Painting Cabinets: Benjamin Moore Advance vs. PPG Breakthrough

I wrapped up a new client kitchen project a couple of weeks ago, but also wanted to talk some more about products that I’ve been learning about and using as I continue to grow my business, as well as my skills and techniques.  I’m always looking into and trying new primers, fillers, etc… but have stayed true to my trusty standby as far as paint goes – Benjamin Moore’s Advance.  

In doing some reading and research, I’ve discovered that Breakthrough by PPG has gotten great reviews as a product for painting cabinets, and I’ve been working with it and using it (and loving it).  I thought it would be helpful to do a side by side comparison of the two products.  They’re both awesome, but they each have pros and cons to consider, and it’s worth taking a closer look.

Painting Cabinets: Advance vs. Breakthrough

Benjamin Moore Advance – Pros

Like I said, I’ve been using Benjamin Moore’s Advance for years now, and have been a loyal customer.  There are lots of reasons why I love it and have used it for as long as I have.  Let’s do a bulleted list, as I like to see things all organized. 😉

Benjamin Moore Advance

  • Advance is a waterborne alkyd, that hardens like an oil.  This means soap and water clean up, which I love.  I know there is a time and a place for solvent-based products, but I really hate working with solvents.  They’re smelly, messy, and the clean-up is awful.  So this product is the best of both worlds, in my opinion – great durability without the hassle of dealing with smelly solvents.
  • Advance levels out beautifully, whether you spray it or brush and roll it.
  • I use Advance in a satin finish, and it is perfection.  Just the right amount of shine to it, without being glossy.
  • No topcoat required.

PPG Breakthrough vs. Benjamin Moore Advance

Chelsea Gray Island

Benjamin Moore Advance – Cons

  • The biggest con for me when it comes to the Advance, is the dry time.  It’s a 16 hour recoat time, which means you spend a lot of time waiting for paint to dry.  When you’re painting cabinet doors with two coats of primer and two coats of paint – on both sides – that’s a lot of waiting for paint to dry, and it drags out the production process.  
  • It takes 30 days for Advance to fully cure.  That’s not to say that you have to wait that long to touch your cabinet doors, or rehang them.  But you need to be a little gentle until the paint fully cures.  With dark colors, the dry/cure time seems to be longer.
  • While Advance levels out well, you have to be mindful and not mess with it if you’re brushing and rolling it.  If you goof up, leave it alone.  The more you mess with it, the worse it gets.  And oftentimes, the mistakes level out to where you hardly even notice them.

PPG Breakthrough – Pros

Granted, I’m a newer user of PPG Breakthrough, but I’ve been doing loads of research and reading, and have also talked with other painters and the PPG reps about this product.  But really, products speak for themselves, don’t they?

PPG Breakthrough for Painting Cabinets

  • Breakthrough is a waterborne acrylic, so you still get the easy clean-up like you do with Advance.
  • Dry time – this one is a big one for me.  It’s dry to the touch in 15-20 minutes, and you can recoat in two hours.  That’s just amazing, and for me, it cuts down on my production time in a big way.  And, it reduces the time that I need to be on-site when painting cabinet frames, which is great too.
  • Durability – it’s hard as nails, and you can handle/move the doors soon after painting them without having to worry about the paint still being tacky.  Another bonus – especially when you’re transporting the doors to install them.  Speaking of durability, my local PPG store has a laminate counter painted in Breakthrough.  Hard as nails I tell you.
  • No topcoat required.

PPG Breakthrough – Cons

  • Not everyone sees this as a con, but the satin finish in Breakthrough is a bit more matte than that of the Advance.  I personally prefer the satin finish of the Advance, but I know people who prefer the Breakthrough.  And honestly, it’s not that noticeable, I just notice it because I work with it often.
  • Leveling –  Since Breakthrough dries so fast, it doesn’t level out as well as the Advance – but this is only when I’m brushing/rolling the frames – it sprays just fine.  However, if you use the right painting tools, you can still achieve a beautiful finished look.  One must have tool is a flocked foam roller.  I experimented with quite a few, and this roller gave the smoothest finish when I hand painted the frames.  Trust me on this one.  Use the flocked foam roller.  Here is an end panel that I painted in the Breakthrough:

PPG Breakthrough vs. Benjamin Moore Advance on Cabinets

  • Breakthrough is a thinner consistency and doesn’t cover quite as well as the Advance, so you’ll use more paint as a result.  There have been times where I’ve had to buy another gallon of paint to finish a job, whereas with the Advance, I could have finished it with one gallon.  Not a deal-breaker, but something to take into consideration.
  • Important: Make sure you use the Breakthrough that is VOC250 vs. the VOC50.  There have been issues with the 50, and the higher VOC version of Breakthrough will hold up better.  If you can’t get the VOC250 in your area, go with the Advance.

But as you can see, the end result is gorgeous.

PPG Breakthrough vs. Benjamin Moore Advance for Cabinets

So there you go – a comparison of two great products, each with its own merits.  I like both of them for different reasons, and I think you’ll be happy with either one.  It’s a matter of personal preference, and what matters most to you.  

If you’re looking to paint your cabinets, check out my tutorials:ips and Tricks for Painting Oak Cabinets
How to Paint Your Cabinets Like a Pro

Do you have your favorite go-to products?




  • Reply
    July 23, 2018 at 10:09 pm

    Jenny, thanks for such a nice post. I want to DIY my oak cabinet. I plan to use BIN Shellac primer and a sprayer. I can’t decide on the paint. I am thinking of BM advance, PPG breakthrough and Sherwin Willimas ProClassic. I don’t care about the cure time. What I care is ease of use (since I am a first timer), beautiful finish and durability (no chipping). Which one would you suggest?

    Also for BIN Shellac primer, I saw two kinds: shellac base and Synthetic shellac. Which is the one you use? Thank you.

    • Reply
      July 26, 2018 at 9:35 pm

      I use BIN Shellac primer, not the synthetic. As for paint, all three of them are good options – if cure time isn’t an issue, I would recommend the Advance. It levels beautifully and is great for first timers. 🙂

  • Reply
    July 27, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    Thanks, Jenny. Would Advance works well with a sprayer? I plan to rent one from home depot called”20V Cordless Paint Sprayer”.

    I came across some professional painters’ comments online related to Advance. They don’t think it is as durable as other paints like Aristoshield. How would you comment?

    Last question, what is your favorite paint for cabinet if you don’t consider cure time?

    Thank you.

    • Reply
      July 29, 2018 at 11:17 pm

      There are lots of different ways to paint cabinets, and many different products to accomplish the task. I hadn’t even heard of Aristoshield until you mentioned it to me, and it looks like it’s comparable to other paints that are on the market for cabinets (although I don’t have personal experience with it). Advance is great for a DIYer because it levels out really well and is quite forgiving as a result. But I love PPG Breakthrough as well!

  • Reply
    Scott Pratt
    September 21, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    Hi Jenny,
    I have been going back and forth between Advance, Breakthrough, and ProClassic. My concern about Advance is the cure time. I want to use my Wagner HVLP Spray system to spray Breakthrough, but heard it may be too thick and should not be thinned. Lastly, I am painting large bookcases standing in their vertical position. Will I run into issues with drip and sag using Breakthrough? Any advise is appreciated!

    • Reply
      Kristi Perozzi
      October 28, 2018 at 1:00 pm

      I would also be curious about thinning the Advance. I am getting ready to paint my cabinets for the second time (just color change) and will be using an Earlex HVLP sprayer. The last time I used a General Finishes milk paint.

      • Reply
        October 29, 2018 at 7:32 am

        You can thin the Advance – I usually aim for the consistency of heavy cream when spraying paint, if that helps at all.

  • Reply
    Theresa Maher
    October 3, 2018 at 7:21 pm

    If using PPG Breakthrough, what type of primer would I use?

    • Reply
      October 7, 2018 at 4:28 pm

      I always use a shellac based primer like BIN or Sherwin Williams Pigmented White Shellac.

  • Reply
    Melissa Cassley
    October 27, 2018 at 10:30 am

    Hello! Could you share the colors you used on the cabinets and island?

    • Reply
      October 29, 2018 at 7:33 am

      If memory serves, the island was Chelsea Gray and the perimeter cabinets were Simply White (both Benjamin Moore colors).

  • Reply
    John Nosacka
    November 14, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    I just did my bathroom cabinets in Advance and my kitchen cabinets in Breakthrough. JEnny’s comments are pretty much what I experienced. Both sprayed well. Both recommend thinning about 6 oz we gallon. Neither we’re very forgiving when brushing, but the BReakthrough was especially bad. You had only one or two brushstrokes before it starts to set up set up. By the fourth brushstroke, you’re making a mess of it. I sure did like being able able to spray BReakthrough primer in the morning and paint in the afternoon.

    I’ll probably stick with the PPG Breakthrough from now on

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