What Are The Different Types of Cabinet Finishes? 

Written by: 
Gary Thorton

Types of Cabinet Finishes

Here are the top six cabinet finishes to choose from. If you need additional help selecting the best option for your cabinets, don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance.

1. Natural Finish

The most simple cabinet finish you can opt for is to leave your cabinets unfinished. This will showcase the raw and grainy textures, uneven coloring, and overall beauty of the wood. While full of rustic charm, natural cabinets still have a polished look about them. To help with the durability of your cabinets, it’s a good idea to apply a clear coat of sealant, which will help preserve the wood while still allowing its natural appearance to shine though.

Natural Finish Pros

  • Natural-finished cabinets are fairly easy to pair with any style.
  • They are typically more cost-effective than other types of cabinet finishes.
  • It is easy to refinish or resurface these cabinets.
  • The unique naturally occurring patterns in the wood will make your cabinets one of a kind.

Natural Finish Cons

  • Natural wood finishes are more susceptible to damage and discoloration.
  • It can be harder to clean without damaging the surface.

2. Stain Finish

If the appearance of a natural finish isn’t for you, but you’d still like to embrace the look and texture of wood grain, consider a stain finish instead. Stain doesn’t hide the grain but rather soaks into the wood, enhancing its beauty – this means your finish won’t crack or peel the way painted cabinets can. Additionally, there are many stain finishes to choose from, each giving your cabinets a different appearance.

Stain Finish PROS

  • This type of wood cabinet finish is affordable, durable, and easy to maintain.
  • If your stained cabinets show any signs of damage or chips, you can easily touch them up using the original stain or a stain pen (found at hardware stores).
  • Stain typically doesn’t fade, making it easier to clean.

Stain Finish CONS

  • Stains can make surface blemishes more visible.
  • They require periodic upkeep to maintain their appearance.
  • Stain will not apply well to MDF cabinets.

3. Paint Finish

Thanks to the broad range of colors available, painted cabinets are an extremely versatile finish option. Painting over wood can also help hide any imperfections, giving your cabinets a cleaner, more uniform look. 

Paint Finish PROS

  • Painted cabinets can be customized, making it easy to match and/or create the precise aesthetic you are after.
  • When applied by professionals, the paint finish is long-lasting, attractive, and personalized.

Paint Finish CONS

  • Some paint can crack or chip off after enough time.
  • It can also show scratches more easily.
  • Matte paint finishes can be difficult to clean.

4. Glaze Finish

Regardless of whether you’ve stained or painted your cabinets, adding a glaze will work to create a more rustic and antique look overall. The glaze application will result in highlighted details on the cabinet – particular if there are any intricate carvings or designs. Glazes come in both dark and light colors, which are typically matched to the hue of your cabinets (dark over dark and light over light).

Glaze Finish PROS

  • A glaze finish can enhance your paint or stain.
  • It will protect the cabinet finish.
  • Glaze can add more depth and complexity to your cabinets.

Glaze Finish CONS

  • The cost of glaze increases the overall cost of the cabinet finish.
  • It can be difficult to repair or refinish.
  • Glaze finishes are difficult to do yourself.

5. Laminate Finish

Laminate cabinets are made from layers of synthetic materials that are bonded together and covered in a thin, durable plastic laminated layer. They come in a range of colors and patterns and can even be manufactured to mimic wood. It is possible to find laminate cabinets in both the low and high price points, depending on the finish.

Laminate Finish PROS

  • Laminate can be enhanced with scratch-resistant, water-resistant, and chemical-resistance properties.
  • It is easy to maintain.
  • Laminate cabinets are durable and cost-effective.

Laminate Finish CONS

  • The glue within the cabinet may break down over time, causing the laminate to pull away from the edges.
  • Once damaged, laminate is nearly impossible to repair.
  • It can be heavy and difficult to install.

6. Veneer Finish

Veneers are similar to laminates, except they are made by applying a layer of real wood to a plywood or particle board base. This design allows for the wood’s natural beauty and texture to shine through. There are a range of veneer finishes to choose from.

Veneer Finish PROS

  • Veneer finish is more natural-looking than laminate because it’s made from real wood.
  • It offers the look of natural wood without the cost.
  • It offers a sophisticated and elegant look

Veneer Finish CONS

  • More care is required when handling veneer cabinets.
  • They require regular maintenance to preserve their appearance.
  • They need care to prevent moisture damage.

7. Additional Finishes 

Though not as popular as what’s the above, there are a few more options to choose from when it comes to finishes.

Melamine: A durable and versatile finish made by heat-sealing thermally fused resin to composite wood. It is affordable, durable, and comes in a variety of colors but is extremely heavy and prone to chipping.

Lacquer: A solvent-based paint (available in many different colors) that creates a rigid synthetic coating that requires multiple layers for a good finish. It is durable and easy to clean but susceptible to stains, scratches, and dents.

Acrylic: Offers a high-gloss finish in a variety of colors. It is durable but has a plastic-looking appearance that requires more frequent cleaning. 

Which Finish Should You Choose?

The finish you select will impact the overall look and feel of your cabinets. You will need to consider what level of durability and maintenance you’re looking for, which colors or aesthetics will work best for your space, and which pricepoint best suits your budget. No matter what your choice, Classic Cabinetry is here to help you through the entire process from start to finish. 

Contact Classic Cabinetry 

At Classic Cabinetry, we will build the exact custom cabinetry solutions required to fit your vision while making the entire process feel simple and hassle-free. We use only the finest woods, hardware, and finishes to create durable and beautiful cabinetry.

Contact us today at (256) 423-8727 to request a free quote and allow our team of experts to create cabinets that are tailored to your specific needs. From start to finish, we’ve got you covered.


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