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Cabinetry 101

In our third blog in our Cabinetry 101 series we will discuss the various types of cabinetry finishes! One of the things that we really love about our job is that we are able to educate clients. Oftentimes a new client will come in with the idea that their new cabinets have to be painted white. When we start asking questions about how they envision their new kitchen, they are really looking to lighten and brighten and think that white paint is the only way to do that. What a lot of people don’t realize is that paint, when compared to stained wood, or laminate is typically the most expensive and least durable finish you can choose. They also don’t realize that keeping your white cabinets clean is an undertaking that most people don’t want to take on. One former client came in and said that she was planning on a white kitchen. As we got to know her and drilled down to what she was looking for we realized that in the end a white painted kitchen wouldn’t make her happy. She worked in a hospital and was afraid of her kitchen looking too stark and cold but really wanted light and bright, so instead of white paint we showed her a door made from red oak with an alabaster solid color stain. The red oak added texture and alabaster is a warmer white. Additionally, stained wood is more durable and less expensive than paint! When her kitchen was complete, she loved that it was light and bright while still being warm and fun. What do you think of her kitchen? Now can you imagine it in bright white paint? We can’t either! At Cabinets by Trivonna you have the following finish choices:

If you were to walk into our showroom and try to wade through this all by yourself, it would be extremely overwhelming. That’s why when you meet with a designer, we are able to get a feel for your style and show you finish options that will get you to your ultimate goal. We’ve broken down each finish type below for you.

Natural Finish

Sometimes you just love a wood in it’s natural state. Maybe it’s the blonde of maple, the variety and richness of walnut or the tone of alder. If that’s the case, we can finish your cabinet with a clear coat designed to protect your cabinetry. What’s important to remember is that wood reacts to the elements and will change overtime depending on the amount of light, air, and moisture it’s exposed to. Depending on the wood species the change may be dramatic or subtle. This is a natural process and is part of the charm of having wood cabinetry.

  • Maple starts light and bright and takes on a deep honey color over time.
  • Cherry gets darker over time and tends to have red tones.
  • Walnut starts with dark brown and tends to lighten and a honey color tends to come through the grain.
  • White Oak tends to change very little over time. The golden tones tend to grow slightly richer.
  • Hickory can darken and take on a more yellow tone.
  • Mahogany will darken.
    Red Oak is known for its reddish-brown hue, which deepens over time.
  • Alder tends to become a shad lighter in color.

Whichever wood species you choose, the color change tends to be the most dramatic in the first year. If you want natural wood with the most subtle change then Alder is what we recommend.


  • Going natural is not only beautiful but it will hold up the best to everyday use. If you were to dent a cabinet door, it will be less obvious and you won’t need to try to find a matching color to touch it up.


  • Your limited on your selection by the species of woods available from your cabinet manufacturer

Stain on Wood

Stains are a thin translucent layer that is absorbed into the wood. Stains change the overall color or tone of the wood while allowing the natural elements to shine through. Stains can be used to highlight a certain color tone or it can completely change the color while still allowing the wood grain to show through. Some stain options we have can darken or lighten, add red, blue or grey tones or even make the wood look black. Bellmont Cabinet company has created solid color stains which are applied to red oak. We can often use this finish for a client that wants the look of a painted kitchen without the added expense or the durability issues that come with paint.

This picture shows two walnut doors with different stains from DeWil’s Fine Cabinetry. The door on the left has a “frost” stain and the door on the right has a “nutmeg” stain. They are both the same wood but look completely different thanks to the magic of stain!

When we are helping a client make their selections, we will first get a feel for how much or little wood grain they like. Then we focus on finding a color which will often dictate the wood species.


  • Highly resistant to wear and tear because the stain soaks into the wood as opposed to a paint which is on the surface.
  • Each piece looks unique, different parts of wood absorb stain differently. Depending on the species this can be subtle or bold.


  • No control of woodgrain and color variation through cabinetry. However, a darker stain can tone some of the variation down a bit.

Painted cabinets

Painted cabinets provide a smooth, uniform finish that will cover the grain of the wood that is used to construct the cabinets. This finish is ideal for economy cabinets as the paint covers the material used to build them.

When working with good quality cabinets paint is more expensive than a stained wood or engineered product and it tends to be less durabl. Painted cabinets are most likely to chip and show signs of wear, especially where they’re frequently used. Additionally, when painting on wood, you can eventually have cracks where the wood joins together. Wood expands and contracts due to moisture, temperature, and other environmental factors… paint doesn’t. To prevent this, we will often recommend painting on HDF (High density fiberboard) doors rather than wood, although we have both options.


  • Can paint on a variety of products including engineered, maple, birch, red oak and alder.
  • Offers a smooth, uniform finish which allows more control than is possible with wood.
  • Often trendy so can help with the sale of a home.


  • Lack of durability.
  • Keeping clean can be a challenge, especially with lighter colors such as white.
  • More expensive than stained wood.


A glaze is generally a hand wiped or brushed product that goes on a stained or painted product. It’s meant to highlight the profile edges of the cabinetry, including any exposed surface. Glazes can give an antique appearance adding depth and complexity. Glazes are often black, brown, grey, or white but can come in other colors depending on the manufacturer. Glazes are typically used when trying to accomplish a rustic, antique, or vintage look.

Because glazes are typically done by hand the cost can increase by 15-30%. However, it can look amazing. Sometimes we will add glazing to some of the cabinets in a project, creating a feature wall or area. We have a lot of fun using glazes on bars, built ins around fireplaces or on an island. Other design elements can make the cabinetry look like built ins.


  • Can accomplish a rustic, antique or vintage look for your project.

  • Your cabinetry will be unique and one of a kind.


  • Can be expensive.

  • Can add additional time to manufacturing process typically about 1 week.


Distressing can mean a lot of things when it comes to cabinetry. After they paint or stain your cabinets they can add splits, worm holes, bruising, wire brushing, burn marks, cow tails, worn edges, bird pecks, gauge holes, screw marks, large chips, dings and dents, soft corners, or sand the edges. This can add a rustic, antique, traditional or sometimes unique feel to your project. Bellmont’s Villa Collection combines colored stains with glazes and distressing to create a unique look to your cabinets for example we have a display in “Blue Corn” with distressing in our showroom. Here is a closeup: Pros:
  • Will be one of a kind and unique.
  • If you’re rough on your cabinets, no one will be able to tell!
  • It can add anywhere from 2-20% to your project because this is usually done by hand.

Engineered Products

You’ll be surprised what you’ll find in this category. Products in this category range from inexpensive and durable to trendy but spendy. This category could really be its own blog post if we get carried away so we will try to focus on the products we can offer you.

Textured Structured Surfaces

Our most popular product in this category is a Textured Structured Surfaces (TSS) Laminate. When you think about laminate cabinets you may think about those old ones in your parents or grandparents’ home that are peeling? Well, this is not that. Designed to replicate real organic colors and patterns, these laminates are bonded to a substrate with heat and pressure using a textured steel plate. As a result, you get a durable, tactile surface with greater color uniformity and ease of maintenance compared to natural wood.


  • More durable than a painted cabinet.

  • Easy to clean.

  • Wide variety of colors and styles.

  • Uniformity without the sometimes-sterile look of paint.

  • Some products are anti-microbial.

  • More resistant to water than paint or stained wood.

  • Can sometimes be an eco-friendlier option as a lot of these products are made from recycled materials.

  • Typically, the least expensive option because it requires the least labor to build.


  • Only available in slab or flat door styles.

  • Difficult for traditional homes.

  • Hard to touch up.

Fenix® Collection

Another engineered product that we are in love with is available from DeWils Fine Cabinetry. Their Fenix® Collection features nanotechnology for extreme durability unlike anything previously available. Some of its amazing features:

  • Thermal healing of micro scratches

  • Anti-fingerprint

  • Soft Touch

  • Enhanced anti-bacterial properties

  • Resistance to dry heat

  • High resistance to acid solvents and household agents

This product is so awesome that your little one can write on it with permanent marker, and you can use a magic eraser to get it off! Don’t believe us? Just come into the showroom and we will show you! This product comes in 13 different colors.


  • Highly durable

  • Easy to clean

  • Anti-bacterial properties


  • Only available in slab doors

Luxe® High-Gloss

DeWil’s Cabinetry’s Luxe® High-Gloss collection is a polyester high gloss material that is 5x more durable than acrylic. Not only that but it’s scratch, impact, heat, stain & vapor resistant as well as 100% UV Stable.

The Euroline finish is featured in this display in our showroom.

Their Luxe® Matte Collection is also made from a soft touch polyester material but offering a different look. Their color offerings range from black to white to marble and everything inbetween.


  • Excellent intensity & color depth.

  • Scratch, impact, heat, stain, and vapor resistant.

  • 5x more durable than acrylic.

  • 100% UV Stable.

  • Easy maintenance.


  • Limited color choices.

  • The high gloss finish can show fingerprints.

  • Can be more expensive than laminates.

Believe it or not we actually have more options than this! At the end of the day, we have hundreds of options but after talking to you a bit, and asking some questions we can typically narrow this down pretty easily. So let us know when your ready to come in and take a look!