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Choosing The Best Finish For Kitchen Cabinets

By on Feb 13, 2017
Choosing The Best Finish For Kitchen Cabinets

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One of the largest decorative elements in your kitchen is your cabinetry. It can easily set the style of the room. If you’re considering replacing your kitchen cabinets or remodeling, you have a big decision to make ahead. One of them is the finish. After all, you must consider color, style, quality and durability.

There are endless options you can choose from. One of the best places to start when making this big decision is by identifying what might fit your kitchen best. Here are a few kitchen cabinet finish ideas and how you can incorporate them into your décor.

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Beautiful Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing Costs

Changing the look of your kitchen doesn’t mean you must change your cabinets completely. For some homeowners, refinishing cabinets can be a cheaper way to give them a new look without a remodel. Depending on how big of a change you’d like to make, this may be a DIY project you can complete yourself. The average cost to refinish cabinets is $2,434, with most homeowners spending between $1,835 and $2,808.

Stain Kitchen Cabinet Finish

Stain & Glaze Finish

If you love the look of the wood you’ve chosen for your cabinetry and want to show it off, staining might be a great option. Stain is designed to enhance the natural look of the wood. Stains range from one solid color that hide many imperfections of the wood to transparent stains that show most of its natural beauty. If you’re completely replacing your cabinets or just need a refresh on your current cabinets, stain is a great option that is sure to match any style.

Stain is not to be confused as a replacement to glaze however. Glaze highlights the unique features in the design of your cabinetry. Glaze is a coating that is used after stain or paint has been applied. They can be used together, but glaze is a transparent coating made to go over a base stain. This adds more depth to the look of the cabinets and will give a traditional look to your kitchen.

Painted Kitchen Cabinets

Paint & Glaze Finish

Installing new cabinets can be expensive, so some homeowners choose to simply update them with a coat of paint. Painting your kitchen cabinets is a project that most DIYers enjoy taking on. As you already know, there are many colors available, but it’s not as easy as simply applying a new coat of paint. The previous finish must be sanded off completely and cleaned. This may not be a simple DIY afternoon some are used to.

While a wide array of colors exist, step back and take a look at your existing décor and finish. While changing it to something bright and bold seems exciting, your new color could clash with the other finishes you have in the kitchen.

Similar to stain, you can also use glaze with paint to enhance the decorative features of your cabinetry. In the same way that you’d use a base coat of stain, use a base coat of paint. However, it will soften the look of the color.

Milk Paint Finish

A trendy paint option to get a vintage, distressed look is milk paint. If you’ve never heard of this paint type before, you may be surprised to learn that the main ingredient is in the name. Milk is used to act as a binder. This paint is a non-toxic and environmentally-friendly option for your kitchen cabinet remodel. It’s a budget-friendly option to give your cabinets a custom look.

White Kitchen Cabinet Finish

Polyester & Lacquer Finish

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As a cheap and quick way to update kitchen cabinets, polyester and lacquer finishes are a great choice. Lacquer has various options in finishes such as matte to high gloss. This is best applied with a sprayer to ensure coverage of the entire cabinet. However, it takes more maintenance than other cabinet finishes. If you’re worried about the wear of this finish, you may want to consider other long-lasting options.

Polyester is a similar option but more durable than lacquer. However, if you anticipate touch-ups or changes, this may not be the finish for you. The polyester finish you choose will likely be clear or slightly tinted and it may not completely change the look of your cabinets.

Varnish Finish

What was once a popular finish for natural wood cabinets is now being used less due to newer blends of materials. This can be used on the cabinets with or without paint. However, the varnish you choose can give a different look to whatever is underneath. If you’re refinishing your cabinets however, you may want to strip your cabinets and start over again. Read DIY Tips For How To Strip Paint From Wood for more details.

Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

If you’re changing the look of your kitchen cabinets, you may need to change out your cabinet hardware. This small detail can be another factor to consider when choosing what finish you like best. A lighter finish might require darker hardware, while a darker finish might look better with a metallic style. From round pulls to full handles, there are truly endless options when it comes to kitchen cabinet hardware. Luckily, changing these out is a simple DIY project that doesn’t take too long and should be the final touch to your new style.


Whether you like them or not, your cabinets are the focal point of the kitchen. Thankfully, you may not need an entire kitchen cabinet remodel to fall in love with them. Choosing a new finish can be a cost-effective way to update your kitchen.

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