3 Myths of Cabinet Finishes Revealed!

Distressed, Glazed, Worn-Thru … Oh My!

Have you noticed how every industry has their own special “buzz words”? Notice how those words get over used, lose their meaning, and completely complicate things? Much of the confusion creates myths about terms or processes. Never fear, we’re doing our very best “myth busting” today.

In our industry a lot of the confusion about certain terms revolve around furniture and/or cabinet finishes. So, let’s take a look at some of our favorite hard surface finishes and breakdown the terms and processes and what the buzzwords of glaze, texture, and distressing really look like.

Myth 1 – Glaze

Glaze is probably one of the most misunderstood terms in use.  It’s the cornerstone of basic decorative painting and faux finishing techniques. Glazed is used in many applications and on many different surfaces. People think it is a magic wand we wave to completely change the color, texture and design of a surface. While we wish that wand existed, its just not that easy.  Glaze is a semitransparent medium, it can be oil based or water based. It looks a little like thick milky paint but you can see through it. It is tinted with colorants. If we put dark umber colorant into the glaze it would look like thick dirty water or if we used yellow it would look like bad lemonade. Any color can be used to get whatever end result you want. We use Glaze to create an antique look on cabinets and walls or over texture to give added depth. Used alone in a single process, it can be a less expensive option for walls and cabinetry finishes. It is also used in combination with other product to create over the top opulent results. Glaze can be applied on walls, cabinets, furniture, and molding. Glaze adds soft color,warmth, a sense of dimension. It can help create a faintly aged “caught in the corners” look so many desire.  It’s a great technique in our bag of “tricks”.

Myth 2 – Distressed/Antiqued/Worn-Thru


Those three little words can cover a wide range of effects. They have become the “catchall” phrase to explain all finishes that aren’t flat paint. As a decorative painter, there is a world of difference in each technique, as well as a large price difference. An antiqued finish is usually created with glaze, directly over paint, to give it an aged quality. Distressing can be created by beating up the painted surface and then glazing to show the marks and imperfections. A worn-thru finish is a mutli-colored and multi-layered process. Texture is built up on the surface and than abraded to show the colors below. A coat of glaze is applied to give dimension for added character. We like to seal or topcoat all of our cabinet finishes for "wearability" and to give them a "furniture quality" look. The difference in technique is reflected in the difference of price. It's always best to set a budget first. Your decorative painter needs this as a guide to get the finish you want at a price within your budget. Here a few examples of slightly aged and glazed, worn-thru and a multi-layered finishes.

Myth 3 – Everything in Between

This is less of a specific myth and more of a misconception. Some clients think that what we do on cabinets as decorative painters is limited. Its’ the very opposite! We’re you looking for an alligator bar for the man cave? Or maybe you want your vanity cabinetry to sparkle and shine with glass beads? Or how about hand painted designs to personalize your cabinets? Maybe a raised design to create the look of hand carved designs strikes your fancy?  And of course for the solid wood paneling in your library or bar, a little gold detailing is always a hit. This and so much more is available to you! Take a look at these over the top finishes and rooms and you’ll see why the sky is the limit when it comes to cabinet and hard surface finishes.

For more amazing finishes for any style home take a look at our vast portfolio and give us a call if we can help you on your next project.

Sincerely, Janie's Signature Janie Ellis, RID, ASID-IP, CF, Master Artisan janie@anythingbutplain.com