before wrapping and delivering them to my customer for installation.
I found the paint to be noticeably harder to the touch after two days had passed, passing the fingernail test. The paint finish itself feels harder than other paints I've used. I wrapped the painted doors in moving blankets and delivered them to my customer without any issues.
The Semi-gloss Finish
I used the semi-gloss finish on the cabinets I painted. A satin and gloss finish are also available. My Sherwin Williams store had recommended the semi-gloss finish for cabinets because they said the satin finish is too dull. The semi-gloss finish of Emerald urethane is similar to Pro Classic semi-gloss, but maybe a little more glossy.
I've read complaints online by people saying the semi-gloss finish was dull, but in my experience, two coats of semi-gloss over two coats of BIN shellac primer was the perfect sheen for cabinets. Even the first coat looked very shiny, but the second coat looked even better. The semi-gloss finish is very smooth, perfect for washing.
In my opinion, it's insanely overpriced. The regular price for Emerald Urethane enamel starts at $89 per gallon. Yes, that's $89 per gallon without discounts, or coupons. If you're painting cabinets, you'll only need two to three gallons anyway, but still, that's a lot of money for paint.
If you don't already have an established store account with discount paint pricing, Sherwin Williams runs 30% to 40% off paint sales throughout the year, which saves a lot of money if you're patient and wait for the next sale. You can also apply for a Pro charge account at your local Sherwin Williams store to get discount pricing.
I also recommend signing up for their Paint Perks option to get coupon codes on paint and supplies via text message. I get notifications for discount deals on a weekly basis.
Is Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Worth It?
I've only used this product one time on cabinets, as of this writing, but so far, I'm very satisfied with the results. If something changes, I'll update this review. I can't comment on its performance for brush and roller application, since I've only sprayed it with an airless sprayer, but for spraying, the paint levels really well and dries harder than other paints I've used.
In my experience, this paint doesn't sag easily on vertical surfaces, unlike Pro Classic, which can be a nightmare to work with if you aren't careful. I sprayed two thick coats of Emerald on cabinet wall boxes and had no issues with dripping paint. The paint levels, but holds in place without sagging, which I really like.
This paint smells like Play Doh. A mask is definitely needed when working with this product, especially if you're spraying. The odor lingers for a while, probably due to the alkyd modification.
I can't comment how this product compares to paints like Cabinet Coat, or Break-Through, since I haven't used those products yet, but when compared with other trim paints I've used from Sherwin Williams, this is a solid upgrade. The full price of $89 per gallon is overpriced, so definitely take advantage of available discount options.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
I love Sherin Williams Emerald Urethane for cabinets but have only brushed and rolled it. I have a small sprayer that requires thinning. Does thinning this paint make it less durable? Is it important to top coat it with a clear coat?
Over-thinning can reduce the gloss of the finish, so yes, thinning too much can reduce durability if the finish is less smooth and less washable. If you follow the specs for the extender you're using and add a small amount for what's recommended, a gloss reduction won't be noticeable. The paint alone is washable enough without a clear coat, but you can top coat it.Helpful 16
We painted (sprayed 2 coats) the kitchen cabinets with a SW satin oil base with kilz as a primer. The paint separated and after 30 days the paint scratched off down to the kilz when 2 doors bumped together. SW suggested this urethane paint. They said to sand the oil base paint and spray on the urethane. What're your thoughts on the paint adhering to the oil base paint?
The paint is peeling because it isn't bonding with the primer, and the primer probably isn't bonding with the surface too. If you used latex Kilz primer, that's the reason. It could also be the oil paint you used isn't compatible with the primer, or the surface wasn't prepared correctly through cleaning and sanding. The oil paint should not be scratching off. Painting over that won't fix the problem. Strip the failing cabinet paint and primer down to the bare wood and start over. Clean and sand the cabinets, prime with OIL primers like Cover Stain, or shellac primer like BIN and apply two coats of Emerald urethane.Helpful 61
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I read some reviews that Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane paint takes a long time to dry/cure. How was your experience in this? Also, can deglossing replace sanding?
The dry time isn't bad. The re-coat time is four hours, but this all depends on the air temperature. The first coat took around six hours to dry because I sprayed the doors in my garage and it was hot and humid. The second coat dried in about three hours. The paint dries hard the next day. No, you should always sand.Helpful 57
Do you use any grain fillers before painting to get that smooth finish?
Yes, when painting oak cabinets with Emerald urethane, I use the grain filler I linked to in my article, which includes my full review on that product.Helpful 1