Functional Finishes

So you've decided to upgrade your cabinetry and invest in the aesthetics and functionality of your kitchen or bathroom. You understand that these two rooms are by far the most value-adding aspects of your home and you're ready to take the leap into remodeling. There are so many options when it comes to cabinetry finishes and understanding some of the basic choices available to you is imperative before you make that leap.

Why Wood Works:

Wood cabinets are by far the leading consumer product in the cabinetry industry, and with good reason. Not only are wood cabinets timeless and classic, if properly maintained they will last for years and years. In fact, if you are considering updating your current wood cabinets right now, it's probably because you feel that their style is outdated and not because they are falling apart. Wood cabinetry can last a lifetime if properly cared for.

And it's precisely because you are trying to improve the aesthetic appeal of your cabinetry that it is so important for you to understand the options available to you in terms of cabinetry finishes. The finish that you ultimately choose for your cabinetry is likely to leave much more of an impression on you and others than the actual design or layout of the cabinetry will. Certain types of cabinet doors certainly will help your kitchen or bathroom develop a style all its own. But the finish that you place on that cabinet door acts as the cherry on top. Women understand that it's often the shoe that makes the outfit. You can think of your cabinet finish in that same way. Without the right finish, the project just isn't complete.

Why Finish Matters:

Simply from an upkeep standpoint, unfinished natural wood cabinets are a thing of the past. Talk about ruining your investment quick. The cabinet industry will always add a topcoat to your unfinished cabinets to help protect them from the grease, oil, and dirt that naturally accumulates on the surfaces of your home. This topcoat essentially serves to help maintain the durability of your investment, but it also helps to polish off its aesthetic appeal. Fortunately for you there are varying options in this topcoat that are designed to meet your tastes and your budget.


Staining your wood cabinets is a wonderful way to add some pop and color to your unfinished wood without hiding the natural beauty of wood grain. However, it's important to note that manufacturers often replicate stain color names. Don't trust the color name, when you begin looking at stain colors in the store. The same color under one manufacturer won't necessarily match the color that you fell in love with under a different manufacturer, even if they have the same name. The best way to approach this is probably to select the wood that you prefer and then build on a final look from there. Once you know the color of your wood, you'll be able to better gauge what a lighter or darker stain will look like on that wood. Though keep in mind that just because you love a dark cherry stain doesn't mean that you can't achieve that color on an oak or poplar wood surface- materials that cost approximately half the amount of cherry wood. 

Also be aware that while staining is a beautiful way to finish off the look of your cabinetry, the stain won't act as a protective shield to your wood surfaces. In order to provide yourself with some protection, you'll need a final coat on top of the stain that you select. The degree of shine that your cabinets maintain is also something completely within your control. With so many options in finishing coats, you can choose a high gloss cabinet finish, something closer to a matte finish, or anything in between. The lacquer is then applied as a protective and durable finish that's sure to withstand long-term use.


But your creativity doesn't have to stop with the stain color choice. Once you've applied your top coat, glazing becomes another available option for your cabinetry. Glazes can be used after an initial light base stain or on paint. Glaze is applied by hand to the cabinetry and it is then wiped off by hand. The effect is stunning. As the glaze is hand removed from the cabinetry, it deposits into the small crevices of the cabinetry grain and works to highlight the beautiful detail of the wood. Glazes have countless options and can truly be tinted any shade. Juxtaposing the color of the glaze against the color of the cabinetry paint or stain can create a luxurious and highly unique look.


Glazing can also be used on paint. The major benefit of paint is that you have such an enormous range of colors to select from. Paint is by far one of the most common choices in cabinetry finishes as paint can be used to cater to any individual style or preferences. Some people fall in love with the earthy feel of stained wood, but for people that prefer a more modern feel or are looking to incorporate a specific color into their cabinetry, paint is always the best option. With paint you can also create an array of special effects on your cabinetry if your home decor is particularly bold. Or you can adopt a classic chic feel. Whether you are looking for a smooth, glossy, sanded, or textured finish, paint can do the job!


Lacquer is renowned for adding resilience and excellence to automobiles, but many people don't realize that it can do the same thing for your cabinetry. Lacquer is used on cabinets to add increased protection. Lacquer comes in matte or glossy finishes and polish additives can further enhance the design and protection of your cabinetry.

Lacquer establishes a harder appearance and texture when contrasted with paint because it plugs to pores of the cabinetry more fully. Just as paint application is properly achieved through a long process, so too is lacquer- perhaps even more so. Multiple sandings and finishings are required, as well as the addition of a particular topcoat. The final product eventually goes through many hand sandings with tremendously fine grained abrasives. Because of all the work that goes into achieving this durable product, it's often a service provided at a higher rate. However the outcome to most home owners is well worth the cost for the durability that lacquer provides. 

Whatever look you are pursuing, Woodmaster Woodworks, Inc. can help you bring the image in your head into your home. If you want to know more about cabinetry options in your kitchen, bathroom, home office, window seat, or any other built-in aspect of your home, please give us a call so that we can help you move forward with your personal aspirations. We're here to serve you with the professionalism you'd expect from a business that stands behind it's product and it's customer.