Whether to Finish Hidden Cabinet Ends

Cabinetmakers discuss whether to finish the ends of cabinets that abut slide-in appliances. April 9, 2008

Cabinets next to stove, fridge and dishwasher are the current issue. Do you stain and/or finish these ends? I understand that a normally visible end we all finish, but I am asking about specific areas - the ends that are next to a slide-in stove, or next to a fridge, either fridge on end or in middle, same as stove. What about the dishwasher ends of the cabs?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor S:
If we are talking about a free-standing range where you can actually see down on the edge of the cabinet, yes, I would stain and sealer-coat. For slide-ins, dishwashers, or built-in fridges, no. For free-standing fridges, yes.

From contributor L:
I usually paint them black, depending on the space left between the appliance and the cab. Dishwasher generally fits tight, so I do nothing.

From contributor E:
My base cabinets are almost always pre-finished ply, so the sides are already finished. If I'm doing painted panels, like for a ref panel, then both sides get finished.

From contributor T:
Some of the big box companies we have worked with in the past went to always using pre-finished ends. They did this mostly because it took less coordination about when to do finished or unfinished ends. It also eliminated field complaints when an owner expected them to be finished and they weren't.

From contributor V:
I knew that was the case. We usually stain back the first 6 inches on the cabs. We have a 30 in range sliding in a 30 1/8 1/4 hole and when we are through, you can't see in the sides anywhere. It's just when the guy pulls out his oven once every week to clean it. He thought that all cabinets were finished like the big box company cabs. Never have seen any of the other custom builders finish sides next to a range but thought maybe I was missing something.

From contributor A:
Ranges: pre-finished ply, or 1 thick orange peeled topcoat. None on dishwasher, etc., however we almost exclusively use pre-finished maple. We always either prime or use pre-finished on the inside of fridge boxes. They warp severely with one side finished. Range: If it were a stain job, I would slop some stain on it, then hit it with 1 thick orange peeled topcoat.

From contributor K:
I don't apply panels to ends you can't see without yanking out an appliance.

From contributor J:
I finish the panels adjacent to free standing refrigerators. I don't finish the sides next to the range or the dishwasher. It's never come up before. Now tomorrow it will!

From contributor M:
No need to waste time, materials on what is not seen. I feel the same way under the cabinets. I use pre-finished plywood and it looks just fine.