Cabinet Finishes

Choosing online kitchen cabinets, including kitchen cabinet color and finish, may seem like a bit of a challenge, but it’s really about working through a few simple steps to gain clarity and set you on your path to an entirely new kitchen.

Choosing complimentary colors is important, but ultimately your cabinets should reflect your personal style. Whether you are absolutely clear on your personal home style or not, familiarizing yourself with the differences in how cabinets are finished is a great place to start. Keep in mind your floors, counter top, appliances and type of back splash when choosing your cabinet finish and color.

Painted Cabinet Finish

A painted finish offers a wide variety of color options and is typically applied when a cabinet’s desired finish is a solid color, like our LifeDesign Cambridge Antique White cabinet door. A painted cabinet gives a clean and smooth finished look without very much wood grain showing at all. One factor to remember about painted cabinets: Over time, as wood expands and contracts due to weather variations, chips or cracks can occur in the painted finish. Painted cabinets are also a little more susceptible to scratches, so you will want to be sure your painted cabinet door has a clear coat on top to protect the paint. All our LifeDesign cabinet doors are protected with a varnish coating, and our cabinet boxes have a UV coated natural interior.

Stained Cabinet Finish

A stained finish offers a different look than paint in that the staining brings out the natural wood grain, making the color secondary.

As the homeowner, you must first decide if you prefer stain over a solid color. Stains are applied by hand and offer a more hand-crafted and individual look. Stained cabinets have a more irregular look because some areas of the wood soak up more of the stain. This offers a more natural and dimensional look than painted cabinets. There are slight variations in the tone of the stain color. For example our Cambridge Cherry cabinet door is darker and has more of a red tone verses our Sunderland Tan cabinet door, which has more of a light tan tone to it.

Stained cabinets don’t have as many color options as painted cabinets, but they are recommended to homeowners who prefer the natural look of stained wood. Depending on your personal taste you will need to decide if stained vs. painted is for you.

Varnished Cabinet Finish

One of the final steps to finishing a cabinet includes applying a top coat. Varnish is a topcoat that provides the finished gloss look as well as protection to the wood and finish. Once dry, varnish is very hard so that its protective qualities include durability and resistance to heat and corrosion. Traditional varnish is made from a combination of oil, resin and a thinner or solvent.

Environmental factors such as heat and humidity play a very large role in the drying and curing times of varnishes. The drying and curing time of all varnishes may be sped up by exposure to an energy source such as sunlight, ultraviolet light, or heat. If you are interested in learning more about the chemical components used in various types of varnish… read more. Varnish also makes the cabinets easy to wipe down and clean.

Glaze Cabinet Finish

A glaze finish will complement the look of a newly designed kitchen by giving it an older look or that “old-fashioned charm.” It adds a visual depth to stained or painted cabinetry. Glazes have color but are transparent or semi-transparent and offer a light covering over the base coat. First, a base stain is applied to the wood so that the color stays consistent. Then, a flood coat of glaze is applied and hand-wiped, leaving behind soft tones in the corners and recesses of the door. Lastly, a highlight glaze is hand-painted into the corners and edges of the door.

After your glaze has been applied, you want to follow up with the varnish top coat to protect the surface. A great example of a glaze finished cabinet is our Yorkshire Antique White cabinet door. Keep in mind – because this is an added finishing on top or your stain or painted cabinets, it might increase the cost of the overall cabinets.

Water Based UV Cabinet Finish

A water based UV finish is comprised of solvent and water and dries rather quickly (four to seven minutes). After drying, the wood is cured using UV light. Once cured, the pieces are highly scratch resistant and low in odors.

With LifeDesign’s growing concern over air pollution and our desire to expand our eco-friendly products, the demand for water-based finishes has increased. Some environmentally-conscious manufacturers now offer a water-based, ultra-violet (UV) finish on kitchen cabinets. Unlike all other finishes, this finish contains fewer volatile organic compounds, and emits no toxic fumes or chemicals into the air, so it is safer for the user and the environment. This is true during the manufacturing process and after the cabinets are installed in a home. For homeowners who want to minimize their environmental impact, water-based UV finishes are the right choice.



Here at LifeDesign we offer the best and most varied selection of online kitchen cabinets. All cabinets include pristine door finishes to please any homeowner building a kitchen or looking to do a kitchen remodel. Our cabinets are made with a quality birch wood frame and, as mentioned above, some of our cabinet door finishes are painted and some are stained with a varnish or glaze and a varnish top coat. Almost all of our cabinets have a UV coated interior with the exception of our Manchester Cherry line that comes with a matching veneered exterior and interior.

If you select glass door cabinets, the interior of that cabinet also matches the exterior, but also bear in mind that you will have to get the glass for the doors. To see what LifeDesign has to offer SHOP OUR LIFEDESIGN CABINETS.