Nothing covers your cupboards better than the best clear coat for kitchen cabinets. Applying this will protect and nurture your kitchen furniture which consistently gets exposed to heat and water.
But to ensure that you will really get the best, read through each product review provided below as we will highlight each of their excellent features. It will even become less hard for you to choose one if you know the aspects to look into. So, also take time in reading the comprehensive buying guide.
Rest assured, you will acquire all the necessary information in order to make a wise purchase decision.
So, let’s dive in!
Minwaxc Polycrylic Water Based Protective Finisher
5 out of 5
Rust-Oleum 327864 American Accents Spray Paint
5 out of 5
General Finishes High Performance Water Based Topcoat
4.5 out of 5
Minwax 40910000 Wipe-On Poly Finish Clear, pint, Satin
4 out of 5
Rust-Oleum 200041H Water-Based Polyurethane, 1-Quart, Gloss Finish
4.5 out of 5
Benefits of Using Clear Coat on Kitchen Cabinets
Having your kitchen cabinets covered with a clear coat makes it more inviting. This will protect and nourish your kitchen furniture as it constantly keeps in contact with heat and water. Here are more reasons why you should have a clear coat for your kitchen cabinet:
Paints may not leave a residue, but if you opt for a clear coat for your kitchen cabinets, you will surely reap the utmost benefits compared to the former. In the first place, paints tend not to cover rough edges, unlike clear coats.
Compared to other products used for kitchen cabinets, clear coats have more shine as it reflects the sun and even artificial sources of light.
More specifically, applying clear coats will prevent the natural chipping process which is typical with paints. Temperatures will cause the finishes and paints to contract and expand, resulting in cracks as time passes. But as mentioned above, you can avoid this through a clear coat application.
Avoids Paint Degradation
Furthermore, sunlight can also cause paint degradation. So, if your cabinet is placed in a sunny kitchen, it would be very beneficial to choose a product that contains some type of UV blockers. Such chemicals are present in clear coat products. They are formulated to protect the paint underneath from damages.
With that being said, the clear coating will prevent all of the possible damages, at least until it has been worn away.
Our Recommended 10 Best Clear Coat for Kitchen Cabinets
Here are 10 top-notch products that you can get for your kitchen cabinets. We have undergone thorough research in order to arrive at this list. All of which is undoubtedly the best – high quality yet of affordable price.
1. Minwax - Minwaxc Polycrylic Water Based Protective Finisher
Those who want to prioritize durability will certainly love this product. The polycrylic protective finish is manufactured by Minwax to cater to the need for quick-drying and long-lasting clear coat.
Applying this best top coat for kitchen cabinets will not only add beauty to your furniture, but it will protect it as well. You may use this with any interior wood surfaces you have at home, such as cabinets, doors, and woodwork.
Minwax can provide a crystal-clear finish, making it ideal to apply on light woods such as birch, maple, and ash. It is also suitable to use over water-based wood stains, which are also offered by the brand.
This product is formulated to have ultra-fast drying properties. And this is why you can recoat the finish instantly. In fact, the waiting time will only take two hours, then you can start coating the next layer.
The manufacturer has formulated this to be easily cleaned up using water and soap. Such a water-based formula is also non-yellowing. As such, you won’t have to worry when you apply this over white stains.
Aside from the features mentioned above, this product also boasts of its low odor property. This is made available in various finishes such as semi-gloss, ultra-flat, matte, and gloss. Above all else, this is proven and tested durable. As such, it will be able to provide long-lasting protection to your kitchen cabinets.
2. Rust-Oleum 327864 American Accents Spray Paint
Now featuring the product which can cover two times more than its competing brands. With the double cover formula of this Rust-Oleum American accents spray paint, you can absolutely complete whatever coating project quicker and easier.
American Accents can be applied to any surface such as unglazed ceramic, plaster, wicker, metal, plastic, and wood. Whether you intend to use this for your interior or exterior design, this will work well with any of them.
Much more, the product is available in an array of beautiful sheens and colors. All of which can deliver a shiny clean finish that will enhance the looks of your kitchen cabinets.
This spray paint is durable and long-lasting. May you use it outdoors or indoors, it will certainly maintain its vivid color for a long period. With its superior durability, it will definitely keep the surface smooth and shiny while offering full coverage glossy finish and protection at the same time.
You will be able to finish the project quickly because this is also scientifically engineered to dry within 20 minutes only. One spray bottle can cover up to 12 square feet.
Aside from that, it will also reduce finger fatigue when using this because it features a wider finger pad. That is intentionally designed by Rust-Oleum engineers to offer comfort as you spray. You can even spray this at any angle, not leaving behind areas that are hard to reach.
3. General Finishes Top Coat for Painted Cabinets
The next product in this review is the best polyurethane for kitchen cabinets. General Finishes has formulated this high-performance water-based topcoat to be the hardest and the most durable clear coat one can find in the market today.
Its formulation contains a UV stabilizer which will protect the coating from sunlight as it typically causes its breakdown. More so, the stains underneath will also be refrained from fading due to the UV rays.
This topcoat is suitable for interior use only. Also, take note that this shouldn’t be applied over bright white paints because yellowing may occur. This is due to the reaction of the clear coat and the paint. Even the paints of light colors may also experience a bit of yellowing but not as noticeable.
You won’t have to spend much of your time waiting for it to dry as it will only take an hour or two to dry completely. After that, you are allowed to recoat the finish. With such a short drying time, you will be able to finish the project quickly.
As mentioned earlier, this is the hardest and the most durable polyurethane topcoat existing in the market today. Considering its superior durability, you can even apply this on floors. But more importantly, it will maintain the looks of your kitchen cabinets or even make it as fresh as new.
4. Minwax 40910000 Wipe-On Poly Finish Clear, pint, Satin
Another premium option offered by Minwax is this Wipe-On Poly Finish. This features a thin yet durable clear coating with the protection of polyurethane. You can achieve a finish which is as beautiful as hand-rubbed.
The manufacturer has specifically formulated this product to give superior protection to any wood furniture such as your kitchen cabinets against wear, food stains, and household chemicals. This is also ideal to use in wet areas as it can also protect them from water.
All of that is possible because they used high-quality polyurethane, which is oil-based. This is available in two sheen finish options – satin and gloss.
As this clear finish is a wipe-on type of coating, you can easily apply this using a clean and lint-free cloth. Needless for you to worry about brush marks and drips anymore. As such, it is great to utilize this on your railings, furniture, and trim.
Make sure that the surface is clean, dry, and dust-free before the application. When recoating also ensure that the previous layer has been dried off completely. Clean any wax and oil on the surface. It is recommended that you scuff it lightly using fine sandpaper so that the new layer will surely grip on it.
5. Rust-Oleum 200041H Water-Based Polyurethane, 1-Quart, Gloss Finish
Now let me introduce to you the Varathane crystal clear water-based polyurethane, which is manufactured by Rust-Oleum – one of the most reliable brands in the industry. They have specially formulated this product to show the natural beauty of the wood.
This topcoat for kitchen cabinets will protect the interior wood surfaces, including your furniture, trim, windows, and cabinets. The gloss finish will give a polished and clean look to any of those surfaces.
Not only that, but its crystal clear finish is something that will never yellow when applied over white and light-colored paints. The water-based formula of this product dries up rapidly.
As a matter of fact, it will only take 30 minutes to dry completely. Then, it will already allow you to recoat the finish after two hours. And because it is water-based, it will be easily cleaned up using water and soap. But it doesn’t end there, it also exhibits low odor, unlike other products.
The manufacturer intentionally concocted this with excellent durability. With that being said, your glossy finish will undoubtedly last for a long period, providing superior protection to your furniture.
Apart from that, it also delivers exceptional scratch and stain resistance which every kitchen cabinet needs as they are consistently exposed to high temperature as well as moisture; all while maintaining excellent clarity. A quart of this clear coat can cover an area of up to 125 square feet.
6. INSL-X CC550109A-01 Cabinet Coat Enamel, Satin Sheen Paint
This is a classic example of a high-quality topcoat for painted cabinets. The INSL-X Cabinet Coat Enamel features outstanding protective finish, durability, coverage, and superior adhesion.
The satin appearance of this paint will provide a "factory-like finish---- Copy". This is ideal for refurbishing bathroom sink and kitchen cabinets. It is also great for crown molding, trim, furniture, and shelving.
Well, INSL-X specially developed this item not only to make your cabinet and paint ultra-smooth, but it is also scientifically designed to deliver a "durable urethane acrylic---Copy" finish. They can guarantee that this coating can resist water, grease, food stains, scuffing, and chipping.
A gallon of this clear coat can cover a surface area of up to 450 feet. With its super adhesion properties, it can cover even the "hard-to-coat surfaces without-----Copy" the need of using a primer.
However, it is not advisable to apply in areas with air temperature below 10 degrees Fahrenheit nor above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, this is not suitable for surfaces that will be immersed in water such as tubs and sinks. Likewise, it is also not for ovens or stoves.
7. Minwax 63200444 Helmsman Spar Urethane, quart, Gloss
Your kitchen cabinet absolutely needs protection with products like this Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane. This is intentionally formulated to provide a clear protective finish for any of your interior or exterior wood, which is exposed to temperature changes, water, or sunlight.
Sun rays can cause the wood to fade or turn gray on constant exposure. Luckily, products like this are manufactured to block UV rays, thereby reducing such damaging effects.
Aside from that, it also creates a barrier that will protect your kitchen cabinets from moisture and rain. The special oils of this material will allow the finish to contract and expand along with wood as the temperature and season changes.
With that being said, it is ideal to apply this on windows, doors, trim, cabinets, bathroom, kitchen countertops, bar tops, and even for furniture that you have outdoors.
In addition to what was mentioned above, this is recommended to use for molding, woodwork, paneling, and accessories. And to achieve optimal results, use a natural bristle brush for applying this clear coat.
For clean up, it is recommended that you use paint thinner or mineral spirits. Utilize any of this as you follow the safety instructions provided by the manufacturer.
8. Watco 63041 | Best Lacquer for Kitchen Cabinets
Watco clear wood finish is a type of lacquer that does not need sanding in between coating applications. This is available in various trending sheens. You can get a clear gloss, semi-gloss, or satin, depending on the finish that you want to achieve.
This lacquer creates a crystal clear finish. In fact, it has higher clarity than that of polyurethane. Apply this on cabinets, doors, furniture, and paneling surfaces and it will look fresh as new again due to its beautiful gloss. A quart of this lacquer can cover a surface area of up to 290 feet.
It will not only produce a smooth finish, but you will also benefit from its superior durability. This product will seal your wood furniture, protecting it against scratches.
Using this will eliminate the need for wood filler as well as sandpapers. Unlike other products that require you to scuff in between coating applications so that the finish will have something to grip, this one will work just fine without it.
Watco also formulated this product to dry rapidly, allowing you to complete your project at a faster rate. This will dry completely within 30 minutes only. And you are allowed to recoat after one hour.
9. Minwax 15200 Gloss Brushing Lacquer Spray
Minwax's dedication to producing wood care and finishing products leads them to develop a high-quality lacquer like this one. The Gloss Brushing Lacquer Spray is preferred by most buyers due to its ease of use.
This lacquer spray can provide a clear and beautiful finish to metal and wood. When applied, this adds great value to any furniture. You can choose from the different sheens available, namely gloss, satin, and semi-gloss.
Applying this lacquer will not take much of your time. As a matter of fact, it will only take up to 30 minutes for it to dry to the touch. After waiting for two more hours, it will be ready for the recoat application.
This product can provide an excellent protective finish to metal and wood. But this is more ideal to use on interior wood surfaces. You can also apply this over stained or even to bare wood.
10. Deft Interior Clear Wood Finish Gloss Brushing Lacquer
To complete the list of the best finish for kitchen cabinets, allow me to introduce to you this lacquer which is offered by the reliable brand – Deft.
Deft offers this lacquer in gloss sheen. This will provide you a crystal clear finish that will not darken with age. Much more, you don’t have to worry that it might ruin your interior scheme because it is formulated not to yellow when applied over white or light stains.
A quart of this gloss finish can cover a surface area of up to 400 square feet. The crystal clear finish of this lacquer will dry off rapidly. It will only take 30 minutes to dry completely. But you have to wait a little longer before applying the next layer of coating. Two hours of waiting time will be enough for this.
Applying this lacquer is not a hard thing to do. You just have to brush this over the desired surface and you will instantly achieve professional results. This brushing lacquer is made of hundred-percent nitrocellulose. It is applicable for most interior metal and wood surfaces.
The CWF content of this formulation will just melt into itself. Meaning to say, you won’t need to scuff this with sandpaper. Not only that, but this also has a self-leveling property which is why it will be much easier for you to achieve desirable results.
Coverage per Quart
Recoat Dry Time (hours)
125 sq. ft.
Semi-gloss, ultra-flat, matte, gloss
Rust-Oleum American Accent
100 sq. ft.
General Finishes Topcoat
125 to 150 sq. ft.
125 sq. ft.
Two - three
125 sq. ft.
Gloss, satin, semi-gloss
INSL-X Cabinet Enamel
350 to 450 sq. ft.
Minwax Helsman Urethane
125 sq. ft.
Gloss, semi-gloss, satin
Up to 290 sq. ft.
Gloss, semi-gloss, satin
125 sq. ft.
Gloss, semi-gloss, satin
400 sq. ft.
What to Look for Before Buying a Clear Coat for Kitchen Cabinets?
You don’t need significant investments to transform your kitchen cabinets. All you need is the best polyurethane for kitchen cabinets. Much more, it will not take much time and effort to apply this as long as you know the basics.
However, choosing the best kitchen cabinet finishes can get really challenging. Do you agree? If so, follow the guide below. Rest assured, it will be much easier then.
The Longevity of the Coat
It is essential that you select the kind of coat which has excellent longevity. You have to make sure of this because not all of them are really durable. Consider buying the top coat for painted cabinets that, when applied, will really last for a long period.
High Abrasion Resistance
When buying a clear coat, you have to give significance to its resistance to abrasion. This is vital because kitchen cabinets are where we usually store metallic and sharp objects like spoon and fork, and knives, just to name a few. These utensils may cause scratches to your cabinet.
Worse, the coat might be ruined if it lacks such an ability. But if it has high abrasion resistance, it will most likely maintain its fresh appearance for a longer period. Additionally, ensure that the coat can overcome heat and moisture.
There is a wide assortment of coat color selection in the market today. But not all of these are suitable for kitchen cabinets. For instance, avoid using oil and water emulsion paint as these will eventually leak. Acrylic paint is also not advisable because it cannot withstand moisture and different cleaning substances.
If you are deciding on the color to use in repainting your kitchen cabinet, it will also mean that you have to change the upholstery of your furniture and the textiles of the window. This is because it is necessary that the color scheme blends with the overall kitchen interior.
But if you find it hard to select the color, it would be ideal to opt for a neutral solution. This includes all shades of beige, white, grey, brown, and black. Just make sure to combine the dark colors carefully. Commonly, the lower cabinets are painted with dark colors and the upper ones with light colors.
Take note that the combination should not only be of light and dark colors. Rather, you may combine it with bright colors. Blank paints can be combined with beige, pink, mint, light green, and red.
Also, white mixed with blue and lilac, cream with burgundy, beige with red, cappuccino with lilac can also make a good combination.
Nonetheless, it will still depend on your personal taste. Whether you want a calmer environment, a colorful detail, a simple or classic design, will all depend on you. This can be simple as long as you know how to choose the color which will give the appearance that you desire.
Top 4 Clear Coat Brands on the Market Today
In ensuring that you will truly get the best, you must resort to buying from reliable brands. But if you don’t know which brands are the most trusted when it comes to quality clear coats, you can try to get it from the following brands.
Minwax is a leading manufacturer of wood care and finishing products in America. They value the satisfaction of their customers by keeping woodcrafts beautiful. From protection, staining, and preparation to cleaning, maintenance, and repair, this brand is sure to be worth it.
They offer a wide variety of clear coats and paints. All of which are of high quality which is why four out of ten products in this review came from the said brand.
Since 1921, Rust-Oleum has been offering tested and proven quality products. Their American Accents series delivers durable and long-lasting protection to any painted surface such as wood, metal, plastic, and more. Indeed, they offer quality and protection which you can surely trust.
For over the years, Deft provides easy to use products for exterior and interior clear coats and wood stains. This is also an American brand that specializes in glass products. At the same time, they have been serving the aviation industry.
Watco is a leading manufacturer and distributor of industrial-strength supplies. This brand is based in the United Kingdom. Without a doubt, Watco is a brand that you can truly rely on when it comes to repairing products and coatings that are easy to apply.
They never compromise quality. In fact, all of their products are guaranteed of high-performance and deliver optimal results.
How to Apply It on Your Kitchen Cabinets?
First, apply a thin and clear coat layer using a paintbrush in order to produce an elegant finish. This light coating is ideal in coating the first layer as it will dry faster than heavy coating.
Most skilled finishers utilize watered-down poly for priming purposes, but you can also layer it lightly with a polyester - the undiluted one just to be more careful. For better results, you need to brush it smoothly with overlapping brushstrokes throughout the entire surface.
In no time, the coating that you desire begins to be visible on each layer. If you look from other sides, dry spots will be apparent if you apply a very little amount of poly. But when the layer comes with a heft poly, the appearance will be better.
After drying, use a sandpaper to smoothen two ends lightly following thee wood grain's direction. Do cautiously so that you will not sand the clear coat that has been applied a while ago. Then, remove the dust and residues using a tidy fabric. Apply the second coat just like how you applied the previous layer, but a little heavier this time.
The polyurethane is naturally self-leveling, so the consistency of this solution will be beneficial to your cabinet. But if you aren't satisfied and want put another layer of coating, start smoothing and cleaning again.
Frequently Asked Questions
After how many days can I wash the painted surface with a wet rag?
The longer, the better. This is because the paint is still gaining strength for two weeks after it has been painted.
Can I apply a clear coat over painted kitchen cabinets?
Yes, definitely. As a matter of fact, it is essential to put this kind of coating so that the paint won’t be scraped or scratched easily. Without such coating the paint will dry, crack and eventually, it will start to chip away as it is exposed to the air. Even the tiniest scratch will start to peel away with time.
How to choose the right paint?
You have to consider the technical specifications of the paint. Check whether it is suitable for your desired application. Generally, the manufacturers indicate the requirements and conditions of use. Also, pay attention to the recommended tools to achieve optimal results.
What kind of finish is advisable for kitchen cabinets?
It is advisable that you apply low-gleam polyurethanes as the topcoat to cut the shine off the coatings underneath. But shiny coatings are recommended for applying on kitchen cupboards.
How many layers of clear coating should I apply on cabinets?
Two coats would be enough but we used to coat my cabinets thrice.
Indeed, it is important to select the best clear coat for kitchen cabinets which will do the job right. At first glance, all products seem alike. But every finish is formulated differently.
Yes, it might seem hard to choose one. But now that we have tackled all of the necessary details that you need to know, it will surely become easier to choose the best according to your preference. Hopefully, it is among the products listed above.
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