Types of Kitchen Cabinet Finishes

Types of Kitchen Cabinet Finishes
Beau Ueland

Many decisions need to be made when you’re installing or refurbishing your cabinetry. One of the decisions that’s easy to overlook is the finish you’ll use for the cabinets. While seemingly small, this decision can play a huge part in determining the final visual result of all of your hard work. Here is a wood finish guide that goes through five types of kitchen cabinet finishes and the pros and cons of each.


The first type of finish for your kitchen cabinetry worth knowing about is the natural look. This is a style that keeps things simple and doesn’t alter the wood’s appearance. Instead, there’s a clear protective layer applied over the wood that’ll showcase its raw look. This keeps the wood’s natural beauty visible while allowing it to be protected. One important thing to remember about natural finishes is that some woods last longer than others, so keep this in mind when choosing the materials for the project.

A huge reason to choose a natural kitchen cabinet finishing is that it can bring out all the colors that naturally occur within whatever wood you’ve selected. This opens many decorating opportunities such as cabinet hardware, backsplash design, and lighting options that’ll add to the appeal of your kitchen. However, this positive can also be a negative depending on the color options. Natural wood has a lack of uniformity, making it challenging to coordinate a cohesive design plan for those lacking the proper experience.


On the complete opposite side of the cabinet finish scale is painted cabinetry. Unlike a natural finish that’s as basic as can be, a painted finish hides all the imperfections found in the grain. It’s possible to paint a flat surface to hide it, although certain paint colors can boost the look of the grain, bringing it into focus and drawing the eye.

The biggest benefit of painting cabinets is the control it offers over every other decision you make in your kitchen. Instead of designing the rest of the kitchen around your cabinets, you can design the cabinets around the rest of your kitchen. This makes things, such as remodeling or buying new appliances, much easier. On the negative side, painted cabinets are more likely to chip and show signs of wear, especially where they’re frequently used. This can result in having to repaint or replace cabinets more frequently than is preferable.


Staining a cabinet is a lot like staining a deck—and it’s done for many of the same reasons. The first is to enhance and protect the color of the wood that the cabinet is constructed from. Another is to protect the cabinet while changing the color of the wood. Staining can also be done to protect the cabinet from the damage inflicted by everyday use.

One of the benefits of stained cabinetry is each piece looks unique. Different parts of the wood soak up the paint in unique ways, giving an individualized appearance to each surface. The biggest drawback of staining wood is the lack of color options. Professional wood stains enhance the wood’s natural beauty; adding color would be distracting and counterintuitive.


Glazing is a process used to highlight the profile edges of the cabinetry, including any exposed surface. Glazing a piece gives it an antique appearance that adds depth and complexity to any cabinetry. This style of finish is best used when the designer is going for a rustic appearance.

The biggest pro of glazed finish is the added depth and the interest this creates. The eyes are drawn to it due to the complexities, but not so much to distract from the rest of the cabinets. The drawback to glazing, however, is the price tag. Glazing requires additional work, which raises the costs for everyone involved.


Another finish style to consider is laminate. Laminate is a popular option because it comes in a wide variety of styles and colors. It’s especially easy to clean compared to wooden doors. Finally, Formica laminate sheets are incredibly good at concealing dents and imperfections, helping to hide the signs of use that plague other cabinet finishes.

A big perk of laminate finishes is how they’re practically life-proof. They mask the abuses of everyday use and have enough styles anybody can find the right one for their kitchen. The downside is that laminate does have a shorter lifespan than wood finishes. They’re also susceptible to showing the damage of heat and certain stains, depending upon the color, and are difficult to repair under certain circumstances.


The last of the five different types of kitchen cabinet finishes is to apply a coat of lacquer to the cabinets. After the lacquer coat dries, the cabinets will have a hard, non-porous surface resistant to stains and grease. This resistance makes your cabinetry easier to clean. On the appearance front, the lacquer coat gives your cabinetry a long-lasting sheen on all of the surfaces.

The biggest pro of using a lacquer coat is that they’re very easy to clean. The surfaces are easy to wipe and will hold their shine long into the future. The biggest con is that the lacquering process has to be done offsite, adding time and cost to your cabinetry project. It can also start to yellow over time.

There are many different types of cabinet finishes, making it hard to navigate them all. At Pro Cabinet Supply, we have all the materials you need to turn your next kitchen cabinetry renovation project into a huge success.

Kitchen Cabinet Finishes

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