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 are 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).
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 holds 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
Question: 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?
Answer: 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.
Question: What size tip do you use when using an airless paint sprayer?
Answer: 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).
Question: Do I need a varnish or polyethylene on top of the Sherwin Williams Pro Classic on my white kitchen cabinets?
Answer: 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.
Question: 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) ?
Answer: 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.
Question: What do you think of Sherwin Williams ProClassic paint in the satin finish?
Answer: The satin finish of ProClassic is less shiny than the semi-gloss finish, which is fine for trim, but if you're painting cabinets and doors, I'd definitely use the semi-gloss finish, or upgrade to Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane altogether for more durability. Semi-gloss is more smooth and easier to clean.
Question: How do I prepare old cabinets for Sherwin Williams paint?
Answer: The cabinets need to be cleaned, sanded, primed, and painted. On cabinets, Emerald urethane is the better choice than Pro Classic. The paint dries harder.
Question: Is primer necessary when using Sherwin Williams Pro Classic paint?
Answer: It depends. If you're painting Pro Classic over raw wood, the surface should be primed first. If the substrate is very glossy, it should be sanded and coated with a bonding primer first for maximum adhesion with the paint. The surface might also need a primer if the paint color is much lighter than the existing color.
Question: In your opinion which paint is better for trim and doors? Pro Classic in alkyd formula, Emerald Urethane or Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo?
Answer: Emerald urethane, but that's my opinion based on my experience. They're all good paints though.
Question: Can you thin proclassic paint?
Question: Is it important for the surface being sprayed by Sherwin Williams Pro Classic paint to be laying flat as it is self-leveling? We are painting already assembled cabinet bases.
Answer: I spray my cabinet doors laying flat and store them on my drying racks that way. You won't have to worry about the paint sagging when you spray them flat. When spraying vertically you just have to be a little more careful not to apply the paint too heavy. The paint will self level beautifully with the right amount applied. For durability, I recommend Emerald urethane over Pro Classic. The paint dries harder, and self levels really nice too.
Question: What temperature can you paint Pro Classic?
Answer: The temperature has to be above 50 degrees. The colder it is, the longer it's going to take to dry.
Question: What would you paint on existing stained with high lacquer library paneling? This product will be brushed on, as we cannot find anyone who will spray it.
Answer: First the paneling should be cleaned and sanded good. Then prime it with oil primer and paint. Pro Classic is good, but Emerald urethane is a step up in durability. The paint dries harder.
Question: Is Sherwin Williams' 7006 a good number for the interior white paint?
Answer: Number 7006 is the Sherwin Williams color Extra White. I use this color a lot for ceilings and trim. It's a very bright white with no tint in the paint.
Question: What paint sprayer do you recommend for Sherwin Williams Pro Classic paint?
Answer: An airless sprayer is fine. The paint is too thick to pass through an HVLP sprayer.
Question: Would you use ProClassic paint semi-gloss on a fireplace? I’ve been wanting to paint my fireplace white and do not know what to use.
Answer: If you want to paint the fireplace brick, you can use ProClassic, but the brick should be primed with a masonry primer. Sherwin Williams sells a product called Loxon Concrete and Masonry primer. You might also consider using ProClassic water-based acrylic-alkyd (hybrid) instead of the regular acrylic version. The acrylic-alkyd will be a little more durable on the fireplace. Emerald urethane enamel is also very durable, but expensive at full price. I've used that enamel a lot on cabinets. It's a hybrid enamel like the ProClassic option I mentioned.
Question: I just had my cabinets painted with pro-classic in a satin finish, is there any difference in durability between satin and semigloss?
Answer: Surface preparation plays a huge roll in durability. The best paint in the world won't be durable if the wrong primer was used, or the surface wasn't carefully cleaned and sanded. Both ProClassic finishes you mentioned are durable, but the semi-gloss finish is more glossy and smoother. The semi-gloss finish is too glossy though in my opinion. I use the satin finish. With the primer I use and two coats each of primer and paint, the satin finish has more than enough gloss for cleaning without being too glossy. Most of my customers don't want that super shiny finish on their cabinets.
Question: 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?
Answer: 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.
Question: We're interested in painting our trim. Do you also use an airless sprayer for trim work? We were going to purchase an HVLP sprayer and then saw that you use an airless sprayer. We have a Graco X5. Or is there too much masking involved with trim work and we should use a foam roller instead if we want to mimic the sprayed look?
Answer: I use a Graco airless sprayer for everything, including trim. You can use an HVLP for your trim, but if you have a lot of trim to paint you're going to have to refill the cup a lot. You'll also have to thin Pro Classic because it's too thick for an HVLP. An airless sprayer is better for production work and you can get a nice finish using Pro Classic and a fine finishing spray tip. No thinning needed. You'll have to mask the floors and surrounding area anyway, even with an HVLP. Masking is part of spraying, but you're going to save a lot of time not having to brush and roll all day. You'll also have a better finish. Use a hand masker for the masking too. It's a big time saver. I wrote articles about masking for spraying and spraying tips. If you look through my articles you'll find it, or do a search on Den Garden.
Question: I purchased pro classic satin paint for my cabinets and then decided to change the color to the walls. Without buying the same color in another type of paint, do you think I could use that pro classic on my kitchen walls? Hate to let a gallon go to waste.
Answer: Yes, you can use Pro Classic on your walls.
Question: In referencing the painting of the library panelin, which primer do you suggest we get use to go along with the Emerald urethane paint? Also, would 220 grit work best to sand these panels down?
Answer: Cover Stain is a good oil primer to use on the paneling. The primer will seal the surface and form a strong bond with the paint. Apply two coats of this primer, lightly sanding in between coats. I wouldn't use 220 grit for the first sanding, it's too fine. This grit is good for sanding in between coats. I would use 150 grit, or 120 grit. Use 220 grit, or a sanding sponge (fine grit ) to sand the first coat of primer. The paint will look much smoother over two coats of sanded primer.
Question: I love pro classic in the semi-gloss, so smooth, self-leveling; very pretty finish. I got a quart of it in gloss because that's all they had in stock and I didn't need a gallon. I thought how different could gloss be vs semi-gloss...Very! The gloss was so much thicker, dried quicker and showed all my brush marks. I had to add some Flood to make it more workable, but it still didn't have that pretty, pretty finish that the semi-gloss has. Have you had that same experience?
Answer: No, honestly, I haven't used the gloss finish, only the semi-gloss. Use a soft bristle brush if you're not already. I lIke the Purdy XL. It will help reduce brush marks. You might want to also try Emerald urethane. The paint levels a little better than Pro Classic and dries harder.
Question: How long before the second coat?
Answer: The re-coat time for Pro Classic acrylic enamel is 4 hours, but this also depends on how thick you apply the coating and the room temperature.
© 2017 Matt G.
Matt G. (author) from United States on August 22, 2020:
I spray base board around 2,000 to 2,300 psi with a 310, or 410 tip, depending on the height of the base. At the right speed and distance from the surface, I find the higher pressure setting lays down the enamel easier in one pass.
Thomas on August 19, 2020:
What pressure to you spray the Pro Classic on baseboards?
Matt G. (author) from United States on August 15, 2020:
The yellow is tannin bleed. If you didn't prime, or used latex primer, that's why it's happening. Prime with oil primer, or BIN.
kimpataria on August 15, 2020:
Matt G. (author) from United States on August 15, 2020:
No, I wouldn't use Pro Classic trim enamel on the floor. I would use floor enamel, or maybe epoxy.
kimpataria on August 15, 2020:
Hi, I want to paint my laminate flooring grey, would this be ok to use? Thank you
James reid on July 28, 2020:
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. (author) from United States on July 25, 2019:
You don't have to add any conditioner. The paint levels fine without it.
David M. Hill on July 25, 2019:
should I add a conditioner to Proclassic for better leveling?
Matt G. (author) from United States on May 06, 2019:
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.
Kim Onrait on May 06, 2019:
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. (author) from United States on March 15, 2019:
Yes, but on cabinets and areas where durability is more important Emerald urethane is better. It dries harder.
Colleen on March 15, 2019:
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. (author) from United States on January 01, 2019:
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.
Matt on January 01, 2019:
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?