Come and visit us at our new showroom: 1226 N Roselle Road Schaumburg, IL 60195

Kitchen Cabinet Finishing

Kitchen Cabinet Finishing

Kitchen cabinet finishing involves applying a surface treatment to the cabinets to enhance their appearance and protect the wood from damage. Finishing your kitchen cabinets transforms the look of your kitchen, providing a fresh, updated appearance that matches your personal style. A proper finish protects the wood from moisture, stains, and daily wear and tear, ensuring your cabinets remain beautiful and durable for years to come.

Types of Kitchen Cabinet Finishes

There are several types of finishes available for kitchen cabinets, each offering unique aesthetic and protective qualities:

Paint: Paint provides a solid color finish and is available in various shades. It is ideal for achieving a clean, modern look. It hides wood grain, making it perfect for cabinets made from less expensive wood.

Stain: Stain enhances the natural beauty of the wood by allowing the grain to show through. It comes in various shades, from light to dark, and are ideal for those who want to maintain a natural wood look.

Lacquer: Lacquer offers a durable, glossy finish that enhances the wood’s natural beauty. It dries quickly and provides a hard, protective coating that is resistant to moisture and heat.

Varnish: Varnish provides a clear, protective finish that enhances the wood’s natural color and grain. It is available in various sheens, from matte to glossy, and offers excellent protection against moisture and wear.

Step-by-Step Guide to Applying Finishes


  • Remove all hardware (handles, knobs, hinges) from the cabinets.
  • Clean the surface with a mild detergent to remove grease and dirt.
  • Sand the cabinets lightly with fine-grit sandpaper to create a smooth surface and remove any existing finish.

Priming (for paint finishes):

  • Apply a primer to the cabinets to ensure better adhesion of the paint.
  • Let the primer dry completely before sanding it lightly with a fine-grit sandpaper.

Applying the Finish:

  • Paint: Apply the first coat of paint using a brush or roller, ensuring even coverage. Let it dry completely before applying a second coat.
  • Stain: Apply the stain with a cloth or brush, following the direction of the wood grain. Wipe off any excess stains with a clean cloth. Apply additional coats if a darker color is desired, allowing each coat to dry completely.
  • Lacquer: Apply lacquer with a spray gun for an even finish. Allow each coat to dry before applying the next. Sand lightly between coats if needed.
  • Varnish: Apply varnish with a brush, following the wood grain. Allow each coat to dry completely before applying additional coats. Sand lightly between coats for a smooth finish.

Finishing Touches:

After the final coat has dried, reattach the hardware.
Inspect the cabinets for any touch-ups needed and apply additional finish as necessary.

Material Considerations

Different materials respond differently to various finishes:

  • Solid Wood: Works well with all types of finishes. Stains and varnishes are particularly effective in enhancing the natural grain.
  • MDF (Medium-Density Fiberboard): Best suited for paint, as it lacks the natural grain of wood.
  • Plywood: Can be stained or painted, but edges may require extra attention to ensure a smooth finish.
  • Laminate: Usually not suitable for staining or varnishing but can be painted with the right preparation and primer.

Benefits of Proper Kitchen Cabinet Finishing

  • Aesthetic Appeal: A well-applied finish enhances the beauty of your cabinets, whether by adding color or highlighting the natural grain.
  • Protection: Finishes protect the wood from moisture, stains, and everyday wear, extending the life of your cabinets.
  • Ease of Cleaning: Finished cabinets are easier to clean and maintain, as the finish provides a smooth, sealed surface.

Benefits of Kitchen Cabinet Finishing

Care and Maintenance

  • Regular Cleaning: Wipe down finished cabinets with a soft cloth and mild detergent to remove grease and dirt.
  • Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Use gentle cleaning products to avoid damaging the finish.
  • Touch-Ups: Address any chips or scratches promptly by sanding the area lightly and applying a matching finish.
  • Humidity Control: Maintain consistent humidity levels in your kitchen to prevent wood expansion and contraction that can damage the finish.


Finishing your kitchen cabinets is a vital step in enhancing both the aesthetics and durability of your kitchen. Whether you choose paint, stain, lacquer, or varnish, each finish offers unique benefits that transform the look of your space and protect your cabinets from daily wear and tear. By following the detailed steps for application and considering the best materials for your needs, you can achieve a professional and lasting finish. Regular maintenance will ensure your cabinets remain beautiful and functional for years to come. Investing time and effort in proper cabinet finishing pays off with a stunning kitchen that continues to impress.