Put the Finishing Touches on Your Semi Custom Cabinets with Glazes and a Variety of Techniques

Madison Ivory Morel

Semi custom cabinets win out over big box cabinets in part because you have hundreds of choices in styles, stains and paints. With finishes such as glazing techniques, you can customize your cabinets even more, for exactly the look you’re going for.

A glaze or other kind of finish might seem inconsequential, but it can completely change the look. For example, if you were to choose a door style, and compare one version of that style as gray glazed cabinets and the other as white cabinets with gray glaze, you’d get a very different effect, even though both doors were “gray.” This kind of nuance is another layer of customizing your cabinets for you.

Yet navigating all of the glaze options can be overwhelming! How do you know what kind of finish you might want? You keep reading… Below we describe four options you might want to consider as a way to finish your cabinets for very different effects: artisanal, vintage, sharp and sophisticated.

Artisanal: Hand-wiped glaze on semi custom cabinets

For the hand-wiped glaze technique, the glaze is literally applied by hand over stain or paint. The hand-wiping technique leaves a hint of color all over the door and more color deposited in the edges and corners. The look is more traditional, and resembles hand-painted furniture—which it almost is. Semi custom cabinets with hand-wiped glaze have an artisanal, hand-crafted quality about them.

Vintage: Heirloom finishes on semi custom cabinets

If a vintage look appeals to you, consider a heirloom finish. Heirloom finishes are hand-wiped glazes, paints or stains applied as described above, and then “distressed.” The finish is sanded off of the semi custom cabinets in places that would naturally get wear and tear over time, such as on the corners or in “dented” areas. Cabinets with heirloom finishes tend to be rich in texture too, because of this treatment.

With this technique, your kitchen gets a lived in look, like your grandmother’s really old kitchen table and chairs with the paint rubbed off in places. Sure that furniture is worn looking, but it’s an antique so you leave it that way—and you love it that way because years of family life gathered around the table rubbed away that paint.

Sharp: Pencil glazes on semi custom cabinets

Pencil glazes are not really glazes. The technique is more like taking a glaze “marker” to all the edges and corners on the cabinet doors. This gives you a sharper finish that emphasizes the profile or style of the cabinet door without muddling up the overall paint or stain on the rest of the door.

Sophisticated: Brushed glazes on semi custom cabinets

If your vision is a sophisticated kitchen, consider brushed glazes. Brushed glazes are the same glazes that we use for the hand-wiped technique, but in this case the glaze is gently and lightly brushed in long strokes over the door and cabinet. This finish can create a very sophisticated look, as you can see in the cabinets pictured here. These cabinets are Santa Fe style in maple wood, with a willow stain and chocolate brushed glaze. See the consistent vertical brushwork on the cabinet door fronts? That’s the brushed glazing.

Whether you choose gray glazed cabinets or white cabinets with gray glaze—or something different altogether—these glazes and finishes play a large part in customizing your semi custom cabinets to make your dream kitchen uniquely yours, and you won’t find these kinds of options with the big box store cabinets.

Santa Fe Willow Chocolate Brushed