Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Preserve the natural look of unfinished oak cabinets

by Shannon Lee
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

In most cases, unfinished oak kitchen cabinets are chosen for their versatility in taking stains, finishes and paints. But what if you choose to let the natural beauty shine through? Though many experts might recommend staining, finishing or painting simply as a way to seal the wood, some brave homeowners choose to leave their wood unadorned. If you prefer your oak kitchen doors au naturel, you need to know a few things about maintaining that lovely look.

How to care for unfinished oak kitchen doors

Though there is something to be said for the beauty of kitchen doors that have a simple stain or attractive coat of paint, the natural beauty of oak definitely has a place in kitchen design.

Keeping your unfinished cabinets clean is one of the most vital steps to preserving your look. Unfortunately, this is much easier said than done. Kitchen cabinets collect fine oil spray, dust and grime from daily cooking. Finishes and paints offer a layer of protection that makes cabinets easier to clean, even if they aren't cleaned that often. Unfinished cabinets need regular cleaning in order to continue looking their best.

Unfinished cabinets also need a routine coating of oil in order to keep the wood smooth and supple. Tung oil is a popular way to keep unfinished wood looking great. Walnut, lemon, linseed and mineral oil can also be used. If you want a more water-resistant finish, try mixing turpentine with linseed oil. Apply it with a soft rag and work it well into the wood.

In addition to these options, there are plenty of products available on the shelf that promise to keep unfinished wood looking great. Pay attention to what is on the label to ensure that the products are okay to use in the kitchen or around food.

If you are looking for a finish that will protect the wood, yet still allow the natural beauty to shine through, try a coat of polyurethane. Since there are many types of polyurethane on the market, be sure to choose one that dries clear and is recommended for use on natural wood. You might need to apply several coats, with a thorough sanding in between coats, to ensure that the wood is protected.

No matter what method of preservation you choose, be sure to test it out on an inconspicuous area before leaping into the rest of the project. Once you have decided to move forward with a particular oil or polyurethane, remember that you will need to refinish the job every six months to a year in order to keep those oak kitchen cabinets looking their best.



About the Author
Shannon Lee has written professionally for two decades on a wide variety of topics, including medical and health issues, home repair, education and relationships.

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