Glazing MDF versus Real Wood

I get so many comments and emails about my glazed cabinets.  Wonderful…Sweet…Kind…and curious comments!

I thought it was time to blog about Glazing MDF versus Real Wood.

Glazing MDF versus Real Wood

Glazing MDF versus Real Wood

Most people are really looking into painting their own cabinets and just want to know how will the glaze look for them.  It is really hard to say exactly how it will look for everyone but I thought I would at least give you two perspectives.

My kitchen cabinets are MDF, which means there are no wood grains.  They are smooth and when painted and glazed you will get a more precise, factory finished look.  You can add glaze over the entire cabinet giving it a faux finish but for my style of home glazing only to showcase the details was what I needed.

On the other hand, when you glaze over a wood such as Oak you will get a totally different look.  The wood grains will show up.  My advice when painting real wood cabinets is to be sure you work with what you have.  Don’t think if you use the same technique as someone else you will get the same look.  The wood determines most of the look! Painting is one of the best and biggest impacts you can do on a very low budget if you are willing to do it yourself.

Glazed MDF cabinets:

Glazed MDF cabinets

Glazed MDF upper cabinets

Glazed Oak cabinets:

Glazing Oak Cabinets-Full Kitchen

Glazing Oak Cabinets

Glazing Oak Cabinet Doors

As you can see from the different pictures, the glaze makes it’s way into the grains of the wood.  I happen to love this look.  This was a full kitchen paint project that I completed for a client last year and it turned out great.

The difference in the way you apply the glaze is this, when working with MDF you will only need to add the glaze in the detail areas then wipe away what you don’t want.  For the real wood cabinets you will add the glaze to the entire cabinet so that the glaze will fill in the grains of the wood. Then you would wipe away any excess glaze.

I would love to know if any of you have used glaze before or if you are planning to!

You may also like to visit my other post that involve my kitchen:

Kitchen Tour, Painted Kitchen Cabinets, and Kitchen Makeover Part 1




  1. These look amazing, and I’ve finally sold Hubster on the lighter cabinets. How does the paint/glaze hold up to scrubbing? I wipe things off immediately, unfortunately, I haven’t successfully trained my boys to do the same.
    PS- I love the “Life’s short… eat cookies” sign above the door! 🙂

  2. I clean my cabinets by just washing them with cloth. For a paint sprayer, if you can it will be a great time saver but for my cabinets I use a roller them a paint brush for the detail panels.

  3. To be honest I have never used anything like that but it sounds interesting. For anything new always try on a scrap piece of wood, not on your cabinets themselves 🙂 Good Luck!

  4. How do you clean the cabinets now? Would you recommend a paint sprayer? I have to pull off the thermofoil first… I find it hard to use a roller in the details (my cabinets are the square panel like yours on the bottom). What would you think of a sprayer? Thanks!

  5. Hi Sonya, I absoultely love how your cabinets turned out! I am getting ready to paint and glaze oak cabinets and I was wondering if I used a wood grain filler if that would make them look more smooth and “MDF” looking like yours. If you could let me know if you have any suggestions or feedback on the grain filler I would appreciate it! Again I’m so happy I stumbled across your blog!

  6. Do you know if you can glaze factory stained cabinets? I just want that “inked look” in corners to add detail? Also if you can glaze do you need to seal the glaze after you are complete?

  7. Hello, Loved all the info on your site and how you have taken the time to answer everyone’s questions! Here is my question, I have off white thermafoil cabinets. So many paint experts at SW and BM are telling me glazing can’t be done on my cabinets. What are your views on this? Suggestions?

  8. I have oak cabinets that I want to paint. I didn’t want to glaze the whole cabinet, I just wanted to have the glazed look in the detailed areas on the doors of the cabinets. After reading this information it sounds as if that wouldn’t look right, is that correct? Have you tried glazing on wood just to accent those areas? Does it look odd to glaze just the inside parts of the wooden cabinets?

  9. No clear sealer needed. I have had mine on my cabinets for 6 years and it looks great still. Thanks for stopping by.

  10. Hi! I was wondering, after you applied dark glaze to the detail areas on the mdf cabinets did you then apply clear?

  11. Hallo! Can you please give me more details on how you did the oak glazed cabinets? I am crazy about it and I love the idea that you can still see the wood grains. Did you first paint it and then glazed it? But I am not sure how you have done it to still see the grains? I am living in South Africa. I can only get a translucent glaze here. Thanks!!

  12. You can do this treatment BUT you will need to make sure to prime the laminate with the right stuff. I would ask the professionals at your local paint store about their recommendations. The guys at Sherwin Williams have always been great.

  13. My cabinets are laminate and I really, really want to do something to them…can I do this treatment?

  14. We are in the process of having our solid oak cabinets glazed. I expected the MDF look and was quite surprised at the difference! Your website did an excellent job of explaining the difference and the “why” behind it. In fact this morning I passed on the article to our painter. He is truly an artist and the cabinets are just beautiful. I will send a picture when the kitchen is complete. Thank you!!!

  15. That’s great help, thanks! So, if I go with the SW cashmere i shouldn’t need a primer? All along I’ve been thinking about using chalk paint (either Annie Sloan or homemade). I made some chalk paint and used it on the bottom of my table and I’ve been painting my chairs to see if I like it. It actually applies pretty nicely but, I like the idea of using something already mixed and I do like the glazed look. I was going to distress a bit if I used chalk paint.

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