Kitchen Cabinet Finish Characteristics

Updated on: September 02, 2021

When it comes to choosing a cabinet door style for your new kitchen, there are countless color and finish options available. From bright white painted cabinets to charcoal stained cabinets with a brushed black glaze, there’s a look for every design style. This article details the different types of finishes and how each is created, as well as what can be added on top of paints and stains for a unique look.

Stained Finishes

There are several ways of applying a stain to wood cabinetry, but the two main techniques used in the industry are spraying and hand wiping the stain. Each of these techniques has its advantages, but creates a very different look on the wood.

When stains are hand wiped, the color tends to absorb more into the wood at different places on the door, causing a varying color effect. This effect is part of the attractiveness and uniqueness of a hand wiped stain, however some dislike the inconsistent look it creates. Hand wiped stains complement a rustic, earthy, or antiqued design style.

Sprayed stains are applied more uniformly than hand wiped stains. These stains are sprayed over the entire door manually, creating a consistent color overall.

It’s important to note that stain toner characteristics vary with different wood species, grains, and end cuts. No matter which species you choose, no two pieces of wood are exactly the same and grain variation should be expected. Stains are likely to exaggerate the difference between open and closed grains and other markings in the wood.

Color change can also be expected because as hardwood ages, it will darken when exposed to different types of light. In addition, color differences or changes in wood can be caused by exposure to harsh chemicals, extreme heat, moisture, or other contributing external conditions. Based on independent testing, discoloration will occur to doors, drawers, and cabinet parts after prolonged exposure to tobacco smoke. This is especially noticeable on lighter finishes. However, we do not warranty any of our finishes against discoloration due to exposure to smoke.

What We Offer offers many different stained finish options for our kitchen cabinets. Light and natural stains, such as Natural and Toffee, intensify the appearance of the wood grains, showing the inherent characteristics of the wood. Dark stains like Pecan and Slate give a deep, rich tone to cabinets.

Painted Finishes

Painted cabinets continue to be some of the most popular cabinets on the market. However, painted doors do require more maintenance for chips, marks, and residue from normal kitchen use and hand/finger prints. At, we use the highest grade Sherwin Williams paint for all painted cabinet doors in our various cabinet door styles. Paint may have a slight difference in tones between doors, drawer fronts, and face frames.

It’s important to note that wood naturally expands and contracts. Because of this, paint may develop hairline cracks in the finish, most notable around the joints - especially miter joints. This is common in the industry, but to help with the stability of the door, we use MDF (Medium-Density Fiberboard) for the center panels with all painted door styles.

What We Offer offers a wide selection of painted cabinets to choose from. Light gray paint, such as Willow Gray, may appeal to those looking for a soft neutral color, while Naval, a medium-toned maritime blue paint, can add bold color to a kitchen or bathroom design.


On top of your painted or stained cabinets, you can also have add-ons like glazed finishes and rub through enhancements. A glazed finish offers visual depth and interest to both painted and stained cabinet doors, while a rub through enhancement can give a rustic look to your space.

Glazed Finishes

Glazing is a hand-applied technique used for antiquing cabinets, adding depth, dimension, and character to their appearance. A glaze highlights the details of a cabinet and the contours of the door. Depending on the style of glaze applied, the appearance of the cabinet can range from shabby chic to understated elegance. The coverage of the glaze also ranges from consistent to varied, almost uneven coverage, based on the style of glaze chosen.

The two most common types of glazes in the cabinet industry are standard glazes and brushed glazes. A standard glaze is applied only to the crevasses of the cabinet door with either a small paint brush or a pen, depending on the specific cabinet line and how it’s manufactured. Standard glazes bring emphasis to the contours and edges of the door. A brushed glaze is hand-applied with a large brush overtop the door’s standard paint or stain. This type of glaze creates dimension on the cabinet door with a brushed textured look given to the entire door.

What We Offer

Available in Coffee, Chocolate, Brushed Gray, and Brushed Black, our many different glaze options provide a variety of choices to pick from in finding which best suits your style and budget!

Rub Through Enhancement

A rub through enhancement is created by manually removing the standard paint from certain edges on the cabinet door to create a rustic, worn appearance. The paint is rubbed through just enough to expose the wood underneath, giving the cabinet door a natural antiqued look. The rub through is added only to cabinet parts with a decorative profile such as doors, drawer fronts, and crown molding. Products with flat surfaces (panels, filler, etc.) will not have the rub through enhancement.

What We Offer offers rub through enhancements on some of our white, gray, and ebony painted cabinets. These are perfect if you are looking to give a rustic, antiqued look to your space.

It's always wise to order sample doors because everything will look a bit different depending on the amount of light you have in your space. You will spend a lot of time in your kitchen so make sure to consider what overall look and feel you are going for when you choose your new cabinets.