What is the Best Clear Coat For Kitchen Cabinets? Here are the Top 6 Reviews


Nothing can protect your wood furniture more than using the best clear coat for kitchen cabinet. It is better to use a clear coat to protect the wood from consistent exposure to water and heat. What is the best clear coat for kitchen cabinet? There are many choices available making it confusing to choose the right one.

best clear coat for kitchen cabinets
Image by Rachelle Lancaster

To find the right product, it is essential to know the excellent features of the specific brand. It will help to narrow your choices. 

Product Reviews

#1-General Finishes High-Performance Water Based Topcoat

  • Do not apply clear topcoats over bright white paint, as yellowing may occur due to a reaction to the substrate. Light color paints may also experience yellowing due to topcoat application, but it will less noticeable.
  • The hardest, most durable consumer polyurethane top coat on the market today
  • Dry Time Between Coats is only 1 to 2 Hours
  • Interior use only

General Finishes is a trusted brand in the industry in terms of wood finishing. Many people prefer the water-based top coat of this brand because it stays long. The finish of the cabinet is essential to achieve a good look at the furniture. To protect and preserve the wood, you must use the best topcoat paint for your cabinet.

It is a polyurethane topcoat that offers a clear finish to the kitchen cabinet. It gives shine and gloss to the wood. This brand of topcoat contains a UV stabilizer. That’s why you can ensure it protects the wood from ultraviolet reactions. It works best for furniture outside the house, like patio tables and deck chairs.

If you’re looking for a high-quality topcoat for your wooden cabinet, this product is a good option. It would not only protect from scratches but also can endure harsh conditions.


  • Dries fast because it is water-based
  • Thick and durable coating
  • Delivers long-lasting shine
  • Contains UV stabilizer


  • Expensive

#2-Varathane 200041H Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane

  • Protects indoor wood surfaces such as furniture, windows, cabinets, trim and more
  • Water based formula dries fast and cleans up with soap and water
  • Dries to the touch in 30 minutes with coverage up to 125 sq. ft., recoat after 2 hours
  • Durable formula provides outstanding stain and scratch resistance with excellent clarity
  • Gloss finish creates a polished and clean look
  • Clear formula ideal for interior projects like furniture, doors, cabinets and trim
  • The best scratch and stain protection available
  • Low odor and fast, easy soap and water clean-up
  • Easy water clean-up
  • Crystal clear finish that never yellows

Using a polyurethane topcoat over wood fzon.comurniture delivers a high-quality finish. The best thing about the Varathane 200041H is that it is water-based. That’s why you need not worry about harsh chemicals producing an awful smell. It also dries up quickly.

It is easier to clean the area after painting because it is water-based. Thus, there’s no need to use a paint thinner or other chemical solvent to clean. You can also use warm water in case it spills in your hands. Acetone also works as a cleaning agent.

This brand delivers a strong coating, thus will last long. Prevents scratches and stains, while providing excellent clarity. You can expect a gloss finish that creates a clean look to your furniture, cabinets, and doors. Another good thing about using this product is that it dries within 30 minutes and you can re-coat after an hour.


  • Stain and scratch-resistant
  • Easy to clean
  • No foul odor of chemicals
  • Dries quick
  • Applicable through a paint sprayer


  • Thin consistency

#3-Minwax 244444444 Minwaxc

  • PROTECT WOOD SURFACES – Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish protects and adds beauty to your interior wood projects, including woodwork, furniture, doors and cabinets. The clear top coat protects against scratches, spills, dirt and more.
  • CRYSTAL CLEAR FINISH THAT LASTS – The crystal clear finished offered in this protective coating is ideal for use over all Minwax Oil-Based and Water-Based Stains and colors, as well as all wood species including light woods like maple, ash and birch.
  • SEMI-GLOSS SHEEN – Give your wood projects a sleek finish with this semi-gloss clear varnish. It protects the natural beauty of the wood and offers a semi-shiny, sleek sheen for a bright, modern look. It’s non-yellowing, non-ambering and low odor.
  • ULTRA FAST DRYING – Get more done with this protective poly coating. It’s a fast-drying clear coat, which allows for quick recoats after 2 hours, letting you get projects done faster. Be sure to apply with a high-quality synthetic bristle brush.
  • EASY CLEAN UP – This water-based wood finish allows for easy soap and water clean-up, so you don’t have to stress about spills and big messes.
  • Water clean-up
  • Low odor, non-yellowing
  • Fast drying
  • Semi Gloss
  • 1/2 pint

You may think it is an old standard of a topcoat for wooden furniture. But it doesn’t fail in delivering the best results. Most professionals doing home improvement prefer this polycrylic protective finish. It is available in the spray version, but you cannot expect a precise control.

Since this product is water-based, you can expect it would dry fast. After an hour of the first coating, you can apply the second coat. The consistency is thin, that’s why it’s runny. Thus, we recommend applying thin coats.

Clean the surface from debris and dust before applying the product to ensure it would bond well. It does not yield a powerful odor. Nothing to worry about working in small, tight spaces. This clear topcoat is easy to clean using warm water.


  • Quick-drying formula
  • No powerful odor
  • Available in spray and other options


  • Thin consistency

#4-Minwax 40910000 Wipe-On Poly Finish Clear

  • Easy to apply - no drips or brush marks
  • Protects wood against water, household chemicals, food stains and wear
  • Provides a hand-rubbed look
  • Protects against water, household chemicals, food stains and wear
  • Made of a high quality oil-based polyurethane
  • Available in Gloss or Satin

You may think this product requires extra effort to use. It requires using a cloth to wipe on the surface than using a brush to paint on the surface. The two ways of application deliver different results. The best thing about this coat is that you can choose either a clear satin or full gloss. Thus, you have more choices in case you want to achieve various textures.

Applying this polyurethane coat to a piece of wood furniture can enhance the beauty. It is also ideal for wood railings to preserve the natural grain. This product improves the texture of the wood to ensure a better grip.

It takes time to dry because it is oil-based and forms a softer surface. You can use this product on cabinet handles frequently gripped. Expect that it would make the wood darker than a water-based coat. It works like a stain rather than a crystal-clear finish.


  • Easy to apply
  • Ideal for surfaces that need traction
  • Delivers darker color
  • Protects and preserves the wood grain


  • Takes a longer time to dry
  • Works well for thin finishes

#5-Watco 63041 Lacquer Clear Wood Finish

  • Ideal for use on furniture, doors, cabinets and paneling; not recommended for floors or exterior surfaces
  • Formulated for a higher clarity finish than polyurethane
  • Dries to the touch in 1 hour and covers up to 290 sq ft
  • Eliminates the need for wood filler and protects against scratches; no need to sand between coats
  • Dries to a crystal-clear gloss with a lasting durable finish
  • Apply to furniture, doors, cabinets and paneling
  • Dries in 30 minutes and does not require sanding between coats
  • Dries crystal-clear
  • Durable wood finish and seal
  • Fast-drying

Watco crystal clear lacquer is an ideal wood finish. It does not require sanding after each coating. You can choose from different trending sheens depending on the finish you want. It is available in semi-gloss, gloss, and satin finish.

This product will deliver a crystal clear result than a polyurethane topcoat. It will deliver beautiful gloss to your cabinets, paneling surfaces, furniture, and doors. Applying this product yields a smooth finish and lasts long. It will protect against scratches and will seal the wood furniture.

It dries up quickly within 30 minutes and you can complete the project fast.


  • Durability
  • Quick-drying
  • Delivers smoother finish
  • High-quality finish
  • Scratch and stain-resistant


  • Pricey

#6-Minwax 63200444 Helmsman Spar Urethane

  • PROTECTIVE CLEAR FINISH – Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane is specially formulated as a protective varnish for wood for interior and exterior projects. It contains special UV blockers that reduce the sun’s graying and fading effects.
  • EFFECTIVE YEAR ROUND – This wood varnish forms a protective barrier against rain and moisture to protect your projects and keep them looking their best. Special oils allow the finish to expand & contract with the wood as seasons and temperatures change.
  • VERSATILE – Ideal for use on doors, windows, trim, bathroom cabinets, bar tops, kitchen countertops, outdoor furniture and more.
  • GLOSS FINISH – Give your wood projects a sleek finish with this gloss varnish. It not only protects the natural beauty of the wood, but offers a shiny, sleek sheen for a modern look.
  • A BRAND YOU CAN TRUST – Minwax is America’s leading brand of wood finishing and wood care products. Since 1904, we have been inspiring consumers to Keep on Finishing. We offer consumers a complete line of products to meet every wood finishing need.

If you want to achieve a nice finish of your cabinets, the Minwax Helmsman is recommendable. This clear coat offers optimum durability. It works well even for outdoor use because of its UV blockers content. Nothing to worry about the sun’s rays because the spar urethane can withstand it.

This product is cost-effective than the other brands but guarantees durability. It can endure various weather, either extreme cold or heat. You can expect that it will protect the wood grain of the kitchen cabinets by applying a clear coat.

It is not oil-based but comprises special oils. It contracts and expands as the wood does. This product is flexible, that’s why it does not flake off easily.


  • UV resistant
  • Cost-effective
  • Contracts and expands with the wood
  • Ideal for both indoor and outdoor applications


  • Less durable

Value Section

If you plan to give a new look to your wood furniture like kitchen cabinets, we recommend a polyurethane clear coat. It yields shiny surface and does not require high maintenance. Choose a water-based formula if you will use water-based paints. The best thing about it is that it dries quickly.

Another option to choose is the lacquer coat. But it is not as resistant and durable as the polyurethane finish. It delivers clear shine, water-resistant, and chip-resistant. 

It is also essential to consider the method of application. If the coat has thin consistency, it would be difficult to use a brush. It will run off and drip through the surface while applying the coat. Applying thin coats requires more re-coating. Thus, consume more time and effort. 

paint or clear coat which is better? – Image by The Family Handyman

Using a clear coat is more beneficial than paints. It is because clear coat can cover the rough edges that paints cannot. With clear coat, natural chipping is avoidable and cracking is at bay. The product must resist abrasions, especially if you keep sharp objects and metal utensils in the cabinet. Otherwise, abrasions will damage the coat.

The color choice of clear coat will depend on your preferences. Consider a classic or simple design, colorful detail, a calmer environment, and others.

Read more: What is The Best Furniture Polish for Antiques Improvement Projects


Q: Do kitchen cabinets need a clear coat? 

A: Yes, kitchen cabinets are best protected with an extra clear coat of paint. The kitchen is an essential part of the household. You prepare food here. Kitchen cabinets serve as storing items and enhancing the decor of the kitchen. Including a clear coat provides protection and durability to the cabinet.

Q: Can I put a clear coat over painted cabinets?

A: Yes, you can put a clear coat over painted cabinets. A clear coat protects the furniture from the effects of moisture, while paint protects the paint itself. The clear finish helps make the kitchen cabinets appear new. Clear coats are usually plastic, which keeps the wood protected against water penetration. The stall extension also extends the useful life of the cabinets.

Q: How do you seal painted cabinets?

A: To protect wood cabinets from getting damaged, apply a sealant. Follow this guide to ensure that your cabinets look their best.

  • Clean your cabinets and dry them before applying a sealer.
  • Apply a layer of the sealant with a wide-tooth brush.
  • Apply to only one direction.
  • Let the first coat dry.
  • Spread the second coat in a different direction than you spread the first coat.
  • Allow the surface to dry and your kitchen cabinets are ready for use.

To achieve a more pro-like finish, apply thin and even coats to the surface.

Q: Do you seal kitchen cabinets after painting?

A: Yes, you can. After painting the cabinets, wait until the surface is completely dry before applying a sealer. Some sealers can cause the paint finish to yellow, select the best sealers. Ensure that you choose the most appropriate sealer for the desired finish. We use a sealer on the painted furniture to prevent peeling and chipping. You can extend the life of your kitchen cabinets as well.

Q: What is the most durable finish for kitchen cabinets?

best clear coat for kitchen cabinets
Image by fabuwood.com

A: There are three types of finish for cabinets – satin, semi-gloss, and gloss finish. The most durable of these is the gloss finish. A gloss finish can impart durable qualities to your cabinet. This way, your cabinets are less susceptible to scratches and dents caused by a busy kitchen.

Q: What is the best clear coat for kitchen cabinets?

A: Selecting the best clear coat for your cabinets helps to achieve a smooth and clear finish. Here is some top clear-coat paint you can use:

  • GENERAL FINISHES Water Based Topcoat
  • MINWAX Polycrylic Protective Finish
  • VARATHANE Ultimate Polyurethane

Q: Do painted cabinets need a topcoat?

A: Applied over the painted cabinet, the topcoat is essential for extra protection and durability. The topcoat preserves the quality of the wood, making it difficult to damage. Smoothness will make your cabinet look new, no matter how old it is. Cabinets with topcoat finishes are easy to clean.

Q: How do you keep painted cabinets from chipping?

A: You can maintain your painted cabinets with the proper selection of a good primer. The paint needs to adhere to the surface to prevent chipping off. Clean the surface before primer application. Applying a top coat will prevent chipping off the painted surface.

Read more: Guide for Choosing the Best Bonding Primer for Kitchen Cabinet

Q: How do you paint polyurethane on kitchen cabinets?

A: One of the most common coatings used on wooden furniture is polyurethane. You can apply a polyurethane coating after the entire surface is spotless. Clean and dry the surface before applying the polyurethane. You should sand between each coat of finish to produce a shiny finish.

Q: Is it better to spray or brush paint kitchen cabinets?

best clear coat for kitchen cabinets

A: Using a paintbrush takes a longer time to complete the work than using a sprayer. To achieve a smooth and consistent finish, one should make consistent strokes. Painting kitchen cabinets is best when done using a paint sprayer. A sprayer enables a smooth and even finish to the surface. You need more preparations and/or masking of the surface if you use a spray. With the use of spray paint, you can achieve a more consistent finish, but it requires greater skill.


Applying the right coating can lengthen the life of your kitchen cabinets. Before rushing to buy a clear coat for your kitchen cabinet, you must plan first and have enough ideas of which one to choose. It is challenging to select the right product appropriate for the project you would take. Every manufacturer is creating different formulas that yield various finishes.

As long as you are well-informed about the product it would be easier to make your purchase. This post will provide you interesting and informative ideas. Regardless of the brand, you will choose, the important thing to note is for the product to deliver the best results. 

Keep in mind that a simple application of clear coat can make a big change to your kitchen cabinets. It will also save you from buying a new furniture that would cost big amount of money. 

best clear coat for kitchen cabinets