Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Countless options with unfinished kitchen cabinets

by Shannon Lee
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

Those completely finished, ready-to-install kitchen cabinets can look very appealing, but unfinished cabinets offer a wider range of possibilities. When remodeling cabinets with an eye toward a particular paint or stain, unfinished cabinets might be the best option.

What can you do with an unfinished kitchen cabinet?

The answer to that question is "plenty." Unfinished kitchen cabinets can be dressed up in ways that completely transform your kitchen. A deep stain might look more traditional, while a distressed paint job could look whimsical. It all comes down to personal style and imagination.

Here are a few options for spicing things up when remodeling cabinets:

  1. Stain. One of the most popular moves homeowners make with unfinished kitchen cabinets is the stain. From a very light, almost "not there" look to a deep, rich color, stain can turn ordinary wood into a beautiful addition to your kitchen. Choose your stain carefully by testing it on an inconspicuous area first, then decide if the final look is what you really want.
  2. Paint. The possibilities for paint color on your cabinets are literally endless. When using paint, keep in mind the style of your kitchen. For instance, earth tones and cream colors are a sure bet for the Italian kitchen, while country French kitchens need a crisp white or light pastel to keep the theme going.
  3. Glaze. This addition to your paint or stain can change the look just enough to make it unique. Glazes can be tinted any color to complement the paint or stain. The glaze is often the final touch that brings out the delicate details in the wood.
  4. Other options. There are a wide variety of products on the market that can color or seal the wood, boost the color and appearance of stains or paints and protect your investment. Some finishes, such as linseed oil or tung oil, penetrate the wood. Surface finishes, such as varnish or shellac, dry on the surface of the wood, forming a protective barrier while enhancing the appearance.

Though you can choose to paint or stain your cabinets after installation is complete, it is always easier to handle the job before installation begins. If you are ordering unfinished kitchen cabinets, consider putting a few weeks of work time between the purchase and the actual installation to allow yourself plenty of time to customize your cabinets in whatever way suits your home.




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