Sherwin Williams Pro Classic Paint Review

Updated on April 5, 2019
Matt G. profile image

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

Pro Classic Acrylic Semi-Gloss Enamel

I have been painting doors, trim and cabinets with Sherwin Williams Pro Classic for over ten years, and in my opinion, Pro Classic is the best paint for cabinets. The paint is available in an acrylic and alkyd formula, as well as a hybrid, acrylic-alkyd option. I have used the alkyd base, but the acrylic version in the semi-gloss finish is what I use the most. I haven't used the hybrid version yet, so I'm unable to comment on performance.

Pro Classic in the semi-gloss finish looks great when sprayed, or applied with a brush and roller, but this product looks best sprayed on. Pro Classic acrylic dries fast. When using a brush, or a roller, the paint must be applied quickly to avoid imperfections caused by contact with curing paint. If you have little experience painting, I definitely recommend practicing on a spare piece of wood first. When this product is applied evenly, at the right thickness, the paint film levels perfectly without sagging.

The alkyd version dries much slower and harder than the acrylic. The main disadvantage is the alkyd paint, in the color white, yellows more than acrylic over time. The yellowing, messy clean-up and slow drying is why I use the acrylic version the most. Acrylic paint clean-up is easy with soap and water. Alkyd clean-up requires mineral spirits (paint thinner).

Self-Leveling Paint

One of the reasons I use Pro Classic for trim and cabinet painting is because it's a self-leveling paint. When the paint is applied it levels over the surface to create an even finish. The leveling reduces visible brush strokes from cutting-in, which is key for cabinet painting. I spray cabinets with Pro Classic semi-gloss, using a fine finish tip, and the doors look brand new after drying overnight on my Door Rack Painter set-up.

Self-leveling paint does sag more easily if you over-apply the material. It is best to practice before spraying. I always spray a light first coat and a heavier second coat. The surface needs to be prepared properly otherwise the paint will not level and bond well, no matter what product is used.

Acrylic Pro Classic On Cabinets

Pro Classic acrylic paint in the semi-gloss finish is all I ever use for cabinet painting. I know fans of Benjamin Moore like Impervo paint. The two paints offer the same self-leveling advantage, but I have never used Impervo.

For spraying cabinet doors, two solid coats of Pro Classic looks amazing. Even foam rolling doors, the paint levels great and dries in a durable finish. The paint dries fast, allowing me to install cabinet doors the following day without any problems.

I also use this product whenever I paint doors, base board and frames. The second coat can be applied in four hours and is dry enough for taping by the end of the day. The second coat dries a lot faster. The alkyd version takes much longer to dry.

Pro Classic Paint Price

Pro Classic paint is not cheap, but you can sign up to receive Sherwin Williams discounts via their website. Sherwin Williams also hold sale events several times per year for as much as 30% to 40% off. It is also possible to open a store account to get a lower price.

As of 2017, Pro Classic in the satin finish is $70.49 per gallon. The semi-gloss finish is $72.49 per gallon. There is also a gloss and high gloss finish. The price increases $2 for each finish. These prices are for acrylic. Pricing will be different for the alkyd and hybrid versions. You definitely get what you pay for when it comes to paint. Cheap paint won't level or provide the same durability as premium paint.

Is Pro Classic Paint Worth It?

For cabinet, trim and furniture painting, it works great for me, especially for spraying. You can spray this product with an airless sprayer or HVLP sprayer. The key is the paint preparation. The surface needs to be cleaned and prepared properly before applying any paint. This paint is not a stain blocker. A separate oil-base primer must be applied over bare wood and stains to prevent bleed-through.

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 have used the same paint for several projects but have not tried to spray it with my HVLP sprayer. How much thinning is required?

    I've only sprayed Pro Classic through my airless sprayer, so I'm not sure how much thinning is needed for an HVLP. The paint is thick and would need to be thinned quite a bit for this application, which can dilute the paint too much. I'd check the product specs, or experiment until you find the perfect balance without clogs.

  • Do I need a varnish or polyethylene on top of the Sherwin Williams Pro Classic on my white kitchen cabinets?

    I haven't personally done this. My local Sherwin Williams store advised against top coating Pro Classic with a protective finish. I was told that doing this could cause the paint to yellow down the road. This will also change the gloss of the paint, which you may or may not like. What I recommend using instead of Pro Classic is Emerald urethane paint. The paint is already formulated with urethane for added durability. The paint dries harder too. I've started using this product on my cabinet jobs.

  • How critical is it to sand if you have stained golden oak cabinets? We went through all the steps mentioned but were told from where we got our deglosser that we didn't need to sand. We didn't. We primed and two coats of Pro Classic in Extra White. It's chipping as we reassemble the cabinets and we're frustrated. Was the sanding the problem?

    Sanding is important because it dulls the protective coating on your cabinets so the primer forms a stronger bond with the surface. Cleaning is important too. If the paint's chipping off like that it's either from not sanding the surface or de-glosser residue caused bonding problems with the primer. I'm not a fan of de-glosser. You didn't mention the primer you used. BIN or oil-based primer works best for stained oak cabinets. The chipping may have also been caused by handling the cabinets before the primer or paint had cured. Primer and paint is a little soft the first couple days before it hardens.

  • After priming/sanding how long should I let the first coat of pro classic, acrylic, semigloss dry before I’m able to touch it/put any weight on my furniture (specifically a platform) ?

    Pro Classic acrylic is dry to the touch in a couple of hours, but I'd wait a few days, or longer, before placing anything heavy on top of the fresh paint. If you place an object on top of the paint on the same day, or the day after, the paint might mar, or lift from the surface, because it hasn't had enough time to cure and harden. One coat will dry faster.

  • What size tip do you use when using an airless paint sprayer?

    The tip size depends on what you're spraying, but for Pro Classic, I use a 310 tip for doors and trim. I use the Graco fine finish tips (green).

© 2017 Matt G.


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    • profile image

      James reid 

      10 days ago

      Hello, I’m using the SW pro classic after 2 coats of primer SW. after the first coat sprayed with ultra white, I’m seeing yellow coming through on a few cabinet doors. I used aqua coat to fill grain, as well as Drydex which was sanded and primed. Any way to get the yellow bleed to stop coming through?

    • Matt G. profile imageAUTHOR

      Matt G. 

      12 months ago from United States

      You don't have to add any conditioner. The paint levels fine without it.

    • profile image

      David M. Hill 

      12 months ago

      should I add a conditioner to Proclassic for better leveling?

    • Matt G. profile imageAUTHOR

      Matt G. 

      15 months ago from United States

      The store people are salesmen, not painters. You can get a really nice finish on maple cabinets with an airless sprayer using the green Graco fine finish tips and a good leveling paint like Emerald urethane or Pro Classic (Emerald urethane dries harder).

      Spray and store the doors horizontally. An hvlp finish is smooth too, but you need to thin the paint which dilutes it and reduces the gloss. You'll also have to constantly refill the cup when spraying 20 plus cabinet doors, but with an airless you just siphon the paint right out of the can, or bucket.

      I use an airless sprayer for all of my cabinet jobs and get a really nice finish using Emerald urethane.

    • profile image

      Kim Onrait 

      15 months ago

      I am spraying maple cabinets (they were cleared in the past). I was going to use the SW Emerald Urethane which was recommended by SW store. I was also going to use a HVLP sprayer as the rep at the SW store said an airless is not good for doing fine finish spraying. Can you comment on that. If I use the HVLP I know I will have to thin it down as I used the same sprayer to spray a railing and had to thin that down. Not sure which would be better for this job.

    • Matt G. profile imageAUTHOR

      Matt G. 

      17 months ago from United States

      Yes, but on cabinets and areas where durability is more important Emerald urethane is better. It dries harder.

    • profile image


      17 months ago

      Have you been impressed with the durability of this paint? I am debating between this one and the Emerald Urethane from Sherwin Williams.. Also, would you use an oil based primer?

    • Matt G. profile imageAUTHOR

      Matt G. 

      19 months ago from United States

      The best way to sand a drip out of Pro Classic paint without tearing apart the paint around it is by wet sanding with a sanding sponge. Soak the sanding sponge in warm water and gently sand until the drip is gone. The sanding sponge is less abrasive than sandpaper and works really well for this. I've done it many times.

    • profile image


      19 months ago

      Can you sand Sherwin Williams pro classic enamel? I have done one coat on my kitchen cabinets and although the paint is forgiving when applied at the correct thickness, too much is still too much. How do I remover the sagging paint easily without disturbing the other areas?


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