top of page

Pros and Cons of RTF vs. Traditional Primer & Enamel Finishes for Cabinets

QUESTION: What are the pros and cons for using RTF cabinets for new kitchen cabinets installed or doors and drawer fronts for refacing kitchen cabinets?


ANSWER: There is no ADVANTAGE for using RTF finished cabinets, doors or drawer fronts for cabinet refacing or new cabinets.


  1. They look ok after installation but over time they start yellowing and discoloring.

  2. They can’t be touched up without noticing the difference.

  3. They are not perfectly smooth and have some texture.

  4. They come in a limited spectrum of colors.

  5. They come only in satin sheen, no semi-gloss or gloss sheen available.

  6. If you replace a door or drawer front under warranty, the new component will have different colors, the aging and oxidation process changes the color of RTF.

  7. They are not cheaper than other kinds of cabinets, usually more expensive.

  8. The core is either MDF or particleboard, easy to break, and impossible to fix it so it is not noticeable.

  9. Edges of doors, drawer fronts, and frames tend to peel off. Pretty often bubbles occur on the flat surface of panels.

  10.  MDF or particleboard easily swell and disintegrate if exposed to wet conditions.

  11.  Solid wood cabinet doors, drawer fronts and panels are the best choices for any cabinet project, new or refaced kitchen and bathroom.

QUESTION: What are the advantages of traditionally finished kitchen cabinets with primer and enamel?


ANSWER: There are plenty of advantages of traditionally finished cabinets, and they surpass all other finishes, as

lacquer, conversion varnish, or tinted polyurethane.


  1. If properly done they surpass in quality and durability any other finishes like RTF or lacquer.

  2. They are smooth, washable, and lasting finish.

  3. They come in an unlimited spectrum of colors.

  4. They come in all sheens: flat, satin, egg-shell, semi-gloss, gloss, and high-gloss.

  5. They are easily to touch up without noticing the difference.

  6. They don’t yellow like RTF or lacquer. However, they get a little bit darker. Even after touching up, a new spot will blend with the old finish.

  7. If you use a proper, stain blocking and bonding primer, enamel can be used on almost any kind of material cabinets are made from.

  8. If solid wood is used for cabinets, doors, drawer fronts, and panels, if the right primer and enamel is used for finish coating, you get the best product available. The finish is smooth, washable, durable, lasting, and easy to touch up.

bottom of page