To the naked eye, there may appear to be plenty of similarities between the three most popular kitchen cabinet finishes – polyurethane, melamine and laminate. But when you delve deeper to compare the pros and cons of polyurethane finish kitchen cabinets against their counterparts; it is clear to see why polyurethane is our favourite finish for kitchens of all shapes and sizes.

To showcase exactly why polyurethane finish kitchen cabinets are our favourite, we have compiled a breakdown of 5 of the main features and compared these across each of the three finishes. We’ll let the results speak for themselves…

5 Top Features and Benefits of Polyurethane Finish Kitchen Cabinets versus Melamine and Laminate

With all that is needed from a kitchen finish (durability, resistance to heat, ease of cleaning and maintenance and pleasing aesthetics to name a few), let’s take a look at the main features of polyurethane finish kitchen cabinets, melamine and laminate, and weigh up their strengths and weaknesses.


#1 Colour Palette

Polyurethane finish kitchen cabinets

The colour options for polyurethane are amazing. It is a painted finish so you can create almost any colour that you can dream of. This is especially beneficial if you need to colour match an existing fixture or fitting within the kitchen or home (which can be very handy with renovated kitchen projects) or are looking to create a truly unique, one-of-a-kind statement in your new kitchen.

In a nutshell, colour options are ruled by what is available as an existing paint colour or mixing it up to create a new colour – this is so vast with plenty of creative possibilities!

Melamine kitchen cabinets

The options for colour of a melamine finish are certainly not as wide as polyurethane finish kitchen cabinets. They are generally limited to a supplier range and will vary. However, options provided do usually cover a considerable range so you are able to select from an array of colours and tones.

Melamine also comes in a variety of patterns and prints.

Laminate kitchen cabinets

Just like melamine, the colour palette for laminate finishes for your kitchen cabinets is also not as wide as that of polyurethane finish kitchen cabinets. Although, laminate will usually have more patterns and colours available than that offered in the melamine range.


#2 Visual Appeal

Polyurethane finish kitchen cabinets

The painted finish of polyurethane can be completed in matt, satin, semi-gloss (or sheen), and high gloss. This offers plenty of flexibility to coincide with a particular kitchen theme, kitchen trend or design aesthetic that you are seeking to achieve.

Gloss finishes can also help to create an air of openness within smaller sized spaces, as the glossy finishes reflect light.

Melamine and laminate kitchen cabinets

Both melamine and laminate are available in high gloss and low gloss finishes to offer some flexibility with their overall appeal.


#3 Adhesion Limitations

Polyurethane finish kitchen cabinets

With a polyurethane kitchen finish, there are no boundaries when it comes to how much detail is on the cabinets. The finish is applied as a painted coating, which simply wraps around the top and bottom of the cabinets and can easily adhere to a surface that is highly-crafted with intricate detailing.

Melamine and laminate kitchen cabinets

The design and style of a kitchen cabinet plays an important role on deciding the suitability of a melamine or laminate finish. Both melamine and laminate finishes are adhered to a backing, not painted on like polyurethane. This application causes exposed edges and can be difficult to obtain an immaculately finished surface on cabinets that contain a lot of detail such as Shaker style or French Provincial cabinets.


#4 Durability

Polyurethane finish kitchen cabinets

The paint used in the polyurethane finishing process is combined with a hardener and gives polyurethane finish kitchen cabinets a very good chip and scratch-resistant coating.

The coating also contains UV-resistant properties. So, there is less potential of any fade or deterioration of the finish that can be caused by ongoing sun exposure, which is common in kitchens with plenty of natural lighting.

Due to the ease of colour and paint matching technology, it can be relatively simple to repair or replace a single piece of a polyurethane kitchen. And with the remaining pieces retaining their hard-wearing appearance there should be no noticeable difference between the original and replaced pieces.

Melamine and laminate kitchen cabinets

The exposed edges on melamine and laminate finished cabinets are probably one of their biggest pitfalls in a kitchen. Over time, the edges can become exposed to heat from the workings of cooking and preparing meals. This can cause the edges to peel or become exposed, which not only looks unsightly but also leaves the base under the coating at risk of damage.

Water or steam is also a potential hazard to melamine and laminate. Water that seeps in can cause swelling of the original board, which would need to be replaced entirely.

Melamine and laminate do not have the same amazing chip, scratch, or UV-resistance properties as polyurethane finish kitchen cabinets.

Replacing a panel in a melamine or laminated kitchen cabinet could also prove a little difficult if the supplier has superseded the original colour or pattern that was used and/or the other panels have reduced in the quality of their appearance over time.


#5 Cleaning and Maintenance

Polyurethane finish kitchen cabinets

Polyurethane is basically impenetrable by many cleaning substances and is very easy to maintain its visual appeal. Generally, all that is required to clean a polyurethane finish that has smudges or is showing up prints, is to wipe it over with a damp cloth and dry it off with a lint-free cloth. This is time savvy and very easy to maintain its exceptional appearance.

Melamine and laminate kitchen cabinets

Extra caution needs to be taken with cleaning of melamine and laminated surfaces to prevent any liquid getting into the edges. When cleaning these surfaces, care should be taken to avoid abrasive liquids and rough cleaning tools, as these can scratch the surface and cause damage.

To find out more about why polyurethane finish kitchen cabinets are a great choice for your kitchen, and to discuss how you can have this top-quality cabinetry finish in your home, be sure to get in touch with our team of highly experienced painters at Highlands Hand Painting. Phone us on 1300 662 112, submit an online enquiry, or visit us at 12 Graham Hill Road Narellan NSW to discuss your custom, hand-painted, kitchen project requirements.