Clear coats help protect the wood from damage, everyday wear and tear, and moisture. There are plenty of finishes in shops today, but there are also things to consider when choosing the right one. When updating your kitchen cabinets or simply remodeling, you will be required to use the right finish for brighter and more friendly spaces. The stunning appearance that comes with it is courtesy of using the best clear coats for kitchen cabinets. Preparation is critical when applying the clear coat, and keenness is a must.
It will ensure not to leave uneven texture or residue on your cabinets when applied the right way. The rougher surface at the end of the day will be shiny and smooth to the feel. Save money for buying new furniture and repairs and instead use it to buy a finish that will offer durability.
Remember that a lousy finish can ruin the whole project even after spending money to make positive changes. The article looks at some of the best clear coats for kitchen cabinets available and what to look out for when buying one. It is very informative and worth reading to the end to aid you in making the right decisions.
Table of Contents
Is a Clear Coat Necessary for My Kitchen?
Absolutely yes! I highly recommend having a clear coat for your kitchen cabinets if you prefer durability with less maintenance. Apart from that, you’ll enjoy a more friendly and brighter space.
With this coat in kitchen cabinets, you rest assured protection from chipping, scratching, and dirt.
This product is more beneficial, especially if your kitchen has more exposure to natural light. Gratitude goes to its composition of UV blockers that will help preserve the colors.
If you make the application correctly, you won’t have to worry about any messy finish on your cabinet doors.
The peak of its features is how it provides a nice smooth and shiny finish for rough edges and surfaces. But, that’s not all since the clear coat will highlight the natural beauty of your cabinets while offering protection.
How to Apply a Clear Coat to Kitchen Cabinets
Below is a breakdown of the application process.
Step 1: Surface preparation
It’s always nice to work on a clean surface. Doing this will facilitate proper adhesion and enhanced durability.
You can prepare the surface by smooth sanding. Afterward, wipe off the residues with a clean cloth.
Step 2: Apply the first coat.
Use either a paintbrush or a clean rag to apply the first coat lightly. Ensure you apply following the grain pattern to produce an elegant finish.
Note: Starting with the lighter coat will let the surface thoroughly dry to allow for the next coat.
Tip: You can consider priming with water-down poly. Alternatively, lightly layering the surface with pure polyester can also be an option.
Step 3: Let the first coat dry.
As per the manufacturer’s instructions, allow the first coat to dry completely. Then, lightly sand the surface and clean it in preparation for the second coat.
Note: While sanding, ensure you follow the wood’s grains direction.
Step 4: Apply the second coat.
Here, you’ll do the application the same way you did for the first coat. The only difference is that you’ll need a heavier coating.
What if you have a lot of traffic? You may want to add a third coat for guaranteed durability.
Can I Put A Clear Coat Over Painted Cabinets?
Yes, you can. A clear coat will be essential since it will prevent the paint from being scraped or scratched easily.
In the old days, the only solution to a chipped or scraped surface was repainting. But this is long gone since the modern clear coats can protect the painted surface much longer.
However, the coating over your painted surface does not mean that it can never get scratched or chipped.
All thanks to the clear nature of this product, no one can easily notice the flaws unless it’s a pretty close inspection.
Note: Without this coat on your painted cabinets, even the tiniest scratch will eventually start peeling away as it’s exposed to air.
Therefore, unless you want to do a lot of repainting over your cabinets, consider using a clear coat for durability purposes.
Does Polyurethane Keep Paint From Chipping?
Absolutely! Your paint will be safe from chipping since applying polyurethane is the best way of protecting the paint.
I recommend using oil based polyurethane since it levels out to a smoother and durable finish. Even so, you’ll have to wait several hours longer for it to dry.
One unique thing about this product is how you can apply it to any paint. You only need to ensure the surface is clean and properly prepared.
What makes polyurethane prevent the paint from chipping is the way it dries to a hard solid finish. But, if you expose it to direct sunlight, it will eventually crack and bubble.
What if your cabinets are in a very sunny kitchen? Here, you’ll consider using a product with UV blockers.
Note: The durability of your cabinets will depend on the number of coats you use. It’s always roughly between 10 – 20 years.
How Many Coats Of Polyurethane Do You Put On Cabinets?
As stated above, durability depends on the number of coats. However, all wood types mostly require only two coats, especially when using oil based polyurethane.
The first coat will either work as a primer or a sealer. Its main purpose is to prevent moisture from reaching the wood’s surface.
You’ll need the second coat to act as the finish. Adding the second coat will protect the first one by preventing it from chipping or peeling away.
What if you are using water based polyurethane? In such a circumstance, I recommend adding a third coat. And since the number of coats determines the durability, additional layers will be ideal for more protection.
Note: More than four coats will be a little exaggerated. Also, remember to sand between the coats suppose there is some dust or lint on the wet finish.
What Polyurethane Finish To Use On Kitchen Cabinets?
The most commonly used polyurethane is either water or oil based. Let’s take a breakdown of each to spot the differences.
Water based polyurethane
- They are a little bit harder.
- Don’t turn yellow over time.
- It dries crystal clear.
- Adds water resistance and a bit of shine to the surface.
Oil based polyurethane
- It offers outstanding beauty.
- It leaves the surface much glossier.
- The product lasts a little bit longer.
- They somehow alter the wood’s color (darkens the wood).
- It acquires a yellowish shade in the long run.
From the above points, feel free to choose the ideal product for your kitchen cabinet.
Note: When using water based polyurethane, consider the color of your wood. And if your cabinet has a very pale color, an oil based coating will help add some color.
What Sheen Is Best For Kitchen Cabinets?
Before choosing the ideal sheen for your kitchen cabinets, I suggest considering the wood type and the cabinet’s color.
You can go for a flat finish since it helps in highlighting the wood’s natural beauty. Consequently, you can enhance the wood’s color and beauty by using the appropriate level of shine.
Tip: Flat coatings will offer little to no sheen. However, you rest assured of the highest degree of sheen if you go for an oil based coating or a full gloss polyurethane.
What if you prefer a medium level sheen? Well, choose to use a satin or semi gloss coatings.
Note: Cleaning glossy surfaces is a straightforward task.
Best Clear Coat for Kitchen Cabinets Comparison Table
|General Finishes High Performance Water Based Topcoat, 1 Quart, Satin
|Minwax 65555444 Polycrylic Protective Finish Water Based, quart, Gloss
|Varathane 200241H Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane, Quart, Satin Finish
|Minwax 630500444 Water Based Helmsman Spar Urethane, quart, Gloss
|Minwax 60910000 Wipe-On Poly, 1 Quart, Satin
|Watco 63041 Lacquer Clear Wood Finish, Quart, Clear Gloss
|Deft Interior Clear Wood Finish Gloss Brushing Lacquer, Quart
|Minwax 155100000 Clear Lacquer, 1 Quart, Satin
|Deft Interior DFT108/04 Waterborne Clear Wood Finish Semi-Gloss, Quart
|Deft Interior Exterior Water-Based Polyurethane Finish Gloss, Quart
Best Clear Coat for Kitchen Cabinets Buyers Guide
When setting out your feet in the market, you can be completely confused over the different wood finish types available. This article has managed to speak about the most common wood finishes and the differences between them. For the buyer’s guide section, we will discuss what to look out for when buying the best clear coats for kitchen cabinets.
Why Do You Need a Clear Coat for Kitchen Cabinets
- It prevents the wood from wearing and tearing
- It gives rougher surfaces a smooth finish
- It makes space brighter and more friendly
- It brings out the unique natural beauty of the wood grain
- Avoids and prevents paint degradation
- It makes your project more durable
- Protects from dust, scratching, and chipping
- The clear coat offers a stunning appearance
- Preserves the color of the furniture for a long time
- Controls the fading effect over time
- It does not leave the wood messy after application.
Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Clear Coat for Kitchen Cabinets
It simply means that a material can remain helpful in the surrounding environment where it will be. The question that you ask yourself is, what is the project type? This question will enable you to identify whether you will require protection from spills, for example, a dining table or something that is not subjected to extreme wear and tear, like a storage box.
The clear coat should be well stated on what it will do to your furniture to withstand damage, pressure, and wearing out. In this regard, your table will exist for a long time without deteriorating in its quality.
Choice of color
When planning to do a repainting job in your house and especially your kitchen area, choice of color is of utmost importance. The color of your curtains and chairs should blend with your furniture to give out an overall eye-catching interior look. Whenever you find it difficult picking a color, consult the experts or go for a neutral color to not spoil the beauty.
Some stains can be combined that are bright and dark. All these entirely depend on your taste and preference, so it will not be so hard after all when picking the correct finish color. Consider checking the technical specs you will find something suitable for your desired application.
When buying a coat, it is vital to watch out for the instructions. It needs to be clear that the type of finish will be in a position to protect your furniture from high abrasion. This mainly occurs predominantly in the kitchen, where sharp and metallic objects are stored. The kitchen is a bustling area, and at times, instead of placing something inside calmly, you find yourself throwing it.
Your furniture needs to maintain its new fresh appearance by overcoming all that. Heat and moisture is also an important aspect that requires protection by applying the right coat. When you put all this into consideration, at the end of the day, your work will enjoy every bit and corner of your house.
Ever heard of the phrase cheap is expensive? Well, then you will know that buying something cheap may end up costing you in terms of repairs to maintain it. Human beings tend to look at the price of a product instead of focusing on its benefits and needs.
In most cases, cheap comes with a lower price and a higher cost, while expensive comes with a higher tag and lower cost. When you have this in mind, you will be focusing on the benefits other than price when buying the best clear coat for kitchen cabinets.
Clearcoat options come with different finishes, which in turn gives a different feel. The look and the feeling will not be the same when using semi-gloss, gloss, or satin. Every one of these types offers its kind of smoothness. When cleaning, a high gloss finish is more accessible than a satin one. As the end-user, you are more familiar with your furniture and what can work well to bring out your house’s beauty. Just make the right choice, and you will be good to go.
Method of application
As we have stated earlier, the three most common types of sheen are semi-gloss, satin, and gloss. Each one offers a different level of smoothness to suit the right kind of furniture and texture. Hardwood floorsdo not work well with a plain facade as they will cause people to slip and fall in accidents.
When applying thins coats, it can be hard doing that with a brush. It will force you to do more coats and waste much of your time and energy. It is best applied with a spray gun since it acts as a solvent. Just make sure the clear coat is dried to the touch and not tacky.
Following the manual
Once you the best clear coat for kitchen cabinets, you will also require the right hands to do the job. The coat usually comes with an instruction manual for how to use the contents. Not everyone can paint as well as not everyone can apply a coat. It becomes much easier for professional woodworkers or wood enthusiasts.
If you cannot follow the user guide and do a good job, please consult a professional to do it for. You may have to stretch your pockets dipper, or if you have a friend who is willing to help, it will be better. As they do it the first time, they can also teach you the basics to get it done next time.
Best Clear Coat for Kitchen Cabinets Product Reviews
In this section of the article, I have looked at some of the very best clear coat formulas that you can use for your kitchen cabinets. Stay keen on the finer details that make the difference. Look at the product features, the advantages as well as the disadvantages that come with the use of respective products. Keep reading for more insight…
1. General Finishes High-Performance Water Based Topcoat
General finishes are a well-known brand as one of the best finishes in the market. The water-based topcoat comes in several sheens types that include semi-gloss, flat, gloss, and satin. For a woodworker to use this product, it’s essential to ensure that they do proper sanding and, in the process, get to remove dust.
The high-performance finish has once been the winner of the fine woodworking best overall choice award. It tells you how great it is and that many people have used it, and it does not disappoint. Once the coating is applied to wood, it does not come out quickly. It reduces accidental scratches from being too loud and spoiling the wood.
Other than that, it protects the wood surface from stains, cracking, and swelling. To prepare the cover for the finish on raw, you should sand with 120 grit sandpaper followed by 150 or 220 grit. You do not need to file; you apply directly to the stained surface.
When using the general finishes, please do not shake it but stir thoroughly. You can also thin as desired with distilled water starting with 5 percent and adding up to 10 percent by volume. The product works perfectly in a well-ventilated area.
Summary of top features
- It contains a UV stabilizer to protect it from breaking down in sunlight or fading.
- It is a high performer
- It can be hand-applied or sprayed
- Dry time takes only 1 to 2 hours’ top
- It is available in different sheens
- Durable and clear
- It is only appropriate for indoor use
2. Minwax 65555444 Polycrylic
The Minwax Polycrylic offers proven protection that will match your style at any given time. You can use the product over different wood types, but it is best suited for lighter woods. Durability is vital for a woodworker with this product. The protective finish, just by its name, will protect your furniture as well as adding beauty to it.
When applied, it gives crystal precise results as it remains that way to keep the color accurate. It works perfectly over bare wood and all stains that include even light and cool colors. The product is composed of fast ultra-dry components, and that is why it is possible to recoat the finish almost immediately. You get to recoat in just about two hours.
Once the final clear coat has dried for 24 hours, the finish will be fully hardened and cured. During the application activity, you can use a synthetic bristle brush to apply thin coats. It produces milky white results but dries crystal clear afterward. It is essential to know that the Minwax Polycyclic is never recommended for floors.
Polycrylic gets to protect your furniture, woodwork, doors, and cabinets for long-lasting beauty. The product is readily available in sheens of matte, semi-gloss, satin, gloss, and ultra-flat. The clear finish can also clean up quickly using soap and water as directed by the manufacturer.
Summary of top features
- Manufactured in a range of different sheens
- It offers extreme protection to wood and adds beauty
- Has proven to be durable
- Has almost no odor at all or yellowing
- It dries up fast
- It is effortless to store/keep
- It becomes straightforward to clean
- Best suitable for thinning
- It does not offer any color
3. Varathane 200241H
Varathane is a crystal clear protective layer for interior wood surfaces. It is a water-based polyurethane manufactured by a company known as rust-oleum, a very well-known brand in the market. The product is amicable for someone who has a strict budget. As with Varathane, it gives you a perfect clear gloss making it ideal for applications that require superior shine and glow.
Any woodworker will pick it as a choice for excellent high-quality wood furniture. It is advised to give your cabinets a good stain before applying the clear coat since it is perfect for kitchen cabinets. Doing this will avoid leaving your cabinets with a rather plain look. The user can use the finish on light-colored paints, and it will not yellow or cause a dark tone.
Since this product is a water-based one, it dries up fast and can be made clean with soap and water. What could be better than the indoor protection of wood surfaces such as furniture, cabinets, windows, trim, and so much more. For excellent clarity, its durable formula provides outstanding scratch and stain resistance. Varathane is a trusted brand and produces quality clear coats as desired.
Summary of top features
- Dries to the touch in 30 minutes
- Coverage of up to 125 sq. ft
- It is a durable formula that provides outstanding stain and scratch resistance.
- A convenient clear formula that is ideal for interior projects
- Protects indoor wood surfaces
- Dries fast and cleans up with soap and water
- The satin provides a satin and natural look
- It is clean, making it challenging to apply at times.
4. Minwax 630500444, Helmsman
Helmsman Minwax has been specially made to guard against moisture and temperature changes, whether outdoors or indoors. The oils allow the finish to expand and contract with the wood as seasons and temperatures change. No one would want their furniture to bulge or swell during summer, ultimately losing its shape.
It will excessively waste your time and money, and it loses its meaning. Thanks to this spar, urethane offers exceptional protection from the sun’s ultraviolet graying effects, rain, and moisture. It is a clear protective finish for exterior or interior wood exposed to temperature changes in a nutshell. As one of the leading brands of internal wood stains in the united states, it will truly live up to its name by keeping wood beautiful at all times.
The fact that it is also Non-Ambering, it is low in odor and cleans up with soap and warm water. It is ideal for doors, windows, trim, bathroom, cabinets, bar tops, kitchen, and countertops. Let’s not forget the UV blockers contained to help prevent the piece of furniture from direct negative impact. To achieve excellent results, it is good to use a bristle brush in the application process.
When it comes time to perform some cleaning, always use mineral spirit or paint thinner. It is best for woodwork, molding, accessories, and paneling in line with what has been mentioned.
Summary of top features
- Manufactured with a UV blocker
- It contains a spar urethane
- It consists of chemicals that protect from the ultraviolet graying effects of the sun.
- It has a protective finish
- Very easy to clean
- Contains optimum thickness
- It is durable
- At times it causes bubbles when using it
5. Minwax 60910000 Wipe-On Poly Finish Clear
Another superb product from Minwax is known as the wipe-on poly. Minwax wipe on Poly is a durable, ultimate clear finish that combines polyurethane protection. The component has mixed chemicals that protect wood against household chemicals, food stains, wear, and water. It is particularly ideal for use even in wet areas as it protects furniture without a doubt.
Protection is possible since the sheen is oil-based and of a high-quality nature. There are only two sheens available for finish purposes that are gloss and satin. After purchase and time for wiping, always ensure the surface is dry, dust-free, and clean for positive results. It can be easily applied using a lint-free cloth, and you will not have to worry about marks formed by the effects of the brush.
Other than the application process being so easy, the drying process is also swift. This makes it great for trim, furniture, and railings. The results are top-notch and provide a hand-rubbed beauty that competes with the wood of the same caliber.
Since 1904, Minwax has continued to make a great impression by offering high-quality chemicals that serve the desired purpose. Try this component today and notice the difference that comes with the complete transformation of your household furniture.
Summary of top features
- Thin and durable
- It offers two finish options that are gloss or satin
- It has a polyurethane protection
- It is straightforward to clean
- There is the ease of application
- Offers excellent results
- It gets to dry fast
- Great for furniture, trim, and railings
- At times it turns yellow when applied on white wood.
6. Watco 63041 Lacquer Clear Wood Finish
When you are going for quality and not the price, you will mostly pick Watco Lacquer clear wood Finish. A user will be particular that the finish is suitable for panels, doors, and cabinets. Although the component is good, it is not recommended for exterior surfaces or floors.
Polyurethane is excellent, but for Lacquer, it is formulated for higher clarity. To achieve outstanding results, you should read the user guide or the instructions manual that comes in the box. There will be no doubt that your kitchen cabinets and doors will be long last as there will be no wear and tear.
A very economical and time-saving feature is that when applied using a spray gun, the formula spreads independently. A worthy product that eliminates the need for wood filler and protects against scratches. As the end-user, you will not need to sand between coats any longer.
Once the application process is done, it takes about 1 hour to dry and covers up to 290 sq. ft. please ensure to read the product labels as it may possess additional information that may come a long way to help with usage.
Summary of top features
- It eliminates the need for wood filler
- Dries to a crystal clear gloss
- Formulated for a higher clarity finish
- Protects against scratches
- It is a durable wood finish and seal
- It dries within 30 minutes and does not require sanding between coats
- It can spread itself, which makes work so much easier
- It is a little bit expensive, especially to homeowners who intend to save.
7. Deft Interior Clear Wood Finish Gloss Brushing Lacquer
Its brushing Lacquer is 100 percent nitrocellulose for most interior wood and metal surfaces for this clear wood finish. The component is easy to apply and assures professional results to your wood furniture. The presence of the CWF melts into self and offers a crystal clear finish that will not yellow or darken with time.
When applying a deft interior clear wood finish, please do not force it to dry, for example, moving it to a warm area to avoid forming bubbles. The exact temperatures you have used to apply are the same as you will use to dry it. It dries within 30 minutes of application which is relatively fast compared to its competitors. Improve on your home furniture by buying the finish and have your house look brand new.
You will no longer need to worry about the tear and wear in a very long time. Pass the magic on from generation to generation because what you ask for is what you get delivered. Most of the finished products tend to leave a yellowing effect, but it is not with this number one brand. The approximate coverage is 400 square feet per gallon that are available in gloss finish.
Summary of top features
- A CWF that melts into itself
- It does not darken or turn yellow
- It gives a crystal clear finish
- 100 percent nitrocellulose
- It dries up fast, not more than 30 minutes
- Very easy to apply
- It weighs only 2 pounds upon purchase
- It does provide 100 percent professional results
- The deft is a great product but with a foul odor
8. Minwax 155100000 Clear Lacquer
The Minwax clear satin is a wood-clear protective finish for any wood and metal. It is not recommended for floors as stated in the manual that comes with instructions for use. Minwax manufacturers make several products, but they ensure they are quality in each. They take a reasonable amount of time to meet individual customers’ needs all in one tin.
Upon purchase and application, it takes 2 hours to recoat and dries to the touch in 30 minutes, and makes sure there is a dust-free and smooth finish. The clear Lacquer is available for any home improvement to run away from furniture wearing out. The good thing is the finish can also be used on instruments like a guitar.
It is essential to inspect whether the device has been finished with a product other than the Lacquer. If it has, do not apply it twice to avoid poor results due to the confusion. In instances where you need to use it, all you have to do is send off the existing finish then you will be good to go.
When it comes to the yellowing effect, it gives out excellent results as there is no yellowing that appears for years on end. Get your Minwax 155100000 clear Lacquer and get that project or task running.
Summary of top features
- It completely dries in 30 minutes
- A beautiful clear finish for metal and wood
- It does not require any form of sanding in between coats
- It is used for cabinets, doors, woodwork, furniture, and accessories
- It can be applied using a tack cloth
- Works both on metal and wood
- You get to recoat in only 2 hours
- The product is not recommended for floors
9. Deft Interior DFT108/04 Waterborne Clear Wood Finish
Excellent on furniture, cabinets, antiques, molding, crafts, and over the faux finish. This waterborne clear wood finish has self-crosslinking 100 percent acrylic technology. The technology offers many of the same features and benefits as our traditional CWF Brushing Lacquer. The mode of application can be a pad, roller, brush, or spray application.
It offers a woodworker the comfort of picking how best to apply according to their preference. Some factors can push a user to use one method and not the other. It mostly suits wood with darker shades which means they will not need a higher level of sheen. One drawback is that it is a water-based clear coat, requiring light sanding before applying another coat.
It dries up very quickly and can be used using a brush or a spray gun. For this deft interior relating to its name, it does not suit outdoor use but indoor furniture. The crystal clear finish is easy to apply and has a low odor. Nobody wants a smell that is impossible to comprehend because it is very uncomfortable. A light and appropriate scent can allow a woodworker to conduct daily tasks with ease and complete projects on time.
Summary of top features
- A water-based clear coat
- 100 percent cross-linking acrylic waterborne finish
- The product is non-toxic and non-flammable
- Deft interior dries up fast
- It does not have an awful smell
- Available in a semi-gloss finish, which comes in a 1-quart can
- It is not fit for outdoor use
- It is among the most expensive paint around
10. Deft Interior Exterior Water-Based Polyurethane Semi-Gloss Finish
The product from deft is probably perhaps the best option any user would enjoy having in their workshop. It is unique for it is meant for not only indoors but also outdoors as well. People around the world are using it due to its double chance and excellent quality.
It can withstand extreme weather changes, for example, when it gets to be cold or when there is a warm temperature. There are UV rays that come from the sun, so this paint stops the damaging effect of the intense rays and offers superior protection. The name is water-based, but it is not entirely water-based. It has been mixed with some oil that assists the water in forming a clear coat and offering maximum protection on wood.
The oil base component gives a glowing finish to furniture, especially in the kitchen area, where almost everything is made from wood. You will have absolutely no doubt when doing your entire kitchen with the deft interior, exterior water-based polyurethane semi-gloss finish, as it will offer you excellent results to the last wood. Deft is one of the best clear coats for kitchen cabinets.
Summary of top features
- The deft interior exterior can be used for both indoor and outdoor purposes
- It is a combined mixture of water and oil-based, but water is in large portions
- It offers excellent protection from the damaging UV rays of the sun
- It has a low odor
- It gives a superior finish on wood
- It offers more outstanding durability than oil-based Poly
- Formulated with the latest modified urethane technology
- Meets and exceeds environmental regulations for VOC
- Not completely clear since it at times dries with a yellow tint
A clear coat will be the best choice for you whether you want to highlight wood’s natural beauty or have painted cabinets. Selecting the best clear coat that will do the right job for you is essential. Although everything may seem the same at first, they are formulated differently. These chemicals are vital as they make furniture shiny, protect it from damage, and always look new.
Having worked with virtually all the finishes that I have listed above, I still find the General Finishes High-Performance Water Based Topcoat, as the overall best clear coat for kitchen cabinets for your projects. It offers a lasting protective layer with a beautiful look. It dries faster and allows your cabinet the best natural look imaginable.
I hope you have enjoyed the information in this post as it will help you plan and set forth to purchase a suitable clear coat according to your test and preference. Make that ideal choice today and do a total makeover of your kitchen.