On wood cabinets the finish is just as important as how well the cabinets are constructed. The finish not only provides aesthetic appeal but is a key component in the protection of the underlying wood surface. It needs that protection from the moisture and chemicals that are typical in a kitchen.


Paint- The benefit of paint is that you have a limitless color pallet available to you. You're not limited to a range of browns and other earth tones like you are with wood stains. "Milk Paint"is an alternative choice to the standard enamels that are used on cabinetry. It's an organic-based paint made from milk protein, lime and natural pigments. The basic 'recipe' has actually been around for hundreds of years. Milk paint's benefits include it's good durability and strong resistance to water. It also adheres well to wood. It has it's own unique decorative appeal and is reminiscent of the texture of paints used on antique and period furniture.


Stain- Wood stain is a topical color treatment that alters the natural color of the underlying wood while allowing the grain pattern to show through. Wood stain requires a sealer on top of it for protection. Varnish- Varnish is a combination of oil and resin that's used to provide a protective layer over the wood and any other surface treatment like stain. One of the finishing terms you'll probably encounter more often than not is "catalyzed varnish". It sounds high tech and in some respects it is. In more simple terms it defines a type of finish that uses a "catalyst" to cause or speed up a particular reaction between the chemicals in the finish, usually to achieve some specific result. Catalyzed varnish incorporates compounds that make it harder and more durable than it would be without them.


Lacquer- Lacquer is another top-coat protective sealer used on cabinets and furniture. It's made by dissolving a resin in a solvent. It too can be "catalyzed" and you'll see references to "catalyzed lacquer" in various cabinet. Glaze- Glaze is a pigmented but transparent or semi-transparent coating that's applied over a base coating such as paint or stain. Glaze is used to enhance the look of cabinets by highlighting the underlying base color and bringing out surface detail. When glaze is applied and then hand wiped some of the glaze remains in the corners and recesses of doors, providing additional visual highlights.