Choosing the Perfect Finish For Your Custom Kitchen Cabinets

With the fantastic assistance from Baczewski Luxury, you have created a truly remarkable kitchen, complete with custom cabinets that are the envy of the neighborhood. You’ve spent weeks on the design, wood choice, and features of your cabinet doors, but there is one critical selection to make: the finish for your kitchen cabinets and doors.

The finish not only impacts the look of your cabinets but also affects the cabinets’ durability, functionality, and usability. However, with the fantastic assistance of the professional team at Baczewski Luxury, we can help you choose the ideal finish for your wood cabinets.

What Exactly Is a Kitchen Cabinet “Finish?”

The “finish” of your kitchen cabinets refers to the final coat of product that is applied to the wood cabinets. The finish impacts not only the color and shine of the cabinets but also provides additional protection to the wood. In addition to choosing the wood type for the drawers, drawer fronts, and cabinet doors, the finish is one of if not the most crucial choices you will make during the renovation process.

Popular Kitchen Cabinet Finish Options

Painted Cabinets

Want to completely change the overall look of your custom kitchen cabinets? A painted finish is a popular option – and for good reason. Paint is arguably the best finish for your new cabinets and all cabinet types – especially if you want to mask the natural color of the wood. Although painting might seem like a simple, straightforward option, realize there are several factors you need to consider beyond the color.

lacqer kitchen cabinets

Paint is, of course, available in a wide variety of finish options, and each will significantly impact the sheen, look, and durability of your cabinet doors. Here are a few popular paint finishes to choose from:

  • Satin. Satin is a mid-gloss finish that is slightly brighter than matte or eggshell but not quite as bright as semi-gloss. Because the finish is easy to clean and care for, satin is typically used for trim pieces. Satin is easy to clean and, if you have kids, a great option because its mid-level sheen makes fingerprints and stains less noticeable.
  • Matte. You’ve opted for a modern kitchen; naturally, a matte finish seems like the obvious choice for your wood cabinets. However, be aware that although matte is elegant and timeless, it isn’t always the best option for kitchen cabinet doors. This is because matte is unforgiving, and you will notice every stain, fingerprint, and imperfection on the door fronts.
  • High gloss. Want a paint finish that is more impactful and will make your paint color pop? High gloss might be the best option for you and your kitchen cabinets. Like matte, high gloss is one of the least forgiving kitchen cabinet finishes. Basically, if you have kids and love to cook and make messes, high gloss should be avoided.
  • Semi-gloss. Want a mid-level sheen and cabinets that are easy to clean and maintain? Semi-gloss is the paint finish of choice for most busy households – especially if you have kids or love to make a mess cooking big holiday meals.

Obviously, the color of your painted cabinet is a huge consideration. Darker colors are one of the best kitchen cabinet finishes because they require fewer coats and show fewer smudges, stains, and imperfections. Lighter paint colors, including pastels and neutrals, are great – but you will more easily notice prints, stains, and other flaws.

Natural Wood Finish

You have chosen beautiful, high-end cherry wood, oak, maple, hickory, or pine cabinets and want to wood’s natural beauty to shine through. A “natural” finish refers to wooden cabinets that do not alter the wood’s color. Instead, you can truly enjoy and appreciate all the elegance natural wood offers.

The “natural” wood look involves protecting the doors and boxes with a protective finish, typically either shellac, oils, or in very rare cases, waxes. Shellac is the product of choice for most wood types if you want to enjoy the natural look because it repels water better than oils and wax, making your cabinets more moisture resistant.

In addition to enhancing your overall kitchen design and personal style, the natural look is a more budget-friendly option.

choose wooden modern kitchen

Stained Cabinets

The natural look is very popular with homeowners in Houston, Denver, and most of the United States – and for a good reason. Nothing is more elegant and timeless than the look of natural wood – including the knots, veins, and other “imperfections.” Shellac is a great option to achieve a natural look, but it doesn’t protect your cabinets like a stain.

Wood stain slightly darkens and alters the color of the wood while still maintaining the wood’s color and natural grain. Like paint, there are several different varieties of wood stains, including oil-based, varnish, and water-based finishes.

Like every other finish, there are pros and cons to choosing any variety of wood stains for your custom cabinets. Staining your cabinets makes the wood more durable; in most cases, stained cabinets are just as protected as painted finishes.

Unlike paint, however, you will need to apply a new coat of stain to your cabinet doors and boxes every five to six years. If you decide to refinish the cabinet doors in the future, be aware because stain seeps into the wood, it is almost impossible to eliminate.

Lacquer Finish

A product very similar to shellac, lacquer is manufactured from tree resin. Ancient forms of lacquer were even manufactured from insects! Today’s lacquer provides a strong layer of protection on your custom cabinets – but there are downsides to utilizing a lacquer finish. The most prominent is that lacquer is prone to yellowing, and you will eventually notice discoloration on your cabinet doors.

Lacquer kitchen Finish

Glaze Finish

If you have opted for specialty wood cabinetry, the glaze is applied to the decorative features to give the contours and carvings a more high-end, finished look. Glaze is similar to lacquer, but because it is not a proper top coat, it is applied over the paint or stain. The pros and Baczewski Luxury Cabinets can help you determine if a glaze finish is the best choice for the entire cabinet or just the decorative aspects of your cabinetry.

Other Finish Options

The right finish can enhance the wood grain, make or break the door styles, and tie in all the elegance of custom kitchens. However, other finish options are not as popular but still worth considering.

Distressed Finish

The distressed look isn’t a new style, but it is becoming more and more prevalent thanks to the resurgence of several aesthetics, including country, rural cottage-core, and shabby chic. The distressed cabinets are first painted and then strategically scraped and sanded down to mimic the look that the cabinets have aged naturally.

The paint is then covered with another finish, such as glaze or lacquer, to enhance the distressed look while providing an extra layer of protection.

Distressed Finish kitchen cabinets
Modern Distressed Finish Cabinets

Waterborne UV Finish

One of the newest and most environmentally conscious techniques on the market, chances are you have not heard of the waterborne UV finish technique. The waterborne finish is manufactured from a combination of resin – typically polyurethane or acrylic – that is actually suspended in water and another environmentally-safe solvent.

Once applied, the waterborne product is cured with UV light to strengthen the finish. Although the waterborne UV finish has less of an environmental impact, it is also very expensive and not always available.

How Do I Choose the Ideal Finish For My Kitchen Cabinets?

With all the finishes available, it can seem almost impossible to decide which finish is the right option for your kitchen design, needs, and, most importantly, budget. Read these important factors before choosing a finish for your kitchen cabinets.


The product’s durability should be at the top of your list – particularly if you have children. Paint protects the cabinet wood and will withstand the constant humidity and temperature fluctuations in your kitchen. Of the oil finishes available, stain is the most versatile and durable. If you want to maintain every cabinet door’s natural appearance, an oil-based stain might be suitable for your wooden cabinets.

What About Color?

White, gray, and green kitchen cabinets are all the rage. If you are choosing a more inexpensive wood for your kitchen cabinets, paint is the best way to mask the wood’s imperfections and add a pop of color to your custom kitchen and custom cabinets.

As with every other choice in your kitchen, your home’s resale value must be considered when choosing a color for each wood cabinet. Your first instinct might be to reflect your personal style by painting the cabinets a jewel tone or another show-stopping color – with equally eye-catching cabinet hardware to go along with it.

Think twice because while you might love the color now, a few years down the road, the color might seem dated. If you are even toying with the notion of selling your home in the next four to seven years, choose a color that will appeal to not only you but potential buyers.

multi color kitchen cabinet design
Multi-Color Cabinet Design

The Right Paint or Finish Can Make Your Kitchen Look Bigger

Your kitchen has always felt cramped, and you want to find the perfect solution to make the space seem bigger without changing the layout or demolishing the area and starting from scratch. The right paint color or finish can actually make your kitchen seem much bigger than it actually is.

Conversely, the wrong paint or finish can be disastrous and make your kitchen seem like more of a dungeon and less like an inviting space to welcome friends and family.

For smaller kitchens, choose lighter colors and finishes that reflect sunlight. White or off-white paint with a semi-gloss or high-gloss will make your kitchen seem much larger. A high-gloss wood stain allows you to enjoy all the benefits of a highly-reflective finish while maintaining the natural look of the wood cabinets.

Use caution with dark colors – no matter what the size of your kitchen. Even if you have a massive kitchen that would make a professional chef jealous, overwhelming the space with darker colors can make it feel like you are preparing Thanksgiving dinner in a cave.

The best option available for homeowners is to find a balance of color and finish that complements the kitchen’s design. Clever options are available if you are set on including darker shades in the kitchen. A single accent wall can help you introduce darker hues. You can always utilize decorative finishing touches or opt for darker lighting fixtures and faucets.

Can Your Cabinets Be Refinished?

You aren’t in love with your current cabinets, which is why you are working with the pros at Baczewski Luxury Cabinets, to update your kitchen. Keep this in mind when choosing the finish for your new cabinets because, eventually, you might want to redo your kitchen again.

The short answer to the question is quite simply “Yes,” but some finishes are more challenging to remove than others.

Avoid oil-based paint because once the paint dries, it hardens and can be very difficult to remove. Instead, ask about the other types of paint, which are much easier to remove, if you want to refinish the cabinets down the road.

Can’t I Just Stain or Paint My Cabinets Myself?

Absolutely! You can definitely stain or paint your cabinets yourself! It’s a doable project for a DIY enthusiast and can add a fresh look to your kitchen; however, when we design a custom kitchen, that won’t be necessary since our modern kitchens come with the finish you choose in advance.

stainless steel kitchen cabinets
Modern Stainless Steel Kitchen Design

What Cabinet Color and Finish Works Best With Stainless Steel Appliances?

Stainless steel appliances have far and away been the most popular kitchen appliance finish for several years – and for a good reason. If you truly want to enhance the appearance of your stainless steel appliances, the right paint colors and cabinet finishes can do just that.

Gray, white, neutrals, and light green or blue all work well with stainless steel cabinets. A semi-gloss, high-gloss, or satin finish is the best option for both paint and stains. Whatever you choose, the best way to ensure that your paint color or stain finish doesn’t clash with the appliances is to bring in several swatches.

Hold up the swatches near the stainless steel appliances until you find the color that works best for the space. Here is another expert tip: Always hold up the swatches in direct sunlight. This simple trick will help ensure you completely understand the depth of color in the paint.

Cleaning Your Newly-Finished Kitchen Cabinets: Dos and Don’ts

You are completely in awe of your new custom kitchen cabinets and want to ensure that you maintain their integrity, beauty, and durability. Caring for your cabinets is vital, so make sure to follow these simple dos and don’ts to protect the cabinet finish.

Do Wash Your Cabinet Doors Often

Despite your best efforts, each and every cabinet door is going to become filthy. From spilled tomato sauce to grease and the chocolate-covered fingers of your kids, you need to clean the cabinets often to protect the finish. Use a soft-bristled brush to clean the bulk of the cabinets.

When it comes to the small cracks, hinges, and other out-of-the-way spots, an old toothbrush is the best and most inexpensive tool at your disposal.

wet kitchen cabinets

Don’t Allow the Cabinet Doors, Hinges, and Hardware To Get Too Wet

Pay attention to the glue joints, hardware, hinges, and wood doors when cleaning the cabinets. A simple mixture of white vinegar and plain water is an inexpensive and surprisingly effective way to remove stains. However, you need to use moisture sparingly when you are cleaning around the joints and hardware to prevent damage.

The worst-case scenario is that if the wood joints become wet, the glue will actually soften, and your cabinets could come apart.

Do Use a Safe, Natural, and Gentle Cleaner

The most effective option is to always use a product designed and formulated for use on wood cabinets. Some manufacturers even specify if the product can be used on the type of finish – including stain, wood, or lacquer. When in doubt, go ahead and use a mixture of dish soap and warm water.

However, once again, use caution, no matter what the cleaner. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and avoid dousing the kitchen cabinets, joints, and hardware with any type of product. Instead, only use as much cleaner as you need to remove stains, fingerprints, and other blemishes.

Ready to Design and Construct the Custom Cabinets and Kitchen of Your Dreams? Look No Further Than Baczewski Luxury Cabinets

At Backzewski Luxury, we know how important it is to create custom cabinets that reflect your style but are also durable, elegant, and will stand the test of time. Our interior designers can help you through every step of the kitchen remodel process – from the initial inspiration and design to installing the finished product.

Designing Custom Cabinets is Our Passion

We don’t mean to brag, but at Baczewski Luxury, we are experts in designing kitchen cabinets that are guaranteed to love – both today and for several years to come. With over 18 years of extensive experience helping our amazing customers realize their dreams, we can help you design and install cabinets featuring exotic and elegant finishes.

colorful kitchen design

Find the Perfect Backsplash to Enhance the Look of Your Custom Cabinets

We offer a variety of backsplashes that are guaranteed to enhance the beauty of your luxurious custom kitchen cabinets. From LED panels – which are available in a wide variety of colors – to Italian stone panels or glass backsplashes to laminate, veneer, or custom-painted options, you will find a backsplash that fits your aesthetic and needs.

Contact the Professionals at Baczewski Luxury

Are you ready to create cabinetry that will be the envy of the neighborhood? Want wood cabinets that can withstand your rambunctious kids while still reflecting your unique, modern styles?

Contact us at (866) 515-2553 today! We can discuss your needs, expectations, budget, and inspiration for your custom kitchen.

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Gregory N

Gregory is an artist in his field. Sharp and focus on bringing you the best High-End, State-of-the-art, Luxury Cabinets, and more. Gregory will be happy to consult you regarding your next kitchen or bathroom project. Contact Me via our contact us page.

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Modern Kitchens - The Baczewski Luxury Difference

Our company has been in the cabinetry industry since 2003. We are a leading business when it comes to producing the best quality high-end cabinets. Moreover, we provide a wide range of services for discerning clients.

We design, deliver, and install kitchen, living room, and bathroom cabinets, among others. We also provide other unique cabinet-related solutions for the entire home.

Are you looking for luxurious custom cabinet design and installation? Contact us today to schedule a virtual or in-house meeting with our reps. Alternatively, visit our kitchen showrooms in Denver, CO, and Houston, TX, to check out some of our best work.

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