Frosted vs Solid Painted Cabinetry

April 27, 2017

As time goes by and trends change it’s amazing how often things come back in style. In the cabinet world of the 90’s and early 2000’s natural oak was all the rage. We still do some natural oak from time to time but for awhile dark stained cabinetry took over as the most popular style. This was up until recent years when white cabinets once again came roaring back. The white cabinet trend actually dates way back to the 1920s and 1930s when it was pretty much the only option available. Today, white and grey cabinetry account for the highest percentage of our annual projects. Rich dark cabinetry certainly still has its place, but for small to average sized kitchens, white does a great job at brightening a space and making it feel fresh.


Over these recent years and countless projects, we’ve come to have a love hate relationship with white and solid painted cabinetry. As nice as it looks, it is often not forgiving; joints must be flawless, dents, scratches, and dings are very noticeable and often must be touched up professionally usually using an airbrush. In order to achieve a solid paint colour this usually has to be done on medium cost wood species like Birch. MDF is another good option as it’s very durable when painted, however in most cases it actually ends up costing more than birch cabinetry.


Companies have tried to come up with lower cost white substitutes such as “thermofoil” cabinetry, which is where a thin layer of vinyl is heated and stretched around MDF or particle board to achieve a white look. The problem with thermofoil is that it often peels around heat sources, it isn't as durable, and doesn’t last as long as painted wood. A new thing for ultra-modern kitchens is acrylic cabinetry which is a very durable alternative and can give a gloss level unobtainable by paint. However, door styles are very limited and acrylic only works for those trying to achieve an ultra-modern look. Additionally acrylic is going to be the most expensive option, and therefore out of many families budgets. So what is the answer? 


We’re happy to report that we have another option that most aren’t as familiar with; it’s the reason for today’s blog: “Frost”. Frost is our term we use to refer to painted oak cabinetry. Oak unlike birch has much more fluctuation in the grain, which comes out even after it’s painted. Here are some benefits of frosted oak:



#1. You can tell it’s real wood. Although this look may not be for everyone; many of our clients who do end up going this way say that they prefer it because they like knowing that they have real wood cabinetry. You can see the grain right through the paint, so there is no debate here.








#2. It’s very easy to touch up and very user friendly. The top layer of “frost or paint actually goes on a bit thicker with oak compared to a smooth birch finish. This makes it a bit more durable but also because of all that grain, each door is different and has its own characteristics. If it gets dinged or dented, it can be hard to tell if it's a flaw or just the character of the wood. Plus a little bit of touch up paint and you’d never know. Unlike paint, it’s not a perfect mirror finish so it’s very forgiving. I did this on my island at home and it’s one of the best design decisions I have made; my 2 year old loves to run around and crash her toys into the island. I like knowing that I don’t have to worry if it gets damaged because I know I can easily and seamlessly repair it without breaking out the airbrush.


#3. The price. Along with the lower cost wood, frosting oak is actually a quicker and more simple process which overall can make the cost around 20% lower than comparable solid painted birch cabinets.

#4. Most importantly, it looks great!


So if a new kitchen or bathroom is in your future, frosted oak is something you may want to consider. Thanks for reading!


-Pat Belding (Owner)


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Kitchen Fashions

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