Get the size you need!

Top 7 Kitchen Cabinets Finishes Types in Canada

January 08, 2022 | Updated on: January 31, 2022

White Kitchen

As the communal heart of the entire home, it’s important that the design of your kitchen embodies a place of warmth and connectivity. Part of this is the look and feel you get from kitchen cabinets styles and finishes.

Cabinet finishes are a big decision, as they come in different formats, pricing and levels of durability. Of course, the kitchen is a heavy traffic area, and you want to be able to have the best available kitchen cabinet finish options presented to you. The question then comes up, what finish paint to use on kitchen cabinets?

Kitchen Cabinets

Of course, you're probably looking for the best finish for kitchen cabinets, but to be fair there are numerous types of kitchen cabinets styles and finishes out there, and it should be something where a lot of thought has been put into it, and you definitely should consider getting an expert to handle this part properly.

Those that are thinking of this as a DIY project should also consider how some of the aspects can be difficult. Kitchen cabinets finished without a professional set of eyes will show uneven finishing work and brushwork that makes certain parts look out of place. It can make a kitchen go from looking ok to look as if the paint was just applied and left alone.

There’s a lot of things that go in, from finding the right finish to go with the paint, to offering the highest level of durability possible. Then there’s a lot of pre-work that goes into it, such as dismantling the kitchen cabinets one by one and sanding down the kitchen cabinets to keep all of them an even and uniform surface to apply the paint and then the finish.

Best kitchen cabinet finish options

Take a look at some of the common kitchen cabinets finishes and styles below to help start getting ideas started?

Semi-Gloss finish

Semi gloss finish cabinets

This is a great finish for those that are looking for the easiest type of finish. This makes it one of the best finishes for kitchen cabinets. It’s also considered the most durable finish for kitchen cabinets due to the fact that it helps protect your cabinets, by reflecting light, and not succumbing to a harsh deep clean when it’s time to do that. You also want to be able to use the best polyurethane for kitchen cabinets to ensure that your semi or low gloss finish is as protective as possible.

This is also a popular choice for those that have large families, especially with smaller children running around due to its durability. It will also help brighten up the kitchen if it doesn't have enough natural light in it because it will properly reflect the light in the room, without making it too bright, or showing those reflections that can sometimes happen with lacquer and other high gloss kitchen cabinet styles.

Lacquer finish

Lacquer finish cabinets

Another one of the most out there is the lacquer finish. When it comes to lacquer kitchen cabinets pros and cons, the pros outweigh those cons. Lacquer finishes provide an ultra-gloss look and feel.

At the same time, it protects the kitchen cabinets both inside and out and provides protection against a wide variety of items, relative to their counterparts. This includes water and alkali abrasions as well as acidic-based items, that can easily be wiped away.

The best lacquer for kitchen cabinets is those that should be sprayed on. This allows for a uniform coating throughout that makes it have that smooth surface, without looking as if it was brushed on. It also is one of the fastest drying options due to its chemical components, sometimes drying as fast as 15 minutes, before being able to apply a new coat on there.


Satined Brown Cabinets

When all you care about is having the most durable kitchen cabinets, and aesthetics come second, then consider a high-quality varnish. If you need to know what the best varnish for kitchen cabinets is, then always consider contacting us and we can help you determine which one that is.

If you're looking for something fast-acting then consider using catalyzed paint for kitchen cabinets first. These are highly durable and fast-drying, so it's easier to get a few coats on there faster. Then you should use a catalyzed varnish kitchen cabinets finish which also dries faster by evaporation, leading to a highly durable and long-lasting finish.

Varnish is a great option when you have high-quality wood used in the construction of your kitchen cabinets. If you primarily used hardwood such as oak to make these durable kitchen cabinets, then always consider a simple matching varnish to match the colour of the wood, while maintaining the fact that you invested into such exemplary materials.

Stained Kitchen Cabinets

Stained kitchen cabinets

Stained kitchen cabinets help bring out the beautiful wood finishes, but it actually also helps bring uniformity to your entire kitchen. Stained cabinets colours come in a different variety that needs to help accentuate and pop the remainder of the kitchen.

If you have a darker kitchen island or refined marble countertops, then white stained cabinets or grey stained kitchen cabinets are a way that works well. They are timeless and contemporary, while at the same time quite a modern look that won't age quickly. 

If white stained kitchen cabinets don’t seem to be enough, pecan stained kitchen cabinets are a rich darker colour to consider. It's a more rugged feel and helps give the appearance of strength as it truly brings out the wooden twists and knobs out, even making the stain not completely uniform but still beautiful to look at.

One great way to add a new layer with your stained kitchen cabinet is something called faux finish techniques on kitchen cabinets. This is akin to adding a shadow layer to some of your cabinetry that brings a natural pop to it. The faux finish is also a great technique used in distressed finishes as well.

Water-Based Liqueur

  High Gloss Kitchen

When considering the best water-based finish for kitchen cabinets then you should look no further than some form of polyacrylic paint. You’ll be able to build up the durability of your kitchen cabinets and be able to prevent them from wood chipping and any type of paint degradation.

Be careful though because when it comes to certain water-based paints and finishes, one should only consider using those that are meant to be applied to wood, as low-quality water-based paints can actually end up warping the wood as it seeps into it directly. That's why it may be a better option to use a different type of paint and then apply the water-based finish to the kitchen cabinets

Another item to note when it comes to water-based finishes is that they can come thinner than some of their counterparts, and you may need to end up putting on a few extra coats of kitchen cabinet finish.


Distressed Finish Kicthen

For those that want the kitchen cabinets distressed finish look, there are a few extra steps that need to go into consideration. First, you need to remove all the fixtures on the cabinets and start sanding them down.

Then after extensively cleaning your cabinets, you need to get a special glaze and finish for antiquing kitchen cabinets with stain. This will give your kitchen cabinet finish that antique look and feel, without making them look old or worn out. They can help bring a unique pop to your overall kitchen cabinet feel.

Be careful to not go with materials that are too dark, because making them distressed can make them actually look like they need to be replaced, and something that can look a bit abandoned. This may end up requiring refinishing before the original job is completed.

Yet bringing that distressed look can really make your kitchen actually end up with the most refined look out of the entire options available out there, especially with your finished kitchen cabinet doors.

Pair these with granite countertops and steel tones, and you have the looks of a professional and lavish kitchen. This also can use some faux finish kitchen cabinets techniques to bring those necessary accents to the entire kitchen cabinet ensemble.


Natural Finish Cabinets

For those that are looking for more natural wood cabinet finishes. Putting on a clear finish that helps to accentuate the natural asymmetry of natural wood can be used for bringing in that vibrant rustic feel to an otherwise sophisticated kitchen design. As far as kitchen cabinetry finishes go, this is one of the more aesthetically pleasing, as it makes the whole kitchen feel all-natural.

It's a good idea when designing your kitchen that if you're going to use this style, to put it in a  place with as much natural light as possible, so that you can take advantage of the bright light with that beautiful bright natural wood colour and finish.

Consider light-coloured wood options such as various Oaks, Maple wood or Hickory wood. The wood itself will have those darker imperfections that showcase the natural look and vibe you're going with.

Keep in mind that using a natural clear finish will need to be maintained more often and may not be the best when durability or protection comes to mind. That doesn't mean there should never be considered, but that does mean that the finish needs to be applied as perfectly as possible.

Seven Points to Consider:

  1. Best color that will never go out of style – White
  2. Most popular type of finish for cabinetry is – Semi gloss finish or Lacquer due to the durability
  3. Least durable finish option – Natural as this adds minimal finishes for durability
  4. Most expensive part of kitchen build out or remodel – Cabinetry and Hardware
  5. Average price to finish cabinetry – around $3000
  6. Least popular kitchen color – Purple
  7. ROI range for a kitchen improvement or remodel – up to 75%-100% of the cost in Canada


Element of Project

Percent of Budget

Breakdown for Average renovation

Design fees






Appliances & ventilation



Cabinetry & hardware












Doors & windows



Walls & ceilings



Faucets & plumbing









Article by:

Valentina Melnikova - Lead Designer at Cut2Size

Office 403.366.7411

Hi there! I’m a millwork designer and an owner of a kitchen cabinet manufacturing company. With a team of professionals, I work on designing and manufacturing high-end millwork. Combining professional designing and manufacturing skills is what allows us to develop and translate our plans into a reality through our uniqueness and exclusive ideas. Our employees are highly skilled and creative thinkers that also utilize their professionalism and experience to take millwork to the next level. I’m very familiar with the industry and I take on each project from the design to the final product. With that said, if you’re looking for design advice or technician help, you’re in the right place.