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?

Jenny

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125 Comments

  • Reply
    wei
    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
      Jenny
      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
    wei
    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
      Jenny
      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.
      Thanks!

      • Reply
        Jenny
        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
      Jenny
      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
      Jenny
      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

  • Reply
    Galya Stanifer
    June 5, 2019 at 6:45 pm

    I notice that you commented on, not to use the VOC50 Breakthrough. I have been using the product, and was very happy with the dry time, application and the finished product. But overtime we are experiencing failure as the product, did not hold up to normal use for cabinets. My rep, is telling me that he just found out this year, that we need to be using VOC250 for the durability. The local stores are no longer caring the VOC50, but for several years that was all they carried, and promoted the product for use on kitchen cabinets. I too, use the The BIN primer, and love the Breakthrough product. Just wish that I knew sooner, to use the VOC250.

    When did you become aware that it was necessary to use VOC250?

    • Reply
      Jenny
      June 9, 2019 at 10:23 am

      I had the same experience with the VOC50 product as you did. Very disappointing, and I had been using it for awhile before I was made aware of the issues (I even have it on my own cabinets). I started using the VOC250 in late summer of last year, and am now looking at changing over to Milesi 2k poly, as it takes a cabinet finish to a whole new level. What is shocking to me is that the Breakthrough 50 VOC is still recommended for hand rails – when hand oils are the culprit for the problems!! It’s really a frustrating situation.

      • Reply
        Theresa Maher
        June 9, 2019 at 10:43 am

        So I just finished painting my kitchen cabinets and realized that I did not pay attention to your pointer about VOC50. Ugh! I wonder if the Milesi 2k poly (is that the specific name?) can go over the painted cabinets and would help them last longer.

        • Reply
          Jenny
          June 10, 2019 at 5:23 pm

          You could use the Milesi, but I would probably prep and prime them again first. I’m going to be doing the same on mine.

  • Reply
    Riki Terada
    July 3, 2019 at 9:59 am

    I had the same experience using Breakthrough. I sprayed 50 Voc Breakthrough with a 5 stage hvlp. Looked good after spraying and dried fast. But we weren’t to impressed with the look the next day. Looked just a tad shinier than flat paint. Durability is not good as it easily chips. Granted I probably didn’t put my two coats on thick enough as I used very little paint.
    Anyhow, I will be repeating painting with Advance satin with the same color match of Magnolia Silos White.

    I had brushed advance semi gloss on the window trim and floating shelves and like the result. Shelves definitely took the 30 days before putting dishes on them.

    But my question is – I am respraying Advance over Breakthrough. Do I need to use primer or can I just sand and spray the Advance?

    • Reply
      Jenny
      July 11, 2019 at 10:17 pm

      If you’re dealing with the 50 VOC version of Breakthrough, I would err on the side of caution, and prime again. Better safe than sorry.

  • Reply
    Win
    July 5, 2019 at 5:54 pm

    We are preparing to repaint our kitchen cabinets (we painted them 17 years ago). Any idea if one of thee products would be better than the other for painting over painted surfaces? What about any tips for preparing the painted surfaces? I read somewhere that one needed to choose the cleaner carefully if using an aklyd paint but it didn’t given any product recommendations.

  • Reply
    Samantha Gardner
    January 7, 2020 at 8:54 am

    How many coats the the breakthrough do you recommend for cabinets? I primed BIN Shellac x2, sprayed breakthrough each side x2. Coverage looks good but wondering if anything more is necessary. Also used VOC250, gloss

    • Reply
      Jenny
      January 7, 2020 at 7:21 pm

      Two coats of Breakthrough, assuming you get the coverage that you want.

  • Reply
    Debra
    February 15, 2020 at 12:17 pm

    Hi Jenny, is the Milesi 2k poly you mentioned above a water clean up product? Btw great website! Debra

    • Reply
      Jenny
      February 16, 2020 at 4:57 pm

      Yes, it is water clean up.

  • Reply
    Denise
    February 19, 2020 at 3:19 pm

    I will need to roll my cabinet frames, do you recommend the above linked foam roller or the Wooster mohair? Thanks

  • Reply
    Nick Ramey
    May 10, 2020 at 9:54 am

    For breakthrough, the satin was too matte, does stepping up to semigloss match the satin of Advanced?

    • Reply
      Jenny
      May 26, 2020 at 8:21 pm

      I’ve never used the semigloss before. You could always do an experiment and do half/half to see if you get the desired sheen.

  • Reply
    Rebecca Ackroyd
    May 17, 2020 at 11:44 pm

    I’m using Advance for the first time on cabinets. I did two coats of the reccommended BM primer (tinted to nearly the same color as the Advance topcoat paint. I sprayed the doors with the Advance, and my single coat looks awesome. Do I really need to sand, wipe down and recoat if it looks great and the primer coats are similar colored?

    • Reply
      Jenny
      May 26, 2020 at 8:18 pm

      That’s a call on your part. If you feel comfortable with the coverage, then let it be. Especially if your primer is tinted.

  • Reply
    Ponthetta Mitchell
    June 5, 2020 at 11:46 am

    Hello, i have the Breakthrough VOC50 🙁 they said it was the 250 but after the mixed it, it was the VOC50. Anyway what are the issues with the VOC050 and what should i do to avoid it. The bottom cabinets have a urethane fortified acrylic (that’s chipping) & the top cabinets have chalk paint. What’s the best prep for each surface?

    • Reply
      Jenny
      June 24, 2020 at 9:02 pm

      The VOC50 was not tested with hand oils and becomes tacky and gummy over time where hands touch it. The best thing to do is to get some VOC 250 Breakthrough and paint over the 50. As for the prep – I would sand the bottom cabinets as best you can and remove the chipping paint as much as possible. You’ll want to use a good bonding primer before painting – STIX is a good waterborne option. As for the chalk painted cabinets – it depends on whether or not you have wax on them. If they’re waxed, that’s a problem, because you can’t put anything over the top of them for worry that the wax will cause adhesion problems. I’ve heard that you can get the wax off with mineral spirits. From there, I would sand and prime – probably with an oil based primer and then paint.

  • Reply
    Karen White
    June 11, 2020 at 7:29 am

    Will the BM Advance in white yellow over time?

    • Reply
      Jenny
      June 13, 2020 at 10:34 am

      Not to my knowledge or experience thus far.

  • Reply
    Cindy
    June 19, 2020 at 9:13 pm

    Jenny,
    I heard good things about Milesi 2k. But is this avail in a paint or is it just polyurethane top coat? I’m going to be painting all of my trim and doors off white. Tried BM advance, and not that thrilled with it and seem to be spending way too much time researching for a better option
    Thanks so much!
    Cindy

    • Reply
      Jenny
      June 24, 2020 at 8:52 pm

      It isn’t a poly top coat – it’s a two component product (thus the 2K name). Basically, you add a catalyst to the paint that gives it an extra level of hardness and durability. It’s not a product that can be purchased in your typical paint store – I order mine and have it shipped from a supplier. It’s some serious stuff – I gear up in a full face mask and paint suit when I use it.

  • Reply
    CINDY
    June 25, 2020 at 11:45 pm

    Thanks so much for the clarification! Appreciate it!!!

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