I am shopping around for a new kitchen, which I want to have finished in stained wood. What seems to be quite popular these days is "glazing" which seems intended to highlight any texture, relief, milling, etc. in the wood surface, darkening grooves etc., often imparting a sort of antique look, but this is not the effect I want.

My question is: is there a specific term to describe the absence of this glaze effect - a stain finish which only brings out the natural grain of the wood, but otherwise gives a uniform coloring to the wood, regardless of how the wood surface is cut, milled, etc.?

  • How is what you're asking about different from a conventionally stained and varnished cabinet look?
    – isherwood
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 20:31

3 Answers 3


I'm not sure there is a term that exists for cabinets without glaze. As you mention, this effect is really popular right now, and it's going to be difficult to find non-glazed cabinets from a big box retailer.

You could try working with a dedicated cabinetmaker and express your interest in some non-glazed examples.

To others who are confused by the question. Glaze is not a stain. After a stain is sealed, a glaze can be added (to add highlights, shadows), which is then sealed again under the finish of choice (e.g. polyurethane).

One can buy glaze, or they can make their own by mixing acrylic paints (the dye) and some sort extender (e.g. paint thinner and linseed oil, or clear acrylic glazing liquid).


The term is stain, or there are occasions where wood dye is used.

The difference is that I know of without looking it up for greater detail, which I am sure it is in Wikipedia, is, stain will accentuate the difference between the hard and softwoods within a wood surface, dye will color or for the most part color all the surface the same color irrespective of hard or soft wood on the surface


I think you are referring to 1) pre-stain, and 2) the sheen.

1) In order to make the grain less noticeable when staining wood, a pre-stain is used. It will make the final “color” more uniform across the grain surface.

2) Sheen is the amount of gloss of the “finish”. Most stains can now be ordered with gloss, semi-gloss or flat finish (sheen). There are top-coats that work too. That is to say, after the stain is installed, then a clear top-coat is applied. It too can have a flat or gloss finish.

However, be careful to select a finish that is appropriate for UV, hardness, humidity, etc.

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