Popular Finishes for Kitchen Doors & Panels

Kitchen cabinet doors and panels are commonly made up of two components – the core board (usually MDF or compact particle board) and the surface layer that is applied to the board. Most are available in textured, matt or gloss. Satin and ultra-high gloss finishes are also popular.

There are 5 main types of door & panel products available, each with their own benefits and which one you choose will depend on the purpose of your new kitchen, who’s going to be living there and how much money you want to spend.


Polyurethane (often referred to as 2 pack) is an MDF board that is sprayed with very hard and super-durable polyurethane paint (refers to a paint finish comprised of a two-part solution of paint and hardener providing the same quality as that of automotive paint). There are several finishes available in two pack: high gloss, semi gloss, satin, and matte finish. There is no need for separate edging with 2 pack as the paint covers the front and sides of the board all at once.

Two Pack kitchens have a terrific reputation. They are often seen in high-end kitchens. This door style is beautiful in finish, and as varied in look as the homes these kitchens are usually installed in. Of all the door material finishes, 2 pack can be completely personalised in colour and profile.

You can choose any colour from any paint brand such as Dulux, Taubmans, Wattyl or similar. (Although, we recommend Dulux over other brands due to it’s reliable, consistent colour finish.)

Pros: Super durable and moisture resistant; infinite colour options; smooth consistent edge finish; available in gloss or satin finish.

Cons: Expensive to replace; takes longer to manufacture than laminate.

Laminate is manufactured using thin layers of printed paper which are sealed and protected by thermosetting resins and bonded onto large sheets of MDF board using advanced high-pressure machinery. These pre-finished boards are then machine cut and edged with matching ABS edging by a cabinet maker or joiner in their factory before installing.

Laminates are tough, hard wearing and resistant to heat, moisture & scratching. Advanced, high-clarity digital printers allow brands like Laminex & Polytec to offer products that mimic natural stone or timber, with textures so realistic you may even mistake it for the real thing.

Melamine is a low-pressure laminate. It cost less to produce however, not as durable as high-pressure laminate. It is good to apply on the vertical surface such as doors and panels, but not benchtops.

Boasting a large range of colours & prints in different finishes (matte, gloss, textured & ultra gloss), laminate is one of the most versatile and cost effective kitchen cabinet products available. Stick with known brands as their products are well researched, tested, safe and have strong retail support.

Pros: Super durable, resistant to surface wear, heat and scratching; easy to clean; available in a vast range of colours, textures and designs; least expensive material available (with some exceptions for the higher range laminate products).

Cons: Not much. It has an edging applied that isn’t as seamless as polyurethane but that’s about it.

Acrylic is a cold pressed acrylic foil that’s mounted to the MDF board through a machine lamination process.

If high-gloss is what you want, look no further than this super reflective, colour-fade and UV resistant product. Acrylic’s mirror-like finish is one of the most lustrous surfaces available for kitchen cabinets today and looks stunning when paired with a contrasting material in a matte finish.

If you’re the eco-conscious type, you’ll be pleased to know that acrylic surfaces are VOC-free, colour pigments are free from heavy metals and it can also be recycled.

Acrylic surfaces are similar to laminates in that the product cannot be wrapped around corners so the edging is a separate piece that is mounted to the board after the pre-finished panels have been cut down to size.  Edging is usually available in 3 different options: matching colour, glass bead or aluminium finish.

Pros: Durable & hard wearing; gloss rating of 90% (2 pack has 60% in comparison), now available in a satin/matte finish; easy to keep clean; fingerprint-proof finish availible; UV resistant; different edging available if you fancy something different.

Cons: Has a separate edging like all laminates do (not a seamless, wrapped edge finish like poly), limited colour range, can scratch if not cared for properly.

Vinyl Wrap (also known as thermo-laminate) is made from a MDF board coated in a decorative surface (vinyl) that goes through a vacuum process to mould the vinyl onto the door.

Cheaper versions of vinyl wrap have been known to peel away and even discolour over time. This is not the case with a quality vinyl wrap, which should last in your home for many years. Vinyl wrap kitchen doors are great for a seamless look – as there are no edges – and for profile doors.

Pros: Can achieve different shaped door profiles (e.g. shaker, v-groove, federation); seamless finish with no separate edging, moulded in one piece; huge selection of colours and textures.

Cons: Susceptible to heat & moisture damage.

Timber veneer is thin slices of actual wood that are generally glued on to core panels (called substrates) and coated in a clear protective resin finish to create flat sheets. Much like laminate only using a real timber product as opposed to a paper-printed one.

Veneer has all the beauty of natural timber with enhanced durability and strength. And, once glued to a substrate, timber veneer sheets are not as prone to warping or splitting like natural timber is. You can use timber veneer in a huge number of functional and design-driven ways to create a warm and pleasing ambience.

Pros: Durable, resistant to UV, scratching, staining & moisture, contains real timber so looks and feels authentic.

Cons: Most expensive option

Our Recommendations

wood grain laminate white kitchen in a rental house

Investment/rental properties

     We prefer laminate:

  • It’s the least expensive surface available
  • Has plenty of colour, texture and finish options
  • Hard wearing, low maintenance for rentals
  • Adds as much value as any other kitchen cabinet material

The main purpose of an investment property is to make money and ideally, you want high returns for low spends. Laminate will give you that.

Tenants don’t look after things the same way an owner/occupier would so it’s wise to choose a cabinet material that can take a few hits without needing repair or replacement too often.

Laminate is durable & very hard wearing. It won’t dent or chip like polyurethane can. Even if it does happen to get damaged it’s inexpensive to replace.

2 pack modern kitchen

Owner/occupiers (no kids)

     We prefer 2 pack and timber veneer:

  • Both are a deluxe finish meant to be enjoyed
  • 2 pack colour options are almost endless, easy to match
  • Timber veneer is a premium product in line with current trends

Timber veneer adds a natural, organic element to your kitchen that can be used to create contrast between finishes for a more contemporary design. It also lowers the required maintenance that usually comes with using natural products.

2 pack is a beautiful finish that wraps seamlessly around the edges of the door panels. The only downsides is that it dent easily if not cared for and it’s expensive to replace. However, when you live in your own home you are more likely to look after things so the risk of damage is greatly reduced (especially if there are no small children running around).

2 pack and laminate combined kitchen finish

Owner/occupiers (with kids)

     We prefer laminate or a combo:

  • Small children wreck things
  • Mixing finishes creates a high-end effect in line with current kitchen trends
  • The flexible colour range of 2 pack makes it easy to match with other materials

If you bang an object into a laminate or acrylic board, not much will happen. Do the same with 2 apck however, and it may leave a dent mark on the surface. If this doesn’t sit right with you, we don’t recommend choosing 2 pack for lower cabinets in homes with small children who are likely to damage it at some stage.

Alternatively, if you’re not keen on a full laminate or acrylic kitchen, why not combine two different materials together? Place the 2 pack up top away from reach of children and the more durable laminate or acrylic on the bottom for the best of both worlds.

Bespoke cabinet maker since 2003

ABN: 99 099 805 688

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Visit our showroom:
448 Whitehorse Road, Mitcham

Phone: 03 9874 5184

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