Unfinished Kitchen Cabinets

Browse helpful info on unfinished kitchen cabinets, and sort through options for staining, painting or leaving them in their natural state.
Brown Kitchen with Unfinished Cabinets

Brown Kitchen with Unfinished Cabinets

The unfinished cabinets in this kitchen show off the wood's natural beauty and rich brown tone. The stainless steel appliances provide a crisp, contemporary contrast.

Photo by: Garret Bautista

Garret Bautista

By: Sean McEvoy

Once you've chosen a material for your kitchen cabinets, your next step is to choose a finish—and if you're like many homeowners, you'll want to give yourself ultimate flexibility by purchasing unfinished kitchen cabinets. This way, whether you choose to stain, paint or leave the cabinets unfinished, this crucial final step will be completely in your control.

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In terms of material, unfinished kitchen cabinets are almost exclusively made from wood, left in its natural state, without any stain, varnish or paint treatments. This means you or a contractor will be free to choose the treatment that works best for your kitchen.

You'll have almost unlimited options when it comes to completing the look of unfinished kitchen cabinets. The first and by far the easiest choice is to leave them in their stark, natural, unfinished state. Unfinished cabinets tend to give a kitchen a welcoming, rustic, casual feel, and certain types of wood like cherry, mahogany and ivory offer a high-quality unfinished appearance.

Your next option is to stain the cabinets, or add a veneer. Staining is more labor intensive, but it has a more natural look than a veneer, and the range of stain colors is much more diverse than the range of veneer colors.

Finally, you may choose to paint your unfinished kitchen cabinets. Again, you'll have every color in the rainbow and unlimited combinations thereof to choose from. If you do choose to paint, just be certain beforehand that you're willing to mask the wood's natural grain and appearance—or some version of it in combination with a stain—in favor of a particular paint color.

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