Cabinet Finish Testing 101

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Staying on top of cabinetry colour trends is one of our primary focuses here at Superior Cabinets. Offering the newest and freshest finishes is something we pride ourselves on and take very seriously. It can take several months to develop a new stain and one of the reasons is because of finish testing. When we introduce a new stain colour it must go through conclusive testing to ensure it will perform in an average home environment and stand the test of time. We work closely with our strategic partners, like Sherwin-Williams to help us conduct this extensive cabinetry finish testing.

One of the testing processes we use at Superior Cabinets is the four-step testing process and standards set forth by the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA). Their four-step process covers the following conditions.

The 4 step Cabinet Finish Testing process by Superior Cabinets.

Accelerated Natural Wear and Tear

A cabinet door is placed and subjected to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and 70 percent relative humidity for 24 hours in a controlled hotbox.  These conditions simulate accelerated natural wear and tear. Here it is evaluated to see if the cabinet finish can withstand these conditions and the cabinet finish must show no visible discoloration, evidence of blistering, checks or failures. After this is completed the finish is thoroughly inspected to ensure the highest standards are met.

Hot and Cold Testing

Cabinet finishes are tested in hot and cold cycles for long periods of time. A cabinet door is placed and subjected to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and 70 percent relative humidity for one hour in a controlled hotbox. It is then removed, brought up to room temperature and then placed in a coldbox for one hour at -5 degrees Fahrenheit. This process is then repeated five times and the finish must show visible discoloration, blistering, cold checking or failures.

Substance Tolerance

This is a test to ensure the cabinet finish can withstand substances typically found in the kitchen and bathroom. Substances like lemon, orange and grape juices, tomato catsup, coffee, olive oil, and 100-proof alcohol are placed on the cabinetry finish for 24 hours. After this is completed, the finish is thoroughly inspected to ensure there’s no discoloration, stain, or whitening that will not disappear with polishing. The finish must also have no visible indication of blistering, checks, or other failures.

Long Period Exposure to Detergent and Water

For the final stage, the cabinet finished is tested for its ability to withstand long periods of exposure to a detergent and water. A cabinet door is exposed to a standardized detergent formula for 24 hours on the edge of the cabinet door. The door edge must then show no peeling, swelling and no appreciable discoloration or evidence of blistering, checking, whitening, or other film failures.


It is extremely important that diligent testing is done on a cabinetry finish before it is introduced to a client. The above-outlined process is one of the reasons why a new stain colour can take a bit of time to introduce to the market. This due diligence ensures that your new kitchen will stand the test of time and serve you for many years. This being said, to ensure a long life for your cabinetry, it is important to take proper care of your cabinets.

Cleaning spills and water immediately with warm water and mild dish soap, followed by drying the cabinets with a soft clean cloth as well as avoiding the use of harsh cleaning products will help to extend the life of your cabinet finish. Please refer to our cleaning and care information for your cabinetry.


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