My Review of Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane on Cabinets

Updated on May 29, 2019
Matt G. profile image

Matt is a professional painter and freelance writer, sharing his knowledge, house-painting tips, and product reviews.

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.

Paint Hardness

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.

The Price

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

  • We just got a quote for our kitchen using this exact paint. This man charges $100 per cabinet door and drawer. (We also have some large wall areas that will be painted, but are included in this price). We have a total of 37 cabinet doors and drawers. Does that seem like a fair price, which includes paint and labor? Appreciate your opinion.

    Yes, I think the price sounds fair. Cabinet painting and preparation is very time consuming and 37 doors is a big kitchen.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Since Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane is a mix, what reducer should I use for this trim paint for a sprayer?

    If you're referring to thinning, you don't need to thin this paint for an airless sprayer; it sprays fine out of the can. You do need to thin it if you're using an HVLP sprayer, but I have no idea on the ratio or what to use since I haven't had to do that yet with the product. I recommend contacting your Sherwin Williams store for a recommendation.

  • Are you sanding between paint coats? I've read both yes and no, if you do what grit do you use?

    Yes, I sand between primer coats and once before paint. I usually use 220 grit.

Comments

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    • Matt G. profile imageAUTHOR

      Matt G. 

      2 weeks ago

      Yes, BIN shellac primer will seal the MDF doors for your paint.

    • profile image

      T Cao 

      2 weeks ago

      Matt,

      Can the same process (BIN Shellac + Emerald Urethane Paint) be used for MDF cabinet doors?

    • Matt G. profile imageAUTHOR

      Matt G. 

      7 weeks ago

      How did you prep the cabinets and what type of primer was used? I've never had any problems with the paint coming off.

    • profile image

      Pam 

      7 weeks ago

      I used Sherwin Williams Emerald urethane trim enamel for bathroom cabinets and the paint and primer both are gummy and come when you rub them. Any suggestions what went wrong?

    • Matt G. profile imageAUTHOR

      Matt G. 

      7 weeks ago

      Tony,

      Yes, Emerald urethane levels pretty good when brushed on. If it's already painted, you don't need to use primer. Just clean, scuff sand the surface, and paint, but if there's bleed through with the existing paint, use oil primer. If there's a big color difference that could impact the number of coats, use latex primer.

    • profile image

      Tony 

      7 weeks ago

      Can the SW Emerald Urethane be brushed on?

      I am wanting to paint an already painted base cabinet with it. I don't know what type paint was used.

      What primer would you suggest?

      Thank you.

    • Matt G. profile imageAUTHOR

      Matt G. 

      3 months ago

      Brenda,

      No problem. I'm glad you found the article helpful.

    • profile image

      Brenda Grant 

      3 months ago

      Thank you so much for your help. I appreciate it more than you know. I'll let you know what happens down the road.

    • Matt G. profile imageAUTHOR

      Matt G. 

      3 months ago

      Brenda,

      A poly coat will harden the surface, but I've never used that product before so I'm not sure if oil or latex poly should be used. Oil is more durable, but you need to know one hundred percent what's compatible with the product on your cabinets. I would contact your SW store and talk to the manager and ask them to call their product hotline with your inquiry. My local SW store has done this for me many times when the store employees couldn't provide a definite clear answer about product compatbility.

    • profile image

      Brenda Grant 

      3 months ago

      Just found the paint was SW Pro Industrial, Pre-Catalyzed Waterbased Epoxy. K45 T 1154, 6509-83984 Egg-Shell He did prime the cabinets and left them for 24 hours before painting. They were originally stained cabinets. Since SW recommends I wait 60 days before doing anything, can I after 60 days, put on a polyurethane coat? And if I can, should it be a water- based polyurethane or an oil- based? SW man says it should be an oil based. I know you must use the right based polyurethane. Hoping a polyurethane will harden the finish and provide a little bit of shine, just not too much.Thank you for your help here at this site. It means a lot to me.Wished he had used the paints your recommend. with your recommendation, I hope I can help the situation. Thank you so much.

    • Matt G. profile imageAUTHOR

      Matt G. 

      3 months ago

      Brenda,

      Did the painter use latex or oil primer? What paint from Sherwin Williams was used on your cabinets? SW has many paints for different purposes, some of which shouldn't be used on cabinets. If the paint is soft and rubbery, it sounds like a cheap wall or trim paint was used, or the cabinets weren't prepped right. ProClassic and Emerald urethane are good paints for cabinets. I use Emerald urethane. It dries a little harder than ProClassic.

    • profile image

      Brenda Grant 

      3 months ago

      I am so disappointed in my newly painted $2200 kitchen cabinets. The painter used SW paint but as you said it is soft and rubbery. I don't know what type he used but it was the eggshell finish. I am just sick over it. I live on retirement pay and was so excited to get them painted. But alas, the finish is sad. I called SW and they say wait 60 days for the paint to set. After 60 days, is there a polyurethane I could put on them to add a little shine and harden them up? Thanks for any help you can provide.

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