We expect our kitchen cabinetry to take on a lot of responsibilities — securely store cookware and groceries, resist grease and oil buildup, and look great while they do it. Kitchens are a significant focal point in the home, and minor renovation projects in this room can have more than an 81% return on investment (ROI) on the resale market.
Part of successful kitchen renovations is choosing the best wood finish for kitchen cabinets. Wood cabinets, in particular, require specific coatings to achieve a particular style.
Whether you're applying a do-it-yourself finish or outsourcing to a professional, the finish you choose for your wood cabinets impacts their durability, required maintenance, opaqueness and color options. These are some common finish selections for today's homeowners:
The most attractive part of painting cabinetry is the limitless color selection. As long as you prime and prep the wood correctly, you can choose any paint color available to style your kitchen. Some colors are more opaque than others, but certain wood types have visible grains regardless of the paint you choose. Lighter paint colors, like pastels and bright neutrals, are harder to keep clean because of easily visible smudges and stains.
Paint is a great way to cover any imperfections with the wood, like discolorations or knotted grains. It also provides a smooth, uniform surface to pair with accessories, like decorative handles and fixtures.
Paint is available in multiple finishes:
You can also choose between varnish or polyurethane for kitchen cabinet protection. Polyurethane is a plastic-like topcoat that applies clear and offers ultimate durability against dirt and damage. Varnish is similar but adds a glossier film that gives it additional protection against high-moisture areas. Some varnish may yellow or discolor over time.
Unlike paint, a stain doesn't change or cover the wood's natural color. Instead, it enhances, highlights and gives it a protective layer. Stain is the best finish for kitchen cabinet doors if you want to preserve the wood's appearance — knots, grains, discolorations and all. Some stains add subtle coloring or darkening to wood, but never as opaque as paint. Stains protect the wood from moisture, pests, and scratches.
You can apply the stain by hand or with a sprayer. Wiping stain onto the surface gives it an antique, varied effect, perfect for rustic or farmhouse homes. Spraying offers a more uniform layer without variations.
Finish stained cabinets with a clear coat of paint or a polyurethane topcoat for extra protection or to change the final appearance and make it glossier or more matte.
Lacquer is hard and resilient, creating a nonporous, protective layer that makes cabinetry easy to wipe clean. It's available in multiple shine and gloss levels, similar to paint, but may yellow over time, like varnish. Lacquer is thick and has a noticeable sheen that many find to complement their kitchen style.
Shellac is similar to lacquer but is more common in older homes, as it's derived naturally from insects.
Unlike lacquer, the glaze is not a topcoat. Instead, you apply glaze to special cabinetry designs to give edges a raw look or add visual interest to skilled carvings or contours. While this add-on can cost more than other finish options, it's essential for any expensive woodwork you want to highlight.
Glaze is either standard or brushed on. Standard glaze is for crevices, doors and edges, while brushed gives a hand-applied texture for added depth and style.
Of course, you want the best coating for kitchen cabinets that looks great and helps you express your unique style, but different finishes have other applications.
Whether you're a seasoned home chef or favor the microwave, easy-to-clean cabinetry is essential for saving time and protecting your investment. The better condition you keep your furnishings in, the easier your home will be to resell in the future.
The simplest kitchen cabinets are easy to maintain with a soft wipe down and occasional scrub. This action keeps away unappetizing and unsightly buildup or discoloration from things like:
If easy maintenance is important to you, invest in a durable, thick topcoat, like a glaze or clear coat paint, that you can wipe clean with gentle cleansing agents and cleaning cloths.
Apartment and galley-style kitchens are notoriously cramped, but there are ways to open the space and make it seem larger than it is. Choose a finish that reflects the light, like a high-gloss or semi-gloss paint or glossy wood stain. Avoid matte finishes and darker colors, as these could make the room feel smaller. You can also hang some decorative mirrors on the wall and utilize windows and skylights to fill the room with natural light and reflective surfaces, which will help it feel airy and inviting.
Finishes can also assist you with achieving the opposite effect — enclosing a spacious kitchen so it feels homey and cozy instead of sterile or empty. Use darker colors, ornamental designs and matte finishes to bring the room together and encourage a feeling of warmth.
Durable cabinetry is a must, but it should also enhance your overall kitchen design. Use complementary or contrasting color schemes and stick with a similar decorative style, like industrial or shabby chic. It may help to look to your furniture and the rest of your home for inspiration.
Note the following features around your kitchen:
Consider working with an interior designer if you want help achieving a specific look or aesthetic for your kitchen and dining area.
If you're an avid home cook, a busy parent, or a weekend entertainer and holiday host, durability is critical. While natural wood offers a beautiful accent for your house, never leave bare wood exposed to kitchen moisture and debris, as it could warp or be vulnerable to mold and mildew.
Any finish is better than none, but coatings and glazes listed as protective or high-use might be the best fit if you need durability. Always follow finish instructions and avoid any cleaners or substances that could cause your wooden cabinets to break down or change color.
If you're renovating your house to fit your new style or are preparing to put it on the resale market, carefully consider which cabinetry and finish styles will best fit your goals. Note the following information:
Three of the most significant things to consider when choosing a cabinetry finish are how much maintenance you're prepared to keep up with, the design options you're considering and the type of wood your cabinets are made of.
Cabinets are fairly self-sustaining, but regular cleaning and maintenance keep them looking and performing their best. Consider the following:
Cabinets play an important role in kitchen storage and organization, but you can still ensure they match your home's overall style. Popular design options include:
Some design options require specific finishes. For example, thick woodworking and ornamental designs need glazing or lacquer to preserve and accent the shape.
Aiming to complement the type of wood your cabinets are made of is the most effective way to determine the kind of finish you should apply and what colors or styles might look best.
Popular cabinetry options include:
Once you've chosen the best wood finish for your kitchen cabinets, remember to consider all of these factors when choosing your care and maintenance supplies. Some cleaning agents won't pair well with specific wood types and could wear through the finish and alter the wood underneath.
At Cabinet Doors 'N' More, we ship all of our wood cabinet doors, drawer fronts, veneers and end panels without any finish, so they arrive in top shape, ready for your finish of choice. Cabinet doors and drawer fronts are available in a variety of natural hardwoods, including paint-grade hard maple, red oak, cherry and more.
Some may ship with white primer, depending on the type, and we can add a Rigid Thermofoil (RTF) coating for protective layering with some cabinet types. All wood cabinets are sanded down and ready for staining or clear coat protection. All RTF components already have the coating applied and cannot be stained or painted.
We ship all of our natural hardwood cabinets without any staining or painting so you can choose the perfect fit for your existing space or dream design. Visit your local home improvement store or another shop with finishes for help matching existing stains or paint colors — just remember to account for your chosen wood's natural variations and color changes over time.
Cabinet Doors 'N' More has the customizable cabinet doors you've been looking for. You can use our products for your kitchen, bathroom and other remodeling projects. Choose from popular styles, like raised and recessed paneling, and choose the wood type that best suits your lifestyle and design needs. For more information, feel free to contact us online today or call us at 844-915-1150.
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