December 30, 2021 1 Comment

THE 4 MOST POPULAR TYPES OF WOOD CABINET FINISHES

Whether you're a homeowner embarking on renovations or a contractor working on a house, you'll need to determine how to finish the cabinets throughout the home. You may envision a vibrant space with cabinets with colors that accentuate a stylish modern interior. Or you may have in mind a country-chic home with natural cabinets to complement exposed timbers and rustic decor. 

No matter what style you're aiming for, you'll want a finish that enhances the look of your cabinets, provides protection and helps pull your interior space together. 

Choosing from the many classic and modern cabinet finishes on the market can seem daunting when you begin. Use the information below to learn more about the available options and guide your selection of the perfect finishing touches for your new cabinets.

WHY FINISHING CABINETS IS IMPORTANT

WHY FINISHING CABINETS IS IMPORTANT

You want the fixtures in your rooms to make a sparkling first impression. Having the proper finish on your cabinets helps, and it has several other benefits, as well. Here are several reasons to take the time to choose and apply the right finish:

  • Visual appeal:Finishing your cabinets gives them an attractive, polished appearance. The proper paint or stain can help your cabinets catch the eye, or it can enable them to blend harmoniously into your home's overall design. Either way, it gives them the color or shine they need to look their best.
  • A reflection of personal style: Plain, unfinished wood says little about the character of the home. The right finish helps you add a touch of personality. You can add a finish such as glazing, glossing or antiquing, for instance, to give your cabinets a unique style and flair. 
  • Durability: The correct finish provides a dependable protective coating that helps seal out moisture. It helps your cabinets stand up to regular use and withstand environmental contaminants like dirt and debris. 
  • Longevity:A finished cabinet has a much longer lifespan than an unfinished cabinet. Because it has extra protection, you can depend on it to last for years while retaining its like-new appearance and protection.
  • Reduced repairs and replacements:Because finished cabinets are more durable and long-lasting, they require minimal maintenance, and they'll give you more years of use before you need to replace them. You'll reduce the amount of work you have to do to keep them looking good and functioning at their best.
  • Lower upkeep costs:Finishing your cabinets helps you reduce your upkeep and maintenance expenses over the long term. You'll minimize repair and replacement costs and can use the money you save for other projects.
  • Increased home value:At some point, the home you own or build will probably go up for resale. The house will command a higher price if someone has attended to the interior details. Extra touches like finished cabinets can catch a buyer's eye and make that person more likely to make a higher offer.

4 POPULAR TYPES OF WOOD CABINET FINISHES

4 POPULAR TYPES OF WOOD CABINET FINISHES

Fortunately, several different finishes are in style because of their visual appeal and long-lasting protection. Below are a few popular cabinet finishes you can choose from:

1. PAINTS

Paints provide an attractive way to finish and seal your cabinets while giving them an eye-catching appearance. Paints differ from varnishes, stains and other finishes in a couple of distinctive ways:

  • Coverage:Most other finishes allow the wood's natural grain to peek through. If your project calls for a more natural or rustic feel, paint may not be the ideal fit. However, in many contexts, paint is an ideal choice. Its opacity offers more comprehensive coverage, so you can add vibrancy and protection to your cabinets and help them stand out more distinctly.
  • Range of colors and styles:With other finishes, such as stains and varnishes, you won't be able to stray too far from the wood's natural hue. You can darken the wood and add some shine to it, but you'll still end up with natural-looking colors. Paints, on the other hand, offer limitless opportunities for experimentation. You can choose bold, vibrant colors for your cabinets to make the room seem to sing with pizzazz. Or you can choose muted tones for a more understated effect — white or gray for the bathroom cabinets, for instance. 

As you choose a cabinet paint color, consider the effect it will have on the room overall. When you're considering kitchen trends to incorporate and avoid, dark-hued paints may be out if you have a tiny galley kitchen — they can make the room look even smaller than it is. In that case, choose white or light colors to give the illusion of more space. The National Association of Home Builders reports that 32% of homebuyers want white cabinets for their kitchens, while 26% want traditional medium brown cabinets.

PAINTS

Color aside, you can help your wood cabinets stand out by choosing from a range of different paint styles and extra finishes, as well. After painting, you might decide to add a pearlescent finish or glaze for extra shine. Or you might opt to distress your painted cabinets to create a rustic, old-timey feeling. You might choose a high-gloss finish for enhanced luster, a satin finish for sleek warmth and coziness or a matte finish for a modern, subtle look.

2. STAINS

Stains offer a beautiful and understated way to put a finishing gloss on your new wood cabinets. They enhance the innate charm of the wood, giving it a protective coat and an appealing shine. Here are several of the options you can choose from:

  • Oil finishes:Oils are some of the oldest wood finishes. Their primary advantage is that they seep deep into the wood to provide strength and durability from within. They also give a rich luster to many kinds of wood. Oils are typically blended with resin and solvents and dry relatively quickly, so they are fast and easy to apply. Unlike some other finishes, they will not leave a thick coating on the wood, so they allow the natural aesthetic of your wood cabinets to remain front and center. 
  • Oil-and-varnish blends:Some finishes blend oil and varnish to create a simple finish that combines oil's deep penetration into the wood with varnish's bright luster and enhanced protection. They are relatively simple to apply and offer both durability and visual appeal.
  • Water-based products:Recently, water-based finishes have come onto the market, boasting of their quick and easy application and cleanup times. While these benefits are genuine, water-based products are tricky to get good value from. Their strength and durability are limited, and they don't tend to provide the same visual appeal you will find in other products.
  • Tinted stains: Tinted stains enhance the natural look of wood cabinets. They enable you to add polish and color to your cabinets without using paints that cover the natural elegance of the wood grain. They are ideal for projects where time is a pressing consideration but you would still like to enhance your wood cabinets with a little extra color. 

3. A TOP COAT

To give your cabinets some extra sleekness and shine, you might also choose to apply a top coat like one of these:

  • Varnish:Usually, varnish includes a combination of oil and resin. It is often applied as the final clear coating after the layers of paint or stain on a cabinet are complete. It gives your wood cabinets durable protection while providing sleekness and shine to help you show them off.
  • Polyurethane:Polyurethane is very similar to varnish. It is often a clear coat applied after staining, though it can also serve as the primary finish on wood cabinets. It is popular as a finish because it creates a hard, resilient coating, so it can help your cabinets last longer without accumulating nicks and scratches. It is also relatively easy to apply. The one potential downside to polyurethane as a finish is that it can leave the cabinets with a coating like thick plastic, so some homeowners may prefer subtler options.
  • Lacquer:Lacquer is popular for use on cabinets and commercial furniture. It usually has an opaque, tinted appearance, and it dries relatively fast, so it's convenient and efficient to use. Because it dries so fast, it almost always requires a pressure sprayer rather than brushing by hand. For best results, it also requires many very thin layers. It adds a beautiful, rich luster, though it can sometimes begin to yellow over time, so it is ideal for darker rather than light-colored wood cabinets.
  • Shellac:Shellac is common on woodwork in older homes. It's also an excellent finish for wood cabinets. You can apply it easily without the need for many thin coatings. It's not as hard as polyurethane or lacquer, so it may not provide the same level of durability. Shellac is an ideal choice for cabinets, though, since they tend not to see the same level of use floors and stairways do. Shellac will not yellow with age, and it's easy to touch up if it sustains scuffs.

4. THERMOFOIL

Thermofoil is a special type of vinyl laminate that gets heated and then vacuum-pressed onto cabinet drawers and door fronts. It comes in an extensive range of colors and textures. You may not be able to apply thermofoil to your cabinets yourself, but you can request it from your supplier to give your cabinets exactly the look you're envisioning without the mess and extra work of paints or stains. 

The nonporous surface of thermofoil finishing means the cabinets will require little maintenance, making it ideal for use in high-traffic areas.

Some thermofoil even has the look of natural, stained wood grain for use in applications that call for a more rustic or understated look. The medium-density fiberboard (MDF) of thermofoil isn't likely to bend or warp, so it is an excellent choice for durability, especially for larger cabinets. Thermofoil usually comes in white or gray, however, so you won't have the extensive color palette you gain with paints.

HOW TO PICK THE RIGHT FINISH FOR YOUR CABINETS

Because the various types of paints, stains, varnishes and other finishes are so different, knowing how to select the best finish for your wood cabinets is essential. The right finish will give your cabinets the protection and polish you need while enabling you to meet your deadlines and budgetary goals.

Below are a few tips for choosing the right finish for your cabinets:

1. COMPLEMENT YOUR EXISTING AESTHETIC

Ideally, the finish you choose will complement and blend with the overall appearance of the room or building. If the general ambiance is more muted and traditional, or if you are striving for a more rugged, rustic look, consider a natural-looking stain that will blend in while adding a sophisticated shine. On the other hand, for a more modern look or a pop of vibrant color, consider brighter paints that will help your cabinets stand out. 

COMPLEMENT YOUR EXISTING AESTHETIC

2. ASSESS COLOR AND FINISH OPTIONS

Remember that paints come in a much wider variety of colors than stains do. If you prefer a more natural look, this consideration may not be a high priority. If you would like an extended palette to pick and choose from and are seeking a bolder, more dramatic look, paints may be your best bet. Paints also come in many more sheens and finishes than stains generally do.

3. CONSIDER YOUR CLIMATE

Climatic conditions are often a concern when you're determining the best way to protect your cabinets. In locations with high humidity, your cabinets will generally take longer to dry. Cold weather also extends your drying times. On the other hand, excessive heat can sometimes damage cabinet finishes. If your cabinets will face hot temperatures, try looking for a paint or stain that can resist high heat. 

If you cannot climate-control your workspace or find a way to keep air moving through it, try to choose a faster-drying paint or stain to compensate for the conditions. 

CONSIDER YOUR CLIMATE

4. PRIORITIZE FEATURES AND ADVANTAGES

In general, stains are more durable as finishes than paints are. Over time, paint can start to chip, peel, crack or flake, whereas stains will maintain their glossy shine. If your main priority is dependability and longevity, especially in a harsh climate, you may want to choose a stain over a paint. On the other hand, if your main priority is a vibrant aesthetic appeal, you may look to paints to provide an array of attractive color options.

5. WEIGH OPTIONS FOR VERSATILITY

In general, stains are more permanent than paints. Once you have stained a wood cabinet, you cannot easily remove the stain and try another option. With paints, however, you can sand and repaint your cabinets for an updated look. If that versatility is important to you, paints are likely the best option for your cabinet project.

6. CONSIDER SHOWING OFF THE NATURAL WOOD GRAIN

Especially if you have chosen high-quality wood for your cabinets, you may like the idea of showing off the natural grain of the wood. In that case, you will likely want to choose a stain or clear coating rather than paint. Paints tend to obscure the wood grain entirely. With a stain or clear coating, you'll get a thin or transparent finish that allows the wood's natural beauty to shine through.

7. EVALUATE EASE OF APPLICATION

If you choose a paint finish, you will likely need to prime the cabinet surface and then apply your paint coats, allowing each coat to dry before the next application. Stains do not require primers, so sometimes, if you are using very little stain, you can apply stain coatings more easily. More often, though, you will need to apply many more stain coatings than you would for paint. Stain is much thinner than paint, so you will need to use several coats before you see the same results you could achieve with only a few coats of paint. 

EVALUATE EASE OF APPLICATION

8. ACCOUNT FOR DRYING TIME

Painted cabinets take a long time to dry and cure. They may require a couple of weeks of drying time and a couple more weeks to cure completely. Stained cabinets, on the other hand, usually dry within a couple of days. Then you can add a clear coat, which will also dry relatively quickly. If time is of the essence, a fast-drying stain may be the best choice. Or, you can skip the drying time altogether and opt for thermofoil cabinet doors that arrive in the color you want.

9. ACCOUNT FOR WOOD ABSORBENCY

One factor that affects how much stain you use is how porous and absorbent your cabinets are. More absorbent wood may soak up coat after coat of stain before you achieve your desired results. In that case, paint may be a more efficient option — you'll be able to apply a primer then a few coats and move on to other things.

10. SET YOUR BUDGET

Paints and stains both vary in price. In general, though, paints tend to be more expensive. If you need to complete a finishing project within a tight budget, stains may be your best option. If you have a roomier budget, you may be able to try different paints for your cabinets.

SET YOUR BUDGET

11. CHOOSE THE RIGHT BRUSH

Once you've chosen the best finish for your cabinets, remember to select the correct brush, as well. For instance, you might decide on natural bristles for certain projects and synthetic bristles for others. 

In general, natural bristles — those made from organic materials like badger, oxen or pig hair — are often ideal for oil-based finishes. Their bristles are relatively fine, so they can hold more finish to create a smooth, even coating. On the other hand, synthetic bristles, often made from materials such as nylon or polyester, are ideal for water-based finishes. Water-based products can denature natural bristles, causing them to soften and weaken. Synthetic bristles keep their shape better, so they give your cabinets a consistently high-quality coating.

QUALITY WOOD CABINET DOORS AND DRAWERS FROM CABINET DOORS 'N' MORE

When you need cabinet doors for a new home or cabinet replacement project, make Cabinet Drawers 'N' More your trusted source.

We offer a wide selection of cabinet door styles and drawer fronts. We also carry wood cabinet accessories like door hinges, drawer glides, shelving, 3D laminate, veneers and end panels, so you can turn to us for help with all the details of a DIY cabinet project.

When you receive cabinet doors from us, they come unpainted and unstained. You can then match your new cabinet doors perfectly with your existing cabinet finish. We also offer an option to add white primer to your new cabinet doors so you can get started on painting them right away.

Contact us today to discuss our wood cabinet doors, drawer fronts, drawer boxes or accessories. Or check out our blog to learn more.

QUALITY WOOD CABINET DOORS AND DRAWERS FROM CABINET DOORS 'N' MORE


1 Response

Lad Hudec
Lad Hudec

May 26, 2022

I am looking to get into cabinet finishing for my business, this article has some great tips and I will definetely be referring to it again!

Thanks and all the best,

Lad H
https://cutritewoodworking.com/

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