Polyurethane, Laminate, or Melamine – Which Finish Kitchen Cabinets to Choose?

Polyurethane, Laminate, or Melamine – Which Finish Kitchen Cabinets to Choose?

Kitchens have grown to be more than just a space for cooking for most of us. These days, a kitchen is essential in improving the overall value of our home as it is for cooking and entertaining. Our kitchen is the heart of our home. It’s where we create comfort, nourishment, and memories with family and friends. So, do you know the kitchen finish option that will work best in your kitchen? How do you know how to choose the one which will suit your needs?

Today, we will discuss three popular finish options: melamine finish, polyurethane, and laminate. There is a lot of confusion over what finish is best for our kitchen cabinets. Choosing the right finish for our kitchen cabinets is essential to ensure they last and maintain their glossy look for years to come.

What do we mean by Kitchen Finish?

Finish refers to the final application of color or laminate that gives your cabinets their last appearance. It relates to sheen or shine, which can be considered the protective layer that should be durable and long-lasting. Kitchens generally have finished on their cabinetry and countertops. These finishes include natural products, such as stone or timber, and manufactured products, such as polyurethane, laminate, and Melamine. When choosing a finish for your kitchen cabinetry, keep these factors in mind:

Intended use – Your kitchen’s intended use will determine the most appropriate finishes. You may use your kitchen for cooking, entertaining, or storage; whatever the case, having a specific reason will give you specific ideas on the best finish to suit your needs. Can customize every kitchen to fit your needs – no matter what they are!

•  Household demographic – you must know who’s living in the house. Is it a family with children, an older couple, or a home full of college students? A household demographic profile is the best way to choose finishing materials that consider everyone’s needs.

Interior design – Knowing what works best with your interior design aesthetics will provide you a leg up in selecting the finish of your choice.

Budget – careful consideration should also be given to your budget. Budgeting is essential when it comes to planning your kitchen finishes. You have to consider the budget for choosing a kitchen finish that fits your needs and wants to ensure that you don’t overspend or underestimate how much money you’ll need.

How to choose the proper kitchen finish?

The choice of kitchen finish has a significant impact on the overall look of your kitchen and cabinets. Given the above considerations, we have compiled a quick guide on the advantages and disadvantages of three of our most popular kitchen finishes polyurethane, laminate, and Melamine. Use the guide to decide which finish is right for you.

Polyurethane finishes

Polyurethane finishes are considered the most durable and long-lasting. You can find them in both satin and gloss versions. The satin version provides a little more protection against scratches and stains with just a bit of sheen, while the gloss is glassy smooth and very bright.

  • Advantages 
  1. Protection – Polyurethane finishes protect concrete and steel from harmful chemicals and bacteria, bird droppings, dirt, and debris. They also lengthen the life cycle of a building’s coating. Without this protection, you risk increased maintenance costs and shortened coating life cycles.
  2. Safety & Application – Polyurethane’s finish is non-toxic. It is safe for people, animals, and the environment. The only precaution that needs to be taken when applying polyurethane is that you should wear appropriate personal safety equipment. Once it has been cured, there are no harmful vapors, so you can breathe easy knowing you are safe!
  3. Durability & Energy Savings – Polyurethane coatings improve materials’ wear and tear resistance, extending their life cycle. These coatings are tightly bound to the material they are applied to, unlike many paints and coatings that can easily scratch.
  • Disadvantages
  1. Flammable – Polyurethane finishes are flammable, toxic, and skin irritants. Using face masks and gloves will protect you from harm when using this finish; however, it is also essential to have good ventilation when using these paints.
  2. Lengthy Drying Process – It takes much longer to wait between coats of polyurethane than other lacquer finishes. It is because you have to let the plastic polymers harden up so that they can accept another coat.
  3. Odor – Polyurethane emits fumes that can irritate the eyes and throat. Some people experience headaches and nausea from chemical fumes. Prolonged exposure can lead to asthma or other respiratory problems.

Laminate Finishes

Laminate Finishes – these are the most commonly used cabinet finishes for kitchens. Laminates are composite materials made of layers of paper and plastic. The top layer is printed with decorative patterns or colors.

  • Advantages
  1. Colors Availability – kitchen laminate is available in various colors, including matte and glossy finishes. Some versions also feature a woodgrain appearance.
  2. Durability & Maintenance – Laminate finishes are sturdier than other kinds of finishes. They are heat-resistant and moisture-resistant, too, and can be treated to be antibacterial.
  3. Cost – Laminate finishes are an excellent option for those on a budget. Because they’re so durable, laminate finishes last much longer than other flooring options, making them perfect for the price-conscious consumer.
  • Disadvantages
  1. Repair – Laminate cabinets are not easy to repair once a deep cut or crack appears on the door. If your cabinet doors become damaged beyond repair, replacing them is your best bet.
  2. Resistant – They are not as water-resistant. If you expose the seams to water consistently, the glue on the laminate can loosen, and the laminate will eventually come out.
  3. Visibility of Dirt – If a glossy laminate is to be used in the kitchen, it’s essential to be aware that visible dirt, stains, and fingerprints may be an issue. So people often choose matte-finish laminates for the kitchen.

Melamine Finishes

Melamine Finishes – this is a popular plastic material used to create kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities. The word ‘melamine’ is the common name for particleboard coated with a thin layer of plastic finish.

  • Advantages
  1. Styles & Colors – Melamine cabinets are ideal for any space. It is available in a wide range of cabinetry styles, including framed and frameless options, so you can easily find the perfect choice to suit your needs.
  2. Eco-Friendly – Melamine cabinetry is a good choice for the environmentally-conscious homeowner. It’s made from wood from sustainable forests or is recycled; it’s easy to clean and requires less maintenance than most other cabinet options.
  3. Stain Resistant – Melamine can be cleaned easily. When cleaning, use a light-duty white scrubbing pad and mild dish soap.
  • Disadvantages 
  1. Installation – Melamine is made of compressed wood and will show any splits or cracks in the surface. When installing, it’s essential to use the right tools and be careful not to splinter the Melamine. It also absorbs moisture more quickly than other cabinet materials.
  2. Water Damage – When water comes into contact with the surface of Melamine, it does more damage than solid wood. When the core of Melamine absorbs water, it may swell and become less sturdy.
  3. Weight – Melamine cabinets are heavier than other types of cabinets, like plywood or solid wood. Hanging Melamine on lightweight hardware can cause damage to your cabinetry and may even break the doors or drawers you’ve installed.



At PA, we believe that the kitchen has evolved to be as important as any other room in our home, both from a cooking perspective and from an aesthetic point of view. In short, kitchens are no longer simply functional areas for the preparation and consumption of food but rather highly versatile spaces for living and entertaining. PA’s professionals will help you choose cabinets with the right finish, layout, and details that fit your style, lifestyle, and budget. 

Choosing the right finish can be as simple as selecting an off-the-shelf kit or looking at more advanced hardwood panels. Our kitchen design services include guidance on what type of finish you want for your cabinets and the layout and other design choices.

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