The best finishes for your kitchen cabinets
Installing custom kitchen cabinets in your new kitchen is a great way to personalise the space, and ensure consistency in your home’s décor. When crafting your custom cabinet design, it’s important to consider which of the top kitchen finishes will work best in your space. Contemporary kitchen designs generally use one of three finishes- laminate, melamine or polyurethane. Depending on your budget, home décor and lifestyle, one option may be more suitable than the alternatives. By understanding the features, and assessing the pros and cons of each, you can decipher which kitchen cabinet finish will work best in your home.
High Pressure Laminate
Laminate is an extremely versatile material and is available in an array of prints, colours and finishes. Laminate kitchen cabinets consist of layers of pressed paper, with a customised top layer. The paper is fused together under high heat and pressure, and is glued onto a wood substrate with an adhesive.
Low Pressure Laminate: Melamine
An alternative form of laminate is Melamine. Melamine varies in thickness and the surface material is compressed at a lower pressure compared to other laminates.
Melamine is constructed by bonding layers of paper under a low pressure. Melamine kitchen cupboard doors are made with either moisture resistant MDF (timber fibres) or particleboard (particles of softwood) with a square edged profile. The melamine resin fuses the chosen material onto the board, eliminating the need for an adhesive.
Kitchen laminate and melamine can be finished with a high or low gloss depending on the desired look.
The pros and cons of both include:
- The compound found in both is extremely durable
- Is a cost-effective option
- Available in a wide range of colours
- Is an excellent surface to work on
- Easily installed
- Is easy to clean and maintain, and can be taken off and painted to restore its appearance
- The edging can peel and the colour can chip
- Abrasive liquids and cleaning tools can scratch the surface
- Laminate materials can vary, meaning you may spend more than you initially intended
Despite the downfalls of laminate cabinets, if they’re well maintained they will keep up appearances for years to come.
A polyurethane finish is a versatile and contemporary option; however, it is slightly more high-end than budget-friendly laminate. Polyurethane doors are painted, buffed and baked three times to give a seamless appearance. The painted finish is available in high gloss or satin, and the edges are sealed with vinyl paint.
- Fully customisable colour and strength preferences
- Sealed edges create a profiled finish
- Perfect for handle-less kitchen cabinets
- Can be easily cleaned and repaired
- Cabinet doors can be filled and resprayed to restore a new appearance
- Polyurethane manufacturers must be mindfully selected as quality can vary
- Poorer quality doors are susceptible to peeling, chipping and discolouration
- Expensive application
Although polyurethane is an expensive option, its seamless appearance will significantly enhance your kitchen design.