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The 5 Best Finishes for Your Kitchen Cabinets

By Cabinets Direct USA  on  May 31, 2024
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What Finish is Best for Cabinets?

Cabinets can truly make or break the aesthetics and feel of your kitchen space. Picking out the best finish for your cabinets is completely dependent on your design preferences and the feel that you want your home to have. When designing your new cabinets or even just looking to update your current cabinets, there are so many different options to consider. These options can range from glazed cabinets, painted cabinets, stained cabinets, melamine, and different lacquer options. When it comes to different cabinet finishes, there is no right or wrong decision, whichever you prefer is the best option for your home! To help you narrow down your options, we’ve compiled a list of our top 5 cabinet finishes. 

1. Painted Cabinets

     If you want to truly personalize your cabinets, a painted finish might be the best option for you. By choosing from an array of colors and shades, you can tailor your kitchen cabinets to fit your favorite aesthetic. If you’re redesigning your whole kitchen space, painting your current cabinets is a great option- since you won’t need to center all of your new appliances around your old cabinet design. The paint options for cabinets come in a variety of different kinds, such as matte paint, semi-gloss paint, enamel paint, and satin paint. Each one will give your cabinets a different look and style. Painted cabinets often offer long-term durability and depending on your color choice, they may be able to hide any imperfections in the wood. Painted cabinets are far less expensive than a cabinet replacement, allowing you to spend your budget on better appliances or other areas of your home. With the color versatility, long-term durability, and budget-friendly price, you really can’t go wrong with a painted finish!

2. A Stain Finish

   A stain finish is a coat applied to the wood that will change the top layer of color or finish. Staining your cabinets is a great option if you still want the cabinets to have a wood-like appearance, rather than being painted over. Staining your cabinets will allow you to change light wood to rich, dark wood, or even change from a gray undertone to more of a brown undertone. If you decide to stain your cabinets, you’ll have a large selection of wood-tone shades to choose from. You can often pick stains that are meant to replicate different types of wood such as oak, maple, or hickory. Stain is most commonly applied to cabinets by rubbing it on by hand, which will give a unique and individualized look to every kitchen. Staining your cabinets is durable, budget-friendly, and easy to maintain.

3. Melamine

    Melamine cabinets are a common option for homeowners who still want that wood-like look but aren’t in favor of staining their cabinets. The melamine finish is achieved by using the heat-sealing thermally fused melamine resin (TFM) to a hard-wood substrate. Melamine can be applied to plywood, pressed wood, and medium-density fiberboard. If you’re looking into melamine cabinets, there are two kinds of TFM to consider- regular melamine and textured melamine. With regular melamine, the TFM has a paper layer that can be printed with any design, commonly different kinds of wood. Melamine is a very versatile choice since you can choose what you want to be printed onto the paper layer. Textured melamine offers a 3D look because the TFM will use a high-resolution image to give the cabinets a textured design to replicate real wood. Melamine is stain and water-resistant, as well as easy to clean.  A melamine finish is a great budget-friendly option that will give your cabinets a real-wood look.

4. Lacquer

  A lacquer finish on cabinets is definitely one of the more trendy or popular options in today’s kitchens. Lacquer is a solvent-based paint that can be applied by a brush or by spraying directly onto the cabinet. Lacquer creates a tight synthetic coating on your cabinets’ surface and is easy to apply through multiple layers (which adds to the lacquer’s lifetime). Since lacquer needs multiple layers to complete its design, lacquer is quick to dry. It only takes about 15 minutes, which makes this a very quick and easy upgrade for your cabinets! Lacquer cabinets are usually available in three different styles- matte, medium gloss, or high gloss. Lacquer is available in a wide variety of colors so that you can pick the style that best suits your kitchen.

5. Glazed Cabinets

      A glazed cabinet finish is a great way to add something on top of your cabinets to make them more interesting and intricate. A cabinet glaze is applied on top of an already painted or stained cabinet. A glazed finish is the perfect way to make your cabinets look rustic or antique. A glaze is especially fitting if you want to give your home that farmhouse style and design. Glazing can be done in different colors and styles, depending on what color you’re applying it to. If you’re not sure how you want your glaze to look, Top 5 Glazed Kitchen Cabinet Ideas shows an array of different options! A glaze can be an easy at-home DIY. To glaze your cabinets, you just apply a transparent or semi-transparent glaze to your cabinets, and then after letting it sit you wipe it away. If you choose to go the DIY route, follow this guide for more specific and detailed instructions, How to Glaze Your Cabinets.

Other Considerations

  When looking to add a new finish to your cabinets, there are multiple options and factors to take into consideration. Before deciding on or starting any home renovation projects, consider factors such as your budget, timeline of the project, labor costs, and lifestyle. Make sure that the finish you choose won’t require maintenance, touch-ups, or strenuous cleaning if you won’t be able to make time in your schedule. Consider all costs- whether you’re doing an at-home DIY or hiring a team, consider material costs, and weigh your options on how you prefer to spend your money. You could also consider other cabinet finishes such as laminates, natural, varnishes, acrylic, and more!

What Cabinet Finishes Are Easy to Clean?

     While many of the cabinet finishes are easy to maintain, some are easier to clean than others. Melamine-finished cabinets are easy to clean since they are both water and stain-resistant. Stained cabinets are also fairly easy to clean since they are not likely to fade, crack or peel with the use of a gentle cleaner and cloth. A lacquer finish is also an easy finish to clean since it’s durable and won’t flake off. When picking the right finish of cabinets for your home, it’s important to consider your lifestyle and the upkeep of your space. If you clean often or have more time to dedicate towards cleaning, the ease of cleaning may not be of huge importance, but if you’re someone who is busy and always on the go, you may want to pick one of the options above since cleaning will be a breeze. 

How Do You Pick The Right Finish for Your Kitchen Cabinets

Picking out the right finish for your kitchen cabinets can be tricky. With so many different types of finishes, color options, and other factors it may be hard to choose which you think is best. First, consider your budget. If you’re working with a smaller budget, eliminate more expensive options first and focus on the options of finishes that are more budget-friendly. Once you have the options that fit your price range, you truly can’t go wrong! There is no “right” option when choosing a finish for your cabinets. Whichever style you like best will be a perfect upgrade to your cabinets.

Which Cabinet Finishes are Most Durable?

      If durability is a dealbreaker when making your decision, it’s best to move melamine and glazed cabinets to the top of your list. Melamine and glazed cabinets offer great longevity and durability. Other options that offer adequate durability are painted and stained cabinets. If taken care of correctly, these finishes can last many years. These options also don’t require any touching-ups or repairs to the finishing.

Which Cabinet Finish Is the Best?

   For 2024, we are really loving the looks of melamine, lacquer, and unique painted finishes. The look of melamine offers a wood-like finish on a budget. With the right hardware, melamine can portray a very expensive design, giving your kitchen cabinets the perfect upgrade. Lacquer finishes are a very modern finish and are very common this year. The shiny finish of the lacquer cabinets keeps them looking new and makes them very easy to clean. While painted cabinets are not as trendy this year, we love the look of unique or bold paint colors. If you’re considering a painted finish, think about bold colors like dark green or rich, deep blue. This style keeps your kitchen unique, personalized, and adds a beautiful pop-of-color! These finishes are our personal favorites, but you’ll know which fits your kitchen and style preferences best!

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