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What Wood Finishes Are the Best for Kitchen Cabinets?

If you have natural kitchen cabinets, staining can provide you with a warm and clean look. It can update your cabinets and your kitchen will be more inviting and modern. The finish is the sheen or the shine on your cabinets and it also serves as protection that makes your cabinets last. Continue reading to learn what wood finishes are best for kitchen cabinets.


Shellac is a natural resin that comes from the female lac bug and it is known for its ability to resist water. It has been used for more than 100 years and it is a popular choice for people who want a natural finish.

It works well over cabinets that have been finished before.

It is easy to repair if it is damaged because the new coats will melt into the older ones. It also dries quickly and it can be used as a sealer. The downside is that it can become cloudy if it reacts to water.


Lacquer is very easy to use and it dries quickly. You can brush it on or spray it and you can apply more than one layer in a short period of time. It has a glossy finish and it is easy to clean.

It is moisture-resistant so the cabinets will last a long time. This is a great product for updating your wood kitchen cabinets and it works well with just about any type of wood.

Oil-Based Varnish

Many oil-based varnishes are made with a combination of vegetable oil and resin, but there are also synthetic varnishes such as polyurethane. They are popular because they are durable and resist stains and moisture.

Polyurethane is resistant to heat, chemicals, water, fungus, and mildew. It also protects your cabinets from scratches, dents, and smudges.

There are some disadvantages. If you plan to do more than one coat, you need to sand between so that it adheres better. In addition, if you have dust in the air, the slow drying can be an issue. It works best on stained or dark wood. If you have light wood, you might want to choose a different finish.

Water-Based Finishes

Water-based finishes allow you to avoid the vapors and fumes that come with oil-based products. They still provide a durable finish and they are easy to apply. They still produce some odor and you need to lightly sand the cabinets so that the finish adheres correctly.

Polyurethane comes in a water-based finish. It is easy to clean them by wiping with a wet sponge or cloth.

Final Words

When you plan to finish your wood cabinets, you have a lot of options. The best one comes down to personal preference. You should consider the color of your wood as well as who will do the work.

If you want a high gloss over older cabinets, you might choose shellac, which is also a natural product. Polyurethane is a popular choice for many people because it is so easy to maintain. All of them will protect your cabinets so that they last longer.

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