Lacquered Cabinetry (and why we don’t do it) | Jag Kitchens

Lacquered cabinetry refers to a specific 2-pot paint system applied to kitchen cabinetry. It has been traditionally one of the most popular materials for mid- to high-end kitchen cabinetry. Colour choices are endless and incredibly customisable for lacquered kitchens, as well as having a luxurious glossy finish.

Jag Kitchens and our designers have created some lovely kitchens using lacquer for the cabinetry exteriors, yet we no longer use the technique. Here are the reasons why:


Lacquered kitchen damage | Jag KitchensAlthough we use high quality, moisture resistant MDF for our cabinetry cores, enough contact with water will cause the board to react. Unfortunately, lacquer is a fragile surface that easily accumulates micro-scratches that allow moisture to seep under the paint and start warping the surface from underneath. You may have seen lacquered kitchens with a bubbled or peeling effect – this is a common flaw and only the most careful kitchen owners can avoid it. Due to our very generous warranty period, this means we are still replacing door and drawer fronts we installed years ago, that have nothing wrong with them except this inevitable aesthetic issue.

In addition to this, UV light affects the lacquer, fading it where light hits. This effect is greater in New Zealand than overseas due to our strong sunlight. We have found this means clients are re-painting kitchens after 5-10 years at great cost to them, when they could have had a kitchen that lasted 20 years with no more effort than regular cleaning.


Lacquered kitchens are expensive. The process is involved and requires highly specialised equipment and skilled trades staff. Whereas other expensive parts of a kitchen (such as engineered stone benchtops) have come down in price in recent years, lacquering simply will not. We weren’t happy with the sums we were asking of clients to achieve something that could be done more cost-effectively.

Other options are available

New options have come to the market since Jag Kitchens first opened doors. Melamine, Acrylic & Dezignatek Vinyl Thermoform are our recommended alternatives. These have the same high-quality internal core, but have plastic surfaces sandwiching the highly moisture resistant MDF. These surfaces are more scratch resistant, UV resistant & due to our moisture-cured edging system, more water resistant than lacquered door fronts.

Melamine cabinetry | Jag Kitchens

Melteca (Melamine) cabinetry

Where melamine cabinetry used to have only the stipple effect texture, there are now lovely semi-gloss velvet textures in addition to woodgrain and others. We also have an incredibly wide range of colours (including Resene colour matches from Prime Melamine) that goes some way to achieving what lacquer can while being much more hardwearing and durable.

If your heart is set on the gloss look, we recommend our Acrylic range. Acrylic is a super-gloss material. If scratched, marks can be buffed out of the surface, lengthening the lifetime of the finish. While there is a limited colour range, they are carefully selected to be timeless but with more out-there options for adventurous decorators. Our most popular combination is Jag Acrylic Gloss in Arctic White with a wood-look melamine board finishing with an engineered stone bench top.

Dezignatek Thermoform wraps around the edges of the board, creating the seamless look of lacquer while offering a wider range of textures (gloss, satin, texture) and an easy-care surface. Dezignatek also offers 20+ profile options for creating an even wider range of looks such as Shaker style or French Country. Again while the colour range is fairly limited, each colour is carefully selected to be classic yet reflecting current trends.

We’ve found these materials to be the best for our clients, balancing aesthetics with the robust characteristics needed in an Auckland home. Come into the Jag Kitchens Showroom to view our display kitchens in these 3 options, and explore our sample room. You will see that you have more than enough colours & textures to choose from to achieve any look you want.