Asked on Apr 23, 2016

Should we paint or varnish the inside of our cabinets?

Phyliss Hendrix
by Phyliss Hendrix
My husband & his dad are building them out of white poplar, which is a light colored wood. We plan to paint the outsides ourselves, but I'm considering simply sealing the insides. Any suggestions?
  15 answers
  • Fadai Fadai on Apr 24, 2016
    Beautiful wood should not be hidden under layers of paint. Why not use a very light, raw lintle-seed oil? It takes a few weeks to dry but some artist stores have more fastdrying varietys. Egg-oil tempera is another tip, it lets the wood show through and it´s very durable. (hope my English isn´t incorrect).
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Apr 24, 2016
    I would not paint that beautiful wood. Personally I would choose a natural stain and a non yellowing polycrylic to seal it.
  • 512181 512181 on Apr 24, 2016
    Easiest to keep them up would be just sealing them. However, you may want to get laminate sheets from one of the big box stores and glue them down on the bottom. The bottoms will get most abuse, and laminate will be easy to clean.
  • Mae Mae on Apr 24, 2016
    To avoided the issues of chemical products you could try using a food grade board oil. Will bring out the beauty in the wood and deepen the color. Reapply when needed
  • William William on Apr 24, 2016
    White Poplar is a medium hardwood. Takes paint, stain, and finishes very easily. Many kitchen cabinets are made from White Poplar, because it can easily be stained to mimic more expensive woods. Painting or sealing is a personal choice. If you choose to seal it, use Minwax Polycrylic as Janet suggests. It's water based, dries fast, non yellowing. Put down at least three coats, lightly sanding with green Scotch brite pad in between coats.
  • Lynn Palmatier Lynn Palmatier on Apr 24, 2016
    I agree with William, If you are staining to frames and doors, I would recommend just sealing the inside. My custom cabinets were stained the same and are very dark (was not what I would have chosen). A lighter surface will reflect whatever light you have. I feel it would be a nice contrast to a bit darker cabinet color.
  • Pat Pat on Apr 24, 2016
    I have oak cabinets and when I moved into the house, the inside of the cabinets (shelves and back) were painted white. No need for liners.....just clean with a soft damp cloth and everything looks so clean and neat.
  • Anna Anna on Apr 24, 2016
    I just finished painting the interiors of my kitchen cupboards. I used white paint over 1-2-3 primer. I left the back wall the same light blue like the walls of my house. They are so bright and clean looking. I also plan to paint the exteriors.
  • Linda C Linda C on Apr 25, 2016
    I like the idea of light blue same as wall or another color for something different.
  • Country Design Home Country Design Home on Apr 25, 2016
    I would just seal them-easiest way to keep them clean! If you really wanted a pop of color when you open the doors, then paint the back panel with something that you love.
  • Carol Carol on Apr 25, 2016
    Sealing them is the quickest way to go for a nice finish - they will look fresh and clean - I did this with my cupboards - waay faster than priming and painting 2-3 white coats for good coverage!!
  • Phyliss Hendrix Phyliss Hendrix on Apr 25, 2016
    Thank you, to everyone who commented!! We have decided to seal the interiors with a polyacrylic product. I think the wood is light enough that it won't seem like a cave, especially with the backs white. It seems easier and more forgiving than painting them. Loved all of the great suggestions. I'm still wanting to paint the outsides, hopefully that won't be weird; wood sealed interiors, painted exteriors.(?)
  • Ann Ann on May 11, 2016
    When I had a cabinet built they put white formica on all sides. I ended up LOVING it. So easy to clean. But I think just putting it on the bottom would work well. I ended up putting formica under the kitchen sink saved the finish when we had a leak.
  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on May 01, 2023

    Wallpaper the back of the cabinets or cover in dark paint to accent the colour chosen for the timber on the front.

  • Mogie Mogie on May 01, 2023

    I love natural wood (if is is good condition). If you just seal these they would easier to keep clean and the wood adds a natural warmth.