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Helpful Hints on Cabinet Finishes

21 December 2018

When it comes to your kitchen cabinets, it’s essential to choose the best finish to put in your home.  The five most common finishes are natural, stains, glazes, veneers, and paints. Regardless of the finish that is used, most cabinet manufacturers use a baking process so that the end result is strong and durable.  Designating the most fitting finish for your kitchen allows the heart of your home to be personalized and polished.  Here’s what you need to know.

Natural

A natural finish seals and protects the wood without using stains or dyes.  This is accomplished through a clear or opaque finish. Clear finishes include lacquer, shellac, varnish, oils and polyurethane. Applying a clear finish allows for the natural grains, markings and color of the wood to show through. An opaque finish uses a combination of paint and lacquers.  These are sometimes used to make two different pieces of wood look similar by changing the color of the wood. Lacquer is also used as a finish and must be pre-catalyzed or acrylic-based in order to protect the wood from moisture. Premium cabinets use a minimum of three coats of lacquer that is sprayed on, sanded between each coat with the final coat being wet sanded, and compounded with wax to get a clear, glowing finish. Varnish offers a similar finish but is more enduring than a lacquer, neither being stronger than using a polyurethane finish.

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Stains

Stains are used to enhance or change the appearance of the wood. Using a stain alone doesn’t provide protection, though. Manufacturers add a UV protectant to prevent sun fading and apply a sealer in addition to preserve the wood.

Glazes

Glaze finishes are a transparent, colored material that changes or amplify the color of the cabinet. They are also used to give the appearance of age of a more heavily grained wood and add character and depth to a wood surface. To give it a special look, glazes are applied by hand ensuring the uniqueness of your cabinet.

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Veneers

A veneer is a thin piece of wood glued to another piece of wood or plywood, usually about .5 mm. Veneers can be painted or stained and are used to provide stability in damp areas. Usually rare, exotic woods are used as veneers because of the uncommonness and cost of the species.  Veneers are often used on the sides of cabinets. If they are sealed properly, they should last a lifetime. Poor sealing will lead to chips and damage as moisture enters the particleboard causing the piece to swell and fail.

Paint

Paint offers an unlimited amount of color choices, compared to wood where you’re confined to browns and stains. Latex paint needs to have a clear, protective topcoat to maintain the look. Lacquer paint is stronger than latex, manufacturers use two coats of paint and a clear coat of lacquer to attain a clean smooth finish.

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